Liu Han, Forbes' Listed Sichuan Billionaire Arrested as Triad Boss

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BEIJING, China - The average American is most familiar with China as a manufacturer of low costs products which make our lives easier and more affordable in these economically challenging times.

From tooth paste, to pet food, from home furnishing, to kitchen appliances, the percentage of Chinese made products sold by U.S. retailers is astoundingly high. There are many reasons for this inequity, but the focus of this article lies elsewhere.

If one were to poll these same consumers about the number of Chinese people ranked on the Forbes’ lists of richest people, most would probably guess none. That is because China is most often depicted as a country which routinely engages in unfair trade practices, currency manipulation, human rights violations, totalitarianism, and the most egregious of all its failings - it is a Communist nation which enslaves and oppresses an estimated population of 1.4 billion.

All of these accusations are true to greater or lesser degrees depending upon who is directly impacted, but what isn’t so well known is the fact that some of the wealthiest individuals in the world now herald from Asia countries. In fact, as of September 2013, Business Insider reported that "dollar billionaires in China has passed 300 for the first time in an annual ranking of wealth in the world's second-largest economy."

One such person is Sichuan mining tycoon Liu Han, 48. A resident of Hong Kong, he is ranked 148th in Forbes' 2012 list of China's richest men, with an estimated fortune of US$855 million.

Mr. Liu first came to the attention of the media when a school building that he funded emerged unscathed during the devastating 2008 earthquake. The quake which measured 8.0 magnitudes and killed 9,300 people could not topple the Liuhan Hope Primary School despite its proximity to the epicenter of the quake which was eight kilometers away in Beichuan.

Because none of the students were hurt, the school which had been constructed a decade earlier became known as “the safest primary school” in China. Shortly after the Sichuan quake, the billionaire donated more than 50 million yuan to charity groups for disaster relief. The move propelled him to greater prominence and, in 2009, he was ranked 16th in the Shanghai-based Hurun Report's China Philanthropy List. (Source: South China Morning Post)

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Published: 22 February 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

From that point forward it seemed as if Liu’s efforts to recede back into obscurity were on track. He quietly continued to amass wealth and was in the process of finalizing US$1.4 bn deal to acquire an Australian mining company when in a Shakespearean twist of fate, his younger brother, Liu Wei, 44, was indicted for a murder that allegedly occurred in 2009.

As is usually the case, when one shines a light into darkness many things can be revealed, and in this case because Liu harbored his brother who was a fugitive, he found himself the subject of investigation. During the course of background investigation of the philanthropist, authorities determined that his wealth may have been derived through more nefarious enterprises.

On Thursday night 20 February 2014, the China state media, Xinhua, alleged that not only was Wei a murderer, but Liu, who has since been placed under house arrest by Beijing police for harboring his fugitive brother; was in fact a puppet master implicated in numerous mafia-style gang attacks that resulted in at least nine deaths.

As the investigation progressed, according to South China Morning Post, Hubei police searched and seized from Liu’s residence three hand grenades, more than 20 guns and over 600 bullets. They subsequently announced the initial findings of their investigations and declared that the great philanthropist was in fact a high-ranking member of the Triads.

Most are familiar with the Triads as a Chinese equivalent of the Mafia. It is a transnational organized crime organizations based in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and also in countries with significant Chinese populations, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Siam (now Thailand), Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. (Source: Wikipedia)

As with other organized crime entities, the Triads are also involved in Contract killing, Prostitution, Counterfeiting, Health care fraud, drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, and murder. Xinhua announced that Liu, was in fact the boss of a criminal enterprise that consisted of 35 individuals who were responsible for managing the day-to-day criminal affairs of his organization.

Like many wealthy American criminals, Liu is comfortably ensconced in his residence under house arrest as the investigation progresses. However, if he is convicted of the 15 charges of murder, bribery, weapons charges, money laundering, gambling, and other unspecified crimes he could face death.

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China Earthquake Kills 189

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 21:10 DST, 25 April 2013

Chinese Earth Quake VictimsYA'AN, CHINA - After a powerful earthquake on Saturday, China is continuing a massive rescue operation in the Sichuan province. The earthquake left at least 189 dead and more than 11,500 injured, reports BBC News.

Thousands of survivors have been forced to seek refuge in cars, tents, and makeshift shelters. China mobilized more than 18,000 soldiers and police for rescue efforts, as well as deployed 23 helicopters from the armed forces, says state news agency Xinhua on Sunday.

The Sichuan Red Cross estimates that within three days, the water in Ya’an will run out despite their efforts to deliver supplies to the quake-hit areas, reports CNN. In more remote areas, people anxiously wait for evacuation along the shifting earth muddied river waters.

Due to the landslides that were triggered as a result of the earthquake, roads were cut off, and power and phone connections were disrupted. The landslides blocked access to aid trucks and prevented some of the casualties from being brought out.

Though emergency teams were quick to carry away bodies and search for survivors, CBS reports that they have done little so far to distribute aid. Even in the more accessible areas of Lushan, BBC correspondents respond that aid has been hampered by road congestion.

The survivors of the earthquake additionally face massive displacement. Despite best efforts, thousands of survivors are now homeless and are forced to seek shelter wherever possible. The collapse of several buildings, including schools and nurseries, lead to widespread criticism of local government’s planning policies, report BBC. In Longmen village, Chinese authorities said nearly all of the buildings had been destroyed.

Some of the hardest hit areas were the villages further up the valleys in Lushan, where farmers grow rice, vegetables, and corn.

It is the poor who feel the brunt of this disaster, with the biggest killer not the earthquake itself but poorly constructed houses, BBC reports.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

Tibetan Monk Self-Immolates

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 16:24 PM EDT, 16 February 2012

Konchog Wangdu Tibetan MonkLOBSANG GYATSO, Tibet - A 19-year-old monk from the Kirti monastery set himself ablaze on the main street, according to the London-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). Security forces beat Gyatso while extinguishing the flames, then took him away, the group said in an online statement posted late Monday. It was not immediately clear whether he survived.

Tibetan’s are a deeply religious and independent culture. The annexation of the country, forced resettlement, plus the exile of one of its most revered figure, the Dalai Lama has sparked intense resistance . Many monks remain fiercely loyal to Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EASprHOwZ48&feature=related]

China's tacit acceptance of the country's religious fervor does not negate the fact that the Tibetan people have expressed feelings of oppression from and domination by the invading Chinese. Out of fear of reprisal many Tibetans, including the man who was interviewed in 2008 by Michael Palin, will only publicly state that they have experienced no problems with their assimilation into Chinese society and culture.

Tibet is governed by China as an autonomous region and the territories of Lhasa and Yushu were featured prominently in Palin’s documentary “The Roof of the World.” The rich culture depicted in the documentary seems quite different from that of the Chinese. From this perspective, it is not surprising that this clash of cultures would result in an escalation of the number and kinds protests that dissidents would engage in to capture the world’s attention and highlight the human rights abuses that occur in Tibet on a daily basis.

Self-immolation is one of the most extreme forms of civil protest, second only in my opinion to a hunger strike. The case of the Tibetan monk setting himself on fire is reminiscent of another monk who burned himself to death in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Roman Catholic government.

His name was Thích Quảng Đức and the photos of his self-immolation are burned into the psyche of anyone born in the 60’s. His self-sacrifice brought attention to the repressive policies of the Diệm regime. Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his renowned photograph of the monk's death.”(Source: Wikipedia)

Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday, 14 February 2012, stated that with regard to China's policies on Tibet, they respect the Tibetans traditional culture and freedom of religious belief. He further cast aspersions on the monk by stating that "in his opinion this monk and others like him are being manipulated by outside nations to incite the populace and destabilize the country."

Group: Tibetan sets herself on fire in protest

It would appear, based upon China’s response to this deadly incident that the officials view this movement as economic sabotage. China has invested a great deal in the infrastructure of Tibet, including building new dams, roads and communications networks. According to a CBS reporter who recently visited, he claimed that cellular service was better there than in America.

The Chinese government views these improvements as a benefit to Tibetans, but in reality the continued development encroaches on the nomadic, peaceful and spiritual lives of the Tibetans. Like the Native Americans, the Tibetans are facing the loss of their autonomy and culture through the imposition of the English and Chinese languages, habiliment and atheism.

Premiere Wen was quoted as saying, "Any attempt to incite a small number of monks to take radical moves to undermine stability in the Tibet Autonomous Region is not in the interest of development in Tibet or the interests of the people living in Tibet. Such attempts can have no popular support." He delivered this pronouncement to reporters at a joint press conference with visiting leaders from the European Union.

It is interesting that he used the imperative when stating that this movement “can have no” popular support. His words connoted a subtle but implied threat to any Tibetan who would seek to embarrass or otherwise demonstrate dissatisfaction with Chinese rule. Much of the recent unrest has occurred in adjoining provinces with large Tibetan populations, particularly Sichuan.

According to ICT, 20 Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople have set themselves on fire in China over the past year, with at least 13 dying from their injuries. These self-immolations have occurred with increasing frequency in recent weeks, and most have taken place in Sichuan's remote and mountainous Tibetan areas.

Independent verification of the true status of these anti-Chinese dissidents is unknown since Western reporters trying to visit that part of Sichuan have been turned away by security forces.