Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ China

Clothing police dog Britney

Struggling to hold in check liberal tendencies of the country's increasingly affluent and curious urban middle class, Beijing's bureaucrats will vet Britney Spears' wardrobe to ensure she does not reveal too much raw talent on her first tour of China next year, a report said on Tuesday. The singer is seeking permission to perform five concerts in Shanghai and Beijing early next year, which would be among the biggest staged by a foreign act in China. But her reputation appears to have prompted Chinese officials into thinking that she may expose too much flesh.

■ China

SARS alert lifted

Beijing has closed down

its SARS-prevention headquarters and ended emergency control measures on Tuesday, state press reported yesterday. In a similar move, the Ministry

of Public Health announced

the suspension of daily surveillance reports on the epidemic, saying the latest outbreak was under control, Xinhua news agency said. The anti-SARS headquarters, a joint working team responsible for epidemic control and prevention, was established on April 22 when Beijing reported its first SARS case this year. The notice said the decision was made following the discharge of all seven SARS patients recovering in the city and the removal from isolation of those who had close contact with them.

■ China

Finger can't save marriage

A man in western China who cut off his finger to prove his devotion to his fiancee is suing her over his lost digit now that she has divorced him, a report said yesterday. Zhang Liang cut off his finger in front of his fiancee and swore he would stop gambling when she threatened to leave him

four years ago. The gesture

won her heart and the

pair married but the union turned sour when Zhang started gambling again and stole money from his wife, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily reported. After his wife walked out

on him, Zhang went to court demanding 12,000 yuan (US$1,400) compensation for his lost finger. The court threw out his application.

■ New Zealand

SMS protest lands huge bill

A New Zealander sent over 80,000 text messages from his mobile phone last month -- an average of 2,580 texts a day -- in protest at a hike in short message service (SMS)tariffs. Allowing eight hours for sleep every day, Fraser Ray, a 24-year-old stay-at-home father, zapped off a blizzard of 80,012 text messages from his phone after Telecom Corp

decided to end a deal giving subscribers unlimited SMS for NZ$10 (US$6.29) a month. His text attack

was simple enough -- he repeatedly sent friends a message reading: "Hi. How are you?" At a maximum rate of NZ$0.20 per message, Ray would have tallied a bill of NZ$16,000 for his protest.

■ Singapore

Go north, my children

Singapore will offer scholarships to hundreds of students to become experts on China to ensure the city-state remains relevant to Beijing and its growing economic power, former prime minister and founding father Lee Kuan Yew said. The candidates must have a deep understanding of Chinese culture, language and history, he said on Tuesday. Lee said Singapore needs more experts on China to gain the upper hand over other countries trying to win China's business.

■ United Kingdom

Chinese food shortage looms

A British government crackdown on illegal workers in the restaurant trade has sparked a labor shortage in the Chinese food sector, which traditionally relies on such employees, a report said yesterday. The worker shortage is particularly acute in London's bustling Chinatown, where many kitchen staff have tended to be unofficial entrants to the country paid below minimum wage levels, the Guardian newspaper said. Faced with official warnings that they could be jailed for two years or fined stiffly for employing illegal staff, restaurant owners have sacked hundreds of workers, the paper said.

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