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
  11.4-15.4.05, No. 58  
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Foreign Policy

FM: Japan's drilling rights 'a provocation'
2005-04-14 China Daily
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Wednesday that Japan has come up with a serious provocation to China's rights by granting Japanese firms the right to drill for gas and oil in East China Sea. In response to a question from local press, Qin said China has already lodged protest on this issue to the Japanese side and will retain the right to make further reaction. The Japanese government Wednesday initiated procedures to grant Japanese firms the right to conduct test drilling for potential gas and oil fields to the east of the so called "demarcation line" in the East China Sea. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has asked relevant authorities to review applications from companies which want to explore the fields, the Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday. Qin said the move by the Japanese side is a serious provocation to the rights of China and the norm of international relations. Qin said there are disputes between China and Japan on the demarcation of the continental shelf of East China Sea. He said China has always insisted that the two sides should resolve the issue through diplomatic negotiation. But, Qin said, the Japanese side has turned a deaf ear to the righteous proposition of China and attempted to impose its unilaterally-conceived "demarcation line" on the Chinese side. "China has never ever recognized and will never recognize this (the "demarcation line")," Qin said.

Australian navy arrives in Shanghai
2005-04-11 People's Daily
Led by Commander Ray Leggatt, Australian Navy personnel arrived in Shanghai in guided missile frigate Friday, kicking off an official visit to the city. Australian Navy personnel arrived in Shanghai in guided missile frigate Friday, kicking off an official visit to the city. Led by Commander Ray Leggatt, the Royal Australian Navy Band and the frigate's crew are on a good-will visit to the eastern metropolis. The Navy delegation will stay in Shanghai for six days.

US, China to hold regular senior-level talks
2005-04-11 People's Daily
The United States and China have agreed for the first time ever to hold regular, senior-level talks on a whole range of political and economic issues, the US State Department said. The talks were a recognition of the "role that China is playing in Asia, in global affairs, as a member of the UN Security Council," and based on a need to have more regular bilateral discussions on world issues, department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters. The decision to hold the discussions was reached between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chinese leaders during her visit to Beijing last month, Boucher said. The details, structure and timing of the talks are still to be worked out, he said. But The Washington Post said Friday quoting senior US administration officials that the meetings, which the US government had chosen to call a "global dialogue," will be headed by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Security would also feature in the talks, it said. The place for the first meeting is undecided with China favoring Beijing and the United States, Washington, the officials said. A Chinese vice foreign minister will head the Chinese delegation at the regular meetings, which have never been held at such a senior level the they said. "We have, over the past several years, I think, been able to enhance our cooperation with China on many of these issues, whether it's DPRK, the fight against terrorism, we need to work with them in Sudan, all these things," Boucher said. "And so in addition to continue in a dialogue on economic issues, that's been, I think, useful and important to us, we want to have a dialogue that goes to other issues as well," he added. The talks both signify China's interest in the prestige of such sessions and Washington's efforts to come to terms with China's rising influence in Asia, the officials said. The US has chosen to call the talks a "global dialogue," the officials told the daily, to differentiate them from the "strategic dialogue" the US holds with its allies. Asked whether the talks would be at the level of a strategic dialogue that the United States had with, for example, India, Boucher said: "I would call it regular senior-level talks." Jian Quan, a visiting Chinese diplomat, told The Washington Post the meetings would provide "a platform, a basis for the two countries to have direct, frank and deep dialogue." He said that "through such effective communication, both sides would be in the position to avoid actions and policies that would lead to misunderstandings."

China, Ukraine vow to enhance parliamentary exchange, cooperation
2005-04-12 People's Daily
Chinese and Ukrainian parliament leaders said in Beijing Monday that they will enhance exchange and cooperation between the two parliaments, the National People's Congress of China and the Supreme Council of Ukraine, to contribute to the development of Sino-Ukrainian relations. "The NPC will conduct more friendly multi-level, multi-channel exchanges with the Ukrainian Supreme Council to promote friendly ties between the two countries," Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC standing committee, told his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Litvin at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing. China and Ukraine have had "soundly developing relations, frequent exchange of high-level visits and enhanced political mutual-trust" since they established diplomatic ties 13 years ago, Wu said. "The two countries had good cooperation in those sectors such as economy, trade, science and technology, military technology, aviation and space flight. They also supported each other on major issues and on the international arena," he said. Since the two economies share complementarity, China will stimulate economic and trade cooperation with Ukraine, especially between the two countries' big companies, Wu said. Wu said he appreciated Ukraine's support for China's controversial positions on Taiwan, Tibet and human rights. Litvin said Ukrain understands and supports China's anti-secession law and will adhere to the one-China policy. "It's in the basic interest of Ukraine and Chinese people to promote relations between the two countries, and the Supreme Council will further strengthen exchange and cooperation with the Chinese National People's Congress," said Litvin, who is heading a Ukraine parliament delegation to China. Before his meeting with Wu, Litvin had a one-hour meeting with Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Jia hailed the development of Sino-Ukrainian ties, contributing the sound momentum to their support to each other on the issues of national independence, sovereignty and the integrity of territory. Litvin told Jia that Ukraine will not establish official relations with the Taiwan Authorities.

President Hu to visit Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines: FM spokesman
2005-04-13 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao will pay state visits to Brunei Darussalam, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of the Philippines from April 20 to 28, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced Tuesday. Hu was invited by Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyo and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Qin said at a regular press briefing. During the visit, Hu will also attend the 2005 Asia-Africa summit and activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference at the invitation of Susilo and South African President Thabo Mbeki, Qin said.

UNSC permanent five hold consultation in Beijing
2005-04-14 Xinhuanet
High-ranking foreign ministry officials from the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members held Tuesday a consultation on UN reform and topics being discussed by the Security Council in Beijing. The officials are director-generals of the International Department of the five countries' foreign ministries. Liu Jieyi, director of the International Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said they held "wide and in-depth" discussions on UN reform, UN's high-level activities this September as well as some hot issues deliberated by the Security Council. As to the reform of the Security Council, China reiterated its support for the reform. Liu said that the aim of the reform is to enhance UN Security Council's capability of safeguarding international peace and security, raise its working effectiveness and maintain its authority. Liu said that China supports the enlargement of the Security Council, with priority given to increasing the representation of the developing countries in the Council. As the expansion of the Council involves the vital interests of all concerned, member states should try to reach wide consensus through democratic, in-depth discussions. Only a blueprint resulting from consensus can truly help strengthen the Security Council's authority and effectiveness and win broad trust and support from the general membership. In the long-term interests of the United Nations as a whole, China is not in favor of setting a time limit for the reform and still less of forcing through any "immature proposals" lacking consensus in the form of a vote.

China supports Germany to play greater role
2005-04-15 China Daily
China supports Germany to play a greater role in the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang Thursday. When asked to make comments on Germany's candidacy for a permanent seat at the Security Council, Qin said China is willing to maintain contact and consultations with Germany on the United Nations reforms. Germany is an important member of the European Union, and with adherence to peaceful development, Germany plays an active role in international affairs, which is acknowledged by the international community, Qin said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report on reforming the United Nations has been under discussion at the General Assembly. Qin said the UN reforms cover various fields and levels, and China supports reforms of the UN Security Council. Qin said China believes that the priority of the Security Council reforms should be given to increasing the representation of developing countries. Views from all concerned parties should be taken into account in the discussion on the matter, and the reforms should be decided through consultation and with consensus, Qin said. China is not in favor of setting an artificial time limit for the Security Council reform or forcing a hasty vote, he noted.

China, India expect further progress on border issue: FM spokesman
2005-04-15 People's Daily
China and India have agreed to continue negotiations over their border disputes after guiding principles for the settlement of the issue were signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao's India tour. "Special Representatives of the two countries will continue consultations to come up with a framework to lay a foundation for an official border survey and demarcation," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan in a news briefing Tuesday. The principles were formally signed in New Delhi on Monday by India's national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and Chinese vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo. Dai called it "one of the most significant documents in India-China relations." In June, 2003, the Chinese and Indian prime ministers appointed special representatives to explore guiding principles and framework on the settlement of the China-India boundary issue. " After five rounds of meetings, the two countries signed the guiding principles on Monday," said Kong. Both sides agreed it is in the interests of the two peoples to develop strategic a cooperative partnership, said Kong. "Both sides are convinced that an early settlement of the border question will advance the basic interests of the two countries and should therefore be pursued as a strategic objective," he said. China and India agreed to solve the boundary issue in a peaceful and friendly manner, without resorting to force or threat of force, said Kong. "The two countries will seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue proceeding from the overall interests of bilateral relations," he said. Kong said the two countries should make compromising adjustments acceptable to both sides and solve the boundary issue in package. "They should take into consideration each other's strategic and reasonable interests in settling the boundary issue. " The border should be demarcated along a distinctly marked and easily recognized geographical feature to protect the residents around the border areas, he said. However, China and India should respect and "strictly honor" the line of actual control prior to the final settlement of the border issue to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, said Kong.

 

Innenpolitik

Nation to reclaim looted and stolen relics
2005-04-13 China Daily
Cultural relic experts and NGOs have set the wheels in motion to begin reclaiming China's national treasures from abroad. The China Cultural Relics Recovery Programme, funded by the China Foundation for the Development of Folklore Culture, announced a large-scale programme on Monday to claim back Chinese cultural relics scattered around the world. According to Zhang Yongnian, head of the programme, the group will focus on items that were stolen, excavated or looted and trafficked abroad between 1840 and 1949, before the founding of New China. Statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization suggest about 1.67 million Chinese cultural relics are held by more than 200 foreign museums in 47 countries. Some estimates put the number of relics collected by private individuals at 10 times that figure. "The spiritual wealth can be shared (by the whole world), but not the ownership, just like the property rights on software," said Xie Chensheng, a senior cultural heritage preservation expert. "Ownership of the scattered cultural treasures should lie with the Chinese people," he said. But Director-General of the programme Wang Weiming was keen to stress there would be no indiscriminate witch-hunt. He said: "We don't mean to retrieve all the Chinese relics stored in foreign museums." He added that the programme is a civil movement fueled by Chinese NGOs based on public opinion, historical realities and an international convention to protect cultural relics at their original sites. Curbing the export of cultural relics has become a consensus recognized by many governments, relics experts said. "Our next step is to compile the list of relics that need to be returned," Wang said. "The first cultural relic that we want to get back will be a recognized artistic treasure," he said, without elaborating on what the target would actually be.

'Market kindergarten' helps migrant children
2005-04-13 China Daily
Cui Jingsheng is no longer the wild boy who lived like a dirty pony galloping through 500 stands of muddy vegetable leaves with a running nose. Now polite and clean, the 4-year-old migrant boy has undergone great changes since a year ago when he was sent to Professor Zhang Yan's "market kindergarten."As a free and informal pre-school education, the "kindergarten" was set up last year near the Sihuan market in Beijing's Xicheng District by Professor Zhang from Beijing Normal University. With 24 children under six, all the offspring of migrant vendors in the market, it is the first and only kindergarten of its kind in the city, which has nearly 100,000 pre-school aged migrant children in its 1,000-odd street markets. ( ) Like most migrant workers on a low income, Miao says she is reluctant to send the child to an officially-run kindergarten which normally charges 400-500 yuan (US$48-60) a month. Additionally, kindergartens always open at 7 am, a time when most vendors are already busy transporting goods and have no time to take their children to school. The "kindergarten" class and most of the facilities were all provided by the market. Now Miao takes little Cui to the "kindergarten" at 9 am every day, where the boy learns through games and stories and takes part in various outdoor activities under the guidance of voluntary student teachers from Beijing Normal University. Parents are asked to play the teaching role in turns in the afternoon and are provided with regular sheets and books on how to educate kids. The market benefits too as its head Zhang Manhong said: "The kindergarten helps stabilize the vendors and contributes to the market's development." But Professor Zhang set it up with a further goal to develop a culture of mutual support inside migrant communities who cannot afford to send their children to kindergartens but are equally eager to give their children good education from a young age. She advises the communities to take into account parental resources when giving support to the education of the migrant children below school age. The Xicheng District is considering establishing similar pilot bases this year in other markets under a two-year project sponsored by the National Working Committee on Children and Women and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The project was launched yesterday both in Beijing and Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, with the aim of offering migrant children ready access to equal education and helping them integrate into communities they live in.

China to publish white paper on human rights progress in 2004
2005-04-13 People's Daily
China will publish a white paper Wednesday on its human rights progress during the past year, an official with the Information Office of the State Council said Tuesday. "To help the international community toward a better understanding of the human rights situation in China, we hereby present an overview of the developments in the field of human rights in China in 2004," said the official. The white paper, titled "Progress in China's Human Rights Cause in 2004", will introduce the efforts and progress of the Chinese government in promoting and securing human rights during the past year. The year 2004 is an important year for China to build a well- off society in an all-round way. It is also a year that saw all- round progress in China's human rights undertakings, the official quoted the white paper as saying. According to the official, in 2004, China expressly stated in its Constitution that "The state respects and safeguards human rights," further manifesting the essential requirements of the socialist system. Meanwhile, the Chinese government pressed forward on promoting administration according to law in an all-round way. It promulgated the document "Outline of Full Implementation for Promoting Administration According to Law," which clearly states that China must basically realize the goal of establishing a government under the rule of law after making sustained efforts for about 10 years. A series of effective measures were adopted to standardize and restrain administrative power, and to safeguard and protect citizens' rights and interests. In addition, the Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted the " Decision on Strengthening the Party's Governing Capability," which stresses that state power should be exercised in a scientific and democratic manner within the framework of the law, and that human rights should be respected and protected. Moreover, in 2004, China adhered to the scientific view of development by putting people first, and made every effort to build a harmonious society. New progress was achieved in its reform, opening-up and modernization drive. Along with continuous economic growth, more democratic practices were seen in the political arena, and the society progressed in a comprehensive way. Further improvements were made in people's living standards, and China's human rights conditions were continuously improved and developed in all fields. "China is a developing country, and its human rights conditions are in a process of sustained development and perfection. The Chinese government pays special attention to respecting and safeguarding human rights. It will take effective measures to promote the development of human rights and to raise the level of human rights and basic freedom enjoyed by the Chinese people," said the official.

Farmers go online to boost rural incomes
2005-04-11 China Daily
DALIAN: Tens of thousands of farmers have benefited from computer and Internet skills in this port city's administrative region, according to the local government. A government-sponsored project in the Liaoning Province city has helped the farmers sell their products and so increase their earnings. Yang Baixin, vice-head of the Municipal Bureau of Information Industry, said, "It has improved agricultural efficiency, increased farmers' incomes and promoted the development of the rural economy." Large agricultural households, farmers brokers and heads of professional associations are the main targets of the scheme, as they can then teach other farmers. More than 100 training sessions have been held in the past two years. After receiving training, the farmers can publish trading information and look for orders on the Internet. ( ) Statistics from the Municipal Bureau of Information Industry show that sales for Internet-related agricultural products reach 50,000 tons and 150 million yuan (US$18 million) each year. To encourage and support more farmers to study advanced technology, the municipal government is supplying one third of the money needed for 140 large agricultural families and associations to purchase computers. In addition, an agricultural information network at municipal, county and village levels, has been developed. From this timely, accurate and effective product and market information is provided to farmers. Rural women are also benefiting. In the past three years, 6,000 rural women have been trained to use the Internet at hundreds of training classes. And these have helped another 13,000 women master the computer. At the beginning, many women felt computers were too expensive and doubted whether the Internet could bring them benefits, but that has now changed. The local Women's Federation held lectures and organized them to visit companies with good electronics business, to let them realize the convenience and benefits of the Internet. Last year, the city invested 300,000 yuan (US$36,300) to encourage rural women to go online. The federation also encouraged the pioneers to help more women become rich through Internet business.

 

Tibet

Young Panchen Lama sees "great historic mission" on his shoulders
2005-04-14 People's Daily
The favorite toy of the 15-year- old 11th Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's top religious leaders, was a model of "Shenzhou-5", China's first manned spacecraft sent into orbit in October 2003. He was immediately attracted by the model when he first saw it at the national museum of science and technology in Beijing, and showed a strong interest in how the spaceship was designed and how it worked. "I am happy about the latest scientific achievements of our country," said the young Panchen Lama, who was confirmed as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen and enthroned 10 years ago with a religious name Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu. In an exclusive interview with China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast nationwide on Monday, the Panchen Lama, who called himself "an earnest viewer of prime time news programs of CCTV", told the audience of his life over the past decade. ( ) He ascended the holy throne as the 11th Panchen Lama at a formal solemn ceremony held at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the seat of successive Panchen Lamas, on Dec. 8, 1995. He has been leading a routine daily life since he was five years old: getting up at 6:30 a.m., prostrating to kowtow three times to the statue of Sakyamuni in his bedroom, and then spending the whole day studying various subjects. The study of Buddhist sutras and religious rituals constitutes a main part of the young Panchen Lama's daily life, and it will take him at least 22 years to complete the study of all sutra lessons. But his greatest hobby is to practice calligraphy, on which he spent nearly one hour each day. He now has an excellent handwriting in both Tibetan and Chinese languages, as well as in Sanskrit, the ancient Indic language now most often found in the classical religious and literary works. He also takes much interest in modern appliances such as a notebook computer, which he often uses to help himself do homework assigned by his tutors. Despite the marked progress he has made in his learning over the past decade, the young Panchen Lama said that he believes there is no end for his study throughout his life. While asked to comment on himself at the present stage, the young religious leader said: "I am not a kid, nor an adult, but a youth." Though being a living buddha, the 11th Panchen Lama also loves all members of his secular family. "I shall never forget it was my parents who brought me to this world, and I am also much concerned about my elderly brother, who often consulted me on some difficulties he met in his study," he said. ( ) Still having a fresh memory of the moment when he was confirmed as the 10th Panchen Lama's reincarnation, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu said: "I can feel the great historic mission on my shoulders." "I shall work hard for the unification of the motherland, for ethnic unity, for the well-being of the people, and for the healthy development of Tibetan Buddhism along a path compatible with the socialist society," he said. "This is the mission I must fulfill." "The most fundamental point is that I must inherit and carry forward the glorious tradition of the successive Panchen Lamas to love the country and love the religion," he added. In 10 years' time, the boy has grown into a beloved religious leader who enjoys high esteem among the Tibetan Buddhists. When he first performed the Buddhist rituals in 1999 at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery in the city of Xigaze, tens of thousands of worshippers swarmed in from all parts of Tibet and the neighboring provinces, forming a two-kilometer-long queue to seek his blessings through the head-touching ritual. The young Panchen Lama said that he owed his religious attainments to his tutors, especially four masters of Buddhist sutras who taught him in the past 10 years. "I was greatly saddened when two of them passed away," he said. "I shall never forget their teachings and study even harder to live up to their expectations."

Facelift for ancient Tibetan buildings
2005-04-15 Xinhuanet
The biggest ever repair programme at two palaces belonging to the Dalai Lamas and at an ancient lamasery in the Tibet Autonomous Region are in full swing and are expected to be finished next year. The 330-million-yuan (US$40 million) renovation programme, which was started in 2002, will help prevent the 1,300-year-old Potala Palace, the Winter Palace of the Dalai Lamas, from being eroded by wind and eaten by worms and rats. Also on the list for repairs are the Norbuglinkha, the summer resort of the Dalai Lamas, and the Sagya Lamasery, which contains numerous rare religious relics, according to Xin Gaosuo, deputy director of the region's Cultural Bureau. He said the central and regional governments have also jointly allocated more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) to renovate old ordinary residential buildings in Lhasa, the regional capital, in order to bring back the original flavour of the old city. The white-and-maroon Potala Palace, perched atop a craggy hill that dominates Lhasa's skyline, was built in the seventh century and enlarged in the 17th century. The stone-wood compound is considered a model of traditional Tibetan architecture. The on-going renovation project is the second phase of repairs being carried out on the 117-metre-tall palace, where problems such as subsidence, an infestation of moths and damage to frescoes have occurred, said Xin. The first phase of renovation on the palace was carried out in 1989 at a cost of 55 million yuan (US$6.7 million) and took five years to complete. Champa Kalsang, head of the Potala Palace Administration Office, said many Tibetan craftsmen participated in the renovation of the ancient buildings. He said he believed that since all the repairs were conducted on the basis of retaining the palace's original appearance, its historical and cultural value would not be sacrificed in the repairs. Situated in the western suburbs of Lhasa, Norbuglinkha was built in the middle of the 18th century and served as the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. It was where they handled political affairs, practised religious activities and spent their holidays. Both the Potala Palace and Norbuglinkha have been listed as World Heritage Sites. The third major structure under renovation is the Sagya Lamasery, which has been dubbed the second Dunhuang Grottoes because of its huge collection of Buddhist scriptures. It also has priceless porcelain and vivid murals dating back nearly 1,000 years. A large number of murals have begun to crack or blister. "Rehabilitation of the murals is one of the most technically demanding tasks in the renovation," said Xin.

 

Taiwan

Possible Lien Chan visit hits troubled waters
2005-04-12 China Daily
Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan yesterday pledged to push ahead with his planned visit to the mainland despite attempts by Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to stop the trip. Taiwanese media quoted Lien as saying the government has no right to block his planned trip to improve relations with the mainland. Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian of the pro-independence DPP urged Lien on Saturday to meet him before going to the mainland, saying the government will be willing to authorize the opposition leader to meet mainland leaders. "The visit by the KMT to the mainland is to open the door to peace through party-to-party communication. At this stage, it does not need the government's authorization or require government approval," Lien said in a statement. "However, if it involves exercising government power, we will communicate with relevant government agencies through appropriate channels and methods." The new development comes just days after the KMT made its first official visit to the mainland in 56 years between March 28 and April 1. The five-day trip, widely hailed as an "ice-breaking trip," marked the opening of a party-to-party dialogue between the KMT and the Communist Party of China. Headed by Vice-Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, the 34-member KMT delegation focused on strengthening cross-Straits economic and trade ties while paying respects to KMT martyrs and party founder Sun Yat-sen to recall the past. The KMT group and related mainland departments reached consensus on a wide range of economic topics to enhance economic co-operation. But Chen's administration has launched an investigation into whether Chiang broke the law during the visit. KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng said Lien was open to meeting Chen, but accused the Taiwan leader of being insincere. "Sincerity is the most important thing. It's not very appropriate to issue such an invitation through the media," Lin told a news conference. At the weekend, Chen expressed a desire through the media to meet Lien, whose mainland trip has yet to be timetabled. In the wake of Chiang's visit, the DPP administration has taken a series of moves to cool the "mainland fever" on the island. On April 5, Chen ordered an overall review of cross-Straits exchanges, stressing the most important aspect of "effective management" in opening up to the mainland. The Taiwan authorities have also halted plans to relax their control on high-tech and chipmaking investments on the mainland while pressing local farmers to stop promoting fruit exports across the Straits.

Xinhua, People's Daily urge Taiwan authorities to rescind decision
2005-04-12 People's Daily
The Xinhua News Agency and People's Daily on Monday urged the Taiwan authorities to immediately withdraw the decision to suspend permission for their correspondents to report from Taiwan. Xinhua is "surprised and regretful" at Taiwan's decision to suspend, for the time being, permission for the agency's correspondents to report from Taipei, said head of Xinhua's Taiwan Affairs Office. "What the relevant department of Taiwan has done does no good for journalistic exchanges across the Taiwan Straits," he said, noting that Xinhua reporters are always known for their professionalism in covering news in Taiwan in an objective, fair and comprehensive manner. "Xinhua's assignment to Taipei should not be barred," he said, urging Taiwan to rescind its decision immediately. On the same day, a spokesman with the People's Daily's Taiwan Affairs Office also made a statement on a similar decision made by the relevant department of Taiwan on barring the paper's correspondents from reporting in Taiwan. The People's Daily is regretful and "indignant" at the decision and called it an "action of turning back the clock", which has blocked the normal reporting and interrupted the cross-straits media exchanges, said the spokesman, who also urged the Taiwan authorities to resume the paper's assignment of correspondents to Taipei.

 

Economy

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China holds $659.1 bln in forex reserve
2005-04-15 Xinhuanet
China's foreign exchange reserve reached 659.1 billion US dollars by the end of March this year, up 49.9 percent over the same period of 2004, the People's Bank of China said on Thursday. In the January-March period this year, the foreign exchange reserve increased by 49.2 billion dollars, an increase of 12.6 billion dollars over the corresponding period of the previous year. The country's foreign exchange reserve stood at 609.9 billion dollars at the end of 2004, ranking second in the world after Japan. Currently, the exchange rate of US dollar against the Chinese currency RMB, or Yuan, is one dollar to 8.2765 yuan.

Overseas investors eye nation's coal sector
2005-04-13 China Daily
The restructuring of China's fragmented coal industry has inspired foreign investors to make a foray into the key State-dominated sector. "There will be sizable merger and acquisition opportunities from the consolidation and technology upgrades of the (coal) industry," Jean M. Dreyer, head of Asian Mergers & Acquisitions at BNP Paribas Peregrine, said at the two-day 2005 Coaltrans China Conference in Beijing yesterday. The comment came as the Chinese Government is consolidating the coal industry to alleviate the acute coal supply shortfall. Beijing is fostering a score of coal mining conglomerates, including Shenhua Group and Hong Kong-listed Yanzhou Coal, by encouraging them to acquire thousands of small, inefficient collieries. Dreyer said Chinese coal companies have realized the importance of forging partnerships with foreign investors to improve management, technological and financing capabilities, in a bid to gain a competitive footing in the international market. This provides foreign investors with opportunities to carve out a niche in China's lucrative coal sector. But Dreyer warned there are potential pitfalls for foreign companies, such as misunderstanding cultural background and administrative hurdles. Wu Yin, deputy director of the Energy Bureau of the National Development Reform Commission, yesterday said large coal conglomerates and large production bases are the backbone of the government's coal industry policy. The conglomerates are the major conduits through which the government implements its strategy to improve the safety of coal mines, consolidates resources and reduces pollution, said Wu. Coal supplies 70 per cent of China's energy consumption. But the industry is hampered by its small-scale firms. The 10 largest coal companies make up less than 15 per cent of the nation's total production, while the four largest companies in the United States account for 80 per cent of their country's total. Small coal mines, often without sufficient investment in safety control, accounted for the lion's share of gas explosions at collieries last year, during which time more than 6,000 miners were killed. Last year, the government outlined a plan to nurture several conglomerates with annual production of 100 million tons each. Shenhua, which plans a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong this summer, China Coal Energy and Hong Kong-listed Yanzhou Coal, are among those receiving the government's support. Meanwhile, the government has also pinpointed 13 places, including Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as large production bases. Bases could be operated and managed by several conglomerates. The government has issued 2.4 billion yuan (US$290 million) in national bonds in the past two years to support exploration and the construction of the bases. According to Jin Shangzhong, vice-governor of Shanxi Province, the five largest mining firms will make up 70 per cent of the province's total output in the next three to five years.

CNOOC acquires stake in Canadian oil, gas company
2005-04-13 Xinhuanet
China National Offshore Oil Co Limited (CNOOC), China's third largest oil company, yesterday announced it has acquired 16.69 per cent of MEG Energy, a Canadian oil and gas company, for 150 million Canadian dollars (US$123 million). It is the first time CNOOC has bought into a foreign oil company. CNOOC has been active in acquiring overseas oil and gas reserves from Indonesia and Australia for expansion over the past four years. MEG, based in Calgary, Canada, owns a 100 per cent working interest in oil sand leases of 52 contiguous sections, or 32,900 acres, in Alberta, according to a statement from CNOOC. It is estimated that the area boasts more than 4 billion barrels of bitumen, half of which are recoverable, it said. Oil sand is composed of sand, bitumen, mineral rich clays and water. Bitumen, after upgrading, can be used to produce a light crude oil. "I am excited about our low cost entry into oil sands, gaining a foothold in this high-potential area," said Yang Hua, chief financial officer and senior vice-president of CNOOC. According to the Alberta Energy & Utilities Board, the total bitumen volume in Alberta is about 1.6 trillion barrels, more than 300 billion barrels of which are recoverable with current technology. Fu Chengyu, chairman and CEO of CNOOC, said: "This move provides a good chance for us to exploit the advanced technology and expertise of oil sand development. "These skills may help facilitate the exploitation of oil sand and shale in China, where large reserves have been found in recent years," said Fu. Shares of CNOOC inched up 0.59 per cent yesterday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to end at HK$4.28 (51.8 US cents). On the back of the oil price hike and increased production, CNOOC posted a record profit of 16.2 billion yuan (US$1.96 billion) last year, surging 40.3 per cent year-on-year.

Triple bilateral trade with Arab states
2005-04-15 China Daily
China and the Arab world plan to more than triple bilateral trade in five years - that was the ambitious target set at the end of a two-day China-Arab business conference which concluded yesterday in Beijing. Bo Xilai, the Chinese minister of commerce, said the country seeks enhanced economic ties with Arab nations. "Trade between China and Arab countries was US$36.7 billion last year, and we expect the volume to reach US$100 billion in five years' time," Bo said at the event yesterday. China's long-term demand for crude oil and petrochemical products from the region will continue, and Chinese exports such as textiles and machinery are proving increasingly popular because of good quality and reasonable prices, he said. It wasn't just trade on the minds of the participants at the forum - Bo said that China encourages domestic firms to invest in Arab countries, and welcomes investors from the region to the country. Bo listed the favourable factors for further Sino-Arab economic collaboration: China's Muslim population is more than 30-million strong; there are five direct air routes between China and the Arab world; more than 10,000 Arab businessmen attend the Guangzhou Commodity Fair each year; and over 5,000 Arabs conduct business in East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. At the end of last year, Chinese investment in Arab countries hit US$5 billion, while Arab investment in China was US$700 million, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Jia Qinglin, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said China and Arab nations share common objectives: developing their economies and improving people's living standards. Jia said the two sides complement each other in many areas, such as capital, technology, natural resources and markets, which lays a solid base for further collaboration. Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the League of Arab States, said in a statement that a free trade zone would be established among member states this year, which would present a huge, unified market of an estimated population of 280 million. He added that China would continue to be a major importer of oil and gas, and that the Arab region will remain the world's major exporter of the products. Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner which is involved in about 120 projects in the region, is seeking more opportunities, according to Chen Tonghai, president of the firm. Seven contracts were signed at the conference, including investment, power-plant construction and machinery exports.

 

Nordkorea

DPRK warns to strengthen its nuclear deterrent
2005-04-11 PLA Daily - A senior military official of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday warned that his country will strengthen its self-defensive nuclear deterrent in face of the US moves to stifle it. "The US persistent hostile policy toward the DPRK will only prompt Pyongyang to bolster its self-defensive nuclear deterrent," said Kim Yong-chun, Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, at a national meeting marking the 12th anniversary of Kim Jong-il's election as chairman of the National Defense Committee. He accused that the United States should be chiefly blamed for the present deadlock of the six-party talks, saying that the United States is working hard to bring down the system in the DPRK and is staging large-scale war exercises aimed at invading the DPRK. "If the US imperialists dare to launch a war of aggression on the peninsula, the army and people of the DPRK will turn out as one in a just war and mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and win a final victory in the stand-off with the US," he said. Pyongyang announced on Feb. 10 that it has already had nuclear arms.

DPRK allocates 15.9% of state spending for military
2005-04-12 Xinhuanet
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday announced that it will allocate 15.9 percent of the total 2005 state budget to military spending to cope with the more frantic moves of the "US-led imperialists" to isolate and stifle the DPRK, Finance Minister Mun Il-bong said in a report. Presented to the Supreme People's Assembly, the minister's report said the expenditure would be used "to place all the people under arms and turn the whole country into a fortress." The proportion of the 2005 budget allocated to military spending rises 0.3 percentage points over last year. The report says the government allocated 15.6 percent of its total budget to military spending in 2004 "boosting the independent and modern defense industry, augmenting the combat power of the army in everyway." Estimated overall 2005 state revenue will increase 15.1 percent over last year while estimated expenditure will increase 11.4 percent, the report said. Mun Il-bong said that besides the increase in military expenditure, agricultural investment will increase 29.1 percent this year to solve the food shortage, scientific and technological investment will increase 14.7 percent and investment on education and medical care will increase 10.3 percent.

Nuke watchdog: North Korea is top problem
2005-04-14 China Daily
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Tuesday that North Korea is a more immediate problem for nuclear arms control officials than Iran. Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said both the North Korean and Iranian issues could only be solved through diplomacy. "For us North Korea is a black hole," he said. He said unlike Iran, where negotiations were ongoing, in North Korea "the parties are now dormant or in a frozen situation." ElBaradei said he hoped a way would be found to "engage North Korea in a fully substantive discussion" about issues associated with the nuclear problem, including regional security, economic sanctions, trade negotiations and humanitarian assistance. "These two situations - Iran and Korea - are both complex (and) cover interrelated issues," he said during a visit to Albania to donate nuclear medical equipment to detect cancer. ElBaradei said he was optimistic that he would eventually be able to tell Tehran "that it has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful uses but also, at the same time, to assure the international community that the Iranian program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."

Crew of capsized DPRK ship sent back
2005-04-11 Xinhuanet
China sent 12 crew members of a capsized ship back to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday afternoon, sources with frontier guards said. The survivors were found and rescued from a DPRK cargo ship that capsized 40 nautical miles offshore Dandong Harbor in northeast China's Liaoning province on the night of April 6. The cargo ship had 35 crew on board. The bodies of five crew members killed in the wreck have been found and were sent back to the DPRK on Sunday. The rest 18 crew members remain missing, and their chances of survival are believed to be slim. DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials received the 12 crewmembers sent back by Chinese frontier guards and thanked China for the rescue efforts. The search for the missing crews is continuing.

 

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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