Forbidden City thief jailed
A Chinese farmer has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for stealing works of art and jewels from the Forbidden City last year, his lawyer said yesterday, in a rare theft at the ancient imperial palace. Shi Baikui (石柏魁), 27, from Shandong Province, was arrested in May last year at an Internet cafe in Beijing more than 48 hours after committing the theft. According to Xinhua news agency, Shi broke into the heavily guarded former home of Chinese emperors in May last year, where he stole nine valuable items, including gold and jewels. Police managed to recover six of the stolen items, but three pieces worth an estimated 150,000 yuan remain missing, Xinhua said. News reports at the time said the stolen items — valued at up to 10 million yuan — dated from the early 20th century and included jewelry boxes and women’s make-up cases. Shi’s theft is the fifth on record at the Forbidden City.
Hydro project endangered
A Chinese company building a crucial hydroelectric power plant in power-starved Nepal has threatened to pull out, an official said yesterday. Energy Ministry spokesman Arjun Karki said China Three Gorges International Corp has sent a letter to the government expressing concern over a parliamentary committee order for the company to suspend work while it investigates possible irregularities in the granting of the firm’s license. The company said in the letter that it could pull out of the project. The parliamentary Natural Resources and Means Committee said it was probing the government’s decision to grant the project to the Chinese company without calling for international bidding.
Concert played on bridge
A group of Sydney Symphony Orchestra musicians scaled the city’s Harbour Bridge for an exclusive concert yesterday to celebrate the sweeping structure’s 80th birthday. Known as the “Grand Old Dame” of Sydney, or more colloquially “The Coathanger,” the bridge was officially opened to traffic on March 19, 1932, joining the harbor’s northern and southern shores for the first time. It was an ambitious project that took eight years to complete, with construction of the 1,149m span claiming the lives of 16 men. To celebrate its 80th anniversary, 11 brass section musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra — also turning 80 this year — climbed to the top of the bridge’s 134m high arch to perform for a select group of guests. “The musicians performed Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man plus the theme music from the movie Chariots of Fire” a spokeswoman said.
Palestine not viable: report
A government report says the Palestinian Authority is not economically stable enough for statehood. The report is set to be presented this week to donors to the Palestinian Authority. They include the US, the EU, the World Bank and the IMF. The report says Palestinian “financial stability is now challenged.” It cited a shortfall of foreign aid and lack of development in the private sector. Last year, the IMF said Palestinian financial institutions were ready for statehood. Palestinian spokesman Ghassan Khatib rejected the Israeli report, citing statements by the IMF and others. “As Palestinians, we are ready for statehood,” he said. “Our institutions are ready.” Donors have given billions of dollars to the Palestinians since 1993.