News: January 2010 Archives
By BBC World News
30 January 2010
China has announced a series of moves against the US in retaliation for a proposed weapons sale to Taiwan worth $6.4bn (£4bn).
Beijing said it would suspend military exchanges with the US, impose sanctions on companies selling arms, and review co-operation on major issues.
Ties are already strained by rows over trade and internet censorship.
Taiwan's president welcomed the sale, saying it would make his country "more confident and secure".
Beijing has hundreds of missiles pointed at the island and has threatened to use force to bring it under its control if Taiwan moved towards formal independence.
Taiwan and China have been ruled by separate governments since the end of a civil war in 1949.
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Beijing says China's latest moves are what the US would have expected, as the US view is that military exchanges are of limited use.
China's Xinhua state news agency quoted the defence ministry as saying: "Considering the severe harm and odious effect of US arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits."
"We strongly demand that the US respect the Chinese side's interests", it added, calling for the sale to be stopped.
The foreign ministry, meanwhile, said it would impose sanctions on US companies selling weapons to Taiwan, and that co-operation on major international issues would be affected.
The US, like the EU, has banned its companies selling arms to China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, so it was not clear what effect the Chinese move would have.
Xinhua also said the US defence attache had been summoned.
Defence ties between the two countries have been difficult for several years because of differences over Taiwan, but the two countries' leaders pledged to improve them in 2009.
The moves came after Mr He said the arms deal would have "repercussions that neither side wishes to see".
"The United States' announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and co-operation between the two countries," Mr He said in a statement published on the foreign ministry website.
Earlier China summoned US Ambassador Jon Huntsman to give a warning about the consequences of the deal and to urge its immediate cancellation.
Taiwan, meanwhile, welcomed the US move.
"It will let Taiwan feel more confident and secure so we can have more interactions with China," the Central News Agency quoted President Ma Ying-jeou as saying.
The Pentagon earlier notified the US Congress of the proposed arms sale, which forms part of a package first pledged by the Bush administration.
Friday's notification to Congress by the Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) was required by law. It does not mean the sale has been concluded.
US lawmakers have 30 days to comment on the proposed sale, Associated Press reported. If there are no objections, it would proceed.
The arms package includes 114 Patriot missiles, 60 Black Hawk helicopters and communications equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet, the agency said in a statement.
It does not include F-16 fighter jets, which Taiwan's military has been seeking.
Our correspondent says the deal has been in the pipeline for a long time and is nearing its conclusion, but China does want to stop it.
Beijing has previously warned the US not to go ahead with arms sales to Taiwan.
Last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered Beijing with a call to China to investigate cyber attacks on search giant Google, after the company said email accounts of human rights activists had been hacked.
The DSCA said the proposed sale would support Taiwan's "continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and enhance its defensive capability."
It added: "The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region."
The US is the leading arms supplier to Taiwan, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Washington regards it as an obligation to provide Taiwan with defensive arms.
By The Associated Press | The New York Times
January 25, 2010
Melamine-tainted dairy products have been pulled from convenience store shelves in southern China more than a year after hundreds of thousands of children were sickened in a massive milk safety scandal, a government spokeswoman said Monday.
Frozen milk products and cartons of milk dating from early 2009 were taken off the shelves after health inspectors tested them and found them positive for the toxic chemical melamine, said Ling Hu, a Guizhou provincial government spokeswoman.
She said the provincial health bureau was checking to see why the products were not pulled from the shelves earlier. Calls to the Guizhou health bureau ran unanswered Monday.
Tainted products from three companies, Shandong Zibo Lusaier Dairy, Liaoning Tieling Wuzhou Food and Laoting Kaida Refrigeration, were found in more than a dozen convenience stores around the province, Ling said.
Laoting Kaida Refrigeration was among companies named in the original melamine scandal in 2008, when six children died and 300,000 were sickened after drinking baby formula contaminated with melamine, an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and fertilizer.
Investigators found that melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure, had been added to watered-down milk to fool inspectors testing for protein. Both melamine and protein are high in nitrogen. Dozens of officials, dairy executives and farmers were punished.
By Lucy Hornby | REUTERS | via UNCENSORED Yahoo! News
January 24, 2010
China's Communist Party mouthpiece on Sunday accused the United States of mounting a cyber army and a "hacker brigade," and of exploiting social media like Twitter or Youtube to foment unrest in Iran.
The People's Daily accused the United States of controlling the Internet in the name of Internet freedom after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for more Internet freedoms in China and elsewhere in a speech on Thursday.
China on Friday warned that Washington's push against Internet censorship could harm ties.
"Behind what America calls free speech is naked political scheming. How did the unrest after the Iranian elections come about?" said the editorial, signed by Wang Xiaoyang.
"It was because online warfare launched by America, via Youtube video and Twitter microblogging, spread rumors, created splits, stirred up, and sowed discord between the followers of conservative reformist factions."
China has blocked Youtube since March, the anniversary of uprisings in Tibet, and Twitter since June, just before the 20th anniversary of a crackdown on protestors in and near Tiananmen Square. Facebook has been down since early July.
The People's Daily editorial asked rhetorically if obscene information or activities promoting terrorism would be allowed on the Internet in the U.S.
"We're afraid that in the eyes of American politicians, only information controlled by America is free information, only news acknowledged by America is free news, only speech approved by America is free speech, and only information flow that suits American interests is free information flow," it said.
Clinton's speech came shortly after Google revealed a sophisticated hacking attack, and said it might close its google.cn Chinese search engine if it could not find a way to offer a legal, unfiltered search service in China.
"Everyone with technical knowledge of computers knows that just because a hacker used an IP address in China, the attack was not necessarily launched by a Chinese hacker," Zhou Yonglin, deputy operations director of the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team, said in an interview carried in a number of Chinese newspapers on Sunday.
Zhou mentioned an outage suffered by Chinese search engine Baidu on January 12 but did not mention that it was attacked by the Iranian Cyber Army, which had previously attacked Twitter, nor that Chinese hackers launched retaliatory attacks on Iranian sites the next day.
希拉里·克林顿（Hillary Rodham Clinton）国务卿
2009 年1 月21 日（星期四）
虽然我并不能看到你们所有的人----因为在这样的场合灯光照射我的眼睛，而你们都在背光处----但我知道在座的有很多朋友和老同事。我要感谢自由论坛（Freedom Forum）的首席执行官查尔斯·奥弗比（Charles Overby）光临新闻博物馆，以及我在参议院时的老同事理查德·卢格（Richard Lugar）和乔·利伯曼 (Joe Lieberman) 两位参议员，他们两位都为《表达法》（Voice Act）的通过作出了努力。这项立法表明，美国国会和美国人民不分党派，不分政府部门，坚定地支持互联网自由。
我听说在场的还有参议员萨姆·布朗巴克（Sam Brownback）、参议员特德·考夫曼（Ted Kaufman）、众议员洛雷塔·桑切斯（Loretta Sanchez）、许多大使、临时代办和外交使团的其他代表、以及从中国、哥伦比亚、伊朗、黎巴嫩和摩尔多瓦等国前来参加我们关于互联网自由的"国际访问者领袖计划"（International Visitor Leadership Program）的人士。我还要提到最近被任命为广播理事会（Broadcasting Board of Govenors）理事的阿斯彭研究所（Aspen Institute）所长沃尔特·艾萨克森（Walter Isaacson）。毫无疑问，他在阿斯彭研究所从事的支持互联网自由的工作中发挥了重要作用。
By Sharon LaFraniere | The New York Times
January 19, 2010
As the Chinese government expands what it calls a campaign against pornography, cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cellphone users who are found to have sent messages with "illegal or unhealthy content," state-run news media reported Tuesday.
China Mobile, one of the nation's largest cellular providers, reported that text messages would automatically be scanned for "key words" provided by the police, according to China Daily, a state-controlled English-language newspaper. Messages will be deemed "unhealthy" if they violate undisclosed criteria established by the central government, the newspaper said.
The increased surveillance of text messages is the latest in a series of government efforts to severely tighten control of the Internet and other forms of communication.
Since late last year, China has closed hundreds of Web sites, including popular file-sharing sites, and limited its citizens' ability to set up personal Web sites.
By Christine Simmons, Associated Press Writer AP | via UNCENSORED Yahoo! News
January 20, 2010
About 1.5 million Graco strollers sold at Wal-Mart, Target and other major retailers are being recalled after some children's fingertips were amputated by hinges on the products.
The recall by Graco Children's Products Inc. includes certain model numbers of its Passage, Alano and Spree Strollers and Travel Systems. The Exton, Pa., company received seven reports of children placing their fingers in a stroller's canopy hinge as the canopy was being opened or closed. Five children had their fingertips severed and two children received cuts on their fingertips.
The strollers were made in China by Graco and sold at AAFES, Burlington Coat Factory, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Kmart, Fred Meyer, Meijer, Navy Exchange, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart and other retailers nationwide from October 2004 to December 2009.
By Michael Liedtke, AP Technology Writer | Associated Press | via UNCENSORED Yahoo! News
19 January 2010
Google postpones launch of 2 mobile phones in China as fallout from censorship rift widens
Google has delayed the debut of two mobile phones designed to connect with its Internet services in China, widening the void that might be opened if the company and Beijing can't resolve their rift over online censorship and security.
The phones, made by Motorola and Samsung, use the Android operating system, created by Google to steer people to its search engine and other services. China Unicom Ltd. was supposed to be the carrier.
The postponement Tuesday is the latest aftershock from Google's threat to shut down its services in China, which could cut off the world's most populous country from Google's services through any kind of computer or phone.
Google says it will remain in China only if the government relents on rules requiring the censorship of content the ruling party considers subversive. The ultimatum came last week after Google said it uncovered a computer attack that tried to plunder its software coding and the e-mail accounts of human rights activists protesting Chinese policies.
Putting the sale of the Android-powered phones on hold is a logical extension of Google's threat. It doesn't make sense to sell the device in a market where key services might be restricted or unavailable, said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin.
The absence of Google's services might discourage the development of other Android-equipped phones for China's market, limiting customer choices among a breed of mobile devices that are becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world.
Some Android devices hit the market before Google took its stand on China. For instance, Samsung introduced an Android phone, the Galaxy, in China last year. That phone will remain on sale.
This month Google also began selling its own Android phone, the Nexus One. But that device so far is only available in the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong. There's no indication when Google might sell it in China or elsewhere.
By Edward Wong | The New York Times
January 19, 2009
Google e-mail accounts of at least two foreign journalists in Beijing have been compromised, a journalists' advocacy group in China said on Monday, adding that hackers changed Gmail program settings so that all messages would be forwarded to unfamiliar addresses.
The journalists apparently discovered the irregularities after Google announced last week that hackers had tried sophisticated attacks on its security infrastructure. The company suspects that those attacks originated in mainland China.
Google also said that two Gmail accounts had been compromised, adding separately that the e-mail accounts of dozens of people pressing for human rights in China had been hacked.
In response, Google said last week that it would talk to the Chinese government about ending self-censorship of its Chinese-language search engine, Google.cn, and that the company could close down or curtail its operations in China.
The two foreign journalists were among a large number of Gmail users in China who discovered that their accounts had been compromised after Google made its announcement. In many cases, it was unclear when the hackers had broken into the accounts.
The attacks on e-mail accounts were separate from those weeks ago aimed at the security infrastructure of Google and more than 30 other companies and entities, most of them based in Silicon Valley in California.
One of the two journalists is a television reporter in the Beijing bureau of The Associated Press, which has one of the largest foreign news operations in China. E-mail messages in the reporter's account were being forwarded to an e-mail address that the reporter did not recognize. The reporter said that other people the reporter knew in Beijing had experienced the same kind of attack, though none of the forwarding addresses were the same.
It is not known who was behind the e-mail attacks or whether the Chinese government, whose security forces sometimes closely monitor the activities of foreign journalists, had any involvement.
"We remind all members that journalists in China have been particular targets of hacker attacks in the last two years," the journalists' advocacy group, the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, said in its announcement concerning the compromised Gmail accounts.
By Miguel Helft and John Markoff | The New York Times
13 January 2010
Even before Google threatened to pull out of China in response to an attack on its computer systems, the company was notifying activists whose e-mail accounts might have been compromised by hackers.
In a world where vast amounts of personal information stored online can quickly reveal a network of friends and associates, Google's move to protect individuals from government surveillance required quick action. In early January, Tenzin Seldon, a 20-year-old Stanford student and Tibetan activist, was told by university officials to contact Google because her Gmail account had been hacked.
Ms. Seldon, the Indian-born daughter of Tibetan refugees, said she immediately contacted David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer.
"David informed me that my account was hacked by someone in China," Ms. Seldon said in a telephone interview. "They were concerned and asked whether they could see my laptop."
Ms. Seldon immediately changed her password and became more careful of what she wrote. She also allowed Google to examine her personal computer at the company's request. Google returned it this week, saying that while no viruses or malware had been detected, her account had indeed been entered surreptitiously.
Google confirmed Ms. Seldon's account of events, but declined to say whether it had notified other activists who might have been victims of hacking.
Mr. Drummond said that an attack originating in China was aimed at its corporate infrastructure.
While the full scope of the attacks on Google and several dozen other companies remains unclear, the events set off immediate alarms in Washington, where the Obama administration has previously expressed concern about international computer security and attacks on Western companies.
Neither the sequence of events leading to Google's decision nor the company's ultimate goal in rebuking China is fully understood. But this was not the first time that the company had considered withdrawing from China, according to a former company executive. It had clashed repeatedly with Chinese officials over censorship demands, the executive said.
Google said on Tuesday that that in its investigation of the attacks on corporations, it found that the Gmail accounts of Chinese and Tibetan activists, like Ms. Seldon, had been compromised in separate attacks involving phishing and spyware.
Independent security researchers said that at least 34 corporations had been targets of the attacks originating in China.
Adobe, a software maker, said it had been the victim of an attack, but said that it did not know if it was linked to the hacking of Google. Some reports suggested that Yahoo had been a victim, but a person with knowledge said that Yahoo did not think that it been subject to the same attack as Google.
The decision by Google to draw a line and threaten to end its business operations in China brought attention to reports of Chinese high-technology espionage stretching back at least a decade. But despite Google's suggestion that the hacking came from within China, it remained unclear who was responsible. Nevertheless, it presented the Obama administration with a problem of how to respond.
Google's description of the attacks closely matches a vast surveillance system called Ghostnet that was reported in March by a group of Canadian researchers based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto. They found that an automated espionage system based in China was using targeted e-mail messages to compromise thousands of computers in hundreds of governmental organizations. In each case, after the computers were controlled by the attackers, they were able to scan for documents that were then stolen and transferred to a digital storage facility in China.
By Andrew Jacobs, Miguel Helft and John Markoff | The New York Times
January 13, 2010
Google's declaration that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in the country ricocheted around the world Wednesday. But in China itself, the news was heavily censored.
Some big Chinese news portals initially carried a short dispatch on Google's announcement, but that account soon tumbled from the headlines, and later reports omitted Google's references to "free speech" and "surveillance."
The only government response came later in the day from Xinhua, the official news agency, which ran a brief item quoting an anonymous official who was "seeking more information on Google's statement that it could quit China."
Google linked its decision to sophisticated cyberattacks on its computer systems that it suspected originated in China and that were aimed, at least in part, at the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
In a statement, the United States secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, expressed "serious concerns" about the infiltration of Google.
"We look to the Chinese government for an explanation," Mrs. Clinton said.
Outside the company's gleaming offices in Beijing, a trickle of young people laid floral bouquets and notes at the multicolored sign bearing the Google logo. As daylight faded, two 18-year-old law students approached with a bottle of rice liquor and lit two candles. One of the students said that she wanted to make a public gesture of support for Google, which steadily has lost market share to Baidu, a Chinese-run company that has close ties with the government.
"The government should give people the right to see what they want online," said the woman, Bing, who withheld her full name for fear that it might cause her problems at school. "The government can't always tell lies to the people."
Since arriving in 2006 under an arrangement with the government that purged its Chinese search results of banned topics, Google has come under fire for abetting a system that increasingly restricts what can be read online.
Google said the attacks took place last week and were directed at about 34 companies or entities, most of them in Silicon Valley in California, according to people with knowledge of Google's investigation. The attackers may have penetrated elaborate computer security systems and obtained crucial corporate data and software source codes, though Google said it did not itself suffer losses of that kind.
While the scope of the hacking and the motivations and identities of the hackers remained uncertain, Google's response amounted to an unambiguous repudiation of its five-year courtship of the Chinese market, which most major multinational companies consider crucial to growth. It is also likely to enrage the Chinese authorities, who deny that they censor the Internet and are accustomed to having major foreign companies adapt their practices to Chinese norms.
On Wednesday afternoon, the software maker Adobe Systems, announced that it, too, had endured a cyberattack. While it did not provide details about the assault, which took place earlier this month, the company said was investigating.
If news of Google's threat to quit China was largely muffled, there was some back-and-forth on message boards and a torrent of Twitter commentary -- accessible only to those able to circumvent the Great Firewall.
"It's not Google that's withdrawing from China, it's China that's withdrawing from the world," read one message.
While many comments mourned the prospect of Google's departure, others, including Rao Jin, the founder of the Web forum Anti-CNN.com, expressed suspicion over the announcement.
Mr. Rao, known for defending China's stances on issues like Tibet and Xinjiang against Western media criticism, said he thought Google made its decision under pressure from Mrs. Clinton, who met with Google's chief executive last week as part of an effort to promote Internet freedom around the world.
"I think Google's departure from Chinese market would be a big loss to Google, though not as big a loss to China because Baidu and other search engines are still rising," Mr. Rao said in an interview. "Any company in China has to abide by Chinese rules, even though there are some times when the rules may not be not so reasonable."
Hecaitou, a prominent blogger based in Beijing, also applauded the company's announcement, although for different reasons. The possibility of Google leaving China, he said, would send a message to Chinese leaders intent on imposing greater restrictions online. Or at least he hoped it would.
"In the short term, the Internet environment will be very cold," he said. "But for the government to close the door and revert to 30 years ago is hard to imagine. If they want to go forward on the information highway, they'll have to listen to others."
If Google does leave, it would be an unusual rebuke of China by one of the largest and most admired technology companies, which had for years coveted the country's 300 million Web users. Google said it would try to negotiate a new arrangement to provide uncensored results on its search site, google.cn. But that is highly unlikely in a country that has the most sweeping Web filtering system in the world. Google said it would otherwise cease to run google.cn and would consider shutting its offices in China, where it employs about 700 people, many of them well-paid software engineers, and has an estimated $300 million a year in revenue.
Google executives would not discuss in detail their reasons for overturning their China strategy. But despite a costly investment, the company has a much smaller share of the search market here than it does in other major markets, commanding about one in three searches by Chinese.
Google executives have privately fretted that the decision to censor the search results on google.cn, to filter out topics banned by Chinese censors, was out of sync with the company's motto, "Don't be evil."
"We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all," David Drummond, senior vice president for corporate development and the chief legal officer, said in a statement.
Wenqi Gao, a spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York, said he did not see any problems with google.cn. "I want to reaffirm that China is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign companies in our country," he said in a phone interview.
In China, search requests that include words like "Tiananmen Square massacre" or "Dalai Lama" come up blank. In recent months, the government has also blocked YouTube, Google's video-sharing service.
While Google's business in China is small, analysts say that the country could soon become one of the most lucrative Internet and mobile markets, and a withdrawal would significantly reduce Google's long-term growth.
"The consequences of not playing the China market could be very big for any company, but particularly for an Internet company that makes its money from advertising," said David B. Yoffie, a Harvard Business School professor.
Mr. Yoffie said advertising played an even bigger role in the Internet in China than it did in the United States. At the time of its arrival, Google said that it believed that the benefits of its presence in China outweighed the downside of being forced to censor some search results, as it would provide more information and openness to Chinese citizens. The company, however, has repeatedly said that it would monitor restrictions in China.
Google's announcement Tuesday drew praise from free speech and human rights advocates, many of whom had criticized the company over its decision to enter the Chinese market.
Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the Open Society Institute and an expert on the Chinese Internet, said that Google had endured repeated harassment in recent months and that by having operations in China it potentially risked the security of its users in China. She said many Chinese dissidents used Gmail because its servers are hosted overseas and that it offered extra encryption.
"Unless they turn themselves into a Chinese company, Google could not win," she said. "The company has clearly put its foot down and said enough is enough."
In the past year, Google has been increasingly constricted by the Chinese government. In June, after briefly blocking access nationwide to its main search engine and other services like Gmail, the government forced the company to disable a function that lets the search engine suggest terms. At the time, the government said it was simply seeking to remove pornographic material from the search engine results.
Some Google executives suggested then that the campaign was a concerted effort to stain the company's image. Since its entry into China, the company has steadily lost market share to Baidu.
Andrew Jacobs reported from Beijing, and Miguel Helft and John Markoff from San Francisco. David Barboza contributed reporting from Shanghai, Jonathan Ansfield from Beijing, and Bettina Wassener from Hong Kong.
By The Associated Press | The New York Times
January 12, 2010
Abortions of girl fetuses are expected to leave China with 24 million more men than women over the next decade, according to a study that warns the imbalance will dash many young men's chance at marriage and lead to increased crime.
China enforces strict family planning controls, including limiting most couples to having one child. Because of a traditional preference for male heirs, many families terminate pregnancies of girl babies in order to be able to continue trying for a boy. Infanticide of baby girls has also become a problem.
The study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, reported in Chinese state media this week, specifically said such preferences were behind the ballooning imbalance.
''Sex-specific abortions are extremely commonplace, especially in rural areas,'' the CASS report said. ''The phenomenon of abortions of female fetuses is very serious.''
China bans tests to determine the fetus' sex for non-medical reasons, but they are still commonly done, mainly by underground private clinics in the countryside.
The report said the male-female ratio at birth in China was 119 males to 100 females, with the gap as high as 130 males for every 100 females in some provinces. In industrialized countries, the ratio is 107 to 100.
The report is similar to other studies in recent years that warn of serious social problems because of the gap.
The official Global Times newspaper quoted researcher Wang Guangzhou as saying men with lower incomes would have trouble finding spouses in rural areas, leading to crime problems. The newspaper also said abductions and trafficking of women were widespread in areas with excess numbers of men.
The CASS study mirrors a report published last April in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal, that said China has 32 million more young men than young women because parents facing strict birth limits abort female fetuses to have a son.
By Associated Press - Justin Pritchard | via UNCENSORED Yahoo! News
January 11, 2009
Moving swiftly, U.S. product safety authorities say they are launching an investigation into the presence of the toxic metal cadmium in children's jewelry imported from China after disclosure of lab tests showing that some pieces consisted primarily of the dangerous substance.
The promise to "take action as quickly as possible to protect the safety of children" followed by hours the release Sunday of an Associated Press investigative report that documented how some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting cadmium for lead in cheap charm bracelets and pendants being sold throughout the United States.
Meantime, the head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency that regulates children's jewelry and toys, was set to deliver a speech Tuesday to Asian manufacturers emphasizing that American regulators are still scrutinizing jewelry contents now that they've barred the use of lead.
In a taped keynote speech to a toy safety meeting in Hong Kong, organized by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a forum of governments in the region, CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum was to laud manufacturers for effectively abandoning the use of lead in children's products. She also was to warn that "the bar will be raised in the new year" when it comes to safety, agency spokesman Scott Wolfson said.
The most contaminated piece analyzed in lab testing performed for the AP contained a startling 91 percent cadmium by weight. The cadmium content of other contaminated trinkets, all purchased at national and regional chains or franchises, tested at 89 percent, 86 percent and 84 percent by weight. The testing also showed that some items easily shed the heavy metal, raising additional concerns about the levels of exposure to children.
Wolfson said the agency would study the test results, attempt to buy the contaminated products and "take appropriate action."
The jewelry testing was conducted by chemistry professor Jeff Weidenhamer of Ashland University in Ohio, who over the past few years has provided the CPSC with results showing high lead content in products that were later recalled. Wolfson acknowledged the agency had worked closely with Weidenhamer.
Cadmium is a known carcinogen. Like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, according to recent research.
Children don't have to swallow an item to be exposed -- they can get persistent, low-level doses by regularly sucking or biting jewelry with a high cadmium content.
To gauge cadmium's prevalence in children's jewelry, the AP organized lab testing of 103 items bought in New York, Ohio, Texas and California. All but one were purchased in November or December. The results: 12 percent of the pieces of jewelry contained at least 10 percent cadmium.
Some of the most troubling test results were for bracelet charms sold at Walmart, at the jewelry chain Claire's and at a dollar store. High amounts of cadmium also were detected in "The Princess and The Frog" movie-themed pendants.
By Radio Free Asia
January 06, 2010
The documentary 'Leaving Fear Behind' gets its producer a six-year prison term.
Authorities in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai have handed a six-year jail sentence to a Tibetan filmmaker who returned from exile to make a documentary about his homeland, Tibetan sources say.
The Xining Intermediate People's Court handed the sentence to Dhondup Wangchen, the producer of the documentary "Leaving Fear Behind," in a secret trial that found him guilty of "splitting the motherland," the sources said.
"Dhondup Wangchen, the producer of 'Leaving Fear Behind,' was sentenced six years to prison," a Tibetan from the Amdo region identified as Thardrub said.
"We were checking around about it...later, we were able to confirm that he was sentenced secretly by Xining Intermediate People's Court in Qinghai on Dec. 28, 2009."
Dhondup Wangchen's relatives were given no information about his trial or sentencing, he added.
"They were not informed about the sentencing," Thardrub said. "The relatives argue that he is innocent and he did not commit any crime...They are planning to appeal his sentence in the higher courts."
Jamyang Tsultrim, a relative of Dhondup Wangchen now living in Switzerland, said the sentencing of Dhondup Wangchen was a clear indication of how Tibetans were deprived of freedom of expression in China.
"His relatives made arrangements for a lawyer to represent him, but the lawyers were not allowed to represent him," Jamyang Tsultrim said.
"He was also suffering from liver problems and was denied any kind of medical treatment," he added.
Jamyang Tsultrim also said Dhondup Wangchen's relatives weren't informed about his detention, his health problems, or his sentencing.
The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ran a petition campaign following Dhondup Wangchen's detention on March 23, 2008, calling him "a courageous man who took the risk of returning to his country to interview other Tibetans."
Dhondup Wangchen's film, "Leaving Fear Behind" (www.leavingfearbehind.com), is a 25-minute documentary including interviews with Tibetans in the Amdo region expressing their views on Tibet's exiled leader the Dalai Lama, the Beijing Olympics, and Chinese laws.
The authorities also detained Jigme Gyatso, a monk from the Kham region, at the same time, but released him on Oct. 15. He later said he was tortured in detention.
"Leaving Fear Behind" was produced outside China after Dhondup Wangchen managed to send footage out of Tibet before the authorities caught up with him.
It was shown to foreign journalists in Beijing during the Olympic Games.
Protest turned violent in 2008
Many Tibetans have chafed for years under Chinese rule.
Rioting rocked the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March 2008 and spread to Tibetan-populated regions of western China, causing official embarrassment ahead of the August 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chinese officials say 21 people--including three Tibetan protesters--died in the violence.
The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile estimates that 220 Tibetans were killed and 7,000 were detained in a subsequent region-wide crackdown.
Original reporting by Dorjee Tso for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
By Radio Free Asia
January 05, 2010
Villagers in southern China say authorities are trying to hide the effects of lead poisoning on their children.
More than 100 children in a village in southern China have tested positive for elevated lead levels, but local authorities are attempting to cover up the evidence, villagers said Tuesday.
Residents of Hekou village in Jiangsu province said their children became sick as a result of heavy lead pollution from a battery factory located in nearby Yancheng city's Dafeng Economic Development Zone.
According to local newspaper Xiandai Kuaibao (Modern Express), chief law enforcement officer of the economic zone Zhu Jining said Tuesday that only 51 of the 110 Hekou children had tested positive for elevated lead levels.
A Hekou villager surnamed Zhang, said he is infuriated by Zhu's statement.
"The number is absolutely wrong ... There are more than 100 sick children, and some are still in hospitals. The officials are hiding the truth, and we have no way to deal with them because there is no one listening to us," Zhang said.
Villagers said that their children began to show symptoms of lead poisoning last August, including vomiting, lack of appetite, and incessant crying. The concerned parents decided to bring their sick children to Shanghai for medical tests.
"My daughter went to a hospital in Shanghai last November, where she tested positive for high lead levels in her blood. It turned out that in our village, some children have blood lead levels of 200 or 300 micrograms, much higher than the normal volume of 100 micrograms," Zhang said.
"We all got our tests done in Shanghai because local hospitals were too slow to respond," Zhang added.
Officials 'shirking duties'
Zhang said adults also tested positive for high lead levels, but village cadres responded by saying that a higher level government branch would investigate the situation.
"I haven't seen any investigators coming from above until today," Zhang said.
Another villager, surnamed Cao, also blasted village officials for shirking their duties.
"I found my child's vision had deteriorated due to the lead pollution, but village cadres didn't provide any solutions to our problems."
Wang Ke is a three-year-old girl among the six children most seriously poisoned by lead. Her father said there are at least 100 sick children in the village.
"There are at least 100 children who have tested positive for elevated lead levels. My daughter has a blood lead level of 399 micrograms, and she is one of the six sickest children," Wang said.
Villagers said the lead pollution, which has been transmitted through the air, is caused by a battery maker called Shengyuan Electronics Ltd., which began operations in 2007.
Last November, angry villagers blocked the main gate of the factory to protest the pollution and to request compensation for their children's medical bills.
Following the protest, the Dafeng Economic Development Zone penalized the company by reducing the amount of electricity supplied to the factory. But after only 20 days, production resumed without Shengyuan Electronics making any changes to its manufacturing process.
On Jan. 3, economic zone officials reportedly ordered the battery factory to shut down operations and relocate.
Lead poisoning common
Recent lead poisoning cases highlight serious problems of governance in China as authorities struggle to protect citizens and enforce environmental rules, experts say.
By Agence France Presse AFP - via (UNCENSORED) Yahoo! News
January 05, 2010
A California firm filed a 2.2 billion dollar lawsuit against China, accusing Beijing of stealing its technology to bar Internet access to political and religious sites in China.
Santa Barbara-based Cybersitter is suing the Chinese government, two Chinese companies and seven PC manufacturers for misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, copyright infringement and conspiracy in connection with the distribution of Green Dam Youth Escort.
Cybersitter was created to help parents filter content seen by children.
However, the suit alleges that the Chinese makers of Green Dam illegally copied more than 3,000 lines of code from the filtering software, and conspired with China's rulers and computer manufacturers to distribute more than 56 million copies of the pirated software throughout China.
The suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles alleges the computer manufacturers continued to distribute millions of copies of Green Dam even after becoming aware that the program's content filters were stolen.
The lawsuit also alleges the Chinese software makers broke United States laws governing economic espionage and trade secrets.
"This lawsuit aims to strike a blow against the all-too-common practices of foreign software manufacturers and distributors who believe that they can violate the intellectual property rights of small American companies with impunity without being brought to justice in US courts," Cybersitter attorney Greg Fayer said.
"American innovation is the lifeblood of the software industry, and it is vital that the fruits of those labors be protected at home and abroad," he said.
Green Dam made headlines when the Chinese government ordered all computer manufacturers to bundle the software with any computer sold in China after July 1, 2009.
Human rights groups protested the ruling, arguing Green Dam's filters would allow the Chinese government to block access to Web sites it deemed politically undesirable.
Cybersitter, billed as the first commercially available Internet content filter software, has won PC Magazine's Editor's Choice Award five times, according to the company.