PNG riots hit Chinese businesses

Asian-owned firms have been looted in Papua New Guinea's two largest cities, amid simmering anti-Chinese sentiment.

Chinese-owned shops and offices were looted by gangs in the capital, Port Moresby, and the coastal city of Lae.

The cause of the disturbances is unclear, but hostility towards Chinese immigrants has been intensifying.

Community leaders predict an exodus of Chinese entrepreneurs, who own many businesses in the bigger cities, where unemployment has reached up to 80%.

Teams of police officers and private security guards have failed to stop the widespread looting.

In Lae, witnesses said that hundreds of men and boys had run amok and that much of the coastal city had been brought to a standstill.

In recent days, a man was reportedly stabbed to death as he tried to break into a shop.

Earlier this month, the building of a nickel mine was stopped after a fight over an industrial accident between Papua New Guinean and Asian workers.

Many settlers arrived in Papua New Guinea from China during World War II and there have been subsequent waves of migration.

There are fears the violence will force many to leave the South Pacific country, which would invariably heap further damage on an impoverished economy.

Expatriate Chinese also fled neighbouring Solomon Islands in large numbers after racially-charged disturbances in 2006.



Obama names ambassador to China

US President Barack Obama has named the Republican Governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, as ambassador to China.

Mr Huntsman, 49, is a fluent speaker of Mandarin, which he learnt while serving as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan.

He has served as a deputy trade representative and ambassador to Singapore, and was seen as a potential presidential contender in 2012.

President Obama said he had made the appointment "mindful of its extraordinary significance".

"Given the breadth of issues at stake in our relationship with China, this ambassadorship is as important as any in the world," he said.

The US could most effectively confront global challenges by working together with China, he added.

Mr Huntsman co-chaired the campaign of John McCain, Mr Obama's rival in last year's presidential election, and the president said it would not be the "easiest decision to explain to some members of his party".

"But here is what I also know: I know Jon is the kind of leader that always puts country ahead of party," he said.

Mr Huntsman is seen as a moderate voice within the Republican party, correspondents say.

Standing next to the president at a televised news conference, Mr Huntsman said: "I grew up understanding that the most basic responsibility one has is service to country."

He used a Mandarin saying to underline the point: "Together we work, together we progress."

The post requires Senate confirmation.

Mr Huntsman served as a US trade representative under President George W Bush, and as ambassador to Singapore under his father, President George HW Bush.



New Flu Cases Confirmed in China, Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Health authorities in China and Hong Kong confirmed two new cases of the A/H1N1 virus, both in people arriving on flights from North America.

China's Health Ministry said on its Web site that lab results showed a 19-year-old man, identified by the surname Lü, tested positive for the disease also known as human swine flu after arriving in Beijing from Canada aboard Air Canada flight AC029 on Friday. The ministry didn't say where the man was flying from. Air Canada's Web site shows AC029 originates in Toronto and stops in Vancouver before landing in Beijing.

The patient took a train from Beijing to the eastern city of Jinan, and was taken to an infectious disease hospital by Jinan health authorities, the ministry said. His condition was improving, it said. Authorities were searching for people who might have come into contact with the man.

Mr. Lü is mainland China's second case of A/H1N1. A 30-year-old man who flew to China from the U.S. was confirmed as the first case Monday.

More than 5,700 cases of A/H1N1 influenza have been recorded around the world so far, according to the World Health Organization. While the disease is considered less dangerous than early reports suggested, health officials remain concerned that it could become more lethal over time.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong health officials confirmed the territory's second case of human swine flu. A 24-year-old resident of the territory was hospitalized with mild symptoms of the disease after arriving from San Francisco on a Cathay Pacific flight on May 11, they said.

Thomas Tsang, controller of Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection, and Gabriel Leung, undersecretary for food and health, said officials were looking to contact 51 people who sat within three rows of the sick man on the flight. Officials said 45 of the people had already left Hong Kong.

The remaining six have been contacted and are being quarantined. Quarantine arrangements have also been made for his family. Officials said the victim didn't circulate widely within the community after his arrival in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's previous victim of human swine flu had stayed at a business hotel, prompting the government to impose a controversial quarantine on all staff and residents of the hotel for seven days. That quarantine expired Friday night.



China Marks Anniversary of Devastating Quake

BEIJING — One year after a massive earthquake devastated parts of Sichuan Province, China paused Tuesday to remember the nearly 90,000 people left dead ormissing by the disaster and to thank international donors for their help with the recovery effort.

But the anniversary was dogged by continuing questions about the deaths of thousands of Sichuan children crushed in the rubble of school buildings that the Chinese government says were solidly built, but many parents insist were substandard.

President Hu Jintao led a ceremony Tuesday at the quake’s epicenter, in the leveled town of Beichuan, shortly before 2:30 p.m., the time the quake occurred. Mr. Hu adjusted the flowers on a single, large memorial wreath adorned with a red sash. Nearby, a large clock stood with its hands stopped at 5:12, signifying May 12, the day of the tragedy.

Parents of dead students gathered at the wreckage of Beichuan Middle School, where about 1,300 of the 2,900 students and teachers perished. They lighted incense and candles and heaped floral tributes to the dead.

The middle school’s collapse during the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, even as nearby buildings withstood the shock, unleashed a flood of bitter accusations from parents and friends of the dead students that cheap materials and corner-cutting building methods had made the school building vulnerable to a quake. Parents in other towns where schools had similarly collapsed joined the outcry, and engineers and building experts who examined the schools’ rubble supported them.

Seeking to calm the turmoil, the government issued a report last week stating that official inquiries had found no evidence that poor construction contributed to the school collapses. The report said for the first time that 5,335 students had died in the earthquake.

Some survivors have rejected the report’s conclusion, and charged that the official death toll is too low.

On Monday, Mr. Hu thanked foreign diplomats who were invited to the quake commemoration ceremony for their nations’ contributions to relief efforts, saying they had demonstrated “grand humanitarianism and friendship with the Chinese people.”

The government said that 160 nations and assorted international organizations had donated more than $11 billion to quake relief efforts, and that their rescue teams had given medical care to 10,000 survivors and saved one victim who had been buried in the wreckage.



China reports suspected swine flu case

BEIJING — A Chinese man returning from studying at a U.S. university has become the first suspected case of swine flu in mainland China, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry identified the patient as a 30-year-old student surnamed Bao, but did not specify where he studied.

China has been accused in the past of not acting quickly enough to combat the spread of diseases, especially the 2003 global outbreak of SARS. Chastened by that experience and subsequent threats from avian flu, the government this time has acted quickly and decisively to block an outbreak, but some of its measures have been criticized as excessive.

The swine flu-prevention measures include bans on imports of pork from Mexico, some U.S. states and Alberta in Canada. Beijing has also canceled direct flights between China and Mexico. Authorities require arriving travelers with flu-like symptoms to report themselves and have placed some travelers under weeklong quarantines.

China's tough measures drew complaints from Mexico that citizens were being quarantined based on nationality. China has defended the steps as necessary to block swine flu from entering the world's most populous nation.

The Chinese territory of Hong Kong earlier reported a case of swine flu diagnosed in a 25-year-old Mexican who flew to the city.

The virus has killed at least 53 people and sickened more than 4,370 in 29 countries, mostly in the U.S. and Mexico, but has so far largely spared Asia.