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People & Points Home> Print Edition> People & Points
UPDATED: March-3-2008 NO.10 MAR.6, 2008

Veteran Diplomat on Darfur Mission

Chinese Special Envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, kicked off his fourth official trip to Sudan on February 24, in a new bid to promote the African country's deadlocked peace process.

"Only if those main rebel groups return to the negotiating table (to talk to the Sudanese Government), could Darfur achieve a certain extent of stability and the peacekeeping mission be carried out smoothly," the Chinese envoy said when he arrived at Khartoum.

In addition to meetings with Sudanese officials at central and local levels, Liu also visited two camps housing internally displaced persons in Darfur. He told the Darfuris that China is willing to provide more help for them, and calls for concerted efforts from the international community to seek a peaceful solution to the Darfur issue.

Liu, 62, former ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa, was appointed to his current post in May 2007. Since then he has paid three visits to Sudan and has shuttled between the United States, Britain, Egypt and other countries concerned in an effort to help resolve the humanitarian crisis there.

Raul Castro in Power

Raul Castro was elected president of Cuba on February 24, after nearly 50 years in power by his brother Fidel.

Raul is 76, five years younger than Fidel, who stepped down due to health reasons. He has been running the country since July 2006, when his brother was hospitalized for intestinal surgery.

In addition to defiant threats from neighboring United States, Raul, former head of Cuba's armed forces, faces more challenges from within, such as the transition of state power and economic reform.

Property Magnate Triggers Domino Effect

Wang Shi, Chairman of China Vanke Co. Ltd., the country's largest listed real estate developer, recently discouraged many in the once excessively profitable industry by launching this year's first residential sales promotion in Shanghai, China's largest business hub where housing prices have been on the rise. Several Vanke-developed residential communities began to sell apartments at discounts ranging between 5 percent and 8 percent on February 21.

Wang earlier predicted that China's housing market had reached a downward turning point, saying that the tightened monetary policy, which aims to curb inflation and rein in an overheating economy, would strongly impact the real estate industry.

"The golden time for the real estate industry is over," Wang said, adding that property developers would have to pay the price for the previous boom, which had obviously outpaced annual GDP growth.

"China is not here to help Sudan in a way that will prompt the Darfur conflict to continue. China is here to help Sudan with issues regarding economic developments. China is here to help build Sudan, and China is engaged in business not only in the oil sector, but also other sectors."

Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor

"The primary risk to China's economy is inflation and the government will stick to the tight monetary policy."

Yi Gang, Vice Governor of the People's Bank of China, China's central bank, at a seminar in Beijing on February 24

"When we received this very warm and enthusiastic reception, we felt that indeed, there may be a mission accomplished here. We may have been instrumental in opening a little door. If it does become seen in retrospect as a historical moment, we will all feel very proud to have been part of it."

Lorin Maazel, musical director of the New York Philharmonic, after his musicians performed the first concert by a U.S. symphony orchestra in North Korea on February 26

"We must move from the age of ideology into the age of pragmatism."

New South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, in his swearing-in speech on February 25 that put "economic revival" at the top of his agenda

"It is true that new and re-emerging health threats such as SARS, avian flu, HIV/AIDS, terrorism, bioterrorism and climate change are dramatic and emotive. However, it is preventable chronic disease that will send health systems and economies to the wall."

Stig Pramming, Executive Director of the Oxford Health Alliance, at the group's fifth annual conference on February 25 where legal and health experts from around the world warned that obesity and other "lifestyle diseases" are killing millions more people than global terrorism


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