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
  8.8-12.8.05, No. 75  
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Foreign Policy

China calls for continuation of negotiations to solve Iran nuclear issue
2005-08-11/12 People's Daily
China called for constructive attitudes from the concerned parties toward the Iranian nuclear issue and warned against actions that would further complicate the situation. Differences should be solved through negotiations and favorable conditions should be created for the final solution of the issue, said Wu Hailong, China's UN ambassador in Vienna. "Continuation of the negotiation is the most appropriate and realistic approach to the resolution of the issue," said Wu at an emergency meeting on Iran's nuclear programs. "Only through negotiations can a solution be found that conforms to the interests of all the parties," Wu added. () Addressing the emergency meeting, Wu also called on the EU and Iran to fulfil their commitments and tackle the crisis with patience. "The Paris Agreement reached between the EU3/EU and Iran has, to some extent, laid a foundation for seeking a long-term solution. The parties concerned should truly fulfill the commitments they have respectively made under the agreement," said Wu. "We appeal to Iran to continue to apply the relevant confidence-building measures to increase understanding on the part of the international community and create a favorable atmosphere for the eventual resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue." He also called the other parties to address the reasonable concerns of Iran in a just and objective manner and respect Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Wu said China hopes the parties concerned will take a long-term vision, exercise restraint and continue negotiations with patience, pragmatism and flexibility to narrow down the differences and solve the crisis at last. "China will, along with various parties, continue its support to the diplomatic efforts aiming at an early and appropriate solution to this issue within the framework of the IAEA," Wu said. On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called for continuation of negotiations to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. Li said in his meeting with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Gholamali Khoshroo that the most crucial thing at present is to maintain dialogue and consultation process to resolve the nuclear issue. He reiterated the principled stance of the Chinese side in this regard Li expressed the hope that the parties concerned would retain patience and make constructive cooperation, so as to achieve an early appropriate settlement of Iran's nuclear issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). () Khoshroo underscored that Iran hopes to reserve the right of peaceful use of nuclear energy. Iran is willing to keep cooperation with the IAEA and continue the efforts to seek final solution to the nuclear issue through negotiations, he said. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui held consultations with Khoshroo on Iranian nuclear issue on Thursday.

Australia, China negotiate on nuclear cooperation
2005-08-10 People's Daily
The Australian government announced Tuesday in Canberra to start negotiations with China on a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. "I am pleased to announce Australia will formally commence negotiations on a nuclear cooperation agreement with China," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement. "The agreement will establish safeguards arrangements to ensure Australian uranium supplied to China is used exclusively for peaceful purposes," he said. Australian and Chinese officials have already held exploratory talks on the proposed agreement, according to Downer. Australia has an estimated 40 percent of the world's low-cost uranium resources, while China has great energy needs in context of rapid economic development. "Opening up this export opportunity with China is consistent with the growing trade and economic relationship between our two countries, and Australia's position as a secure supplier of energy resources," he said. Australia has 19 nuclear agreements covering 36 countries.

Opinion: China, US need higher-level meetings
2005-08-11 China Daily
The first round of a high-level strategic dialogue between China and the United States opened on August 1 in Beijing. On behalf of their respective governments, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick attended the meeting where they exchanged candid and in-depth views on a range of bilateral, regional and international matters of common concern. The first ever high-level strategic dialogue between the world's largest developing and developed countries has attracted extensive interest in the wider international community. () The holding of the first round of the strategic dialogue demonstrates that Beijing and Washington still have a lot of room to develop the communication channel. Compared to other exchange or dialogue channels that exist between China and the United States, the recently concluded strategic dialogue is less developed. Currently there are two kinds of irregular exchange between the two countries. One is the exchange of visits by high-level government officials and even top leaders. Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush are expected to hold six meetings this year. () The committee decided one regular meeting should be held every year. The two countries set up a defence affairs consultation mechanism at the vice-ministerial level, which calls for two meetings per year. China's National People's Congress (NPC) , the country's top legislature, and the US Senate have decided to set up a panel with two gatherings every year. ()

Chinese premier meets Cambodian king, stressing China-ASEAN ties
2005-08-12 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni Wednesday in Beijing. Wen said the China-Cambodia friendship is fostered through efforts of generations of leaders from the two countries and has endured the test of international changes over the past years. "The two sides have always actively developed friendly relations as good neighbors and achieved a series of substantial results in bilateral cooperation on the basis of peaceful coexistence, which benefits China, Cambodia and our two peoples," Wen said. Wen stressed that the Chinese government attaches great importance on its good-neighborly friendship with Cambodia and values its special friendship with the Cambodian royal family. "China is willing to join hands with Cambodia to step up mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas in a bid to bring bilateral relations to a new level," he said. The China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) relationship has seen rapid development in recent years and China cherishes that very much, Wen said. "We hope to see a united and strong ASEAN. We hope to make joint efforts with all ASEAN member states to promote regional cooperation and contribute to regional peace and prosperity." () The Cambodian royal family, parliament, government and people will continue to consolidate the traditional friendship between Cambodia and China and to deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all aspects. He reiterated Cambodian's firm adherence to the one-China policy and objection to so-called "Taiwan Independence" in any form. This is Sihamoni's first state visit to China since he took the throne last October.

ROK foreign minister arrives in Beijing
2005-08-11 Xinhuanet
Ban Ki-Moon, minister of foreign affairs and trade of the Republic of Korea (ROK), arrives in the Chinese capital Thursday for a three-day working visit from August 11 to 13 as guest of Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. On Friday, he is scheduled to meet with Chinese State CouncilorTang Jiaxuan and hold talks with Li, respectively. It is reported that Ban Ki-Moon will express thanks to China for its efforts to promote the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, and confer with the Chinese side onhow to step up ROK-China cooperation in a bid to ensure substantial progress when the talks resume in about three weeks.

FM to visit 6 European countries
2005-08-11 Xinhuanet
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is expected to visit Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, and Cyprus from August 16 to 24. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the announcement here Thursday. Li has been invited by Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis, Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks, Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro Vuk Draskovic, Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva and Cypriote Foreign Minister George Iacovou, according to Kong.

UN official: China faces challenges on population development
2005-08-11 Xinhuanet
China has made headways on population development, but a number of challenges remain, said a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official. Ronny Lindstrom, deputy representative of the UNFPA China Office, said China has made many accomplishments such as improved mother and child health, access to reproductive health services and contraceptives in China's population programme since the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, but "a number of concerns related to China's population and development remain". In a speech delivered Saturday at Northwest China Population and Development Forum in Qinghai Province, Lindstrom said that some of the Principles of the Convention for Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, both of which China is a party to, particularly those related to individual's control of their own fertility, have yet to be fully met. "Hence, there is still work to be done to reach the goals that China has set in the 2002 Population and Family Planning Law," he said. He also noted that there is continued problem of an imbalanced sex ratio at birth that is getting attention by the Chinese government. According to the fifth national census, China's sex ratio at birth is as high as 116.9, which means 116.9 males per 100 females, a very high figure comparing with the "normal" sex ratio at birth between 103 and 107. Furthermore, the representative from UNFPA warned that continued low fertility is likely to cause a shortage of labor after year 2025. "Experiences from other countries have shown that continued low fertility can be a serious threat to economic growth," he said. He said that planning for this needs to be done now and if fertility control is not relaxed, tremendous investment in the social sector will be needed to prepare the labor force for the increased quality and productivity that will be needed to sustain growth with a shrinking labor force

China holds cultural soiree at Geneva UN office
2005-08-12 Xinhuanet
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the United Nations and the 60th anniversary of victory over fascism, China held a cultural soiree on Thursday evening at Palais des Nations, headquarters of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). "The United Nations was created amidst the ashes of the Second World War to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and achieve peace and development worldwide," Sha Zukang, Chinese ambassador to the UNOG, said at the beginning of the soiree. "The Chinese people like their counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, made tremendous sacrifices and historic contributions to the final victory of the war... We celebrate in order to ensure that that tragedy shall never repeat. We hope that all nations can get along with one another in harmony, and all people can all enjoy the fruits of peace and prosperity," he said. ()

 

Domestic Policy

Drought hits 7.6m people across China
2005-08-12 China Daily
While seasonal downpours have wreaked havoc across East China, other areas are still suffering drought, with about 7.6 million people in rural areas and 6.3 million livestock facing drinking water shortages. To date, more than 5 million hectares of crops have been affected, with nearly 40 per cent of those facing the prospect of failure, according to a source with the Beijing-based State Flood-Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. "There has not been enough rain in Shanxi Province or the Inner Mongolian and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions across North and Northwest China since late last month, while dry spells have also hit mountainous regions in Central China's Hunan and Southwest China's Guizhou Province as well as Chongqing Municipality," the source said. In Alxa League in Inner Mongolian, camels' humps have shrunk as drought scorches the grasslands where many goats have already died of thirst. "Bodies of dead goats can be seen along the roads," Lian Jun, a reporter working for China National Radio in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, said in a report. In Datong, Shuozhou, Xinzhou and Yuncheng in Shanxi, rain has been 70 per cent less than normal while more than 1.4 million hectares of farmland, 40 per cent of the province's total, are threatened by drought. In Central China's Hunan, about 80,000 storage ponds have dried up, as have more than 1,170 rivulets in mountainous areas, due to the lack of rainfall since June. In Xiushan, a county in southern Chongqing, residents in some villages have to travel 7 kilometres to fetch water away amid the drought.

Mayors suspended from duties over coalmine disaster
2005-08-09 Xinhuanet
Two mayors, who are responsible for the colliery flooding accident which trapped at least 123 miners in southern Guangdong Province, has been suspended from duties, local government announced Tuesday. He Zhengba, mayor of Meizhou, and Zeng Xianghai, mayor of Xingning, were blamed for being incompetent for supervising the coal mine production in the area under their jurisdiction, according to the provincial government. () Previous report said the trapped number was 102, but 21 more miners were added to the missing list after the mine counted the number of miners working underground again on Tuesday, said You Ningfeng, vice governor of Guangdong, who is in charge of rescue operation. "Currently, they are still trapped about 480 meters underground. The chance of survival for the trapped miners is slim after being stranded for more than 55 hours," he added. Nevertheless, Huang Huahua, governor of Guangdong, pledged, "If there is a tiny hope, we will spare no efforts to rescue the trapped miners." The owners of the privately-run colliery had fled and left no records, which hobbled the rescue and investigation work. However, most of the runaway management staffs have returned to the coal mine after local government issued a notice Monday to call for them to come back to help the investigation. Before that, Zeng fanjin, the mine owner and Luo Changxian, chief technical supervisor, have been controlled by police and were receiving investigation. The rescue headquarters at the site of the tragedy announced a list of missing miners on Tuesday morning. () "The tragedy was caused by mine owners' greed for economic profits and malignant violation of safety rules," said Li Yizhong, director of the National Bureau of Production Safety Supervision and Administration, who was supervising the rescue operation and the investigation at the site. Li said the mine is illegal as it has no production licence. ()

Suicide bomber strikes on bus, injuring 31
2005-08-09 Xinhuanet
A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in central Fuzhou yesterday, killing himself and injuring 31 others, local police said. The blast in the capital of East China's Fujian Province went off at 2:32 pm as the No 5 bus pulled in at the Dongjiekou Stop in Dongda Road, one of the city's busiest streets. () The shockwave from the home-made explosives was so huge that the windows of a nearby store shattered, according to the sohu.com website. Lin's colleagues immediately called the emergency services. Fire engine and ambulance sirens soon rang through the street. Police later said the explosion came from a second-row seat on the right-hand side of the bus. The suspected bomber, Huang Maojin, died on the spot. Huang, 42, was a farmer from Fujian's Gutian County. According to a suicide note found by police, he had been suffering from lung cancer for about two years. In the letter, Huang said he had a dispute with one of his neighbours in 2002. He claimed he had been unfairly treated by the local public security department and was sentenced to jail until the end of 2003. The imprisonment delayed treatment of his illness, he claimed. Huang's family was heavily in debt and his children were unable to go to school because of lack of money, the letter said. Police are still investigating the case.

China wants more say in IPR topics
2005-08-10 Xinhuanet
China should have its say in drafting international rules on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, the top judge handling IPR issues in the country has said. In the past, Western countries have played a leading role in formulating global IPR treaties - but the situation has now changed, Chief Justice of the IPR Tribunal of the Supreme People's Court Jiang Zhipei told China Daily in an exclusive interview on Monday. "Chinese judges are now eminently capable of participating in discussions about international treaties on IPR protection," Jiang said. International patents and IPR protection for music and online works are some of the topics likely to figure in discussions on international treaties, according to Jiang. And China wants to play a significant role in discussions, he said, citing judges' increasing legal acumen and mastery of the English language. "China has chalked up remarkable judicial achievements in recent years, and in the process, handled all types of IPR cases," he said. According to Jiang, Chinese judges are involved in training, and exchanging views with their counterparts from developing countries, and even some developed countries. "Chinese opinion on IPR protection is given considerable importance by the international community," Jiang said, adding that as a result, the country is the venue for many international conferences. ()

Trafficker gets death for selling 44 children
2005-08-09 SCMP
A mainland court has sentenced a man to death for running a child-trafficking ring that sold 44 children to Singapore over five years, a state newspaper reported. Ke Pangjie was sentenced in Quanzhou city, Fujian, while partners Wu Wenbin and Sheng Zhenzhong received life imprisonment and 15 years' jail respectively, the Beijing News reported. The court said the severity of the verdict reflected the large number of children sold from 1998, with no hope of winning their return. In 1998, Ke met He Yidi, who ran an adoption agency in Singapore, the newspaper said. While He and an accomplice set about identifying families in Singapore that wanted to adopt a child, Ke searched for children in Fujian's Quanzhou, Yongchun and Anxi cities. The children were bought from willing parents for between 5,000 and 10,000 Yuan, and sold for at least S$8,000 ($37,600). The report did not say what happened to the traffickers in Singapore. A total of 10 people were involved in the ring.

4,000 officials fled overseas with $50 bln
2005-08-10 Xinhuanet
Chinese law experts on Wednesday said judicial reform, including death penalty exemption, may help bring back more fugitive corrupt officials. A report issued by the Ministry of Commerce showed that in recent years, nearly 4,000 corrupt officials fled overseas with approximately 50 billion US dollars of illicit money. Chu Huaizhi, law professor with Peking University said in an interview with Xinhua prior to the 22nd Congress on the Law of the World that China has signed extradition treaties with more than 20countries and judicial assistance treaties with dozens of countries. However, China has not signed such treaties with countries where corrupt officials often go to, such as the United States, Japan and Canada. Some countries hesitated to sign extradition treaties with China, partially because Chinese courts can give death penalties to non violent crimes offenders, such as corrupt officials, he said. If corrupt officials were free from the death penalty, Western countries might cooperate with China to extradite fugitive corrupt officials, or they would not flee in the first place, he said. However, Chinese citizens have traditionally been unkind toward corruption. They often voice their hatred of notorious corrupt officials online, asking governments and courts to stringently punish them. In addition, they say the ruling party and the central government need resolute methods to keep the government clean.

Drug dealers get death sentence
2005-08-11 Xinhuanet
Three drug traffickers were sentenced to death and two others got life imprisonment at the Foshan Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday. Guo Jizong and Peng Guowei of Yunnan Province and Zhang Fajian from Guangzhou were executed after the final sentences were passed. Li Zhaoze of Foshan and Wang Jiazhang of Yunnan were all sentenced to life imprisonment. The five criminals received the severe sentences because they had been involved in a big drugs deal 77.9 kilograms of heroin in October 2003, the largest trafficking case since South China's Guangdong Province launched an anti-drug campaign. The Guangdong Provincial High People's Court, after investigation and questioning, refused the criminals' appeal and sent the case back to Foshan for the final judgement. The Foshan court had made the initial judgment in April 2004. Local police tracked down the gang, who had hidden the heroin inside four 4-metre high statues of the Goddess of Mercy, which weighed over 10 tons each. They then had the statues transported to a town in Foshan's Nanhai District. Guo and Peng were caught red handed selling the heroin to Zhang. Li, who was responsible for the heroin-filled statues and Wang, an accomplice of Guo and Peng in Yunnan, were arrested soon after. Chen Xiaochen, an official with the Foshan court, said that Foshan would continue to severely punish drug producers and traffickers in a bid to prevent the drugs trade from spiralling out of control. ()

Graft-buster charged with taking bribes
2005-08-10 SCMP
Fujian anti-corruption hero Huang Jingao has been officially charged with accepting bribes by a court in Nanping city, state media said yesterday. The charges were laid on August 3, after city prosecutors found that Huang, 53, had taken about 3.7 million yuan and US$228,000 while promoting officials and disposing of official funds between 1993 and last year, Xinhua reported. Huang had served as a vice-district head, Fuzhou finance committee chief and Lianjiang party secretary during that time. Prosecutors claim Huang solicited 1.28 million yuan and US$160,000. He is also alleged to have taken 30 pieces of famous Shoushan stone worth 260,000 yuan. Huang entered the limelight last August after a letter he wrote was published in the online edition of the People's Daily. In the letter he claimed he had received death threats after battling corruption. In December, party authorities detained the former farmer, with leaked reports saying he received bribes and maintained mistresses. Supporters said the charges were trumped up.

Survey: Food safety people's top concern
2005-08-08 Xinhuanet
A nationwide online survey recently revealed that food safety has become the No 1 concern for the country's urban residents. The survey, conducted by Edatapower.com, covered 1,058 people from China's 10 major provinces and municipalities between June 16 and 26. "After a series of crises in many areas, a survey on people's attitude towards dealing with emergencies was necessary," said Huang Juan, a staff member with the Edatapower, on Wednesday. According to the survey, after food safety, the public is most concerned about environmental problems, traffic accidents, contagious diseases, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), public security, energy shortages, earthquakes, chemical leakages and computer viruses. During the first half of this year, several cases of food scandals were reported, including Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and a subsidiary of US-based Heinz using the cancer-causing Sudan I Red dye, Nestle adding excessive iodine to infant formula milk and the Bright Dairy's reprocessing of out-of-date milk. "The consumer confidence index for all kinds of food safety is below 50 per cent," said Huang Hai, a senior official with the Ministry of Commerce, at a press conference last month on food safety. "About 8 per cent of domestic food fails to measure up to the national standards for food, and some 7 per cent of vegetable products exceed the standards for pesticide residue," Huang said. Another recent survey on the public's 10 most worrisome issues by the National Bureau of Statistics showed food safety ranking second on the list. Facing an uphill battle against unsafe food products, the country is making an effort to enhance legislation on national food safety. ()

Infectious diseases kill 754 people in July
2005-08-11 China Daily
Official figures show 390,418 people contracted serious infectious diseases on the Chinese mainland during July, the Ministry of Health revealed yesterday. A watch on 27 specific diseases last month recorded 754 deaths from 23 diseases, including three deaths from anthrax. Under Chinese law, reports on the situation regarding 27 serious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, anthrax, rabies, TB and hepatitis should be made public every month. The anthrax outbreak, which has so far infected 114 people, affects Southwest China's Guizhou Province, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces. According to the Ministry of Health, the three patients who died had all been in close contact with infected horses or cows. From July 29 to August 5, a total of 12 anthrax cases, including one death, had been identified in two villages in Liaoning Province. These localized outbreaks are now under control, according to a statement released by the Liaoning health authority. Infections from livestock to humans are relatively common and cases appear in China every year, mainly in Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu and Liaoning provinces and Xinjiang Uygur and Tibet autonomous regions, the ministry said. ()

US theology students 'roughed up' in raid
2005-08-10 SCMP
Two American theology students were arrested and roughed up along with dozens of mainland Christians in Hubei province last week, a US-based religious rights watchdog said yesterday. The students were preparing to worship with 41 underground church pastors and Christians in Lutou town on August 2 when 30 plain-clothes police officers stormed the house and arrested them, the China Aid Association said. The two students, believed to be from Westminster Theological Seminary campuses in Texas and California, were handled roughly and handcuffed. They were also prevented from contacting the US embassy, the watchdog said. The pair was released after a seven-hour interrogation and some of their belongings, including their Bibles, notebooks and religious books, were confiscated. An officer at Lutou's police station confirmed their detention. "They were detained that morning but they were released in the afternoon," he said, without elaborating. The aid group said the 41 worshippers from the evangelical South China Church were held at a detention centre in Zaoyang city. Thirty had since been released. An officer at the Zaoyang City No2 Detention Centre said the Christians were arrested for "illegal evangelism" and confirmed that some were still being held. The China Aid Association also reported the arrest of about 100 Christian teenagers on July 22 in Langfang city, 40km east of Beijing, as they attended a summer Bible school course. They were released after being warned.

 

Tibet

Chickens culled in Tibet amid flu scare
2005-08-12 SCMP
More than 2,600 chickens have been culled in Tibet after an outbreak of bird flu killed hundreds of poultry this month. It was the fourth H5N1 outbreak to hit China this year and the first involving chickens. Veterinarians expressed fears the disease could be related to outbreaks in neighbouring countries including Mongolia and Russia due to bird migration. After tests conducted by the National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory in Harbin on Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture informed the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation yesterday that 133 chickens had died of H5N1 in Lhasa . The ministry culled 2,608 chickens in the surrounding areas, said Zhang Zhongjun , the assistant representative in the FAO's Beijing office. The outbreak was "under control" as infected areas were sealed off in combination with a disinfection and vaccination campaign, the ministry told the FAO. "We will monitor the situation, and are willing to offer help upon requests from the Chinese government," Mr Zhang said. The ministry also notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Wednesday, saying the outbreak was discovered on August 1, according to OIE spokeswoman Maria Zampaglione. "They notified us it was a highly pathogenic virus of avian influenza, but we still don't know whether it is H5N1 or another strain," she said. Two H5N1 outbreaks occurred in geese and ducks in Xinjiang in June, following an outbreak among migratory birds in Qinghai in May. Kazakh officials yesterday said bird flu had spread from a village near the Russian border in the north, to two villages to the west, and one in central Kazakhstan. Guo Fusheng, the FAO's project regional co-ordinator on bird flu and a veterinarian specialising in infectious diseases, said he was worried the outbreaks could be related because of the migration of birds from north to south at this time of year. "If bird flu from migratory birds spread to domestic poultry, the risk of the disease spreading to human beings will be higher, especially in Asia where poultry and human beings have close contact," he said. ()

 

Taiwan

Chen Shui-bian uses island visit to repeat claim to Diaoyus
2005-08-11 SCMP
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian reiterated Taipei's claim to the disputed Diaoyu Islands yesterday during a visit to a small island north of Taiwan in yet another high-profile bid to shore up his leadership. "There is no doubt the Diaoyu Islands belong to Taiwan and we have never wavered or shifted our stance on this," Mr Chen said during an unannounced visit to Pengchiayu, 33 nautical miles off Keelung in northern Taiwan. While reinforcing Taiwan's claim to the Diaoyus, he said his government would do all it could to negotiate with the Japanese government to safeguard Taiwanese fishermen's rights to East China Sea fishing grounds claimed by Taiwan, Japan and the mainland. The trip to Pengchiayu was the first by a Taiwanese leader to the tiny island, which has only a lighthouse, weather observation centre and heliport. Mr Chen also said his visit to the islet was aimed at supporting the coastguard and military personnel stationed there. "I am here to boost the morale of our men from the coastguard and to demonstrate my will and determination to defend our claims over our sea and land territories," he said as he unveiled a monument inscribed with the words "defending sea territory". Taiwan's coastguard plans new bases on the islet for patrol missions and to monitor oil exploration disputes. Mr Chen made a similar trip last month to the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea. Observers say the inspections are an attempt to fend off criticism that he has become a lame-duck president.

Taiwanese spy gets life sentence
2005-08-11 SCMP
A Taiwanese military court has sentenced an intelligence officer to life in prison for leaking secrets to the mainland, the island's Defence Ministry said yesterday. "Chuang Po-hsin, a major at the intelligence unit of the electronic information development division in the military, received a life sentence for leaking military information," said ministry spokesman Liou Chih-jein. He was sentenced on Tuesday and prosecutors immediately filed an appeal. Chuang was arrested by military police in May on suspicion of spying, an offence punishable by the death. Chuang's division is in charge of electronic surveillance of the mainland. He was convicted of stealing information his division had collected about mainland military activities and technological research. Defence officials have denied media reports that Chuang had provided the mainland with data on Taiwan's missile programme. Taiwan's United Daily News reported in April that Chuang sold the missile data through a retired military officer surnamed Huang for NT$1 million ($244,000). The report said Huang, also involved in a credit card crime ring, had introduced Chuang to mainland intelligence agents. Prosecutors accidentally discovered Chuang's spying while investigating the credit card crime.

 

Economy

UBS eyes Bank of China IPO
2005-08-10 China Daily
UBS would like to win the business of bringing Bank of China to the stock exchange, but its current talks about taking a stake in BOC are not aimed at securing that business, UBS' finance chief said, according to the Reuters. "You do not and cannot buy stakes in people pre-IPO on the premise that that is going to give you a role in the IPO," Chief Financial Officer Clive Standish told Reuters in an interview. But the world's seventh-largest bank would be interested in participating in the flotation, expected by the end of 2005 or the start of next year, after it already helped BOC list its Hong Kong arm in 2001. "Our investment bank is very active in equity capital market activities, so it would be a natural piece of business to aspire to. But the (possible) investments have nothing to do with the IPO," Standish said. Standish declined to comment on how the talks were proceeding, but refuted a media report suggesting the bank would jointly take a stake in BOC with the Asian Development Bank. "We're not jointly bidding with anyone else," he said. UBS said in June it was considering buying a $500 million stake in BOC to cooperate in certain areas of investment banking, in a deal that would cement the position of UBS' investment bank in China's fast-growing economy. Some of UBS' competitors have been buying up far larger stakes in Chinese institutions, such as Bank of America's $3 billion stake in China Construction Bank, also announced in June. Analysts have variously criticized UBS for being too timid in China and praised it for its cautious attitude. But Standish said the stake just reflected UBS' strategy. "We think (the stake) is of an appropriate size for somebody like UBS given our business mix," Standish said. "Remember that outside Switzerland we're not in retail banking. Others who have taken stakes in China tend to have ... global retail aspirations, which we don't." UBS aims to increase its Asian business to around 15 percent of overall revenues in the next five years, from about 10 percent now and is eyeing joint ventures in China with local market players. ()

Half of foreign capital flow is money laundering
2005-08-10 SCMP
Half of the foreign capital flowing into the mainland from some offshore financial centres is not foreign at all, but rather local money sent out of the country on a round trip to exploit tax breaks or to disguise ill-gotten gains, the central bank has reported. In a rare official acknowledgement of the phenomenon, it said such flows had added to pressure for the yuan to rise in value against the dollar, and had also become a way for criminals to launder their money. "It does nothing to spur economic growth, but instead increases upward pressure on the renminbi and makes supervision of foreign capital more difficult," the Financial News yesterday quoted the report as saying. It did not say how money taking a round trip could affect demand for the yuan. In 2004, one-third of foreign direct investment in Beijing came from such offshore financial centres, it said.

Thousands of workers may lose jobs over textile quotas
2005-08-09 SCMP
Mainland textile and apparel makers may cut thousands of jobs as they grapple with export limits set by the United States and Europe, according to a state-backed industry group. "We don't know when more quotas may be imposed," China National Textile and Apparel Council spokesman Sun Huai bin said in Beijing yesterday. "China-US textile trade is in a gloomy situation, so the banks' assessment of textile companies' creditworthiness may be reduced, limiting companies' capital." Beijing is still in talks with Washington, which has imposed so-called textile safeguard quotas on a total of US$2 billion in imports from China, including knitted shirts, cotton trousers and underwear. The quotas, put in place after two separate decisions in May, limit growth of these imports to 7.5 per cent a year. Every US$100 million drop in textile exports would result in a reduction of about 7,000 jobs, Mr Sun said. China's exports of fabric and garments rose 21 per cent to US$51.4 billion in the first half of the year, accounting for 15 per cent of China's total exports, according to the council's figures. The textile spat between Beijing and Washington had added to the profitability concerns of Chinese textile exporters after the strengthening of the yuan, Mr Sun said. Mainland textile companies earned a profit margin of about 3 per cent to 4 per cent, so if the yuan appreciated further, "our ability to cope isn't too high", Mr Sun said. The central bank allowed the yuan to gain 2.1 per cent against the US dollar on July 21. ()

 

Mongolia

Spending Chinese Soft Loans
2005-08-02 Mongol Messenger
On 29 July, Deputy Prime Minister Ch. Ulaan received Chinese Ambassador Gao Shumao and discussed the implementation of intergovernmental agreements and relevant issues. Ulaan told the ambassador that the relevant organisations paid a lot of attention to implementation of activities under Chinese soft loans, currently worth 300 million Yuan. "We are thinking about starting restoration of the Peace Bridge next spring, to be finished within the year, and also putting a Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry building. We will very soon tell you our decision on support of a street named Beijing in Ulaanbaatar." The ambassador said that the agreement to distribute tractors and irrigation equipment with irrevocable assistance and to enlarge the Orgil sanatorium is in train. The deputy prime minister said he would give directives to implement the agreement to all ministries to accelerate implementation.

 

North Korea

N Korea back on diet of grass and nuts
2005-08-10 SCMP
With the world's attention fixated on North Korea's nuclear weapons, the inhabitants of Asia's last Stalinist state are foraging in mountains for roots as the country faces a possible reversion to the disastrous famines of the 1990s. "My sense is we have a crisis in front of us," said James Morris, executive director of the United Nations' World Food Programme. Mr Morris blamed several factors for the impending emergency: a shortage of food; economic reforms that have pushed food prices out of the reach of many citizens; and a cut in governmental rations. In 2004, acute malnutrition affected seven per cent of North Korean children, while 37 per cent were chronically malnourished, Mr Morris said. Among women, 35 per cent were anaemic and 32 per cent malnourished. Things look worse this year. Mr Morris said Pyongyang is unlikely to realise its goal of a 3 per cent increase in agricultural productivity. "What you see is people walking up hills with sacks, and coming down with grasses, nuts and roots," said the WFP's North Korea spokesman, Gerald Bourke, a frequent visitor to the nation. "They mix it with maize husks, to make a kind of porridge; it fills them up, but does terrible things to their digestive systems." North Korea was devastated by famines in the mid-late 1990s - a period known to North Koreans as the "arduous march" - that may have killed 10 per cent of the population. Then, the situation was worse in rural areas. Today, city dwellers are most at risk. "On the northeast coast are these erstwhile industrial cities of derelict factories and unemployed and underemployed people," Mr Bourke said. "In the countryside, people can raise animals and plants. People in the cities can't do that - they are squeezed in all kinds of directions." Meanwhile, the political environment surrounding North Korea, plus humanitarian crises in tsunami-hit Asia, southern Africa, Sudan, and the horn of Africa have distracted attention and funds from the WFP's North Korean efforts. The agency, which supports 6.5 million of the country's 23 million people, faces a food shortfall of 140,000 tonnes. Only US$24 is needed to feed a North Korean child for a year, but Mr Morris said the US is giving less than in previous years and Japan has made no commitment. While applauding South Korea's pledge to donate 500,000 tonnes of rice directly to the North, he urged Seoul to channel the aid via the WFP, which he said has the necessary infrastructure to ensure the most vulnerable people get the aid. The WFP has access to 160 of 203 counties, but North Korea is the only country in the world preventing random monitoring of aid. "So much of the population lives a precarious life," Mr Bourke said. "The only way out is a fairly massive economic transformation."

Survey sheds light on rights abuses in N Korea
2005-08-09 SCMP
Seoul: Public executions, forced abortions and death by starvation are common abuses of human rights in North Korea, according to a survey of defectors from the communist country commissioned by South Korea's National Human Rights Commission. The survey of 100 North Korean defectors found 75 had witnessed public executions by shooting for crimes ranging from stealing a cow to selling pornographic videos, the report said.

 

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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