SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
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Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  29.03-02.04.04, No. 13  
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Foreign Policy

FM: China willing to cooperate with Saudi Arabia
2004-04-02 People's Daily
With a sustained, growing economy, China is ready to cooperate with the international community, particularly members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) more effectively on the basis of mutual benefit and Saudi Arabia, as a major oil producing nation, is playing a vital role in the OPEC. China Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the remarks at a regular press conference Thursday. He said Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-nuaimi will pay a goodwill visit to China from April 1 to 3 as guest of the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC). Al-nuaimi is expected to exchange views with the SDRC leading officials on bilateral cooperation in the field of energy.

China, Thailand to improve military cooperation
2004-04-01 PLA Daily
China stands ready to join efforts with Thailand to continuously push forward the existing all-round Sino-Thai friendly relations of cooperation and good-neighborliness, the visiting Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan said. "China and Thailand have developed their bilateral relations ina way of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual help," said Cao when he meeting with his Thai counterpart Chettha Thanajaro here on Wednesday. The Sino-Thai friendship has developed in all sectors including the military area, which is to the interests of both peoples, he added. ( ) Cao arrived in Bangkok early Wednesday. Thailand is the last leg of his trip to Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Thailand. He will end his visit to Thailand on Saturday.

Vajpayee encourages more cooperation between Indian, Chinese military
2004-03-31 PLA Daily
Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Monday told visiting Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan that the Indian and Chinese military should further strengthen exchange and cooperation. Speaking highly of the progress made in defense cooperation between the two countries' military over the past few years, Vajpayee said that the two countries' military should continue to safeguard the peace and stability along the borders, in the region and in the rest of the world as well. Cao, who is also vice chairman of the Central Military Commission and a state councilor, said that bilateral relations have made gratifying progress over the past few years thanks to the concerted efforts made by the leaders of the two countries, adding that the exchange and cooperation between the two countries in the political, economic, cultural, science, technology and defense fields have strengthened further. ( ) At the invitation of the Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes, Cao arrived in New Delhi on Friday for a five-day official visit to India.

US criticism reveals Cold War mentality: signed article
2004-03-31 People's Daily
It is totally out of a Cold War mentality that the US government has opposed China in the field of human rights in order to distort China's image, undermine its stability and hinder its development. China has made major progress in human rights over the last year, said Dong Yunhu, vice chairman and secretary-general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, in a signed article Wednesday, following Tuesday's issuance of a government white paper entitled "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2003.( ) The facts show that instead of the "setbacks" as the USA claimed, China has made great progress in the key fields of human rights over the past year, which everybody without any political prejudice will recognize, the article says. It admits that China's human rights situation is by no means a perfect one. China is a developing country that has the biggest population and a relatively weak economic base, with the development level varying from region to region. Although the Chinese government has exerted great efforts to promote and protect human rights, there still exist a lot of problems concerning human rights, due to natural and historic factors as well as the stage of development. ( ) The US government has ignored China's continuous progress in the field of human rights as a whole and is indulged in searching for "specific cases" and even fabricating "facts" in a bid to prove China's "setbacks" and to table an anti-China motion in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. "Obviously, it is irresponsible and unfair," says the articles. "It shows that the United States is not really concerned about human rights in China, but has ulterior motives." ( )It is because of its ideological prejudice and political demand for practicing hegemony, the United States is unwilling to see the steady development of a socialist China and the rise of a China that advocates for peace and development," says the article, adding that this is the main reason the United States has tried every means to make unwarranted charges against China's human rights situation. The human rights record of the United States is far from compliant to its level of economic development and its status as a superpower in the world, and is strongly sarcastic of its status as a self-claimed "human rights power," the article says. Ironically, it says, the US Declaration of Independence is the world's first declaration on human rights and has profound and far-reaching impacts on the world, but the American revolutionary ideal has been mainly used for exporting, and the American people know little about it. According to the article, the dispute over human rights between China and the United States was provoked by the US side in the early 1990s, and it has continued for a dozen years. China's white paper on human rights aims to promote human rights in the country and international exchanges, while the US country reports on human rights practices serve as a tool to promote American hegemony and power politics in the field of human rights, and as a means to defame other countries and interfere in their internal affairs. ( )

China takes countermeasures on US visa process
2004-03-30 China Daily
China decided on Tuesday to take countermeasures against the US decision to fingerprint most Chinese who will go to the United States. The measures include granting ordinary visas and levying a visa fee for US personnel who hold diplomatic or service passports who are traveling for personal purposes according to their intention and requiring interviews with some US citizens who are applying for visas to China in the Chinese Embassy and consulates. The decision also banned US citizens from applying for visas upon their arrival, noting that the visa application must have been granted before they enter China. On March 22, the US Embassy in China started to collect the fingerprints of Chinese who will go to the United States. ( )

Chinese State Councilor meets ROK guest
2004-03-31 People's Daily
Chinese State Councilor Tang Xiayuan met Monday with Ban Ki-Moon, visiting minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea The two sides exchanged views on issues of common concern, including the bilateral relations between the two countries and the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of Korean Peninsula. ( ) On the nuclear issue of the peninsula, Tang said that no matter what difficulties will occur in the future, both sides should promote peaceful dialogue unremittingly, in order to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue and maintain peace and stability of the peninsula and the region. ( )

China slams US for selling radar system to Taiwan
2004-04-01 Xinhua News
China expresses strong displeasure and firm opposition to the US approval to sell an early warning radar system to Taiwan, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan here Thursday. It was reported that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the US Department of Defense has approved the sale of the ultra-high frequency early warning radar system to Taiwan. Such a move seriously violated the principles set forth in the three China-US joint communiques, in particular the Aug. 17 Communique on arms sales between the two countries, Kong told a press conference. It also sent a wrong signal to the separatist forces seeking Taiwan independence and will lead to further tension in the situation across the Taiwan Strait and sabotage the common interests of China and the United States, Kong stressed. He reiterated that the Taiwan issue remained the most important and sensitive core issue in China-US relations. ( )

Mainland side will not be indifferent if Taiwan situation worsens: official
2004-03-29 PLA Daily
The mainland side will not be indifferent if the current situation in Taiwan worsens and gets out of control, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said Friday. " Taiwan compatriots are as close to us as flesh and blood," said the spokesman. "We will not sit back and look on unconcerned should the post-election situation in Taiwan get out of control, leading to social turmoil, endangering the lives and property of Taiwan compatriots and affecting stability across the Taiwan straits. "We have noticed that the electoral institution of Taiwan region has announced the (March 20) election results in disregard of strong opposition from one competing side," the spokesman said. "We have also noticed that the opposition side refused to accept the results and that they are continuing their protests."

 

Domestic Policy

Three Gorges pollution worrisome: official
2004-04-01 Xinhua News
Industrial pollution in the Three Gorges Reservoir and its upstream areas is worrisome, and China will take four measures to reduce it, said China's environmental authority here Thursday. The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) issued the mid-term assessment report of the Anti-Water Pollution Plan of the Three Gorges Project Thursday which said the progress of pollution treatment projects in the Three Gorges Project area is "not as smooth as planned". The Three Gorges Project, which started in December 1994, plans to build the world's biggest dam ever in the upstream of China's Yangtze River. Hailed by most people for its potential capability to generate electricity, it is questioned by some environmentalists about possible pollution to the reservoir and upstream areas. An anti-water pollution plan of the Three Gorges Project released by China's State Council demands that industrial pollution in the reservoir should be reduced 30 percent by 2005 and nearby areas affected be shrunk by 20 percent. However, statistics of the mid-term assessment show that 35 percent of major treatment programs have not been started. ( )

Aufforstung von 4 Mio. Hektar fürs Jahr 04
2004-04-01 Renmin Ribao
In ganz China sollen im Jahre 04 4 Millionen Hektar einst gerodeter Felder sowie Ödland und Gebirge wieder aufgeforstet werden. Wie der Vize-Direktor des Amts für Forstwirtschaft Li Yucai am Dienstag in Beijing berichtete, werde der Schwerpunkt des Aufforstungsprogramms in China in diesem Jahr in den ökologisch wichtigsten Gebieten und den ökologisch besonders schwer geschädigten Regionen liegen. Ziel des Projekts ist, die Bodenerosion in den Gebieten zu verhindern. ( )Bis Ende letzten Jahres waren landesweit mehr als 17 Millionen Hektar Ackerland in Wälder zurückverwandelt worden.

Party puts agrarian issues on top agenda
2004-03-29 Xinhua News
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting Monday to study policies to increase grain production and encourage grain growers. General Secretary Hu Jintao presided over the meeting, which urged all localities and departments concerned to implement central policies to increase farmers' income. Resolving problems regarding agriculture, rural areas and farmers must be put on top agenda of the Party, the meeting concluded. It called for greater efforts to decrease agricultural taxes and reduce financial burdens of farmers in a substantial way. It also ordered to crack down on fraudulent activities against farmers and protect their interests. ( )

3,798 Chinese civil servants punished over SARS negligence
2004-03-31 Xinhua News
The supervision departments of China punished 3,798 civil servants and other staff members for poor performance in the fight against SARS in 2003. The disciplinary measures were part of a campaign against poor performance and illegal activities. The campaign uncovered irregularities involving 8.8 billion yuan (1.06 billion US dollars), according to figures provided by the Ministry of Supervision. A total economic loss of 5.25 billion yuan has been retrieved, said the ministry. In 2003, the Ministry of Supervision participated in a crackdown on illegal activities in the real estate market, oil and natural gas production, the auto market, construction material market, environmental protection and farm material production, while its local branches supervised use of state-owned property, social security fund and disaster-relief fund as well as construction project bids.

Party opens hotline to stop malpractice in official selection
2004-03-30 Xinhua News
The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Monday publicized a reporting phone number, 12380, for people to report irregularities in the selection of Party and government officials. Since 1998 the Organization Department of CPC Central Committee has run a reporting center for people to supervise party official selection through phone calls, and later local CPC committees also set up similar hotlines with different numbers. The nationwide use of the special phone number brings convenience to the public supervisors, who can directly dial the number to local organization departments to report problems in party official selection.

Why birth rate in China keeps dropping
2004-03-31 China Daily
According to the latest statistics held by China Population Information and Research Center, from 2000 to April 2003, China's birth rate has witnessed a continuous decrease from 1.403 percent in 2000 to 1.241 percent in 2003. Recently, a survey made by All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) tells that 40 percent of the young married women are not willing to have children. City women are undergoing some changes in their conception of having babies. Now it seems pretty normal for women to have no kid Therefore some women not giving birth to children is a major reason for the dropping birth rate in China. One main reason is that pressure in work and studies and tight schedule deprive women of leisure to give birth to children. Also some other people think that having children will affect present quality of life for the couple do not have a solid economic base. Marriage with no sex is another reason. As many couples are busying with their work they do not even have leisure for a meal together, let alone to care of having babies. Women of certain jobs are affected by their work environment and schedule. The birth-giving health of women staff in computer operation, hospitals, chemical industry, laboratory, textile industry, public transportation and airlines is likely to suffer from damage. Low birth-giving rate of modern women is closely related to the modern life. ( )

Suicide attempts on the rise
2004-03-30 China Daily
One year ago, Leslie Cheung, a Hong Kong movie star who won best actor in Cannes in 1993, killed himself in Hong Kong and reportedly triggered off several suicidal acts among fans on the Chinese mainland. The suicidal run underlined a serious problem about depressive illness and lack of effective psychological health care in China. Recently, establishment of a medical rescue center for those at psychological risk at the Nanjing Brain Hospital in this capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province has further highlighted increasing concerns about depressive illness and efforts to reduce suicide attempts among the Chinese people. ( ) Suicide now ranks the fifth most common cause of death in China, next only to those from angiocardiopathy, malignant tumors and respiratory diseases and accidental deaths, according to the China Psychological Health Association based in Nanjing. The association said suicide is the top death cause for people aged at 15 to 34 in the nation. Suicide has become one of the greatest health concerns worldwide. Currently in China 287,000 people commit suicide every year, or one suicide and eight failed attempts every other minute, according to data provided by the Beijing Huilongguan Hospital based in China's capital. In terms of suicide attempts, rural areas outnumber urban areas and males outnumber females. The young and the old stand at the forefront, Zhang Zhou added. Traditionally, Chinese people see depression as shameful and hesitate to ask for help when they are exposed to high psychological pressures ( ). Suicide attempts are a sort of mental illness and should be treated with professional psychological counseling and medication.

Middle class is swelling: CASS report
2004-03-29 Xinhua News
China's middle class covered 19 percent of the total population by 2003, up 1 percentage points every year since 1999, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). According to CASS's standard, families with assets valued from 150,000 to 300,000 yuan (18,072 to 36,144 US dollars) can be classified as middle class. About 49 percent of households in the urban areas meet the middle class standard, but considering the large amount of families with lower incomes in the rural areas, the report reached the result that the middle class covers 19 % of the total population. ( )

Kampf gegen Aids erfordert weitere internationale Anstrengungen
2004-03-29 Renmin Ribao
Bei der UNO-Konferenz über die Entwicklungsziele Chinas stand am Freitag das Thema Aids im Mittelpunkt der Beratungen. Aids sei eine der grössten Herausforderungen für die Menschheit, da die Krankheit sich gravierend auf wirtschaftliche und gesellschaftliche Entwicklung und Stabilität auswirke. ( ) Laut einem am vergangenen Donnerstag veröffentlichten UN-Bericht über die Umsetzung der Millenniums-Entwicklungsziele hat die Phase der schnellen Ausbreitung von Aids in China gerade erst begonnen. Bislang gebe es in China rund 840.000 Infizierte, bei etwa 80.000 Menschen sei die Krankheit ausgebrochen. Die Vizedirektorin der chinesischen Kommission für Bevölkerung und Familienplanung, Zhao Baige, sieht eine Zuspitzung der Aids-Ausbreitung in China in versch. Bereichen: - Die Aids-Ausbreitung der Infizierten steigt deutlich. - Es sind nicht mehr nur sogenannte Risikogruppen betroffen, sondern zunehmend alle Bereiche der Gesellschaft. - Drittens tragen Faktoren wie regionale Entwicklungsunterschiede und Armut deutlich zur Verbreitung von Aids bei. Auch die chinesische Regierung hat wirksame Massnahmen eingeleitet. China hat erkannt, dass eine weitere Ausbreitung der Krankheit durch eine Verbindung von Sexualhygiene und Familieplanungsservice effektiv eingedämmt werden kann. ( )

Tuberkulose unter Wanderarbeitern nimmt zu
2004-03-29 Zhongguo Ribao
Nach Angaben des Gesundheitsamtes in Beijinger ist unter den nach Beijing kommenden Wanderarbeitern eine wachsende Zahl von Tuberkulosefällen zu vermelden. Aus diesem Grund plant das Amt, Wanderarbeiter kostenlos gegen TB zu impfen und entsprechende Medikamente bereit zu stellen. Knapp 50% aller Tuberkulosepatienten in Beijing sind Zuwanderer oder Wanderarbeiter aus versch. Landesteilen Chinas.

Bullfights canned over animal welfare
2004-04-02 China Daily
The Beijing Daxing District government has decided to cancel its Spanish bullfighting programme after strong appeals against animal cruelty from deputies to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC) and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Due to pressure, Shen Baochang, secretary of the Beijing Daxing District Committee of the Communist Party of China said a bull ring now under construction -- said to be the largest in Asia --"will now show tame animal performances and circuses instead of bullfights in the future," the Beijing News reported. () Spanish bullfighting is cruel and China should not introduce a tradition that is believed to be uncultured in Chinese tradition. Liang Congjie, a CPPCC member said in his proposal that Beijing is preparing for the 2008 Olympics and should display civilization, not cruel treatment to animals. Mang Ping, an expert in animal welfare, said even if officials stage US or Canadian-style rodeos rather than bullfights, calves still could be hurt. The men -- who are timed for a winning score -- jump off their horses and tackle the animals by twisting their necks till they fall. "Such empty-handed competitions even have examples of the necks of calves being broken in the United States, or other injuries," she said. "It goes against moral principles."

 

DPRK

DPRK civilians admit faking papers on chemical weapons testing on humans
2004-03-31 PLA Daily
Four family members of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Tuesday they faked the papers the BBC used as the basis for allegations that the DPRK has tested chemical weapons on prisoners. At a press conference at the People's Culture Palace in Pyongyang, 59-year-old Kang Pyong-sob, his wife, second son and daughter, of DPRK's South Hamgyong Province, told reporters that his eldest son Kang Song-guk, who escaped abroad, cheated them to fake the materials detailing the testing of chemical weapons on humans. In February, the BBC quoted these documents saying that prisoners were seen gassed to death in the DPRK. The DPRK later called the charges lies invented by the defectors. Kang Song-guk fled abroad many years ago and helped his family escape abroad later. To make a living, Kang decided to make false materials to obtain money from human rights organizations, the four said at Tuesday's conference. ( ) They said they felt very sorry that the fake materials were misused by foreign media "to attack the fatherland". They said they wanted to clarify the truth.

 

Patrick Dreher
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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