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Setting the standard internationally23/10/2014 - 14:57
Beijing embraces 'rule of law with Chinese characteristics'
China's Communist rulers declared Thursday that the country would embrace the "rule of law with Chinese characteristics", official media reported after a key party meetin...
Beijing embraces 'rule of law with Chinese characteristics'f9e631e61976bd416b495c5733dbd7fc4483f999.jpg
AFP / Greg Baker
Chinese police and paramilitary officers stand guard on October 20, 2014 in Beijing as security is stepped up for the Communist Party's plenum
China's Communist rulers declared Thursday that the country would embrace the "rule of law with Chinese characteristics", official media reported after a key party meeting touted as heralding legal reform.
More than 360 full and reserve members of the party's Central Committee gathered in Beijing this week for the highly-anticipated meeting, known as the Fourth Plenum.
China's ruling party had cast the conclave as a pivotal moment for reform of the country's legal system, and announced in July that the theme of the meeting would be "rule of law".
But experts caution that in China the phrase refers to a greater centralisation of control by the ruling party rather than a separation of powers, and had predicted the meeting would tighten the authorities' grip.
The communique issued at the gathering's close described the party's intent as a legal system serving "the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics", the official news agency Xinhua said.925c03832ba2d13a940265a8eb1563fc6290d363.jpg
AFP / Greg Baker
Armed Chinese paramilitary police watch over traffic at an intersection in central Beijing on October 20, 2014, as the Communist Party opens its Fourth Plenum
China will ensure the Communist Party's leadership is achieving the goal, it added, saying the meeting had "set a blueprint for rule of law in the world's second-largest economy".
The gathering also expelled from the party five high-ranking officials, several of them senior allies of fallen former security chief Zhou Yongkang, and a People's Liberation Army general, Xinhua said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed rows of cadres seated inside a hall decorated with large Chinese flags, and the Communist anthem the Internationale played, state broadcaster China Central Television's evening news broadcast showed.
- Officials 'purged' -
The expulsion of the five civilian officials had been hinted at in state media ahead of the summit.
They were former vice minister of public security Li Dongsheng; former top regulator of state-owned enterprises Jiang Jiemin; former China National Petroleum Corporation manager Wang Yongchun; former Sichuan province party chief Li Chuncheng; and Guangzhou party secretary Wan Qingliang.0e2428eec0709fa45de1f62bf4b474f6506ebf1e.jpg
China's security chief Zhou Yongkang, seen here in 2012, was expelled as part of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign
All but Wan are close allies of Zhou, the powerful former domestic security tsar who fell to Chinese President Xi Jinping's much-publicised anti-corruption campaign.
Also expelled was Yang Jinshan, a general who was deputy commander of the PLA's Chengdu Military Area Command in southwest China.
Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, said earlier that the far-reaching campaign had shown the party views endemic graft as "a political issue" as well as a moral one.
"The party, in a time of austerity, cannot tolerate this kind of political and economic inefficiency," he said, describing expelled officials as having been "purged" from the ranks of the ruling elite.
The party's internal watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), will hold its own fourth plenum on Saturday, Xinhua said, at which it is expected to take action against several disgraced officials including Zhou.
China under Xi is also in the midst of a campaign against dissent that rights groups have called the harshest such crackdown in decades.
Hundreds of lawyers, scholars, journalists and activists have been rounded up and authorities have taken increasing steps to penalise citizens who have criticised the party via online media.1c1b7cf7d22b4046bc2fd77ea094a270935ddf93.jpg
AFP / Greg Baker
Chinese paramilitary police pick up protest leaflets thrown by women near Tiananmen Square, as the Communist Party opened its plenum in Beijing on October 20, 2014
Last month 81-year-old writer and longtime Communist Party critic Tie Liu, whose real name is Huang Zerong, was taken away by Beijing police.
Hours before the plenum's conclusion, Beijing-based rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan wrote on Twitter that the writer had been arrested "on suspicion of running an illegal business and for the crime of picking quarrels and provoking trouble", according to a notification given to his family.
Tie spent more than 20 years in labour camps after he criticised Mao Zedong, founding father of the People's Republic, as a young journalist before being rehabilitated in 1980.
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Essential news in text, photo, graphic and video format22/10/2014 - 23:20
Oldest DNA ever found sheds light on humans' global trek
AFP / Pierre Andrieu
A femur found by chance on the banks of a west Siberian river in 2008 is that of a man who died around 45,000 years ago, scientists said, shedding light on modern humans' colonisation of the planet
Scientists said Wednesday they had unravelled the oldest DNA ever retrieved from a Homo sapiens bone, a feat that sheds light on modern humans' colonisation of the planet.
A femur found by chance on the banks of a west Siberian river in 2008 is that of a man who died around 45,000 years ago, they said.
Teased out of collagen in the ancient bone, the genome contains traces from Neanderthals -- a cousin species who lived in Eurasia alongside H. sapiens before mysteriously disappearing.
Previous research has found that Neanderthals and H. sapiens interbred, leaving a tiny Neanderthal imprint of just about two percent in humans today, except for Africans.
The discovery has a bearing on the so-called "Out of Africa" scenario: the theory that H. sapiens evolved in East Africa around 200,000 years ago and then ventured out of the continent.
Dating when Neanderthals and H. sapiens interbred would also indicate when H. sapiens embarked on a key phase of this trek -- the push out of Eurasia and into South and later Southeast Asia.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, was headed by Svante Paabo, a renowned geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who has pioneered research into Neanderthals.
- Neanderthal interbreeding -
afp.com / Max-Planck-Institute EVA /
In this undated image, (L-R) Svante Pääbo, who headed the recent study, Ed Green, Adrian Briggs and Johannes Krause, pose with a Neanderthal skeleton in Leipzig
The bone found at the Irtyush River, near the settlement of Ust'-Ishim, carries slightly more Neanderthal DNA than non-Africans today, the team found.
But it takes the form of relatively long strips, whereas Neanderthal DNA in our genome today has been cut up and dispersed in tiny sections as a result of generations of reproduction.
These differences provide a clue for a "molecular calendar", or dating DNA according to mutations over thousands of years.
Using this method, Paabo's team estimate interbreeding between Neanderthals and H. sapiens occurred 7,000 to 13,000 years before the Siberian individual lived -- thus no more than 60,000 years ago.
This provides a rough date for estimating when H. sapiens headed into South Asia, Chris Stringer, a professor at Britain's Natural History Museum, said in a comment on the study.
If today's Australasians have Neanderthal DNA, it is because their forebears crossed through Neanderthal territory and mingled with the locals.
"The ancestors of Australasians, with their similar input of Neanderthal DNA to Eurasians, must have been part of a late, rather than early, dispersal through Neanderthal territory," Stringer said in a press release.
"While it is still possible that modern humans did traverse southern Asia before 60,000 years ago, those groups could not have made a significant contribution to the surviving modern populations outside of Africa, which contain evidence of interbreeding with Neanderthals."
Anthropologists suggest a northern branch of Eurasians crossed to modern-day Alaska more than 15,000 years ago via an "ice bridge" that connected islands in the Bering Strait, thus enabling H. sapiens to colonise the Americas.
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