World briefs 9A

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Entrepreneurs want seats in Vietnam's government

HANOI, Vietnam -- When communist Vietnam began reforming its centralized economy in the late 1980s, Nguyen Thi Anh Nhan took advantage of the new freedoms to revamp her small state-owned company's product line.

"We stopped producing soy sauce and shifted to beer," she said. "People considered me brave because almost no other company dared abandon its traditional products and try something completely different."

Demand for beer proved strong, and Nhan's company, Viet Ha, is now one of Vietnam's largest breweries. Nhan, 64 and retired as company director, is running in parliamentary elections Sunday, hoping she can help other businesses prosper by joining Vietnam's National Assembly.

Vietnam's one-party leadership wants something from her, too: the business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit needed to tackle the legislature's main task of shifting the country from a closed communist state governed by a web of decrees to one the government says will be ruled by transparent laws.

Taiwanese leader makes no progress with China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- When he was elected two years ago, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian told voters he would be like Richard Nixon in achieving a diplomatic breakthrough with China.

The late American president's historic 1972 trip to Beijing overcame a legacy of U.S.-China hostilities. Chen said he could also shake hands and raise toasts with leaders of the giant communist neighbor and help ease five decades of China-Taiwan tensions.

But as the lawyer and former dissident marks the middle of his four-year term Monday, he has yet to show much progress in opening ties with Chinese leaders. Beijing still won't talk to him, and China continues to aim hundreds of missiles at this island 100 miles from the mainland.

Mexico's Fox ordered to give up financial records

MEXICO CITY -- Investigators have asked federal election officials to order President Vicente Fox to turn over complete financial records for his 2000 campaign as part of an unprecedented probe into how his campaign was paid for.

A committee assigned to scrutinize the Fox campaign's books also wants the Federal Electoral Institute to force the campaign's chief financial officer to testify before its members, committee member Jaime Cardenas said late Friday.

Made up of officials from the Federal Electoral Institute, the committee began its investigation after two opposition parties filed a lawsuit alleging that Fox's campaign improperly obtained and spent an unspecified amount of money.

Cardenas said Fox has refused to take the committee seriously and appealed to the full election institute for help.

A Fox spokesman declined to comment on the committee's request Friday night.

-- From wire reports

Sailors rescued from stormy Indian Ocean

PERTH, Australia -- Two British sailors whose 23-foot boat capsized during an attempt to row across the Indian Ocean were rescued Saturday after clinging to the hull of their overturned vessel for 14 hours in heavy seas.

Rescue officials said a merchant ship, the Bulk Africa, picked up Simon Chalk, 29, and Bill Greaves, 41, both of Devon, England. The men who were two days into a trip that was expected to take more than two months and cover 4,400 nautical miles.

They had planned to row nonstop from Australia to Reunion Island, a French territory east of Madagascar on the other side of the ocean. They departed Wednesday, setting out from Kalbarri, Australia, about 370 miles north of Perth.

Chalk and Greaves turned their emergency distress beacon on late Friday night, and a search was launched.

Search spokesman Ben Mitchell said the men were taken ashore by helicopter. "They're believed to be uninjured and quite lucky," Mitchell said.

The men were trying to beat the 64-day record set in 1931 by Sweden's Anders Svedlund, the only other person to row the route.

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