2- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 4, 1996NATIONORLD
Bitter customs, immigration officials
patrol Chinese-Vietnamese border
The Washington Post-
FRIENDSHIP PASS, On the Chinese-Vietnamese
Border - The surly Vietnamese customs agent in the
ill-fitting olive-green uniform was taciturn as he
inspected the two suitcases, unfolding each article of
clothing, flipping intently through the pages of every
book and magazine as he searched for illicit or suspect
Finally, his eyes narrowed, and he could hardly sup-
press his glee as he came across the evidence of sub-
version he had been seeking: a Vietnamese newspaper
with photographs of the new Communist Politburo
members, a press release announcing the results of a
just concluded party congress, and - most insidious
of all - four computer disks.
"No," he said in English, as he scampered off to tell
his superior in an adjacent room. "Not allowed."
The confiscated materials were eventually returned,
after a bit of haggling and close to an hour of waiting.
But the incident illustrates the high level of suspicion
that still prevails here on the frontier between Vietnam
and China - a level of distrust so high that even tak-
ing names and photographs of Vietnam's new leaders
across the border could be considered an act tanta-
mount to espionage.
The border crossing point called Friendship Pass
may well be one of the most inhospitable spots on the
planet. Now it is the preserve of unfriendly immigra-
tion and customs officials, but in early 1979, the entire
area was devastated when China sent tens of thou-
sands of troops and artillery pouring over the border to
teach "a lesson" to the ungrateful Vietnamese who had
dared invade China's ally, Cambodia.
The Chinese attack was repelled, with heavy casu-
alties on both sides, but the conflict ushered in a long
cold war, punctuated by almost daily artillery
A gradual thaw began at the close of the 1980s, as
Vietnam embarked on a new economic liberalization
policy and the border was opened for trading.
A Vietnamese troop withdrawal from Cambodia in
late 1989 and a visit to Beijing by Hanoi's top-level
Communist leaders seemed to put the ancient antag-
onists back on the path to more normal relations.
Only a few months ago, direct train links were
reestablished for the first time since the 1979 war,
connecting Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, to Nanning in
China's Guangxi Province.
The rail line from Nanning was extended to
Vietnam in the 1950s and became a key conduit for
shipping Chinese arms and military supplies to Hanoi
during the Vietnam War, back when the two states
were fraternal Communist allies united against
American "hegemonism." These days, the rail line
mainly moves Chinese traders bearing fruits, vegeta-
bles, beer, plastic products and electronics. On the
border, workers are busy putting the finishing touches
on a mammoth new immigration and customs hall as
evidence of the new rapprochement.
The train journey from Vietnam to China begins at
Hanoi's cavernous, rundown train station - once
you've managed to obtain a ticket, that is. The only
window selling tickets to China seemed perpetually
closed without explanation, despite the daylong open-
ing hours posted.
Two types of tickets are available: the first, for
about $50, is good for a journey all the way to
Nanning. The second ticket - the existence of which
the Vietnamese guard like a state secret - is valid
only for a trip to the border town of Dong Dang and
costs just $5.
From Dong Dang, you are told you have to make
your own way across the border and then catch a local
The pricier tickets provide a "soft seat" in a com-
partment filled with well-to-do Vietnamese and
Chinese business travelers and a few backpackers
from Europe and Australia. The cheap compartment
to Dong Dang is filled with Vietnamese families who
live in the border area and are returning home from
shopping and trading in Hanoi.
The journey begins as a boisterous family outing,
with booze flowing, men gambling, women chatter-
ing, babies crying. Within a few hours, all in the
compartment are sound asleep.
The train leaves Hanoi at ItI p.m., and arrives at the
border at 5 the next morning. Even at that early hour,
Reports show economic strength
NEW YORK - In an unusual twist yesterday, good news for the economy did-
n't ruin Wall Street's day.
An index of future economic activity continued its record-setting performance
in July. A separate, widely followed survey of executives who purchase supplies for
industry said U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated in August for a third straiD
month and that the overall economy grew for a seventh month in a row.
The private reports reinforced Wall Street's hunch that Federal Reserve inflation
fighters will push up rates, perhaps as early as their Sept. 24 meeting, unless the
economy shows signs of slowing down.
The market's initial slump came on word in The Wall Street Journal that the Fed
is considering raising interest rates one-half a percentage point unless there are
clear signs this month that the economy is cooling.
The markets began recovering after the release of the purchasing managers' fig
ures for August, one of the first major reports on last month.
In addition, the U.S. missile raid on Iraqi military targets and further delays in
allowing Iraq to return to world oil markets boosted oil stocks leading a rebouO
in blue-chip issues.
The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.2 percent to 103.1 in July, the
Conference Board reported.
Salvadoran ruling party
rfe with confusion
Marines hit fire lines
in Oregon; fire
season winds down
Joining the battle against the worst
outbreak of wildfires across the West
since 1969, a battalion of Marines went
to work yesterday on a stubborn blaze
in Oregon and got help from the rainy
However, the same weather system
spreading showers across northern
Oregon was expected to produce high
wind in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming
and Utah. And dry lightning was fore-
cast in Nevada, Idaho and parts of
weather system moving across that area
now is a season-ender for wildfires,"
said Michelle Barret, spokesperson for
the National Interagency Fire Center in
Boise, Idaho. "In the rest of the West,
we're not that optimistic."
The 19 major wildfires still active
yesterday had burned across 329,900
acres in Washington, Oregon,
California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana,
Wyoming and Utah, down from 32.
fires totaling 720,219 acres on
Saturday. So far this year, 5.7 million
acres have burned across the country.
Because of the damp weather in
Oregon, fire officials predicted that0
the end of the week, they would contain
all but one of the state's biggest blazes
- the 48,000-acre forest fire where the
Marines were assigned.
U.S. to ay Reagan
$5 62K or expenses
WASHINGTON - Taxpayers will
pay former President Reagan more tha
$562,000 to cover the legal expenses'
counsel investigation into the Iran-
Contra scandal, a panel of federal
judges said yesterday.
Reagan's attorneys, led by Theodore
Olson, initially asked for nearly
$754,500. But the panel refused to pay
the expenses Reagan incurred prepar-
ing for independent counsel Lawrence
Walsh's final report on the investi
The Washington Post
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -
Throughout the 1970s and '80s, when
El Salvador was immersed in a savage
civil war, no figure dominated the
national stage or drew more interna-
tional attention than Roberto
Reputed leader of right-wing death
squads, d'Aubuisson also founded the
nation's dominant political party, the
Nationalist Republican Alliance
(Arena), which has swept the last two
But now Arena is embroiled in a bit-
ter internal battle, with competing fac-
tions claiming to carry the true flame of
d'Aubuisson and his hard-line anti-
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D'Aubuisson, a cashiered army
major who died of cancer in 1992, was
accused by U.S. officials and U.N.
investigators of masterminding para-
military death squads that killed thou-
sands of people here. But he remains a
revered figure among much of the party
faithful. Large pictures and statues of
"the Major," as he is called, dominate
party offices. Every year on his birth-
day, Arena leaders gather at his grave to
sing "Happy Birthday" and eat cake.
The fight over his political heritage
pits the "modern" wing of Arena, led by
former president Alfredo Cristiani and
other businessmen, against a group of
Arena founders, many with ties to its
murky past. Caught in the middle is
President Armando Calderon Sol, who
won the presidency as a compromise
candidate between the two factions.
After its founding in 1980, Arena had
remained united as the other main par-
ties splintered, despite its unusual mix-
ture of the traditional, rabidly anticom-
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French bomb found
LA ROCHE-SUR-YON, France -
A parish priest found what experts said
yesterday was a homemade bomb in the
basilica of a church that Pope John Paul
II will visit this month.
The bomb was discovered Monday in
a crypt of the St. Laurent-sur-Sevre
church in La Roche-sur-Yon in France's
western Brittany region.
The device was hidden near the foot
of a tomb holding the remains of Louis-
Marie Grignon de Montfort, one of two
18th-century French clerics the pope
plans to honor on his Sept. 19-22 visit.
Beneath the bomb was an inscription
in a garbled mixture of Latin and
French - "in nomine pape poum, or
"in the name of the pope, boom."
Experts described the bomb as a
"crude pyrotechnical device" and said it
had been planted sometime over the
Bomb disposal experts defused it,
and no one was injured.
Authorities said it was powerful
enough to have caused "sigificant dam-
The church is the first stop on the
pope's visit, his fifth to France since
1980. Leftist activists and others h
planned large protests, contending the
pontiff's visit violates separation of
church and state.
Floods kill 15, wash
out bridges in Sudan
KHARTOUM, Sudan - Flash
floods swept through a region north
Khartoum, washing outrailways a
bridges and leaving 15 people dead and
The floods struck Monday follow-
ing two hours of heavy rain.
Witnesses arriving at the town of al-
Geili about 36 miles north of
Khartoum said they saw bodies
washed up on the shores of the Nile.
Officials said at least 15 were killed.
State-run television showed hun-
dreds of leveled homes in the ru
town, wth women and children sittiE
next to the rubble of houses with undles
Tough homework problems are no match for the new
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