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
  25.7-29.7.05, No. 73  
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Foreign Policy

Sino-US relations good for peace, stability
2005-07-29 China Daily
WASHINGTON: US President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that he looked forward to meeting President Hu Jintao later this year. Bush made the statement during a meeting with visiting Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan in the White House. Tang said the exchange of visits between the two leaders would help promote dialogue, mutual trust and co-operation between the two countries. It is in the interests of both countries to further develop Sino-US relations and the visits would contribute to peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, Tang said. He delivered a letter from Hu to Bush during the meeting. Tang also met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser Stephen Hadley and US Treasury Secretary John Snow on Wednesday. In his meeting with Rice, Tang said the international situation and development of Sino-US relations have shown China and the US to have increasingly common interests. The two sides' constructive relationship would continue to grow as long as they increased dialogue, built mutual trust, promoted co-operation and handled differences properly, he said.

4th US-Pyongyang face-to-face meeting planned
2005-07-29 China Daily
The United States admitted that persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons drive was not proving easy and that key differences remain, but the two sides have agreed to meet again today, the AFP reported. The chief delegates of the two major parties to the Six-Nation Talks in Beijing, met face-to-face for the third time on Thursday. While the atmosphere and rhetoric is better than previous encounters, neither side is budging from its uncompromising position, sources said. "We had a lengthy discussion and I must say there are a number of differences," U.S. chief delegate Christopher Hill told reporters after a two-hour meeting with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan. "On some points we have some common understanding on how to proceed. I must say, though, this is not an easy process." The talks, which also include China, South Korea, Russia and Japan, are aiming to produce a joint statement setting out what has been achieved and where they go from here, but this has yet to be drafted. Hill said he hoped the process could begin within 24 hours. Unlike the previous three rounds, the latest negotiations have no fixed end-date, although Russia's chief delegate Alexander Alekseev said he planned to leave Beijing on Saturday. The Russian news agency Interfax reported that Hill proposed to Kim that international inspectors enter the DPRK in September to check its nuclear facilities, but Hill denied this. () Host China said it was too early to say whether the negotiations had succeeded or failed, and admitted there were still major hurdles to clear. "It's far too early to say if there is a breakthrough or a breakdown," said foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang of the bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea. "There were difficulties but there is a willingness to continue talking. I think they are in the process of finding common ground and there are differences but what the common ground is, I'm not in a position to comment. There are many problems that need to be discussed ... and everyone needs to continue talking." The United States and North Korea delegates are scheduled to meet one-on-one for a fourth time Friday, the US embassy said. With little sign of movement, a meeting between all of the chief delegates was cancelled to allow the US-DPRK contact to go ahead. It has been rescheduled for Friday afternoon, South Korean officials said. Pyongyang refuses to disarm until Washington normalizes relations, among other conditions. A key sticking point is the American allegation that Pyongyang is running a highly enriched uranium program. On Wednesday, the United States said that North Korea must abandon all its nuclear programs, including uranium enrichment. Pyongyang has always denied operating such a program, which can be used to produce atomic explosive devices, either for weapons or for peaceful purposes. "This issue has to be clarified in the process of the six-party talks," said Qin.

China to keep long-term friendship with Indonesia
2005-07-28 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here Thursday that China will keep long-term friendship with Indonesia for common development of the two major developing countries in Asia-Pacific region and to make contribution to the regional prosperity and stability. Wen told Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is heading a 100-member delegation for a five-day state visit to China, that his China tour will boost bilateral ties to a new phase of development. "In recent years, Sino-Indonesian ties maintained sound development momentum and our cooperation in politics, economy and health fields kept expanding," Wen said. () China and Indonesia carried out fruitful cooperation in trade and economic fields, Wen said. "The fact proved that we two economies are reciprocal and share broad prospect for cooperation." The Premier urged the two sides to further cooperation in infrastructure construction, energy and natural sources exploration and improves economic ties by expanding two-way investment. Expressing his appreciation of China-ASEAN relations,Wen said that mutual-trust and mutual-beneficial have become the main feature of their relations. "It's our common long-term goal to reach regional stability and common prosperity and we will continue our contribution." Wen appreciated Indonesian government's adherence to the one-China policy, saying China will, as before, support Indonesia's efforts in maintaining national unity and stability. Susilo urged the two sides to implement relevant plans and concrete projects to enrich the strategic partnership. The president said Indonesian business circle hopes to enhance ties with its Chinese counterpart and Indonesian government supports Chinese enterprises to do business in his country as well, especially in the fields of infrastructure construction, energy and plantations. Susilo appreciated China's friendly policy towards ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). He also reiterated Indonesian government will unswervingly adhere to the one-China policy. China and ASEAN is set to forge a Free Trade Area by 2010, which will create an economic region of 1.7 billion consumers, a regional GDP of about 2 trillion US dollars and total annual trade volume estimated to reach 1.23 trillion US dollars. ()

Chinese president meets Spanish PM
2005-07-23 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao met in Beijing Friday with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Hu expressed appreciation for the new measures Zapatero has taken to improve Sino-Spanish relations since he assumed the office of prime minister, saying that Sino-Spanish relations have developed continuously since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 32 years ago. He noted China and Spain have maintained frequent high-level exchange of visit, the political trust has deepened, and the economic and trade cooperation expanded. The two countries have also had sound cooperation in the international affairs, he added. "Sino-Spanish relations position in the best ever place in history, and have great potential for further development," he said. Hu noted China is building up well-off society, and Spain is carrying out Asia action plan to expand economic cooperation with Asia. This provides Sino-Spanish relations with opportunity, he said. Hu said China attaches importance to the relations with Spain, and would like to work with it to further cooperation in all fields and levels to upgrade the bilateral ties to a new stage. Zapatero said the high-level exchange of visits helps promote the relations between Spain and China, indicating that during his fruitful visit, many agreements have been signed, and the two countries have consulted each other on the major international and regional issues. He said Spain will continue to develop the relations with China, observe one-China policy, and enhance the cooperation in the political, economic and scientific fields.

EU seeks ways to lift its arms embargo
2005-07-27 SCMP
The European Union still aims to lift its arms embargo on China, but wants to do it in a way that promotes stability in East Asia, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said yesterday. The 25-nation bloc originally planned to remove the ban, imposed in 1989, by June but US and Japanese pressure, and Chinese threats of force against Taiwan, prompted a rethink. Mr Solana said the EU had almost completed work on turning an existing "code of conduct" on arms exports into a legally binding and more comprehensive set of rules - one prerequisite for ending the embargo. He said there was no prospect of dropping the ban in time for an EU-China summit in Beijing in early September.

 

Domestic Policy

Death toll up; disease 'under control'
2005-07-29 China Daily
The streptococcus suis outbreak in Sichuan claimed four more lives yesterday, bringing the death toll to 31, but experts say the situation is now well under control According to a daily report from the Ministry of Health, the increase in deaths does not mean the epidemic is worsening. Yesterday's deaths were of patients who had been hospitalized for several days, not newly diagnosed cases. By noon yesterday, 152 people had been identified as infected with the bacteria, 27 more than reported on Wednesday. Among the 27 new patients, only six had fallen ill yesterday, with the rest having had symptoms for several days. In Sichuan's Ziyang where most of the infected swine and humans have been found, the epidemic is under effective control, according to a member of a team of experts sent by the Ministry of Health. Yang Weizhong, Director of the Office of Disease Control and Emergency Response of China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), made the remarks in Ziyang yesterday in a brief interview with journalists. With a chart showing the epidemic in Ziyang to be in decline, Yang said he was still not sure when the epidemic would be over. The epidemic situation seems to be very localized now, Robert Dietz, a spokesman for the World Health Organisation (WHO), was quoted as saying. In South China's Guangdong Province, the Guangdong Yongshun Biology Pharmaceutical Factory is stepping up production of a vaccine to protect pigs against the disease, Wu Weirui, board chairman of the factory told China Daily yesterday. () Although prevention work is going well, treatment is still unsatisfactory because there is no specific medicine available to treat the infection. While confirming the effectiveness of antibiotics against streptococcus suis, Yang Weizhong had reservations over the after-effects of the large doses, currently the only option for treating the disease. ()

2,500 evacuated after quake kills one in Heilongjiang
2005-07-27 Xinhuanet
Nearly 1,100 homes were damaged when a 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit Lindian County in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province at 11:43 pm on Monday, the province's seismological bureau reported. The tremor and around 30 aftershocks have resulted in the evacuation of more than 2,500 people in the area. One death an 81-year-old man who had a stroke during the quake was reported with 12 others injured one seriously. Lu Qiuping said she heard dogs barking non-stop all evening before she went to bed on Monday night. She was jolted awake by the temblor. "I woke up with a start," she said. "It was shaking a lot. The vase and mirror on the window sill fell onto the floor and broke. "Luckily, we managed to rush outside," she said, pointing to a large crack on the wall of their house in Lindian County under the city of Daqing. No serious damage was reported at the nearby Daqing Oilfield, China's largest oil-producing base. () By press time last night, about 2,540 people had been moved away from the worst-affected areas for their safety, a source for the Ministry of Civil Affairs said. During the quake, about 1,140 roofs collapsed or were damaged in the disaster's worst-hit areas including Huayuan Township, the source said. About 100 tents have been sent for the homeless as disaster relief authorities continue their rescue work. ()

Five detained in mine blast that killed 83
2005-07-24 China Daily
Five people, who were accused of being accountable for the coal mine gas blast that claimed 83 lives in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were captured, local government official said Sunday. The five people include Jiang Jinpeng, former board chairman of the Shenlong Coal Mine Limited Company which runs the colliery, Liu Junbo, head of the coal mine, Ren Yanlu, director of the mine's production and technology section, Su Jindu, the mine's deputy head in charge of work safety, and Zhou Fuping, the mine dispatcher who was on duty at the time of the blast on July 11, said Chi Wenhui, deputy secretary of the government of Jichang Hui Autonomous Prefecture, where the mine is located. Chi said some ventilators in the mine stopped working, leaving the gas accumulated in the shafts to reach the density of explosion and wire sparkles induced the blast. In addition, overproduction, absence of a work safety license and ill-management were owed to the tragedy, said Chi. The colliery turned out some 180,000 tons of coal in the first half of this year, far exceeding its annual capacity of 30,000 tons and leading to an extremely high gas density in the colliery shaft. Actually, the gas density had reached up to three percent, well above the safety mark of one percent, three or four hours before the blast occurred, said Chi. The blast could have been avoided, provided the mine management had taken effective measures to withdraw miners and cut electricity underground right after detecting the high gas density, he said. ()

Mongolian farmers clash with police
2005-07-27 SCMP
Two thousands farmers have clashed with hundreds of police in a land dispute in Inner Mongolia that has left dozens injured. A government official called the fighting "anarchy". The clash - a week ago in the village of Qianjin, part of Tongliao city, 725km northeast of Beijing - was the latest in a string of violent rural protests across the mainland. "We were caught by surprise. Police punched and kicked villagers even as they lay on the ground," one farmer said. "We're ready to risk everything," the farmer added. "If one government official comes, we'll take on one. If several come, we'll fight it out with several." Some police had carried firearms but did not open fire, a second farmer said. The incident lasted about six hours, he said, adding that police were eventually outnumbered and fled after villagers rushed to aid those who had been beaten. Dozens of injured villagers were taken to nearby hospitals, the farmers said. Hundreds of farmers had seized bulldozers and other construction equipment intended for use in building a road across their land, which had been requisitioned by the government, the second farmer said. Police reached by telephone declined to comment. But Han Guowu chief of the Keerqin district, in which Qianjin is located - insisted officers had not assaulted villagers. "Police were under orders not to retaliate when hit or verbally abused, and restrained themselves," Mr Han said. He said villagers pelted police with chunks of hard clay, breaking the nose of one officer, smashing the window of a police car and breaking a video camera. The farmers had refused to turn over their farmland and had blocked construction of the highway for two months, the district chief said. "The entire village is in a state of anarchy," he added. Mr Han dismissed accusations by farmers that the government hired thugs to break into villagers' homes in the middle of the night and assault them. He also denied allegations of corruption. "Please trust the party and the government," he said. Last week, farmers in the northern province of Hebei won a battle over land rights after months of protests culminated in a violent clash, one of the bloodiest in a wave of rural riots. About 300 thugs armed with rifles, clubs and sharpened pipes descended on Shengyou village in Hebei and clashed with the farmers, who were staging a sit-in to demand better compensation for land requisitioned for a new lime plant. Six villagers were killed and scores injured. Police arrested 31 people and detained 131. Those arrested included the Communist Party chief of nearby Dingzhou, who was sacked after a newspaper reported the riot.

Taiwanese trips to mainland made easier
2005-07-25 Xinhuanet
Beijing simplified the exit and entry rules for Taiwan residents over the weekend and urged the Taiwan authorities to adopt more tangible measures to facilitate its fruit exports to the mainland. As of today, Taiwan residents can be granted multiple entry and exit permits, valid for one to five years, thereby foregoing the need to obtain separate residence permits, China Central Television cited the Public Security Ministry as saying. Between 1987 and December last year, the mainland received nearly 34 million visitors from Taiwan. Li Shuilin, chairman with the Cross-Straits Association for Economic and Trade Exchanges, said at the weekend: "We hope that for the sake of the fruit farmers in Taiwan, the Taiwan agencies in charge will not put artificial obstacles into place [in its fruit trade with the mainland]." ()

Former Party official sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for corruption
2005-07-28 People's Daily
Ma De, former secretary of the municipal committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Suihua City, Heilongjiang Province, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for accepting bribes on Thursday. The Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court on Thursday made the first-instance trial. According to the court verdict, from October 1993 to February 2002, the defendant Ma took advantage of his posts as deputy mayor of Mudanjiang City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, prefectural commissioner of Suihua area, Heilongjiang Province and secretary of the municipal committee of the CPC in Suihua City to seek gains for others after accepting bribes. Ma, himself or together with his wife Tian Yazhi who will be handled in a separate case, accepted and extorted bribes worth of 6.03 million yuan (about 743,500 US dollars), including 5.586 million yuan and 55,000 US dollars. By now, all the illicit money has been recovered. The court verdict said Ma committed the crime of bribery. The sum of bribery was big and the misdeed was very serious. But considering that Ma has confessed some bribery facts which the prosecuting bodies had not discovered and exposed the clues of other official's bribery behaviors, Ma was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and was deprived political rights all his life with the confiscation of all his personal assets. ()

Public security officer sentenced to death for drug trafficking
2005-07-27 Xinhuanet
The Intermediate People's Court of Guigang City of the south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region sentenced a public security officer and two other defendants to death for drug trafficking, the court sources said. Huang Jinxiong was former political instructor of the police supervision brigade of Pingnan County's public security bureau. In October 2004, Huang colluded with his friend Tang Dazhang on purchasing and trafficking heroin. Tang then asked He Shirong, another drug trafficker, to buy heroin from Longzhou County at the Chinese-Vietnamese border. On November 11, 2004, He Shirong bought 346.5 grams of heroin at Longzhou County and took it back to Pingnan County. He then handed it over to Tang and Huang. Soon later, Huang called Li Jie, his accomplice, and planned trafficking the heroin to Guangdong. Both Huang and Li was caught on the spot at Huang's home. Tang and He were seized later by police. According to the country's criminal law, the court sentenced Huang, Tang and He to death at the first judge, and Li was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Meeting hears calls for death penalty reform
2005-07-23 Xinhuanet
Courts at all levels have been ordered to set tougher procedural standards for trials involving the death penalty - step legal experts have hailed as a sign that China will reduce its use of capital punishment. "Every procedure of the first trial, second trial and retrial, as well as the reviewing of the death penalty, must be rigidly executed," Cao Jianming, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said at a recent seminar for senior justice officials in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. Courts are now also being urged to examine evidence more carefully to avoid incorrect death sentences, he said. "Lessons should be learnt from trials to perfect the system in the area of capital punishment," the vice-president said. "Cao's speech indicates that the nation plans to decrease the number of capital punishment sentences in order to follow the policy to 'kill fewer, kill carefully'," Chen Xingliang, a law professor at Peking University, said. Recent examples such as the case of She Xianglin, who was wrongly convicted and served 11 years in prison for murder, and the unjust murder case of Nie Shubin have widened debate over the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in China. But there also exist some vague articles in China's Criminal Code that have led to chaotic standards among the lower courts in doling out the death penalty, Chen said. For example, the code stipulates that the death penalty is to be imposed for the most serious crimes, "but there is no detailed regulation on how serious 'the most serious' has to be," he said. China's current laws dictate that all death penalty rulings given by local intermediate people's courts or above should be submitted to the SPC for approval, but in cases involving violent crimes such as murder, rape and robbery, provincial higher courts are empowered to approve executions. China uses the death penalty for a wide range of crimes, from murder to economic crimes such as corruption. Criminals who are not required by law to be executed immediately would receive two-year probation before execution is carried out. ()

Rights infringements in focus
2005-07-27 China Daily
The nationwide campaign to crack down on human rights infringements resulting from government officials' wrong doing is paying off. Between July 1 last year and the end of last month, the nation's prosecutors handled more than 1,200 cases of bodily harm or the violation of civil rights, up 7.7 per cent from the corresponding period of the previous year, according to statistics released yesterday by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP). The criminal cases involved more than 1,750 government officials an increase of 8.3 per cent over the previous one-year period. Among the prosecuted are five police officers from Bazhou of North China's Hebei Province that were convicted of mistreating a male detainee found dead the next day after an interview on April 15, 2001. Liu Zhigeng and Yuan Jingwu of the Kangxian Zhuang police substation severely beat the suspect during the interview and administered electric shocks in collaboration with three other colleagues. After finding the detainee dead, they tried to cover up the crime by burying the body. The case did not come to light until June 2004, when the local people's procuratorate brought charges against them. Liu received the death penalty, Yuan was given life imprisonment and the three accomplices were jailed for an undetermined period. Government officials that violate people's rights are usually not treated leniently as they have abused their authority, SPP Deputy Procurator-General Wang Zhenchuan said yesterday at a press conference. "Some judicial officials were often found to conduct illegal detainment and searches, obtaining evidence and prosecuting crimes through illegal means," Wang said. () The SPP will also make a concerted effort to hunt down officials involved in tax evasion, fraud, the production and sale of fake or inferior food and medicine, and smuggling, he said. In the next 18 months, the SPP will target officials that cause the country to suffer economically. ()

China entering era of enlightenment for property rights
2005-07-24 Xinhuanet
Shortly after China made public its drafted law of property rights in early July to solicit public opinion for further revisions, people at a residential quarter in this capital of east China's Jiangsu Province set to use it as a powerful weapon to safeguard their legitimate interests related to an underground parking lot in the quarter. China is entering an era of enlightenment for property rights. According to a recent survey, the people's awareness of the law remains low in the country, although they pay attention to the safety of their properties and have an unprecedented interest in the preservation and increase of property value. Prof. Qiu Lufeng with elite Nanjing University said, "Changes have taken place in the property structure of both Chinese society and individual citizens. China's existing property regime is out of fashion. It is essential to legislate a new law. The Law of Property Rights will help re-build the property regime and systemize the civil subject's disposition of properties," she added. For example, Qiu said, some 20 years ago, all a couple needed to do when they decided to make a divorce was to determine with whom their child would live and who, the father or the mother, would continue to rent the public house. The rest of their property included only a few items of home electrical appliances and clothing. But things have changed significantly. Today, a couple may probably have a house, furniture, home appliances, stocks and bonds subject to property settlements during divorce. "The Law of Property Rights is closely related with the daily lives of the masses of people. Once it is enacted, it will become a powerful and useful weapon for individuals to protect private property, "said Prof. Cai Dingjian with the Politics and Law University of China based in Beijing. Attaching great importance to public properties, the Chinese have for long failed to treat private and public properties on an equal footing. They even felt shameful to talk about private properties several decades ago. () In 2000, a total of 51 billion US dollars fled from China as against 47 billion US dollars in foreign direct investment flowing into the country. Some of the money that fled was legitimate, but some was transferred abroad as the owners had no sense of security.

32 illegal power projects halted
2005-07-27 Xinhuanet
China halted 32 power projects because they posed environmental threats, according to an announcement issued by four state ministries early this week. The announcement was issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Land and Resources, and the Ministry of Water Resources. The 32 plants, mostly located in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China and central China's Henan Province, with an overall installed capacity of 17.1 million kilowatts, were ordered to halt production because they failed to meet environmental requirements. Twenty billion yuan (about 2.5 billion US dollars) have been invested in the projects so far. The total investment will ultimately reach 85.6 billion yuan (10.5 billion US dollar), sources from the NDRC said. Some argue that the order will hurt the economy. China's surging economic growth has somewhat outpaced its power generating capacity in recent years, leading to blackouts in some cities.

Drinking water worry tops environmental concerns
2005-07-28 China Daily
Clean drinking water is the public's No 1 environmental concern according to a State survey released yesterday. The investigation was carried out by the All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF) and supervised by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), in April and May. More than 4 million people from 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities or special administrative regions took part in the survey, airing their opinions on China's environmental issues through the Internet, mobile phones and mailed-in questionnaires. "It is an unprecedentedly wide survey of environmental issues among the Chinese," said Wang Dongqing, vice-secretary of ACEF. "The results will be sent to related departments as an important reference for drafting of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) on the country's environment." According to the survey, after drinking water pollution, the public were most concerned about air quality, domestic rubbish, the disposal of industrial waste, the destruction of vegetation and desertification, a shortage of water resources, and noise and car pollution. More than 96 per cent of the people surveyed said China is challenged by a water shortage crisis and that building a water-saving society is the most effective way to solve the problem. The public also called for the Yellow River to be the focus of water pollution prevention efforts. As for domestic rubbish, 77 per cent of participants supported the idea of not providing plastic bags in supermarkets, although 22 per cent said it was a bother to bring a bag with them when shopping. Securing a comfortable majority, 73 per of participants said residents should collect and sort their waste by material for recycling. According to the survey, 97 per cent of participants said the government should listen to the public in making decisions on environmental planning. Both the public and experts in the investigation strongly held that the government should increase input into environmental protection during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) to at least 1.5 per cent of the annual gross domestic product (GDP). Some experts even suggested raising it to 2 per cent with the country's vast rural areas getting more support in appropriations and policies from the government. ()

 

Taiwan

Taipei fights Seoul over Chen's Apec ban
2005-07-25 SCMP
Taiwan will keep pushing for its president to attend an economic summit despite host South Korea's reported refusal. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian said he wanted to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit in Pusan in November and hoped to meet President Hu Jintao. But South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quoting a Seoul official, said the country rejected Mr Chen's request. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu Ching-lung said: "We have the same rights as all other [Apec] members."

 

Economy

Trade surplus rocketing brings pressure
2005-07-28 Xinhuanet
China's foreign trade surplus stood at 39.6 billion US dollars in the first half of this year, almost equal to the total trade surplus for the whole year of 2004, intensifying the country's trade disputes with major trade partners. In the first six months of the year, exports reached 342.3 billion US dollars, up 32.7 percent as against imports of 302.7 billion US dollars, up 14 percent, which is 29 percentage points lower than the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. The soaring trade surplus has led to increasing overseas protectionist measures against Chinese goods. The country's trade surplus against the United States and Europe Union reached 49.1 billion US dollars and 31.6 US dollars, up 56.4 percent and 130 percent, respectively. This year the United States has conducted five probes concerning China's intellectual property rights protection, and both the United States and the European Union have put restrictions on Chinese textile goods. Too much of a trade surplus does no good to the economy of China, which wants a basic trade balance, an expert said, noting the Renminbi appreciation should help China expand imports and curb soaring exports. Although China's trade volume ranks third in the world, the quality of and profits from the trade still remain a low level, the expert said. Therefore, the RMB appreciation and the reform of the foreign exchange rating mechanism should help China to shrink its trade surplus and ease international pressure in the long run, the expert said. ()

Further appreciation of renminbi denied
2005-07-27 China Daily
The central bank yesterday denied there would be further appreciation of the Chinese currency, saying last week's 2 per cent revaluation did not mean more adjustments. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) also said that foreign media reports describing the long-awaited move as an "initial adjustment" to the exchange rate were incorrect. The 2 per cent appreciation refers to an adjustment at the beginning of reforms of renminbi, or the yuan's exchange rate determination mechanism, a PBOC spokesman said. "It does not mean that there will be further revaluation (of the yuan) afterwards," he said. It is an "important principle" of the yuan's reform to be conducted "step by step", which refers to the gradual process in the reform of the rate's determination mechanism, instead of its level, he stressed. The spokesman said the 2 per cent appreciation level was calculated based "on a rational equilibrium". The new level of 8.11 to the dollar, up from the virtually fixed rate near 8.28 that had held for the previous eight years, reflected the equilibrium level - the rate that balances supply and demand, and driven by the fundamentals of the economy. The central bank said the size of the revaluation was based mainly on what was needed to adjust the trade surplus. Some developed countries, including the United States, argued that the yuan was artificially low, and giving Chinese exporters an "unfair" trade advantage. ()

RMB appreciation helps nation's airlines
2005-07-28 China Daily
Chinese airlines breathed a collective sigh of relief after China allowed its currency to appreciate by 2 per cent last week. But whether they can return their businesses to the black by the year's end still depends on other factors, especially jet fuel prices, airlines and analysts said. "The yuan appreciation is definitely good news for us," said Xu Junmin, secretary of the board of Shanghai Airlines. "If the yuan strengthens by 1 per cent, our earnings per share for the year will increase by 0.03 yuan," Xu told China Daily yesterday. Xu said the key benefit is that Chinese air carriers will face lower financing costs after the yuan appreciation because a large chunk of their borrowing is in foreign currencies. Shanghai Airlines has liabilities of about US$400 million. "The yuan move greatly relieves our burden in this regard," Xu said. "Another good aspect is that the cost of purchasing and leasing aircraft and aviation equipment will also be cut as these transactions are settled in the US dollar," Xu said. Xu's words were echoed by Liu Jieyin, president of Okay Airways Co, China's first private air carrier. Okay, which launched its maiden flight in March, leases a Boeing 737 from Korean Airlines. "Our company will save more than 100,000 yuan every month in leasing fees after the yuan move," Liu told China Daily. Meanwhile, maintenance and landing fees at foreign airports are also expected to see a "discount" of 2 per cent, said Liu Weimin, director and professor at the Aviation Laws Research Centre affiliated to the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China. Investors' positive expectations pushed up the price of airline shares the day after China ended the yuan's decade-old peg to the US dollar, allowing the currency to strengthen 2 per cent from its previously fixed rate of about 8.28 yuan per one dollar. "We have been anxiously waiting for the yuan appreciation," Zeng Zixiang, director of the policy research centre at China Southern airlines, was quoted as saying by China Business newspaper. However, the small revaluation is not enough to pull some Chinese airlines back into the black, said analysts and air carriers. The key factor will be aviation oil prices in the second half of the year, they said. ()

Skies open wide for pilots from abroad
2005-07-28 China Daily
Foreign pilots are to be drafted into Chinese airlines to relieve the shortage of qualified flyers plaguing the world's fastest-growing aviation sector. The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has drawn up a soon-to-be-launched policy of recruiting pilots from abroad, an administration official told China Daily yesterday. "Overseas pilots will be able to be employed by Chinese carriers after obtaining flight licences in China," said Rao Shaowu, director of the CAAC's Flight Standard Department. To do that, they must pass strict exams, Rao added. China's booming commercial aviation industry is taking off faster than the country can train pilots, a trend threatening future growth and hard-won advances in air safety. About 11,000 pilots are employed to fly more than 770 aircraft operated by the major Chinese commercial airlines, according to CAAC statistics - a figure industry experts say is inadequate to cope with rocketing demand for passenger services. And demand for pilots is likely to increase as domestic carriers expand their fleets. Around 145 new aircraft will be delivered this year, and these new planes alone are expected to push aircraft numbers beyond the capacity of training schools to supply new pilots. The Civil Aviation Flight University of China - the nation's major training school for commercial airline pilots based in Sichuan and Henan provinces - graduates a maximum of 600 pilots a year. Based on the delivery of new aircraft, industry experts estimate that China has needed between 1,200 and 1,600 new pilots every year since 2000, far more than the university can train. There is a particular shortage of experienced pilots qualified to hold the rank of captain - at least one pilot with the rank of captain is required on every flight, a CAAC press official said. Airlines are reluctant to comment on the shortage, but some smaller Chinese carriers had been forced to flout government policy and recruit foreign pilots as a stopgap measure to keep their aircraft flying. ( )

 

North Korea

Millions forage as food supplies drop
2005-07-27 SCMP
North Korea's government and aid agencies are running short of food, forcing millions of people to scavenge for acorns and grass, the UN food agency said yesterday as trucks piled high with sacks of rice rumbled across the heavily-fortified border from South Korea. The convoy of 60 orange trucks loaded with a total of 1,500 tonnes rolled across the border toward North Korea's southwestern city of Kaesong, some 70 km north of Seoul, witnesses said. South Korea agreed to grant the North 500,000 tonnes of rice after Pyongyang announced it would return to six-nation talks aimed at ending its nuclear drive. The US has also promised to send 50,000 tonnes of cereals, but that is not expected to arrive for three months, said Gerald Bourke, spokesman for the World Food Programme. Mr Bourke said there was "very little" left of WFP stockpiles in the North after the agency stopped supplying vegetable oil to 1.2 million North Korean women and children in March, and stopped giving beans and grain to steadily larger groups since then. "People are gathering wild food, grasses, bracken (ferns), acorns," said Mr Bourke, who returned from three weeks in the North on Monday. "I've seen people going up into the hills with sacks and coming down with sacks of grass and picking through seaweed." North Korea has relied on foreign aid to feed its 23 million people since disclosing in the mid-1990s that its government-run farm system had collapsed following decades of mismanagement and the loss of Soviet subsidies. The WFP tries to feed about 6.5 million North Koreans, or more than one-quarter of the country's population. This year, it requires 504,000 tonnes of food for the chronically malnourished. Foreign donors have given more than 8 million tons of food to North Korea since the mid-1990s. But the WFP has struggled in recent years to meet aid targets for the North, getting as little as 60 per cent of its annual needs. Despite tensions over its nuclear programme, the US, South Korea and Japan are major food donors to the North. China, its last major ally, also is a key supplier of food and energy aid.

Abductees not dead - ex-spy
2005-07-29 SCMP
A former North Korean spy yesterday said 15 Japanese kidnapped before the 1980s were alive in the reclusive state, as Tokyo tried to push the abduction issue at talks on Pyongyang's nuclear drive. "There are altogether 15 people whom I saw or for whom I have information on their survival," defected spy An Myong-jin told Japanese lawmakers at a televised parliamentary meeting on the abduction issue. North Korea admitted in 2002 to have kidnapped 13 Japanese up until the 1980s to train its spies in Japanese language and culture. It declared the abduction issue over after repatriating five kidnap victims along with their families and claiming that the eight others were dead.

 

Julie Kong
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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