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Monday, November 29, 2004

Resource Hungry China Makes Big Push Into Africa

 

Resource Hungry China Makes Big Push Into Africa

 

Reuters | 26 nov

by Andrew Quinn

JOHANNESBURG - Crumbling sport stadiums still stand in many African capitals, the enduring symbols of China's Cold War courtship of the world's poorest continent during the 1960s and 1970s.

 

That was before the communist giant embraced capitalism and transformed itself into probably the world's fastest growing economy. Now the Chinese are back in Africa, promoting business deals and strengthening diplomatic alliances in a strategic push that analysts say marks sharp new competition for the continent's rich resources.

 

From west African oil fields, where Chinese companies rub shoulders with Western multinationals, to central African mines, Beijing's Africa outreach is raising eyebrows in some Western capitals which sense a serious new player on the continent.

 

"China's role in Africa is a major emerging trend," said analyst Jakkie Cilliers of South Africa's Institute for Security Studies. "Everyone is watching to see how far it will go."

 

It is already deep into Zambia's agricultural heartland, where Chinese farmers are increasingly raising the vegetables that are on sale at Lusaka's street markets.

 

In Botswana local people say Chinese firms have a virtual monopoly on the construction business. China is helping Nigeria launch satellites, promoting cell phones in Zimbabwe and adding peacekeepers to United Nations (news - web sites) operations across the continent.

 

CAPITALISTS NOT COLONIALISTS

 

Chinese officials are quick to point out that China is no newcomer to Africa, proudly declaring that Chinese explorers had direct sea links with the continent as early as AD 700, long before Europeans arrived.

 

In the 1950s and 1960s, China's communist rulers also worked to befriend African governments as they promoted political independence from both western and Soviet superpowers.

 

"China and Africa shared similar experiences, both having suffered from aggression, plunder and enslavement by colonialists," Liu Guijin, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa and one of Beijing's top Africa hands, said at a recent lecture.

 

China's leaders now spotlight these historical links for modern economic objectives, promoting Beijing as a reliable partner who has no interest in lecturing Africa on sensitive subjects such as human rights, governance and corruption.

 

"From an African perspective, there is great sympathy for the Chinese position which is premised on respect for sovereignty," said Cilliers of the ISS.

 

This approach is expected to help boost overall China-Africa trade to more than $20 billion this year, double the level seen in 2000. It has also won China staunch allies, led by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who set a policy of "looking East" after Western powers imposed sanctions on his government.

 

State-owned Air Zimbabwe this month struck a deal with Chinese authorities to begin scheduled flights to Beijing.

 

"Politically, the 'look east' policy has given the government room to breathe," said Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei of the University of Zimbabwe.

 

China is already the biggest buyer of Zimbabwean tobacco, and this month a high-powered Chinese delegation visited Harare to sign deals on energy, telecoms, agriculture and tourism.

 

Neighboring Zambia has also benefited from China's rediscovered interest in Africa, with Chinese private and state investing more than $265 million in Zambia, $100 million of it between 2002 and 2004, most of it in copper mining.

 

China has also given grants for maintaining the Tanzania-Zambia railway -- built by Chinese engineers sent by Chairman Mao Zedong in the 1960s -- and Z-Cell, the cell phone subsidiary of Zambia's state telecommunications company.

 

"They are good friends," said Zambian Finance Minister Peter Magande.

 

OIL HUNGER

 

Analysts say China's Africa push is spurred in large part by its mounting hunger for raw materials, led by oil.

 

China is locking in long-term contracts with Nigeria and Angola -- which already supply it with as much oil as Saudi Arabia -- while China's state oil group CNPC owns 40 percent of Sudan's Greater Nile crude project and is looking at projects in possible new oil sources such as Niger.

 

China's oil operations in Africa put it in competition with western oil giants, whose high-handed methods have at times irritated their African hosts in the past.

 

"Many of the African governments like Chinese companies to come here to give balance to the current situation, which is dominated by western multinationals," Ambassador Liu said.

 

There are also political pay-offs for Beijing as it tightens its African links. Chief among these, analysts say, is limiting the diplomatic activities of Taiwan -- which Beijing calls a breakaway province -- and counterbalancing what China sees as resurgent "hegemonism" on the part of the United States.

 

"We are aware of increasing Chinese engagement....it is not a threat to us," said U.S. Ambassador Jendayi Frazer.

China in Latin America: China's Encroachment on America's Backyard

China's Encroachment on America's Backyard

 

Willy Lam writes about Hu Jintao's journey to Latin America and opportunity to secure economic and energy footholds in areas the US has neglected

Asia Pacific Media Network | 26 nov

by Willy Lam

Call it "Operation American Backyard." Hu Jintao's first trip to Latin America as president is emblematic of the fact that China's power projection has reached the furthest corners of the world - including Latin America, the United States' largely neglected backyard.

 

Hu's fortnight-long journey involves much more than the Chinese supremo's participation in the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago, Chile - more than even the much-awaited summit last Friday between Hu and President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the APEC Head of States conclave. Firstly, Hu's historic Latin American tour, which included Brazil, Argentina and Cuba, underscores the fact that "energy diplomacy" has become top priority for Chinese foreign and security policy in the wake of the spike in oil prices and continued instability in the Middle East.

 

Secondly, the remarkable trip made by Hu not long after he became China's commander-in-chief last September has confirmed that Chinese foreign policy has entered a new era of activism, including a more assertive role in far-flung areas such as Africa and Latin America. Some diplomatic analysts have even seen in the leaps-and-bounds developments in Sino-Latin American ties the beginnings of the "Sinicization of Latin America." It is true, of course, that no Chinese cadre would say openly that China is taking on the U.S. in its backyard. Yet the diplomatic analysts view the some 400 agreements and business deals notched up by Hu and his entourage of businessmen as pretty much amounting to a challenge to the 1823 Monroe Doctrine, which implies that Central and Latin America lie within Washington's "sphere of influence."

 

A Beijing source close to the Chinese diplomatic establishment said owing to the huge gap between the military might of China and the U.S., the Hu leadership would continue to steer clear of direct confrontation with Washington. However, he said advisers to the Hu leadership were convinced that in terms of the scramble for oil and other resources, competition between major powers such as China, the U.S., Japan and India has already reached fever pitch. "Before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Bush had characterized the U.S. and China as strategic competitors," the source added. "While Sino-U.S. rivalry has been sidetracked thanks to their cooperation in fighting terrorism, experts in both Beijing and Washington realize that the two countries are bound to intensify their jockeying for position in the field of securing scarce resources."

 

On the front of energy and resources, Latin America presents a bonanza for China in the areas of oil and gas, iron ore, agriculture produce such as beef and soya bean, and other items. The "all-weather strategic partnership" that Hu was able to cement with Brazil last week was especially noteworthy. The Brazil state oil firm, Petrobras, expected that China would this year become the third-leading destination of Brazilian crude exports, with shipments of about 50,000 barrels per day. At the same time, the Chinese state oil company Sinopec invested $1 billion in a joint venture with Petrobas for the construction of a gas pipeline linking south to northeast Brazil. Other deals the Chinese have recently signed included iron ore shipments from Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), one of the world's largest mining concerns, for Shanghai's famous Baoshan Steel Mill.

 

China's influence in the entire region has expanded owing to a dizzying array of new investments in not only mines and oilfields, but infrastructure and transport. Cumulative capital outlay has exceeded $4 billion. Last year alone, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) pumped $1.04 billion into the region, accounting for 36.5% of Latin America's foreign direct investment (FDI). Yet this figure has been dwarfed by what Hu and his delegation of state entrepreneurs pledged last week. The Chinese vowed to plough in $100 billion in the coming ten years. For instance, in Argentina alone, the SOEs are due to invest $19.7 billion in the coming decade in mines, railroads, and other infrastructure projects.

 

In his tightly packed tour, Hu also flashed the "solidarity with the developing world" card. In addresses to the parliaments of Brazil and Argentina, the Chinese President stressed that his country would "forever stay on the side of developing countries." Hu noted that China would spare no effort to help build a multi-polar world order - "a democratic international order as well as a multiple [approach] to development models." This seemed a not-so-subtle dig at the unilateralism, if not "neo-imperialism," supposedly pursued by the Bush administration.

 

More significantly, China's global clout is such that the Hu leadership is in a position to back up its rhetoric about helping Latin America with concrete economic and diplomatic gestures. Apart from FDI, Beijing has pledged to do what it can to promote the international status of large countries such as Brazil. Thus, China has lent support to Brazil's bid for a place in an expanded UN Security Council. Brazil's competitors include Japan - whose candidacy is supported by the U.S. - and India. Again, the subtext of the special relationship that Beijing has been trying to forge with Brasilia is that if Brazil feels that its economic and political aspirations have been adversely affected by the giant shadow cast by the U.S., China is ready to extend a helping hand.

 

In return for its largesse, Beijing will have assured supplies of oil and gas, minerals ranging from gold to nickel, as well as agricultural produce. This is despite the much longer distance involved in shipping over the goods to China. Moreover, Latin American countries including Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru last week agreed to recognize China's "full market economy status" (FMES). So far, some two dozen countries have accepted the Middle Kingdom's FMES, and Beijing is poised to put more pressure on the European Union to do the same. Recognition of this status would enable China to better defend itself against charges of dumping that may be raised by its trading partners.

 

Beijing's much higher profile in this far-off region is also set to yield a Taiwan-related bonus. The Hu leadership is convinced that as China's influence grows, it will be well-positioned to persuade practically all Central and Latin American countries to dump Taiwan. Already, the 13 Central and Latin American countries that still recognize Taipei are facing intense pressure from their businessmen, who are barred from the lucrative China market because of the Taiwan factor. The next country in this region that may switch recognition from Taiwan to China may be El Salvador. Recently, the El Salvador Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez admitted that his country was considering establishing diplomatic links with China owing to lobbying by the local business community that was anxious to profit from the China market.

 

Over the long term, China's Latin-American offensive could have a negative impact on Sino-U.S. relations. This is despite the fact that the Bush-Hu tête-à-tête last week was generally successful. Hu said after the brief meeting that he appreciated Washington's one-China stance - and vowed to work closer with the Bush White House in the coming four years to promote a "constructive, cooperative relationship" with the U.S. And Bush praised Chinese cooperation in the global war against terrorism, particularly Beijing's contribution to a possible resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis.

 

Hu's whirlwind tour of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba the past week or so, however, has illustrated the extent to which Beijing can exploit the less-than-cozy relations between the U.S. and Latin America to establish major economic and energy footholds in Washington's backyard. The Bush White House certainly does not want to see Beijing boosting its influence in countries such as Venezuela and Cuba, whose leaderships have thumbed their nose at Washington. Beijing's apparent success in securing oil supplies from Venezuela could undercut that country's crude exports to the U.S. And ever more intimate economic cooperation between China and Cuba will hurt the ability of the Bush administration to put pressure on the Fidel Castro regime through the imposition of sanctions. Indeed, in his meeting with a wheelchair-bound Castro earlier this week, Hu rhapsodized over the fact that China and Cuba were "not only friends, but brothers." The Chinese president then vowed to boost economic and technological aid to the pariah state.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Kiribati's Chinese President & Taiwan's Pacific power play

Taiwan's Pacific power play
Kiribati: Struggling for world respect, the 'Republic of China' uses dollar diplomacy, gets recognition from a remote Pacific island nation.
By Gady A. Epstein

Baltimore Sun Foreign Staff
Originally published February 15, 2004

TARAWA, Kiribati - Harry Tong was planning to run for president of this tiny republic in the middle of the Pacific, so of course he appreciated the gesture made by an official from Taiwan. As Tong remembers it, the official placed a black satchel filled with cash on the coffee table in front of him.

It was late 2002, and Tong was meeting with a Taiwanese trade representative, Fu-tien Liu, whose government had expressed considerable interest in his presidential ambitions. Tong said Liu told him that the cash - $80,000, according to Tong's campaign manager - was a contribution to his campaign.

"Unbelievable," Tong recalls thinking. Then he told himself, quickly sliding the money over to his campaign manager, "Now we have a chance to compete."

But nagging at Harry Tong's mind was a fundamental question: Why on earth is Taiwan so interested in our little country?

The explanation for Taiwan's interest is both obvious and mystifying. Kiribati (pronounced "Kiribas") is the latest pawn in the decades-old diplomatic feud between China and Taiwan, in which the worth of a country is measured not so much by its gross domestic product as by its membership in the United Nations, something Taiwan has lost and desperately wants to regain.

Taiwan has since won full diplomatic relations with Kiribati, a hard-to-reach collection of coral atolls, population about 90,000, that straddles the equator just west of the international date line. It is one of 27 nations that recognize the "Republic of China."

How Kiribati became Taiwan's latest prize is a tale of two brothers who ran against each other for president, their rivalry becoming a proxy for a diplomatic battle between two Chinas.

And it is a story about money, about how one of the two Chinas managed to buy its way into this impoverished nation's favor, with as much as $8 million a year in aid and, critics contend, with satchels of cash for one brother and then the other.

Harry Tong, 53, narrowly lost his bid for the presidency in July to his younger brother, Anote Tong, who acknowledges receiving bags of campaign cash from outside the country last spring. Anote Tong, 51, won't say who gave him the money - he said he doesn't even know who some of the donors were - but he said he doesn't believe any of it came from Taiwan.

Anote Tong, however, says happily that money was the deciding factor in recognizing Taiwan.

"People accuse me of engaging in dollar diplomacy. In what country's diplomacy is there not some sort of gain involved?" said the president, who was in Taipei with his wife for a state visit, all expenses paid by Taiwan. "Had we told the people that this assistance had been offered and we had rejected it, then we would have been rejected by the people."

President Tong and his appointed Cabinet agreed in October to recognize Taiwan without public debate, announcing the decision after Tong signed the final agreement with Taiwan on Nov. 7. China cut its ties weeks later.

China regards Taiwan, an island of 23 million people off the southeast China coast, as a renegade province of the People's Republic, not a sovereign nation. It expends tremendous energy to keep other countries from recognizing Taiwan and international organizations from accepting Taiwan as a member.

Now, two Chinese embassies on Tarawa, one occupied only by caretakers from Beijing, the other flying the flag of the Republic of China, are little more than 100 yards apart, their occupants never meeting.

That Taiwan successfully wooed Kiribati was a rare setback for China. But the courtship also reflects how the roles of China and Taiwan have reversed in the past 30 years.

For more than two decades after Chiang Kai-shek set up his government-in-exile on Taiwan in 1949, the United States and the United Nations chose to recognize the Taiwan government as the legitimate representative of the mainland.

Taiwan lost its permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council to Beijing in 1971 and suffered another blow in 1979, when the United States normalized relations with Beijing and cut formal ties with Taipei.

Thus the United Nations and the United States affirmed the "one China" principle, which holds that there is one China, represented by Beijing, and that Taiwan is part of it.

Since then, with its strict insistence on the "one China" policy, Beijing has pushed this second China almost literally to the ends of the earth looking for friends, money in hand.

In Kiribati, Taiwan has found a place that certainly needs the money.

Under other circumstances, Kiribati would hardly seem much of a prize. Situated between Australia and Hawaii in the vast expanse of Oceania, the country is a string of coral atolls spread out over thousands of miles.

It was last of any strategic significance during World War II, when the Americans defeated the Japanese here in one of the bloodier - and, critics have said, unnecessary - battles of World War II, leaving thousands dead on both sides.

Today, the country they fought over has no farmable soil. Its only worthwhile asset is territorial fishing rights, and its only valuable export - phosphate from fossilized bird droppings - was exhausted 25 years ago.

An estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of the islanders are jobless or severely underemployed, and the per capita income is less than $1,000 a year.

Most people live without electricity or running water, their garbage is strewn in ubiquitous piles, and Tarawa's deceptively beautiful ocean lagoon is the island latrine.

With the population's average age at about 20, most of the jobless are young and have little to occupy their time. Some on the outer islands live by subsistence fishing, but many migrate to the only developed island, crowded Tarawa, looking for jobs that don't exist.

Young men line up on mornings for a chance at manual labor, such as hauling coconut meat when the occasional shipment comes in from other islands. A few scavenge for coral to sell to builders for about 80 cents a bag. Some can gain a posting on a merchant ship.

In families and extended families of as many as 10 members, it is not uncommon for one paycheck to support everyone. The rest of the young and old of Kiribati idle in the sweltering heat and shadows most days. Alcohol abuse is rampant.

Without generous foreign aid - roughly $50 million a year, mostly in in-kind contributions - Kiribati could hardly survive the independence it gained from Britain in 1979. But the allegiance that an independent Kiribati could offer was attractive to Taiwan, and Kiribati's poverty made that attainable.

If there was to be a Taiwanese courtship of Kiribati, Harry Tong would have been a sensible beginning for it.

Until recent years, the Tongs had been on good terms with China. Tong's father, a Chinese immigrant, had helped the Chinese get settled on the island when diplomatic relations were established in 1980. The Chinese ambassador occasionally invited the Tongs, including Harry and Anote, over for dinner.


Tracking station

The last dinner was a couple of years ago, after Harry Tong, a longtime member of Parliament, began calling for China to dismantle its satellite tracking station on Tarawa. China built the station seven years ago, ostensibly to monitor its satellite launches.

Defense analysts, U.S. officials and critics here argued that China might also be using it to spy on the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands, where the United States conducts tests of its missile shield program, which China opposes.

At the Tong family's final dinner together at the Chinese Embassy, Harry repeated his criticism of the station, and the Chinese ambassador pointedly reminded him of his heritage.

"He compared the Chinese people to one big tree," Harry Tong said. "When the leaves fall down, they end up by the root, which is China."

Instead, Harry Tong soon drifted closer to Taiwan.

The relationship might have begun in the spring of 2002, with a trip to nearby Fiji by Brian Orme, Harry Tong's longtime friend and campaign manager.

The Irish-born Orme, 72, left home as a teen-age merchant seaman and arrived in Kiribati in the late 1960s. Covered in tattoos from his merchant marine days, he is fond of drink and conversation, and might unsheathe a long knife to accentuate a point.


Parallel interests

Orme said he met representatives of the Taiwanese trade mission in Fiji by chance. It would be a fortunate match of interests, he said: He was looking for funds for Harry Tong's presidential bid, and the Taiwanese trade representative, Fu-tien Liu, was intrigued to learn of Orme's connection to the future candidate.

Orme returned to Fiji on Aug. 19, 2002, at Taiwan's invitation and expense, this time with Harry Tong, whom Liu then introduced to members of a Taiwanese delegation at a regional conference.

On a subsequent trip to Fiji, "they came up with the money," Tong said, describing the satchel. "I couldn't believe it. I saw it was hard cash." Tong and Orme said they received two more bags the next spring, each containing $30,000. Orme said all of the money was spent on campaigning.

Liu asked for something in return April 17 last year during one of the bag pickups in Fiji, Tong said. He said Liu persuaded him to sign a memorandum of understanding that, if elected, he would recognize Taiwan. Copies were provided to a reporter.


Denial from Taiwan

In e-mail exchanges, Liu denied that Taiwanese money was given to candidates in Kiribati. He chose not to answer specific questions addressing the rest of Tong and Orme's account, including the memorandum, or whether he had met with Anote Tong before the election, except to say generally that Taiwan's policy is not to intervene in any country's domestic matters, including elections.

"This office or myself will not and did not provide money to certain candidates in the Kiribati election last year," Liu said in his most specific statements by e-mail last week. "The claims and related accusations you heard from someone are ridiculous and baseless. The motivating force behind it is very ill-minded."

Harry Tong, passed over by his own party in the jostling for president, switched parties to run for president in last year's July 4 election. Anote, who remained in Harry's old party, decided to run against him.

Anote Tong had not seemed the likelier of the two brothers to warm to Taiwan, but his party - Harry Tong's former party - had been critical of China's tracking station. When Anote Tong and two associates returned last spring from a trip to the Marshall Islands - another ally of Taiwan - with bags of cash, political opponents began speculating that Taiwan was backing him.

Harry Tong said he was among the suspicious. Harry had been reluctant about signing Liu's memorandum, and he and Orme thought the Taiwanese were hedging their bets.

Anote Tong said the cash from his trip to the Marshall Islands - $35,000 to $40,000 - came from friends, business interests and, in some cases, people he didn't know. He declined to identify the sources he did know.

"As far as I know," he said, "there was no funding by any foreign government."

Some news media accounts, including in China's state-run media, have since reported that Tong and his party received far larger sums, more than $1 million total, which the president denies. Harry Tong said the Taiwanese offered to "take care" of his family and that he thinks Anote also might have profited that way.

In Parliament in November, Harry Tong called for an investigation. He said he suspects his younger brother, whose party quashed the proposal, has something to hide: "He sold our country to the Taiwanese."

A graduate of the London School of Economics, Anote held forth in his second-floor presidential office recently in shorts, flip-flops and a short-sleeved shirt. He accused China of interfering in an earlier election last year and said, somewhat elliptically, that Taiwan had never had any "formal" contact with him before his July 4 victory.

Anote Tong said Taiwanese officials first approached him months after the election, in October, and that the only money they promised was for his people: $8 million a year for four years, mostly through projects such as upgrading an airport and possibly starting a fish-processing plant.

The figure equates to about $90 a year for each man, woman and child on Kiribati, and compares favorably to the $1 million to $2 million in annual aid from China. "It was a good package," Tong said.

Things moved quickly from there. Late on the evening of Oct. 24, just days before Tong's Cabinet would meet to approve the Taiwan offer, Chinese Ambassador Ma Shuxue heard what was coming, Tong said, and called him at home several times, into the early hours of the morning. Tong, angry, finally agreed to get on the telephone and had a brief, "heated" conversation.

"I slammed the phone down," Tong said, adding that the ambassador did not use "diplomatic language" in addressing him. "Maybe he was very nervous. I can understand that."

A senior Chinese diplomat then rushed down from Beijing in a last-minute effort to rescue the situation, Tong said. Tong had dinner with him, during which the topic of Taiwan glaringly never came up. After the meal, while returning from the toilet, Tong found himself cornered.

"So what do I say to my president when I get back?" the senior diplomat asked, leaving no doubt about what he meant. Tong said he replied with an obvious air of finality, "Give him my regards." The deal with Taiwan was signed days later.

In leaving weeks later, China dismantled the tracking station, left behind an unfinished sports stadium, pulled out six doctors on loan to the hospital and cut short the free university education some Kiribati students had been getting in China. Taiwan has agreed to fill the gaps left by China's departure, Anote Tong said.

"As far as the people of Kiribati are concerned, they don't really care whether it's Taiwan or China," he said, reflecting the sort of pragmatism refined from a century of foreign influence. "But they do care how it affects them, how it impacts their lives."

That Taiwan managed to turn Kiribati's poor position in the world to its advantage could be seen as an embarrassing diplomatic failure for China; Taiwanese officials feel full recognition from other countries in the United Nations, even if they're small countries, gives Taiwan something of a toehold on sovereignty.

But the wooing of Kiribati is a confirmation of China's near-complete success in its decades-long quest to isolate Taiwan on the international stage, impeding its relations with other countries and blocking its entry into bodies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

The success of China's zealous pursuit of the "one China" policy is evident in microcosm even on Kiribati. Other foreign commissions here keep their distance from their new colleagues in the diplomatic corps.

"I haven't had any dealings with them," said one senior diplomat here, on condition of anonymity. "We don't go to their receptions, and they don't come to ours, because we don't invite them."

The awkwardness extends to Taiwan's reclusive neighbors at the former embassy complex. The Taiwanese diplomats have yet to see any of the Chinese caretakers residing there, and suspect they might be looking after more than their own buildings.

After years of watching China use its muscle to marginalize their island government, the Taiwanese are deeply suspicious that China will use whatever means necessary to undermine any of their diplomatic victories.

"We must still be careful. China is like an invisible hand," Taiwan's ambassador to Kiribati, Samuel Chen, said in a low, soft voice. "I've never seen their people because they always hide, hide in the dark. We are in the bright, but they are in the dark."

 

China woos South Pacific

China woos South Pacific

Published November 26, 2004

The flow of tourists, aid projects and investment reflects Beijing's penetration of the island nations

By JAMES BROOKE

ASIAN leaders flying home this week from a regional meeting with US President George W Bush in Chile might have looked down over the widely scattered South Pacific islands and believed they were flying over an American playground. But judging by the swelling flood of Chinese tourists to these sunbathed islands, the Pacific is rapidly becoming a destination for Chinese tourism, fishing and investment.

Swelling flood: Chinese tourism worldwide is forecast to hit 100m in 2020. Beyond aid, China's biggest economic attraction for the mini-states of Oceania is tourism

In July, China Southern started flying to Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, twice a week from Shanghai. In October, China gave the green light to mass tourism in the Northern Marianas, granting approved destination status. On Jan 2, direct flights are to start from Beijing.

'Almost every flight is full - tomorrow night's flight is overbooked, Friday's flight is overbooked,' said Tom Liu, the general manager of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, a US$150 million Chinese-owned investment on Saipan's next-door island. Speaking by phone from his hotel, which features Chinese dragon decor and a plush discotheque, Club de Macau, Mr Liu said that the start of a lone flight from Guangzhou in April 2002 raised occupancies at his 412-room hotel from 15 per cent to 65 per cent today. With Chinese tourism doubling this year and expected to hit 50,000 next year, he predicted confidently: 'China will definitely be our largest market.'

Washed by warm Pacific breezes, these small volcanic islands have floated with the historical ebb and flow of world maritime powers: 350 years of Spanish rule, 15 years of German rule, 30 years of Japanese rule and now, 60 years of American rule. But now, with Chinese tourism worldwide forecast to hit 100 million in 2020 - a 10-fold increase in two decades - the Tinian hotel is betting on China. Next year, it hopes to open for direct flights from China, a brand new US$23 million, 8,600-foot airstrip. Built by Americans, the runway is already being called 'the Chinese airport' by residents.

Economic power

China is emerging as an economic power in the Pacific, an area that covers one-third of the globe. Although populations are small, the mini-states of Oceania straddle crucial shipping lanes and valuable fishing grounds. The arrival of tourists, aid projects and investment signifies China's penetration of the Pacific.

'The Chinese will dwarf the Japanese in tourism and business,' said Dirk A Ballendorf, an American who teaches Micronesia's history at the University of Guam in Saipan. 'I recommend that all my students study Chinese.'

This spring, China joined the South Pacific Tourism Organisation - a move that came after granting preferential tourism status to the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and now the Northern Marianas, only a four-hour flight from Shanghai. With a Chinese airline studying direct flights to Fiji, China's ambassador to Fiji, Cai Jinbiao, has said that China will be a major contributor to Fiji's five-year target of turning tourism into a US$1 billion-a-year industry.

In Tahiti, the China Travel Service, which is China's biggest tour operator, recently announced that it would invest nearly US$100 million in two hotels. French Polynesia wants to open tourism offices in Beijing and Shanghai and the local airline, Air Tahiti Nui, is studying starting flights to Shanghai. In Tonga, Chinese investors spent US$4 million to renovate the International Dateline Hotel.

Roughly 3,000 Chinese companies do business in the Pacific, with nearly US$1 billion in hotels, plantations, garment factories, fishing and logging operations. China is building a 50-boat tuna fleet for Fiji - a reflection of China's interest in the massive fisheries of the Pacific.

In a classic case of mixing investment with aid and public relations, China announced a plan to invest US$3 million in a tuna-freezing factory in Papua New Guinea on Sept 9, one week after a news team from The People's Daily interviewed Prime Minister Michael Somare in Port Moresby. Purchasing black pearls from Tahiti, logs from Papua New Guinea and nickel from New Caledonia, China's trade with the Pacific has steadily grown. China now plans to subsidise the establishment in Beijing and Hong Kong of trade offices of the Pacific Islands Forum, a regional government group.

In Tonga, a Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, is investing US$17 million in a cell phone expansion project of the Shoreline Group, a telephone and power conglomerate controlled by Tonga's royal family. Shortly after the investment was announced in July, Tonga announced the appointment of its first ambassador to Beijing.

Forging economic links with local rulers is common as China courts Pacific leaders with trips to Beijing. In recent years, China has hosted the leaders of Fiji, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. Beijing also flies diplomats, journalists and tourism officials to China for training or familiarisation tours.

Although Japan is still the region's largest aid donor, China has concentrated on high-profile projects: a China Friendship Sports Centre in Pohnpei for the Micronesia Games; a stadium in Fiji for the South Pacific Games; a Parliament for Vanuatu; a courthouse and a police station for the Cook Islands; a 52-classroom high school for Tonga's capital; a Foreign Ministry for Papua New Guinea; a multistorey government office for Samoa; a larger-than-life-size bronze statue of King Tupou IV of Tonga; and a ferry service for Kiribati, a republic spread over one million square miles.

With the flag following trade, China's South Sea Fleet has started to venture from its home port in Zhanjiang, dropping anchor since 2000 in Hawaii, Palau and Tahiti, and last October, in Guam, the forward bastion of US military power in the Western Pacific. Just the way 50 Guam residents of Chinese heritage waved Chinese and American flags to welcome the ships of China's navy, a Chinese minority across the Pacific is easing the way for spreading Chinese influence.

In the Pacific, the Chinese diaspora ranges from newly arrived illegal immigrants to middle-class Chinese who have acquired Pacific Island nation passports to local elites who are descendants of 19th century Chinese imported to work in plantations and mines.

New commercial class

On Fiji, a nation long torn by ethnic rivalries, Chinese immigrants are becoming the new commercial class, displacing departing ethnic Indians. In French Polynesia, Robert Wan, a local businessman of Chinese origin, has won Beijing's approval to open a Chinese cultural centre in Tahiti. The parliaments of Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands have prominent members of Chinese origin.

Taiwan also plays on the ethnic ties. Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati, is the son of a Chinese immigrant, who helped China open its embassy in Tarawa, the capital, in 1980. This ethnic affinity did not help Beijing last fall when Mr Tong extended diplomatic relations to Taiwan, apparently in return for US$8 million in annual aid through 2007.

Playing China off Taiwan, small islands often offer recognition to the highest bidder. A few months after Nauru broke with Taiwan and opened ties with Beijing, in 2002, China extended a US$2.4 million loan to the virtually bankrupt nation of 12,000. At latest count, five Pacific nations - Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu - maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

During two weeks of flip-flops this month, Vanuatu, a nation of 200,000 people north-east of Australia, broke with Beijing, recognised Taiwan and finally returned to Beijing. Prime Minister Serge Vohor cited a lack of aid as his primary reason for breaking with Beijing, despite numerous agreements. China is financing an agricultural college, a rice farm and a biogas project and has promised two ferries for this nation of 82 islands.

Beyond aid, China's biggest economic attraction for island nations is tourism. By January, Boeings and Airbuses will disgorge tourists on almost daily basis to Saipan, one of China's closest Pacific island destinations. 'The Chinese go with their gut, that's why we like them,' said Ken Barberis, general manager of the Tinian Dynasty casino, among the rings and whirs of slot machines and the cheers - and groans - from card tables. - NYT

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Fwd: North Korea

Some people collect art, some collect forbidden countries, some collect girls,  but the strangest must be those who collect girls from forbidden countries.

This is a strange email I received from a visitor to my North Korean travelogue website (http://weecheng.com/asia/dprk/index.htm):

How do you propose I reply?
 
Note: The surname and email of the individual has been blanked out.

Alexander Gxxxxx <---@yahoo.com> wrote:
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 20:40:18 -0800 (PST)
From: Alexander Gxxxxx
Subject: North Korea
To: weecheng

Mr Cheng,

I was referred your site by Mr Rxxxx from Chicago. I
liked your photos of North Korea. I have one question
for you. Do you have any pictures of hot north korean
chicks. I have been on this quest to meet girls from
forbidden countries. I have been thru Iranian, Arabic,
a little french etc.

Do you have any pictures or phone numbers of hot N
Korean girls?

Thank You.

=====
Alexander Gxxxxx

Monday, November 22, 2004

Compassion in Cambodia

 

Compassion in Cambodia

By Cyril Chin-Kidess, Pacific News Service. Posted November 19, 2004.


While many U.S. counties passed anti-gay measures in the last election, the retired king of Cambodia declares that as a "liberal democracy," Cambodia should allow "marriage between man and man ... or between woman and woman." He follows it up by making at least one foreign couple feel at home. Story Tools
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More stories by Cyril Chin-Kidess

Anyone disheartened by the way many U.S. leaders cast gay marriage as a "threat" to moral values should remember that there is a world beyond the reach of America's courts and legislatures, where gays and lesbians and their unions are acknowledged and accepted, often without great fanfare. Take my story, for instance.

Although I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I've lived abroad for the last 10 years and have been with my partner, Theo, for eight years. Theo is a German diplomat, so we move around a lot. At the beginning of this year, Theo was offered a posting to Phnom Penh. He accepted on the condition that the German foreign ministry find a way for me to accompany him.

While Germany legally recognizes same-sex unions and the German foreign ministry supports our partnership, the Cambodian government does not, nor would it grant me the same long-stay diplomatic visa typically issued to a diplomat's spouse. I could, of course, have tried to find a job in Cambodia and apply for a work permit. But if I wanted to live in Cambodia solely on the grounds of my relationship with Theo, I would have to go in and out of the country on a monthly tourist visa, become a student or go under the guise of Theo's domestic help – a common scenario for gay diplomats and their partners worldwide, including those posted to the United States.

I was fortunate enough to find an alternate way.

The recently retired King of Cambodia, His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, has led a fascinating life. From his coronation in 1941, to achieving independence from France in 1953, to recently ensuring the continuation of the monarchy with the election of his son, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, as his successor, King Sihanouk has been pivotal in the history of modern Cambodia. In between ruling, abdicating, being prime minister and head of state (as well as a musician, a film director and an actor), living in exile, being imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge and becoming king again in 1993, King Sihanouk always demonstrated a resilient compassion for his country and people.

King Sihanouk also takes a keen interest in world events. One such event was San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to have San Francisco issue marriage licenses on a non-discriminatory basis. On Feb. 20, after seeing televised images of some of the gay weddings in San Francisco, King Sihanouk commented on his Web site, www.norodomsihanouk.info, that as a "liberal democracy" Cambodia should allow "marriage between man and man ... or between woman and woman." On Feb. 26, King Sihanouk followed up with a letter in which he disagreed that God absolutely opposes "gays"; rather, he wrote, "God, like Buddha, is compassion, indulgence, non-discrimination."

In March, unable to resist the opportunity presented by King Sihanouk's comments, I wrote to him for help. Remarkably, King Sihanouk personally replied a few days later, "You are welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia." With that, Theo and I moved to Cambodia at the end of July, and a month later I received a three-year Cambodian visa in my German diplomatic passport.

Having lived and travelled in many countries where gay marriages or unions are officially recognized and where most people simply don't care whether you are gay or straight, I find it hard to believe that everyday Americans are any different at heart. As far as I am concerned, Mayor Newsom and King Sihanouk put the issue simply and got it right. Theo and I are indebted to them, and we hope that others will find the compassion and courage to follow their example.

Unfortunately, gay marriage has become a highly charged rallying cry for those desiring to push forward a much broader and divisive political agenda for the country. Perhaps the way forward is to stop focusing on the emotive word "marriage" and press ahead for meaningful civil unions. Then leave it to the American people, if for no other reason than simply out of convenience, to start using the words "married" and "marriage" in everyday discourse. Technically, Theo and I entered into a "Lebenspartnerschaft," or life partnership, under German law, but everyone we know just says that we're married – or worse, that we're an old married couple. Meanwhile, as Germans see that their cities have not turned into stone and become more at ease with "gay marriage," the legal differences between civil unions and marriage are slowly being chipped away.

Cyril Chin-Kidess is an Asian American lawyer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently doing pro bono work in Cambodia for the Secretariat of the Royal Government Task Force in charge of setting up the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal.

"Alexander the Great"- breaking ground with a gay movie hero

I wonder if Singapore's ridiculously Victorian censors would deal with this.  Perhaps it's time they accept bisexuality and homosexuality have always existed in human history.
 
====
 
20 Nov 04
The New York Times
 
"Alexander"- breaking ground with a gay movie hero

Los Angeles - As the culture wars rage anew between social
conservatives and their liberal counterparts, Hollywood is preparing to
break fresh ground by releasing a high-budget epic film in which the
lead character - a classic, and classical, action hero - is
passionately in love with a man.
 
In Oliver Stone's three-hour drama, "Alexander," Colin Farrell, as the
fourth-century Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, has a number
of tender love scenes with his best friend, Hephaistion, played by a
long-haired Jared Leto. In the film, which cost about $155 million to
produce, Alexander is also married to Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson,
but the marriage takes a back seat to his passion for his boyhood
friend.
 
In decades past, Hollywood hinted at classical homosexuality in major
films like 1960's "Spartacus." And it has dealt with the contemporary
subject comically in films like "The Birdcage," the 1996 adaptation of
the French film "La Cage aux Folles." But the film industry has never
risked quite so much on a blockbuster film that depicts a leading man
as gay or bisexual.
 
In breaking with that historical reticence, "Alexander," set for
release by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Brothers studio next Wednesday,
may redefine what is acceptable to mass audiences when it comes to
heroic portrayals on the silver screen.
 
Warner, which financed "Alexander" with the German company Intermedia,
has taken pains to de-emphasize the film's gay aspect in its
advertising campaign - the trailer declares Alexander's "passion" while
showing a love scene between Mr. Farrell and Ms. Dawson.
 
Mr. Stone, who had final say over the film, scaled back some of the gay
love scenes after Warner objected to them and to some of the movie's
violence. But the director, who critics say took liberties with
historical fact in films like "J.F.K." and "Nixon," said that his
choice with "Alexander" was to hew to the record.
 
"I don't want to corrupt history," Mr. Stone said in an interview. "I
don't want to say, 'How do I make this work for a modern audience?'
Alexander to me is a perfect blend of male-female, masculine-feminine,
yin-yang. He could communicate with both sides of his nature. When you
get to modern-day focus groups, to who'll get offended in Hawaii or
Maine, you can't get out of it."
 
Still, Mr. Stone said he was concerned that there might be a backlash.
"I'd be naﶥ not to be concerned, in America, anyway," he said. "I
didn't know there would be a parallel situation going on."
The parallel situation Mr. Stone refers to is that in the wake of the
presidential election and the passage of prohibitions on gay marriage
in a number of states, homosexuality has resurfaced as a focus of
debate and controversy among cultural critics.
 
Some are already taking aim at Mr. Stone's movie. "There will be people
who see Alexander the Great's bisexuality as applauding that lifestyle,
and unfortunately it will lead some young boys, young men down a path
that I think they'll regret someday," said Bob Waliszewski, a film
critic with Focus on the Family, a Christian group.
 
In Greece, Reuters reported that a group of Greek lawyers threatened to
sue the studio and Mr. Stone for saying that Alexander was bisexual.
Warner and Intermedia said they had not been contacted by the group.
Historians of antiquity say the picture's depiction of Alexander is
more or less accurate, noting that the conqueror was inconsolable when
Hephaistion died, though he also had various wives and mistresses. They
also note that Alexander's bisexuality was common for his time.
 
"In the broadest sense Hephaistion is the love of his life, and not
just based on sex," said Robin Lane Fox, an Oxford historian who was a
consultant on the film. "They'd been together since boyhood, 25 years.
That's what Oliver, with the Hephaistion scenes, was trying to
present."
 
But historians of cinema said the depiction of a gay or bisexual
leading man in a major Hollywood film had little precedent. When Warner
earlier this year released another classical epic, "Troy" - based on
"The Iliad" - it changed what Greek scholars regard as a love
relationship between Achilles and Patroclus into a family tie. In that
film, Patroclus is Achilles' cousin, and Achilles, played by a
glisteningly buff Brad Pitt, is decidedly heterosexual.
 
As for "Alexander," Warner Brothers' president, Alan F. Horn,
explained: "Oliver Stone is a final-cut director. He was very clear at
the point at which I green-lit the movie that Alexander was a bisexual
character. He felt very strongly about being historically accurate."
At least some experts say they believe the resulting film will be
credited with breaking a taboo that was due to fall. "I think it will
be seen as a landmark," said Thomas Waugh, film professor at Concordia
University in Montreal and author of "The Fruit Machine: Twenty Years
of Writings on Queer Cinema."
 

Monday, November 08, 2004

Cambodian wine made from Singapore grapes?

I was sent the link to this amazing blog entry by someone:
 
Check the site for the amazing pictures.
 

CAMBODIAN MUSCLE WINE

I haven't been blogging much lately. There are good reasons for that (job search, the need to reinstall everything on my PC and, this week, 10- to 12 -hour days at work). As I can't afford to spend my time writing a thousand words today, I've decide to post a couple of pictures.

This was some of the vilest stuff I have ever tasted... for those occasions when you can't make it to the gym, try Cambodian muscle wine, made from Singapore-extracted grapes.



“Wrestler” red wine refined by standardized supervision of laboratory of Ministry of Industry. It is produced from red grape with the combination of imported raw materials. After having taste you will get good health and full of strength. Our company has an honor to inform you that our company's product of “Wrestler” red wine, is factually distilled from red grapes extracted in Singapore with high quality, to be trusted and to your satisfaction. “Wrestler” is a new taste which has never existed before.
For those who have never savored “Wrestler” please join us now. You will sense its valuable and marvelous taste.




A local gentleman told me it is was more drinkable when mixed with coconut.

 

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Singapore in Encyclopedia Britannica 1911

 
====================
 
SINGAPORE (Malay, Singapfira, i.e. The City of the Lion), a town and island situated at the S. extremity of the Malay Peninsula in 1 20 N., 103 50 E. Singapore is the Singapore most important part of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements, which consists with it of Penang, Province \Vellesley and the Dindings, and Malacca. The port is one of the most valuable of the minor possessions of Great Britain, as it lies midway between India and China, and thus forms the most important halting-place on the great trading-route to the Far East. It is strongly fortified by forts and guns of modern type upon which large sums have been expended by the imperial government, aided by a heavy annual military contribution payable by the colony and fixed at 20% of its gross revenue. Its geographical position gives it strategic value as a naval base; and as a commercial centre it is without a rival in this part of Asia. Its prosperity has been greatly enhanced by the rapid development of the Federated Malay States on the mainland. It possesses a good harbour; docks and extensive coalingwharves, which have been acquired by government from the Tan jong Pagar Dock Company, and are undergoing considerable extensions; an admiralty dockyard; and many facilities for shipping. It is also resorted to by native sailing craft from all parts of the Malay Archipelago. On the island oi Plau Brani stand the largest tin-smelting works in existence, which for many years have annually passed through their furnaces more than half the total tin output of the world. Singapore has alsc establishments for tinning pineapples, and a large biscuit factory, The town possesses few buildings of any note, but government house, the law-courts, the gaol, the lunatic asylum and the HongKong and Shanghai Bank are exceptions, as also is thecathedral of St Andrew. There are three Roman Catholic churches, a Free Kirk, an American mission, and several chapels belonging to Nonconformist sects. The mosques and Chinese and Hindu temples are numerous. There are extensive military barracks at Tanglin. There is a good race-course and polo-ground, a fine cricket-ground on the esplanade, three golf courses, and several clubs.

The island is 27 m. long by 14 m. broad, and is separated from the native state of Johor, situated on the mainland of the Malay Peninsula, by a strait which, at its narrowest point, is Singapore less than 2 m. in width. A line of railway connects the island.

town of Singapore with the spot on the strait opposite to the town of Johor Bharu. The strait which divides the island from the Dutch islands of Bintang, Rhio, &c., bears the name of the Singapore Strait. The surface of the island is undulating and diversified by low hills, the highest point being Bukit Timah, on the NW. of the town, which is a little over 500 ft. in altitude. Geologically, the core of the island consists of crystalline rocksi but in the W. there are shales, conglomerates and sandstones; and all round the island the valleys are filled with alluvial deposits on a much more extensive scale than might have been looked for seeing that no river in the island has a course longer than some 6 m. The SW. shores are fringed with coral reefs, and living coral fields are found in many parts of the straits. Being composed largely of red clays and laterite, the soil is not generally rich, and calls for the patient cultivation of the Chinese gardener to make it really productive. There is a forest reserve near the centre of the island, but the forest is of a mean type. The humid climate causes the foliage here, as in other parts of Malaya, to be very luxuriant, and the contrast presented by the bright green on every side and the rich red laterite of the roads is striking. When it was first occupied by Sir Stanford Raffles, on behalf of the East India Company, the island was covered by jungle, but now all the land not reserved by government has been taken up, principally by Chinese, who plant vegetables in large quantities, indigo and other tropical products. There are fine botanical gardens at Tanglili on the outskirts of the town.

Ciimate.The climate of Singapore is always humid and usually very hot. There is hardly any seasonal change to be observed, and the dampness of the climate causes the heat to be more oppressive than are higher temperatures in drier climates. The mean atmospheric pressure in Singapore during 1906 waS 29.908 in. The highest shade temperature for the year was 92 F. registered in March; the lowest 725 F., registered in November. The mean was 80.3 F. The range for the year was I 4.5 F. The temperature of solar radiation was in 1906: highest in the sun 153~80, recorded in March; the lowest 143-4, recorded in June. The highest temperature of nocturnal radiation on grass was 73.1, recorded in May, and the lowest 67.2, recorded in January. The mean for 1906 was 71 . Relative humidity: highest 92, recorded in December; lowest, 72, recorded in April; mean for 1906, 81. N. and N.E. winds prevail from the middle of October to the end of April, and S. and S.W. winds from the middle of May to the end of September. The mean velocity of winds for 1906 was 110 m.; the maximum recorded being 148 in May, the minimum velocity recorded being 76 in December. The rainfall of Singapore for 1906 was 129.64 in.; the heaviest rainfall for any one month being f 5-23 in. recorded in January, the smallest being 4-98 in. recorded in May. There were 182 rainy days during the year, the average annual number of the past decade being 176.

PopulationThe following shows the composition of the population, which numbered in all 228,555 in 1901: Europeans 3824, Eurasians 4120, Chinese 164,041, Malays 36,680, Indians, 17,823, other nationalities 2667. The births registered in Singapore during 1898 numbered 3751, namely, 1960 males and 1791 females, being a ratio of 16.55 per mille. The deaths registered during the same period numbered 7602, namely, 5894 males and 1708 females, a ratio of 33-54 per mille. The excess of deaths over births is due to the fact that there are comparatively few women among the Chinese; the steady increase of the population in the face of this fact is to be attributed entirely to immigration, mainly from China, but to a minor extent from India also. The persons classed above under other nationalities are representatives of almost every Asiatic nation of importance, and of many African races, Singapore being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Administration and TradeAs Singapore is the chief administrative centre of the colony, the governor, who is also ex officio high commissioner of the Federated Malay States, British North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak and governor of Labuan, has his principal residence here. Here also are chief offices of the various heads of the government departments, and here the legislative council of the colony holds its sessions. The town is governed by a municipality composed partly of ex officio, nominated and elected members.

Finance.The revenue of Singapore for 1906 amounted to $5,942,661, exclusive of $26,650 received on account of land sales. The chief sources of revenue were licences (which include the farms let for the ccllection of import duties in opium, wine and spirits) $4,248,856, nearly half the revenue of the settlement; post and telegraphs $424,645; railway receipts $I96,683; and land revenue $104,482. The expenditure of the settlement during 1906 amounted to $5,392,380. Of this $1,416,392 was expended on personal emoluments, and $1,116,548 on other charges connected with the administrative establishments; $1,763,488 was spent on military services, exclusive of expenses connected with the volunteer force; $183,075 on the upkeep and maintenance of existing public works; and $569,884 on new public works.

Trade.The trade of Singapore is chiefly dependent upon the position which the port occupies as the principal emporium of the Federated Malay States and of the Malayan archipelago, and as the great port of call for ships passing to and from the Far East~ The total value of the imports into Singapore in 1906 was $234,701,760, and the exports in the same year were valued at $202,210,849. The ships using the port during 1906 numbered 1886 with an aggregate tonnage of 3,805,566 tons, of which 1261 were British with an aggregate tonnage of 2,498,968 tons. The retail trade of the place is largely in the hands of Chinese, Indian and Arab traders, but there are some good European stores. The port is a free port, import duties being payable only on opium, wines and spirits.

History.A tradition is extant to the effect that Singapore was an important trading centre in the 12th and 13th centuries, but neither Marco Polo nor Ibn Bvtuta, both of whom wintered in Sumatra on their way back to Europe from China, have left anything on record confirmatory of this. It is said to have been attacked and devastated by the Javanese in 1252, and at the time when it passed by treaty to the East India Company in 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles persuading the sultan and tumenggong of Johor to cede it to him, it was wholly uninhabited save by a few fisherfolk living along its shores. It was at first subordinate to Benkulen, the companys principal station in Sumatra, but in 1823 it was placed under the administraticn of Bengal. It was incorporated in the colony of the Straits Settlements when that colony was established in 1826.

See Life of Sir Stamford Raffles; Logans Journal of the Malay Archipelago; the Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Singapore); Sir Frank Swettenham, British Malaya (London, 1906); Blne-Book of the Straits Settlements (1906); The Straits Directory, zooS (Singapore, 1908). (H. CL.)