SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

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
  29.11-03.12.04, No. 43  
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Foreign Policy

Three-way dialogue goes win-win
2004-11-30 China Daily
Leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) vowed in a summit yesterday to enhance trilateral co-operation to promote stability and development in Northeast Asia. Premier Wen Jiabao said collaboration among the three nations should be conducted along with the development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Wen, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and ROK President Roh Moo-hyun, released a joint action strategy after their meeting on the sidelines of ASEAN summit. They also touched upon the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. China will continue to jointly strive with the international community to resume a new round of talks on the nuclear issue as soon as possible because it conforms to interests of all parties, said Wen. Koizumi and Roh expressed their appreciation for China's efforts to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue and said they hope the six-party talks can be continued. ( ) To promote trilateral co-operation, Wen said China, the Japanese, and South Koreans should make new steps in facilitating trade liberalization and push economic integration among them. Exchanges of culture, personnel and media should be increased to promote mutual understanding, according to Wen. The three countries should increase their dialogues on regional policy, said Wen, noting that regional co-operation has become a global trend and the co-operation of Asia, especially East Asia, is now in an important period. The three-way meeting started in 1999. Wen said the three countries must stick to the principles of achieving a "win-win" result from their collaboration. He suggested some priority areas must be decided and that collaboration could be started in some easy areas, then expanded to other sectors. Koizumi said the three countries should increase their partnership in investment, free trade, finance, culture and personnel, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. Roh said the ROK hopes to co-operate with China and Japan in sectors such as energy, the economy, science and technology, said the spokesman. Besides the trilateral talks, Wen also held bilateral meetings separately with Roh, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Lao President Khamtay Siphandone. In the meeting with Roh, he and Wen discussed the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue again. Wen hopes the ROK will continue to adopt a conciliatory policy and improve relations between the North and the South. Roh hopes that the parties show flexibility and resume the next round of six-party talks as soon as possible.

ASEAN recognizes China as a full market economy
2004-11-30 Xinhuanet
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) declared Monday that it now recognizes China as a full market economy. This is the first such declaration from the 10-member organization and came at the eighth summit between ASEAN and China during the signing of a trade agreement between the parties, an official press release said. Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, together with the trade ministers of the ASEAN countries, signed the agreement. Premier Wen Jiabao, who is here attending the ASEAN meetings and visiting Laos, witnessed the signing ceremony. Together with the 10 ASEAN member states, over 20 countries have now recognized China's full market economy status. ( )

Chinese FM meets Russian counterpart
2004-11-30 Xinhuanet - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met here Monday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, and the two sides exchanged views on the Iraqi issue and the cooperation between the two countries in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Li briefed Lavrov on the cooperation between China and ASEAN. Li is accompanying Chinese Premier Wen Jibao to visit Laos andattend the eighth summit between ASEAN and China, and between ASEAN and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), as well asthe sixth China, Japan and ROK summit.

Dai visits United States
2004-12-03 China Daily
Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, who is currently visiting the United State as a special envoy of the Chinese Government, has met with senior US officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Zhang said besides China-US relations, the two sides have also talked about the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue. Zhang said China has been making positive efforts towards the early opening of the next round of six-party talks and called on all parties to show "sincerity and flexibility."

EU urged to lift embargo
2004-12-03 China Daily - China called on the European Union yesterday to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo as soon as possible. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said at a regular press conference that the embargo does not reflect the development of relations between China and EU members. She called the embargo "a decision made in the Cold War mentality," and urged the EU to "make an early and correct decision." Premier Wen Jiabao is going to the Netherlands to attend the seventh China-EU Summit on Wednesday, "Wen will address the quick lifting of the arms embargo with EU leaders," Zhang said. She said China is firmly against tying the lifting of the ban to human rights issues. "The remarkable progress China has made in the human rights field over the years is for all to see," she said. ( ) "It is a very serious political issue," she said. "It has something to do with political principle and it is not for the Chinese side to make any concessions," she added. Zhang said it is the time to completely solve the issue and she hoped that the EU will make decision that will promote relations and co-operation between the two sides. She said China hopes the EU will move with the overall needs of the China-EU relationship in mind and work towards further development in that field. Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot hinted last month that the EU may be ready to move in that direction during the seventh China-EU summit to be held in the Hague next Wednesday while the Netherlands holds the EU's rotating presidency.

Chinese premier to visit Netherlands
2004-12-03 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will visit the Netherlands from Dec. 7 to 9, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue announced Thursday. The premier will attend the Seventh China-EU Leaders' Meeting in the Hague, together with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, which holds the rotating European Union (EU) presidency, European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Javier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union (EU) and representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, the spokeswoman told a regular press conference. During his stay, Wen will also pay an official visit to the Netherlands as guest of his Dutch counterpart Balkenende, Zhang said.

China backs IAEA resolution on Iran nuclear issue
2004-12-01 China Daily
China backs the resolution made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the Iran nuclear issue and believes the resolution will help solve the issue in an appropriate and timely way under the IAEA framework, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said here Tuesday. Zhang told a regular press conference that China considers the resolution will help strengthen international nuclear nonproliferation mechanism and safeguard the peaceful use of nuclear power under related supervision system. China is willing to join hands with concerned parties to continue playing a constructive role to realize the above objectives, the spokeswoman said. The Board of Governors of the IAEA decided Monday not to refer Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council. The IAEA resolution came after five days of negotiations over the issue and ends an intense week of back-door talks with disputes focusing on Tehran's request to exempt 20 centrifuges for research purposes from an earlier agreement on a full freeze. ( )

Visit to Afghanistan
2004-12-03 China Daily
The Chinese Government will send Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui as its special envoy to attend the inauguration of Afghanistan's first-elected president Hamid Karzai next Tuesday, Zhang said. China attached great importance to its ties with Afghanistan, she said. "We hope the Afghan people can smoothly fulfill the historic mission of national reconstruction under the leadership of President Karzai."

China, Iraq to strengthen energy cooperation
2004-12-03 China Daily
Visiting Iraqi Oil Ministry chief Thamir Abbas Ghadhban assured Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan here Thursday that Iraq and China share good prospects for energy cooperation. Ghadhban said that Iraqi people cherish their traditional friendship with the Chinese and welcome Chinese enterprises to actively take part in the country's oil industry reconstruction and economic development. He said that Iraqi government would take measures to protect the legitimate interests of all foreign enterprises and strive to create a peaceful and safer environment for the development of both individuals and businesses. Zeng said that Chinese government would like to enhance its friendly relationship with Iraq in an all-round way under the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits. "Iraq is an important energy power in the Middle East. Restoration of its oil production will help stabilize the world's turbulent oil market," he said. After decades of years of development, Chinese oil industry has accumulated plenty of good experiences in the exploration and the utilization of refining equipment. China also enjoys advantages in funding, technology, skilled technicians and equipment, Zeng said. To help Iraqi people quicken their economic development and become well-off fast, Chinese government will encourage domestic business to participate in the reconstruction of oil industry in Iraq. Chinese people sincerely wish Iraqis a return to peace and security as early as possible, Zeng said.

World Family Summit to be held in China next month
2004-11-29 People's Daily
The 2004 World Family Summit will be held in Sanya City of Hainan Province, south China, from Dec. 6 to 9, marking the 10th anniversary of the International Family Year, said a Chinese family planning official in Beijing on November 26. ¡¡¡¡More than 250 officials and experts from some 60 countries, non-governmental organizations and international institutions have applied to attend the meeting, co-sponsored by the World Family Organization, China's State Population and Family Planning Commission and the All-China Women's Federation, said Xi Xiaoping,director of the federation's press department. The participants will review and assess the achievements and experiences the World Family Organization has gained over the past10 years and hold discussions on how to improve family life to facilitate social progress, Xi said, adding that a Sanya Declaration is expected. Founded in 1947, the World Family Organization has 47 members. China joined the organization in 2001 and became an executive council member the following year.

China, Spain strengthen ties through forum
2004-11-30 Xinhuanet
The second meeting of the China-Spain Forum will be held from Tuesday to Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain, and a Chinese official Monday expressed hope the meeting would help tighten ties between the two countries. "We hope the forum will serve as a platform to further bilateral friendly ties and comprehensive cooperation," said Su Guang, vice chairman of the Chinese Committee of the Forum, before he left for Barcelona. Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan will attend the meeting and participants are expected to discuss further cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and sports fields. Su, who is also vice president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said the forum had been very instrumental to boosting China-Spain exchanges and cooperation since it was established a year ago. The organizers have so far launched activities such as a China-Spain symposium on urban transportation in Beijing in May this year, the launching of a China-Spain website and the establishment of a business center to promote bilateral exchanges. Su said the Chinese Committee of the Forum was preparing to publish a magazine of the forum and planning to boost exchanges between regional governments of the two countries.

China reinforces solidarity with Palestinians
2004-11-30 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday sent a congratulatory message to the Special Commemorative Meeting for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in New York. "I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, my warmest congratulations to the special commemorative meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People," Wen said in the message. He also expressed his deep condolences over the recent passing away of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, and his heartfelt sympathy to the Palestinian National Authority. "His death is a loss not only to the Palestinian people and the peace-loving people, in the Middle East, but also to the Chinese people who found him a great friend," he said. The Chinese premier stressed the question of Palestine is at the core of the Middle East issue. "Solution will be found only by political negotiation. Relevant UN resolutions and the 'land for peace' principle constitute the important political foundation for the Middle East talks," he said. "The restoration of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights, including the right to statehood, should be the primary objective of the efforts to resolve the Middle East issue," he added. ( )

2nd Arab-Sino dialogue concludes in Amman
2004-12-01 Xinhuanet
The second Sino-Arab Dialogue has concluded in Amman, after two-days of meetings on ways to enhance political and economic ties between Arab countries and China. Speaking at the closing ceremony, Jordanian representative Hassan Talal, stressed the importance of establishing a strategic relation between Arab countries and China, China Radio International reported Wednesday. He said the Arab countries should learn from China's successful experiences in its development process. President of the China Institute of International Studies, Ma zhengang, said China was keen on developing ties with Arab countries, especially in the political and economic fields. The meeting has drawn senior politicians, economic experts and veteran diplomats from China, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon to mull the future cooperation between Arab countries and China.

U.S. imposes sanctions on 5 China, N Korea firms for Iran arms sales
2004-12-02 Japan Today
The United States has imposed sanctions on four Chinese companies and a North Korean firm for selling equipment or technology related to weapons of mass destruction or missiles to Iran, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday. In a public notice posted on the federal register, the department identified the five entities as Liaoning Jiayi Metals and Minerals Co, Q.C. Chen, Wha Cheong Tai Co, Shanghai Triple International Ltd and North Korea's Changgwang Sinyong Corp.

 

Taiwan

China warns Taiwan to forget about separatism Warning to Chen's administration comes just days ahead of election
2004-12-03 Straits Times
Beijing - DAYS before Taiwan's parliamentary election, China has again warned the island against miscalculating Beijing's determination to crush its separatist dreams. 'It would be a serious, dangerous miscalculation if the Chen Shui-bian authorities... think the Chinese people will tolerate 'Taiwan independence' splittist activities for the sake of seeking a peaceful environment to develop,' said the vice-minister of the policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, Mr Wang Zaixi. ( ) Beijing is convinced Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian will push for nationhood if his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) triumphs at the election on Dec 11. ( ) The Chinese government has accused Taipei of exploiting its restraint and provoking conflict as the world's most populous nation focuses on developing its economy and getting ready for the 2008 Olympic Games. ( ) Mr Wang said Beijing had the greatest sincerity and would exert the greatest effort to seek peaceful reunification and resume dialogue with Taipei that has been stalled since 1999. ( ) Meanwhile, in a move that is expected to rile Beijing, Taiwan Deputy Defence Minister Tsai Ming-hsien will leave for the United States on Sunday. He will talk to US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz about Taiwan's plan to spend US$18 billion (S$29.3 billion) in a special military budget for the purchase of advanced US weaponry over a 15-year period from 2005. The budget is awaiting approval by parliament. Some lawmakers consider the package overpriced and have said Taiwan cannot afford the massive arms spending. In July, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing asked the US to halt military exchanges and arms sales to Taiwan, given the 'seriousness' of the cross-strait stand-off.

 

Innenpolitik

16 officials in court for accident cover-up
2004-11-29 China Daily
Sixteen officials in Handan County, Hebei Province, are being prosecuted for abuse of power in connection to the cover-up of a major coal mine explosion in June. The gas blast took place at the Hongda Colliery of Handan County around 8 am on June 3. The mine falls under jurisdiction of the city of Handan. The blast killed 14 miners, injured another 23 and caused losses of 2.07 million yuan (US$249,400). However, the coal mine owner, who feared that reporting the real number of casualties would lead to the mine being shut down, collaborated with some local officials to cover up the death toll. He told investigators that only one person died. Local media reports indicating a cover-up led the government to re-start the investigation into the accident and the police also stepped in. The Hebei Provincial People's Procuratorate said the officials facing charges include eight from production safety offices, two with the Handan County Bureau of Land Resources, four officials with the crematory of Yongnian County, as well as two officials from Kangzhuang Township of Handan County have been prosecuted. Among them are Yu Zhanhai, director of Handan County of Production Safety and also head of the Handan County Office for Administration of Coal Industry, who is suspected of being lax in monitoring the Hongda Coal Mine, which had been ordered to suspend production; Chen Wuzhan, leader of the coal mine rescue operation detachment with the Handan City Bureau of Production Safety, who failed to send rescue workers down and search the passages for survivors but took the coal mine owner's word that there were no more miners trapped. Zheng Jianchang, deputy head of the crematory of Yongnian County near Handan County, and three other officials with the same organization were also prosecuted for violating burial regulations and cremating the dead bodies of five miners killed in the coal mine accident without permission from the local public security department.

China-made AIDS vaccine to be tested on humans
2004-11-29 Xinhuanet
China-developed AIDS vaccine won government approval to be tested by human bodies Thursday, according to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) of China. The compound vaccine consists of DNA vaccine and regrouped virus carrier, said sources with the SFDA. Chinese scientists began the research by studying domestically popular virus genes in 1996, including the envelope albumen and core albumen of the virus. They found that human body will become immune to AIDS virus after injecting DNA vaccine and regrouped virus carrier in succession. Researchers attacked a monkey with AIDS virus after injecting the compound vaccine into its body, and found no abnormal reactions occurred. Human body test, or stage I clinical test, of the compound AIDS vaccine aims to further assess the security of the vaccine, an SFDA official said. The government will consider whether to launch stage II and stage III tests on the basis of the result of the stage I test. SFDA officials said that they would accelerate approval process of all kinds of anti-AIDS drugs to help speed up relevant clinical researches. According to experts, AIDS vaccine is the only solution to stop the wildfire spread of the grievous infectious disease. Currently, even the "cocktail treatment", the most effective measure to deal with AIDS so far, can only stabilize or ease the AIDS symptoms instead of killing the virus in the body.

Hu visits AIDS patients in Beijing
2004-12-01 China Daily
President Hu Jintao shook hands with AIDS patients in a Beijing hospital yesterday afternoon, encouraging them to "persist in medical treatment and remain confident for an early recovery." Wearing a special red silk ribbon which symbolizes love and care for AIDS patients, Hu visited the Beijing You'an Hospital on the eve of the World AIDS Day observed today. ( ) This was the second time in a year that top Chinese leaders shook hands and spoke with AIDS patients. On the World AIDS Day last year, Premier Wen Jiabao visited AIDS patients at a Beijing hospital. Wen had said the HIV/AIDS prevention and control situation in China is still quite serious and asked government agencies at various levels to do a better job in fighting the disease. ( ) Hu was accompanied by Wu Yi, vice-premier in charge of China's AIDS control and prevention work, and Beijing municipal officials. ( ) Sources said Hu expressed the wish to personally visit AIDS patients shortly after his return from his Latin American tour last week. Last week while attending the 12th Economic Leaders' Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) in Santiago, Chile, Hu expressed his concern that the affect of swift spread of AIDS on economic and social development should not be underestimated. "China supports co-operation among APEC members in epidemic control and prevention, which will help APEC members improve their public health systems through information exchanges and technical co-operation," Hu addressed the meeting.

Male homosexuals estimated up to 12.5m
2004-12-02 China Daily
More public attention is needed on the plight of homosexuals who face the threat of HIV/AIDS, experts say. Male homosexuals, seen in public places, such as gay bars, parks, and public baths, account for 0.9 per cent of all grown men between 15 to 55, according to a survey. The results were reported by Wu Yuhua, an expert from the Disease Control Centre of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. He said the findings came from Harbin, the capital of the province, during April to August of this year. ( ) Nationwide, the number of male homosexuals is estimated to be about 5 million to 12.5 million, accounting for 2 to 4 per cent of the adult male population, said Zhang Baichuan, an expert on gay issues based in Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province. But according to Wu's figures tabulated in Harbin, the number of gays in China may reach 2.25 million nationwide. ( ) Wu's centre is the only surveillance site licensed by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention that has investigated the numbers of the gay population and the spread of HIV among gays. This is the first time for China's public health agencies to have organized such a survey and to release the results. Wu's findings are also the main basis for a joint assessment of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among the male homosexual population. An assessment of China's HIV/AIDS control and prevention says that more than 1 per cent of the male homosexuals in Beijing, Harbin, Guangzhou, Shenyang and other cities have been infected with the virus. ( ) HIV-infected male homosexuals account for about 11.1 per cent of all the HIV positive cases in the country. The number of female homosexuals, also called lesbians, is much less than that of males and they have a much lower danger of spreading HIV, experts noted. Chinese public health workers should provide better healthcare services and other comprehensive support, such as psychological care, for homosexuals to prevent wider spread of the virus, said Wu Yuhua. Now, hundreds of gays in China have become volunteers of protect the rights of homosexuals in health, marriage and other fields. With the support of local medical organizations, these volunteers and public health workers have carried out many activities in recent years, said Zhang Baichuan.

Labour rules give workers more security
2004-12-04 China Daily
New regulations are expected to protect workers, especially women and farmers-turned labourers, from abuse, inequality and default payments. The new legislation from the State Council takes effect today. Minister of Labour and Social Security Zheng Silin said the Regulation on Labour and Social Security Inspection will become a powerful weapon to achieve the goals for the mainland's job market. The regulation allows labour and social security inspectors to supervise employers, by entitling them to investigate whether employers have offered equal opportunities, provided insurance and holidays. ( ) The country enacted laws on labour protection as early as 1994 but abuses and inequality remained in some enterprises and organizations. Zheng said the new regulation will make some of the clauses in the law more specific. The regulation also gives nearly 10 million farmers-turned-workers equal protection. China has always placed a great deal of importance on the employment of women, youth and disabled people, providing a legal guarantee of equality for men and women and actively adopting preferential policies for the disabled. ( ) With the country's sustained, rapid economic growth, the number of women in the job market has continuously grown, and the fields of employment for them have kept expanding. According to official figures, there were 337 million women working in 2003, an increase of 46 million since 1990. Currently, there are 41.56 million women employees in urban work units, accounting for 38 per cent of the total. Despite the efforts, a trade union survey found that women are often the first employees to be laid off if enterprises plan to shorten their labour-load. This grim reality was outlined in a recent 25-page report issued by the All-China Federation of Trade-Unions (ACFTU), describing conditions women face in the workplace. The report was compiled from information gathered between 1978 and 2002 in such provinces as Liaoning, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Gansu. It found that as reforms have been implemented in the transition to a market economy, industries such as the textile sector and some other female-dominated areas have sustained large-scale layoffs. Not surprisingly, a disproportionate number of women would get the ax. The number of urban women employed in the surveyed cities in 2002 was about 41.6 million, or 17.3 million less than in 1996.

Medical expenses increase dramatically
2004-12-03 China Daily
A survey released Wednesday said that medical expenses are growing faster than the average income in China. "In the past five years, the annual income of the urban and rural residents rose by 8.9 percent and 2.4 percent respectively, while the medical expenses in urban and rural areas rose by 13.5 percent and 11.8 percent," said the national health services survey conducted by the Chinese Health Ministry. "Medical and health expenses have become the third largest family expense after food and education (to Chinese people)," it said. ( ) In contrast to the continuously increasing medical fees, a large percentage of Chinese people don't have medical insurance. The survey said about 50.4 percent of the urban residents and more than 80 percent of the rural residents covered in the research do not have any kind of medical insurance. "The excessive medical expenditure has become the main barrier for the majority of Chinese to take outpatient and inpatient services," the survey said. "If the rising trend is not reversed, heavier financial burdens will be placed on society and families, and the demand for professional health services will be even more suppressed." ( )

Local courts to lose execution power
2004-11-30 South China Morning Post
Beijing is a step closer to stripping local courts of the power to impose the death penalty without referring cases to the Supreme People's Court, following the submission of draft amendments to the People's Court Organisation Law. The amendments seek to reverse a two-decade-old statute giving higher people's courts in provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions - rather than the Supreme People's Court - the power to approve death sentences handed down by lower legal authorities. The amendments were drawn up by an expert panel and have been submitted to the Supreme People's Court, which will soon pass them on to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for final approval. A member of the drafting panel, Peking University Law School professor He Weifang , said the changes would help improve the standard of verdicts. ( ) The Supreme People's Court was the ultimate authority on death sentences until 1983, when an increase in the number of crimes prompted the mainland to give the higher provincial courts responsibility for reviewing some death-penalty cases. Since then, provincial courts have been able to approve the execution of people convicted of undermining social order in cases such as those involving murder, rape, or bombings. The Supreme People's Court also authorised several senior provincial courts, including those in Yunnan and Guangdong, to ratify the death penalty in drug cases. Professor Song Yinghui, of the China University of Political Sciences and Law in Beijing, told the People's Daily that there was no unified standard for assessing death-penalty cases under the existing legislative arrangements. "Courts in different regions have different standards in issuing death penalties based on their own understanding of the law," Professor Song said. "They usually are not as strict as the Supreme People's Court in approving a death-penalty decision." Problems with provincial courts having the power to both issue and review death-penalty cases were highlighted by the case of a Hebei juvenile executed for killing a neighbour in Baoding in 2001. The Beijing Evening News reported the provincial higher court had handed down a death sentence and rejected an appeal by the youth's family based on the defendant's age. The family appealed to the Supreme People's Court but the youth was executed in February before the case could be heard. Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang confirmed in spring that the court was considering plans to remove the lower courts' death-penalty powers.

 

Tibet

FM spokeswoman: Dalai Lama's admission to Russia "incomprehensible"
2004-12-01 People's Daily
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tuesday described Russia's allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the country as something "incomprehensible," and hoped Russia would strictly follow principles on the Tibet <http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/data/province/tibet.html> issue enshrined in the political documents between the two countries. "The Dalai Lama is a politician in exile disguised as a religious figure, and engages in separatist activities against China," said spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue at a press conference. China opposes the move of any country that has diplomatic relations with China to allow the Dalai Lama to visit it in any name or form, she added. According to an Interfax news agency report, the Dalai Lama arrived in Elista, capital of the Republic of Kalmyk, on Monday to begin his visit to Russia.

Potala Palace plaza to begin facelift in next March
2004-11-29 Xinhuanet
An official in charge for the renovation said a facelift of the Potala Palace square will start next March. To make way for the facelift, three major buildings, including a local water plant and a song and dance troupe headquarters, will be dismantled. Currently, 40 percent of the relocation has been completed, said Chen Xianshun. Chen said he believed the entire relocation would be finished in late December. According to him, infrastructure such as roads, water facilities and power supplies will be upgraded, along with the creation of a pond and more greenery. ( ) "Our principle is to highlight grandeur of the Potala Palace and retain characteristics of Tibetan people by creating fewer complicated decorations," said Chen. ( ) The facelift will be undertaken in two stages. For the first-phase renovation, the budget is set at 150 million yuan (about 18.1 million US dollars). ( ) The Potala Palace was included in the list of world cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994.

Drivers training group toughens trainees on Qinghai-Tibet Highway
2004-12-02 PLA Daily - A drivers training group of the Tibet Military Area Command sticks to the practice of carrying out driving training in living warfare environment under execrable natural conditions in strict accordance with the requirements of the new military training outline and has delivered more than 5,000 qualified drivers to the army units stationed in Tibet. ( ) Military material transportation in the frigid mountainous areas in Tibet is a hard job to do because there are numerous points dotted on the long replenishment line along with execrable and changeable road conditions and extremely difficult field surviving possibilities. Taking these unfavorable elements into consideration, the training group switched the conventional method of teaching driving skills on even road to taking the trainees to the Qinghai-Tibet Highway, which is famous for its execrable weathers, hard environment and complex road conditions, to temper them strictly in line with the compulsory subjects defined in the new military training outline. The trainees carried out trainings on more than 20 field operation subjects such as vehicle individual defending, company and platoon coordination on tactics level and breaking through enemy's fire blockade, which helped them to have accumulated nearly one hundred data for resisting, fighting, defending and repairing while on the move. ( ) Thanks to these effective training methods, the first-time pass ratio of trainees in this training group has reached 97%.

Panchen Lama surfs Net, learns English
2004-12-03 China Daily
A laptop and butter tea are indispensable daily items to 15-year-old Gyaincain Norbu, the officially recognized 11th Panchen Lama, the highest-ranking figure of Tibetan Buddhism currently in China. Receiving a Buddhist education in the Chinese capital Beijing, while learning computer skills and English, the young Tibetan Buddhist leader keeps a typical Tibetan style in his daily life. The central government selected him as the reincarnation of his predecessor in 1995. ( ) With an innate talent for Buddhist sutra studying, the teenager also finds the modern facility of a notebook computer a great attraction. The young high lama is now living in Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the residence of previous Panchen Lamas in Xigaze, the second-largest city in Tibet. He went to Tibet in early August. The young lama spends most of his time between lunch and 4:00pm on his laptop and reading, said Lobsang Dainta. His laptop is supported by software in the Tibetan language. Lobsang said his fast typing always amazes visitors. The young Panchen Lama is also finding English lesson interesting. ( ) His English tutor, Xu Lianbi, a veteran ethnic Han teacher in his 60s, said the Panchen Lama can communicate in simple English and understand some short readings. The young lama has two 90-minute English classes each week and spends two evenings studying English and Chinese. Studying Buddhist sutras, however, is the main occupation of the Panchen Lama's daily life, said his acolyte. "Only when he is occupied by religious rituals can the study be canceled." "His Holiness shows great wisdom in Buddhism study, and he is very conscientious and diligent," said Salong Punlag, a managing lama in Zhaxilhunbo Lamasery. He practices also Tibetan handwriting for an hour every evening.

Dalai Lama Hopes to Visit Seoul on Buddha's Birthday Next Year
2004-11-29 Korea Times - Seoul (Yonhap)
The Dalai Lama intends to visit South Korea in May next year to attend religious functions on the occasion of the anniversary of Buddha's birthday, a senior aide to the Tibetan spiritual leader said Sunday. ``It is true that His Holiness is willing to consider visiting Korea in 2005 at the invitation of Korean Buddhists if it does not cause any inconveniences to the Korean government and visas are granted,'' said Tenzin Taklha, deputy secretary of the Office of His Highness the Dalai Lama headquartered in Dharamsala, India. The Seoul government refused to issue an entry visa to the Dalai Lama in 2000 when the Tibetan spiritual leader applied for a visa to attend religious gatherings, inviting strong criticism from the media, Buddhist groups and other religious organizations with claims that South Korea was pandering to China. South Korea fears granting the Dalai Lama entry would undermine relations with China, which has not only emerged as one of South Korea's biggest trading partners but is also playing a significant role in persuading North Korea to take part in the six-party talks on its nuclear weapons ambitions. Despite claims by South Korean Buddhists and the Dalai Lama himself that the visit would be purely religious, China sees the Dalai Lama as the leader of an exiled Tibetan government that is seeking Tibet's independence from China. In an e-mail interview with Yonhap News Agency, the senior aide to the Dalai Lama said, ``This is to confirm that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would like to visit Korea in May 2005.'' The remarks by Taklha came amid reports that the exiled Tibetan leader told South Korean Buddhist monks attending a religious gathering in New Delhi recently that he was ready to cancel other plans in order to visit South Korea on the occasion of Buddha's birthday in May next year if the South Korean government decides to issue an entry visa. Beop Jang, head monk of South Korea's largest Buddhist sect, the Jogye Order, recently allowed a group of Buddhist monks to pursue the project of inviting the Dalai Lama to South Korea in May. The moves come against the backdrop of Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon having hinted at the possibility of the Seoul government issuing an entry visa to the Dalai Lama, telling a news conference in Seoul in August that his government would ``consider'' the issue of a visit to South Korea by the Dalai Lama ``when such a situation happens.'' In December 2002, President Roh Moo-hyun, then presidential candidate for the then ruling Millennium Democratic Party, said in a letter to those trying to organize a visit by the Dalai Lama that it was not right for the South Korean government to link the issue of Seoul's ties with Beijing to a visit to Korea by the Tibetan spiritual leader. After his inauguration, Roh reportedly raised the issue when he visited Beijing in July last year to have a summit meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. However, no specific details have yet emerged as to the outcome of the discussion.

 

Wirtschaft

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Foreign banks given new entree
2004-12-02 China Daily
China said yesterday that foreign banks could enter five more cities to do renmini business, honouring its commitment to open up the financial sector. According to China's World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, foreign banks will also be allowed to provide local currency services to Chinese enterprises in Beijing, Kunming and Xiamen starting yesterday. In addition, the cities of Xi'an and Shenyang are opened up in the move -- one year ahead of schedule. That brings the total number of cities where foreign banks can offer renminbi business to 18. They are not currently allowed to provide renminbi services to Chinese individuals. China allowed foreign banks to provide local currency services to Chinese enterprises one year ago, which analysts say was of great significance since it allowed foreign blood into its internal business cycle. The reason Xi'an, in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and Shenyang, in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, are being opened one year early is to promote economic growth in the regions, said Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). ( ) The arrival of foreign banks has benefitted the local banking industry and customers with new services, managerial expertise and methodologies, Liu said. Foreign banks have launched more than 100 banking products in the local market. "That is three times what domestic banks are providing," he said. "And they have been performing well," Liu added. "Their aggregate non-performing loan ratio is only 1.3 per cent, and is declining month by month." Foreign banks set up 204 operational entities in China by the end of October, with total assets amounting to 553.4 billion yuan (US$66.7 billion), up 41 per cent from a year earlier, CBRC statistics indicate. Some 105 foreign banks have won renminbi licenses, 61 of which have been allowed to provide renminbi services to Chinese enterprises. ( )

OECD foresees China's growth at 8 percent in 2005
2004-12-02 People's Daily - The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has predicted that the Chinese economy would grow by 8 percent in 2005, saying a restrictive economic policy would lead to a slowdown. "After a period of rapid expansion that continued to the beginning of 2004, economic activity marked its step in the middle of the year to get energy at the second semester," said the OECD in a twice-yearly outlook report published on Tuesday. According to the OECD, despite restrictive government credit policy to companies, the production was taken to a rise. ( ) The OECD predicted that the value of oil imports is expected to increase by almost two percent of GDP between 2003 and 2005, adding a restrictive economic policy in addition to oil prices' hike would lead to a slowdown of production growth. It added that China remained competitive due to its stable exchange rate, flat unit labor costs and the removal of textile quotas next year. The OECD also noted that an abrupt slowdown in bank lending had "disrupted the provision of working capital and could lead to a greater than expected rundown in inventories and hence output which might set off downward revision of industrial investment plans."

Government rules out forming new energy ministry
2004-12-03 China Daily
The top government decision-makers have basically ruled out the possibility of setting up a Ministry of Energy in at least the coming three years, industry sources said. But the central government is considering establishing a special office directly under the State Council to help manage the energy industry. Senior officials, including one vice-premier, are likely to head the office, the source said. The proposal, if finalized, may quell recent calls to reform the administration of the energy industry. In the past few weeks, government departments have been mulling over some kind of body to replace the current Energy Bureau under the ministry-level National Development Reform Commission (NDRC). Critics said the Energy Bureau, which only has a dozen members of staff, is too weak and inferior to oversee an energy industry that has total assets of more than 10 trillion yuan (US$1.2 trillion). ( ) Director of the Energy Bureau Xu Dingming refused to comment on the issue. China set up the Ministry of Energy in 1988 but it was dismissed five years later because its administrative function overlapped with other departments such as the then State Development Planning Commission. The ministry was pointless to some extent as big oil, power and coal companies also enjoyed administrative power under the planned economy at that time. Facing increasing energy shortages, the government set up an Energy Bureau under the NDRC during reform of the administration in March 2003. But the bureau failed to curb the widespread energy crunch that broke out in late 2002. More than two thirds of the country's territory has now suffered frequent blackouts. Coal mines cannot keep up with the surging demand, while oil imports is rocketing as the nation becomes the second-largest oil consumer in the world. Industrial experts and officials said the bureau was not powerful enough to co-ordinate relations between different sectors such as coal and power. The two sectors fight frequently over coal prices, with many power plants running out of coal stocks and shutting down. ( ) Oil and coal imports and exports as well as management of the oil markets are controlled by the Ministry of Commerce, while the Ministry of Land and Resources steers resource exploration. ( ) Experts are stressing the need to set up a more senior level energy department, either an Energy Ministry or an Energy Committee, to oversee the industry. "The power needs to be consolidated into one higher-level government department," said Huan Guoyu, a researcher with a thinktank of the State Council Office for Restructuring the Economic System. "It is conducive for China to form a constant long-term energy policy." But experts agreed that to reform the administration will be a touchy issue. It is difficult to reshuffle the current administration and consolidate power. "The reform has to be thorough to avoid overlapping decision-making," said Wu.

 

Nordkorea

DPRK reactor deferred: report
2004-11-29 People's Daily - The construction of a nuclear power project in the DPRK will remain suspended for another year, China Radio International reported Saturday. The New York-based Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization said in a statement that the freeze will be extended until December next year. The consortium said it will continue to do maintenance work on the site until the future of the project is decided next year. The light water reactor project in DPRK, was the product of a 1994 agreement to meet the country's energy needs in exchange for Pyongyang's promise to freeze its nuclear weapons programs. In 2002 the United States said that North Korea's admission of work on a secret uranium enrichment project nullified the 1994 agreement and it called for a halt on work on the two reactors. By the end of last year, the KEDO formally decided to freeze the light water reactor project for one year when the project was only completed 34 percent or so.

DPRK claims no AIDS cases found
2004-12-02 Xinhuanet
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) claimed Wednesday that the country has no cases ofAIDS. "In our country, there are no AIDS patients. But activities forAIDS prevention and control are being conducted to prevent its infiltration from the outside," the Ministry of Public Health's Chief of the State Sanitary Inspection Agency, Choe Ung-jun, told reporters of Korea Today on the occasion of World AIDS Day. Choe said AIDS prevention work in the DPRK is now underway after a national AIDS strategic plan for 2003-07 was mapped out for the country. Choe also said the DPRK has strengthened cooperation with international organizations in this field and thanked them for offering competent AIDS experts and a wide range of up-to-date medical appliances and test reagents."With the experiences already gained, we will perseveringly conduct AIDS prevention and control activities in the future," Choe added.

 

Susanne Schuetz
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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