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The city of Long Beach’s proposal for the abandoned naval station, if
not dead, is severely wounded.

The blows are coming from members of Congress who have been looking
with increasing disfavor and concern on the notion of converting the
base into a cargo container yard which would then be leased to China
Ocean Shipping Co. — the huge transport firm owned and operated by the
Chinese government — for its exclusive use.

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that lawmakers have decided
to include language in the annual defense authorization bill that would
effectively bar COSCO from leasing the terminal space.

The language, inserted at the request of Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK,
would rescind the president’s authority to approve the lease. As it
stands currently, Clinton has that authority if the FBI and Pentagon
certify that the Chinese being there is not a threat to national
security. The potential security threat posed by COSCO was first
reported in WorldNetDaily last year.

Though it seems fairly certain that COSCO’s out of the deal, at least
for this year, that’s not yet official, according to congressional
aides.

“We’re optimistic,” said Gary Hoitsma, press secretary to Inhofe.
“We’re going to do everything we can.”

But no matter what Congress does to halt the project, COSCO may
already have talked itself out of the deal.

In a brief filed Aug. 26 with the federal Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals, attorneys for COSCO told the court that the huge transport firm
is not
interested in the Naval Station and should therefore be dropped as a
defendant in a lawsuit brought by public TV host Huell Howser.

Howser, through his attorney Richard Fine, maintains that to turn the
base into a cargo container yard, which is what the city of Long Beach
proposes, would be a gross waste of over $1.3 billion of tax dollars and
assets. His suit focuses on the pending demolition of historic buildings
and land use, not on the choice of the tenant, per se.

Also named as defendants are the city of Long Beach, the Long Beach
Port Authority, the U.S. Navy and the California State Lands Commission.

The crucial sentence in the COSCO brief states: “COSO has no
interest in the property and certainly has neither the authority nor the
ability to cause the ‘waste’ of which Howser complains.”

But a statement by Jiufeng Dong, president of COSCO America, Inc.,
contradicts the firm’s official legal position and indicates COSCO has
in no way given up its “interest” in getting its hands on the base. His
remarks appear in an interview published Aug. 28 in the Journal of
Commerce.

“The site in Long Beach, with the proper layout plans, would satisfy
our needs” Dong told the Journal, adding that COSCO has “suffered
significant financial losses due to the continuing delays.”

“We have made progress, however,” said Dong, “and I would like to
take this opportunity to thank Long Beach city, the Long Beach Port
Authority, and all of our other American friends who have been so
instrumental in helping us achieve what we have to date. With their
continued assistance and our determination, we have full confidence that
our long-term goal will be accomplished.”

So which is it? Does COSCO still want the base or not?

“One of these is a lie,” says attorney Richard Fine.

Federal judge Andrew Hauk had rejected this particular suit in July
1997, saying it did not belong in federal court. Fine filed an appeal.

“This is their (COSCO’s) opposition brief to the appeals brief we
filed in response to Judge Hauk’s decision,” Fine told WorldNetDaily.
“They’re making that statement to get out of this case. Now it doesn’t
say that COSCO has no present interest or past interest, and it doesn’t
limit that by saying it may have a future interest. It’s a flat out
statement
that COSCO has no interest in the property.”

“Either they lied to the Journal of Commerce or they’ve lied in their
brief. If they’ve lied to the Ninth Circuit, then it’s perjury,” said
Fine.

“When you make a representation of fact to the court it is considered
to be the same as evidence. The court in making its decision is supposed
to rely on that statement being truthful. It’s the same as if they
testified,” he explained.

Fine said he incorporated the Journal’s article in his response to
the COSCO brief.

“COSCO’s in really tough shape,” he observed.

Mr. Dong is traveling and was not available for comment. Robert F.
Coppola, of Baker and Hostetler in Long Beach and lead attorney on the
case for COSCO, did not return WorldNetDaily’s phone calls.

RELATED ITEMS:

Fate of Long Beach port still up in air: September 7, 1998

The COSCO cover-up: July 10, 1998

Roadblock removed in COSCO deal: June 1, 1998

A big break for COSCO deal: February 9, 1998

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