CHINA - US: China is dismissing U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to take a
tougher stance toward the Asian economic power over trade and currency
A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry (Ma Zhaoxu) told
reporters Thursday that "accusations and pressure" will not resolve the
issues which have contributed to China's massive trade surplus with the
Mr. Obama told a group of lawmakers from his own Democratic Party
Wednesday that his administration plans to put "constant pressure" on
China and other countries to open their markets in reciprocal ways.
HONG KONG - DEMOCRACY: All major pro-Beijing political parties in Hong Kong have now said they
will boycott an upcoming special election triggered by the resignation
of pro-democracy legislators.
The Federation of Trade Unions announced Wednesday it will boycott the
elections. Hong Kong's two other major pro-Beijing parties earlier said
they will not participate.
Five pro-democracy legislators, one from each of Hong Kong's electoral
districts, resigned last month to trigger special elections that would
give pro-democracy supporters a platform to promote their cause.
US - VIETNAM: The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam says bilateral economic and diplomatic
relations have grown closer in recent years but that Washington is
increasingly concerned about the communist government's human rights
Michael Michalak noted in a speech in Hanoi Wednesday that the United
States last year became the largest foreign investor in Vietnam.
However, he also said that Vietnam's government seems to have increased
efforts to suppress the peaceful expression of political views.
Last month, Vietnamese courts convicted several dissidents of
anti-state activities and sentenced them to up to 16 years in prison.
PAKISTAN: Pakistani officials say they have arrested 35 suspects in connection
with a bombing that killed three American soldiers in northwest
Police official Naeem Khan said Thursday Pakistani police are
questioning the suspects to determine who orchestrated the suicide
Officials said the Wednesday blast that also killed four Pakistanis was
caused by a car bomber and not a roadside bomb as earlier reported.
Three of the Pakistani victims were schoolgirls, and the fourth was a
local soldier. More than 60 others were wounded in the blast.
IRAN NUCLEAR: China says discussions on imposing possible sanctions on Iran for its
nuclear program are complicating the situation and hindering diplomacy.
Speaking Thursday during a visit to France, Chinese Foreign Minister
Yang Jiechi said threatening Iran with sanctions is derailing efforts
to find a diplomatic solution.
Western countries are pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions
against Iran to try to force the country to enter into negotiations
over its nuclear ambitions.
World powers have reacted cautiously to an offer by Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to ship uranium abroad for enrichment, as called
for in a U.N.-brokered plan.
HAITI - EARTHQUAKE: Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive says more than 200,000 people
were killed in the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti January 12.
Prime Minister Bellerive released the figures Wednesday, saying 300,000 people were injured in the quake.
The 7.0-magnitude quake left the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and
surrounding areas in ruins. Officials also have said about one million
people were left homeless.
Earlier, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked former U.S.
President Bill Clinton to coordinate international aid efforts on Haiti.
TOYOTA: Japanese automaker Toyota says it expects an $882 million profit for
the fiscal year that ends in March, despite a global recall that will
cost $2 billion.
The world's top-selling automaker is reporting a better-than-expected
fourth quarter, with a net profit of $1.7 billion in the period between
October and December, thanks to government incentives to boost
But the embattled company says it will take a $2 billion loss this
quarter due to a global recall of more than seven million vehicles due
to problems involving the accelerator pedal.
WORLD CANCER DAY: A leading cancer researcher says cancer cases are exploding in the
developing world. Franco Cavalli, professor of oncology at a Swiss
university (University of Berne), says there is a misperception that
cancer is mainly a problem in rich countries. He says many cancers
linked to poverty are still very prevalent in the developing world. And
he says cancers linked to the "so-called Western style of life" are
also on the rise there. The International Union Against Cancer says 20
percent of the 12
million new cancer cases diagnosed each year are caused by viral and
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