Section Ⅱ Reading Comprehension
WHAT is going on in Myanmar? European diplomats ventured- into the capital Yangon, formerly Rangoon, this week to discuss the junta's recent charm offensive, and came away little the wiser, though there are plenty of encouraging signs. On January 26th it was revealed that the government had freed over 80 political prisoners. One of them was Tin Oo, the vice chairman of the National League for Democracy, which won an election in 1990 that the generals have never honored. The prisoner release followed an announcement by the UN that Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the NLD and has been consistently demonized by the government, had been meeting some of the junta's top generals.
Both of these gestures are extraordinary. The generals have been rounding up NLD members relentlessly over the past couple of years, in an effort to eradicate any remnants of an opposition. They have been even more dogged in their efforts to discredit Miss Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel peace prize for opposing them and who remains the rallying point for the regime's detractors around the world. Last August the government blockaded a road for days to prevent her from visiting supporters outside the city. Since then she has been under virtual house arrest.
So why have the generals suddenly relaxed their grip? The most likely answer is that they think they can afford to, not that they have to. Though western countries maintain sanctions against the regime, it is hard to believe that it is now buckling. Most Asian countries are still happy to do business with Myanmar, and China especially is doing roaring cross-border trade.
Nor should one read too much into reports of a split between reformers and hardliners. Trade restrictions and multi-tiered exchange rates do indeed distort some parts of the economy grotesquely. And Khin Nyunt, one of the junta's top generals, does appear to support making some changes. But there is not much chance of anything dramatic happening. "The thing that they all agree about is that any economic reform would cause chaos in the country," says one western businessman who pops in and out from Thailand. And although the government's growth figures are overblown, the economy is nevertheless slightly expanding, rather than contracting.
Moreover, even the "reformers" within the junta have little interest in loosening up politically. They do not think they need to do so to improve the economy, and they certainly do not feel vulnerable politically. The military regime, says a recent report by the International Crisis Group, a think-tank, is "as strong as at any time in the country's history". The army has roughly doubled in size since 1988, when it bloodily suppressed a wave of protest and installed itself in power.
Unfortunately for Myanmar's democrats, the generals appear to be so well entrenched that they can now afford to work on their public relations. There is no harm in releasing opponents if the opposition is no longer a threat. And if Miss Suu Kyi is becoming irrelevant, there is no harm in meeting her to discuss the terms of surrender.
21. Which one is not about Suu Kyi?
A She won the Nobel Peace Prize.
B She suffered the torture from the generals.
C The generals eradicated her.
D The NLD members had been suspicious and got rid of by the generals.
22. The reason why the generals relaxed their grip is
A they think the prisoners are not a real threat to them.
B the western countries maintain sanctions against it.
C they have to do so because of UN' negotiations.
D the economy is on the edge of stopping.
23. The expression "buckling"(line 4, para 3)most probably means
24. The economy in Myanmar is
A dramatically changing
B increasing a little
C greatly contracting
D growing fast
25. This passage gives us an implication that
A Miss Suu Kyi is becoming weaker.
B Miss Suu Kyi will surrender.
C for the generals, the prospect seems sunny.
D there is still a long-term negotiation.
URUGUAY has been a proud exception to the privatizing wave that swept through South America in the 1990s. Its state-owned firms are more efficient than many of their counterparts in Argentina and Brazil ever were. In 1992, Uruguayans voted in a referendum against privatizing telecoms. They rightly observe that some of Argentina's sales were botched, creating inefficient private monopolies. And with unemployment at 15%, nobody is enthusiastic about the job cuts privatization would involve.
That leaves President Jorge Batlle with a problem. Uruguay has been in recession for the past two years, mainly because of low prices for its agricultural exports, and because of Argentina's woes. But public debt is at 45% Of GDP, and rising. Some economists argue that privatization would give a boost to the economy, by attracting foreign investment, and by lowering costs. CERES, a think-tank, having compared tariffs for public services in Uruguay and its neighbors, believes liberalization could save businesses and households the equivalent of 4% of GDP annually, raise growth and produce a net 45,000 jobs.
The polls that show continuing support for public ownership also show growing opposition to monopolies. So Mr. Batlle plans to keep the state firms, but let private ones either compete with them or bid to operate their services under contract.
The opposition Broad Front and the trade unions are resisting. They have gathered enough signatures to demand a "public consultation" next month on a new law to allow private operators in the ports and railways-a referendum on whether to hold a referendum on the issue. Alberto Bension, the finance minister, admits the vote will be a crucial indicator of how far the government can push. But he notes that, since 1992, attempts to overturn laws by calling referendums have flopped.
The liberalization of telecoms has already begun. Bell South, an American firm, is the first private cell-phone operator. There are plans to license others, and talk of allowing competition for fixed-line telephones. A new law allows private companies to import gas from Argentina to generate electricity in competition with the state utility. Another plan would strip Ancap, the state oil firm, of its monopoly of imports. It has already been allowed to seek a private partner to modernize its refinery.
Harder tasks lie ahead. The state-owned banks are saddled with problem loans to farmers and home owners. And Mr. Batlle shows no appetite for cutting the bloated bureaucracy.
After a year in office, the president is popular. He has created a cross-party commission to investigate "disappearances" during Uruguay's military dictatorship of 1976-85. The unions are weakened by unemployment. At CERES, Ernesto Talvi argues that Mr Batlle should note his own strength, and push ahead more boldly. But that is not the Uruguayan way.
26. Uruguay in the 1990s
A moved in the privatizing wave.
B adopted the same measure as that of Argentina.
C stuck to its old economic mode.
D developed very slowly.
27.What can we infer from the first four paragraphs?
A. Uruguay has been always trying to join in the privatizing wave
B. Economists argue that privatization is the only way to boost Uruguay's GDP
C. Mr Battle plans to privatize the country's economy completely
D. The opposition Broad Front is in favor of privatization
28. The 5th para suggests that
A. Bell South is built up in 1982
B. There has been no law to regulate the electricity
C. Ancap may modernize its refinery with the help of a private partner
D. Liberalization makes the economy slack
29. What does the author mean by "flopped"(last line, para 4)?
28. Which one is true according to the passage?
A. Privatization is thriving in Uruguay
B. Now, referenda have less strength to change some laws
C. Uruguayan people are satisfied with the government's actions with regard to the economy
D. The President is managing to keep the state companies efficient