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by Al Santoli
May 12: The Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa ports firm intends to bid for the administration of Peru's El Callao port terminal on the Pacific coast, according to Peru's Foreign Ministry, reports the Beijing Xinhua news agency. Hutchison Whampoa has invested more than $100 million to modernize its ports on the Atlantic and Pacific ends of the Panama Canal. [Editor: Hutchison Whampoa, which is part owned by China Resources Enterprises, has been identified by the U.S. Senate as a front for Chinese military intelligence and owner Li Ka Shing has close ties to the Chinese government.
Hutchison also operates the prominent Freeport facility in the Bahamas.]
May 16: "The Chinese are betting on Venezuela" said President Hugo Chavez, following a 4-day visit by Chinese officials, reports Caracas El Universal.
"We are not just speaking empty words, but we are dealing with specific issues," Chavez exclaimed. Since Chavez's visit to Beijing in October 1999, "No less than five high-level government and private business commissions have visited [Venezuela], as well as commissions comprising local governments." Chavez said bilateral agreements were reviewed in such areas as gas and oil, as well as agriculture and mining, plus the national railroad plan.
The 14-member Chinese delegation was led by Li Ruihuan, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. After meeting with the delegation, Venezuelan National
Legislative Commission president Luis Miqilena said his country, "has much to learn and receive from China. We have not only opened our heart, but also all sectors of our economy, all possibilities for hyper-development between the two countries . . ."
May 29: The Canadian government ignored warnings by counter-intelligence officials and permitted China's state-owned China Over Seas Trading Company - COSCO - shipping company (also named COSTCO in some countries) to make Vancouver -- the only major port on the West Coast of North America without a dedicated police force -- the gateway for its operations in North America, reports Fabian Dawson in the Vancouver Province.
COSCO is intimately linked to China International Trust and Investment Corporation [CITIC], a key fundraiser for the Chinese government and a technology-acquiring source for China's military. U.S. Senate and Canadian intelligence officials have described COSCO as the "merchant marine" for China's military. COSCO vessels have been caught carrying assault rifles into California and Chinese missile technology and biological-chemical weapons components into North Korea, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran, according to U.S. intelligence reports. In addition, Canadian law enforcement agencies have warned that Chinese Triad criminal organizations are active in and around Canada's ports.
June 1: Following a four day state visit to Havana by Chinese information industry chief Wu Jichuan, China and Cuba signed cooperation accords for Beijing to finance and modernize Cuba's telecommunications and electronics industry, the London Financial Times reports. China's Great Dragon Group formed a joint venture with Cuba's state-run Groupo Electronico, which is headed by former Interior Minister Ramiro Valdes. A digital switching telephone plant donated by China is already operating on Cuba's Isle of Youth.