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To Some Doubts, China
Releases Human Rights Plan

China’s Cabinet released on Monday what it called a human rights action plan, a lengthy document promising to improve the protection of civil liberties, which are often neglected and sometimes systematically violated in China.

Under the two-year plan, China promised to protect the rights to a fair trial, to participate in government decisions and to learn about and question government policies. It calls for measures to discourage torture, such as requiring interrogation rooms to have designs that physically separate interrogators from the accused.

The civil liberties mentioned in the action plan are already guaranteed by Chinese laws or the country’s constitution. Human rights groups say many are nonetheless ignored or suppressed by the authorities at their own discretion, without any practicable grounds for appeal through the Communist Party-controlled judiciary.

The document does not propose any fundamental reforms of the country’s one-party system, such as making the courts independent of party control or allowing other parties or political groups to hold power.

Egypt Accuses Hezbollah of Plotting Attacks in Sinai

Egypt released new details on Monday of what it said was a Hezbollah plot to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, to attack Israeli tourist sites in the Sinai Peninsula and to fire on ships in the Suez Canal. Officials said the police were hunting for 10 Lebanese suspects believed to be hiding in the mountainous terrain of central Sinai.

The case gained wide attention after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, acknowledged on Friday that he had sent an agent to Egypt to organize assistance for the Palestinians in their fight with Israel, and it quickly took on broader regional implications.

Hezbollah is a military, political and social organization in Lebanon with strong ties to Iran, a bloc in Lebanon’s parliament and ministers in the Cabinet.

The case has complicated faltering efforts to reconcile differences among Arab states over how to deal with Iran’s rising regional influence and the Palestinian problem. It also highlighted the growing anxiety among some Arab leaders, especially Washington’s traditional allies in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, over Western outreach to Iran and Hezbollah.

“I think the Egyptian leadership wants to remind the public and its other partners that there is something serious going on here,” said Gamal Abdel Gawad, head of the international relations section of the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “It wasn’t just a war of words. There was an attempt to destabilize Egypt.”