Baby seller gets 15 years
A woman has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for brokering the sale of newborn infants, a newspaper reported yesterday. Li Xiulian acted as an agent in the sale of eight babies, five of whom have never been recovered, the Shanghai Daily said. Li earned a profit of up to 1,000 yuan (US$125) from each baby sold, the paper said. Most of the infants were born in violation of family planning rules that limit most couples to one or two children, the report said. The paper didn't identify any of the buyers.
Warship auction a flop
The Chinese owners of a Soviet-built aircraft carrier-turned-theme park called off an auction after it failed to attract the minimum bid for the former warship, the China Daily reported yesterday. The carrier Minsk was put up for sale after a company that bought it and turned it into a floating theme park in the southern city of Shenzhen went bankrupt. An auction on Wednesday drew three bidders, but was cut short when none offered the minimum required bid of 128.3 million yuan (US$16 million), it said.
■ Hong Kong
Vatican softens stance
The Vatican may make concessions on the issue of appointing Chinese bishops, Hong Kong's newly appointed cardinal, Joseph Zen (陳日君), said yesterday. Zen also said the Vatican and China have begun talks to re-establish diplomatic ties, Hong Kong's Cable TV network reported. Zen was in Rome preparing to meet Pope Benedict XVI later yesterday. "The Vatican may make concessions and let China give its opinion, but it won't let Beijing have total say," he said.
Nuclear plant fire probed
Investigators yesterday were looking into what caused a four-hour blaze at a nuclear power plant in western Japan that left two employees slightly injured. No radiation leaked from the Oi power plant in Fukui prefecture during Wednesday's fire, but two workers were hospitalized with smoke inhalation injuries, authorities said. The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but it seemed to have started in the waste incineration part of the plant, Manabu Kobana, of the plant's operator, Kansai Electric Power Co, said on Wednesday.
Bazaar bomb injures eight
A homemade bomb ripped through a town bazaar in southwestern Pakistan yesterday, seriously injuring two boys, aged nine and 11, and six other people, an official said. The bomb was hidden in a plastic shopping bag and planted near a public telephone booth in Kohlu, a town about 300km east of the Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta, local government official Nasim Lehri said. No one claimed responsibility immediately for the explosion but Lehri blamed local tribesmen, who have been accused of rocket attacks on security forces and bombings targeting railroads and gas pipelines.
Police probe N Korean office
Police investigating the alleged 1980 kidnapping of a Japanese man by North Korean agents searched the offices of a group affiliated with North Korea's de facto embassy in Japan yesterday, a news report said. Investigators searched the Osaka offices of the Chamber of Commerce of North Koreans in Japan in connection with the abduction of Tadaaki Hara, Kyodo News agency reported, citing police sources. Hara was 43 when he disappeared from a beach resort in southern Japan in 1980, and investigators believe he was abducted by North Korean agents. North Korea has admitted kidnapping other Japanese nationals, but says it has no record of Hara ever entering the communist state.