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
  5.12-9.12.05, No. 92  
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Foreign Policy

China, Czech Republic sign joint declaration
2005-12-09 Xinhuanet
China and the Czech Republic on Thursday in Prague signed a joint declaration, pledging to further develop relations. "The two countries agreed to develop good relations within the framework of the China-European Union comprehensive strategic partnership and on the basis of the 1999 (Sino-Czech) joint communique," reads the document. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Czech counterpart, Jiri Paroubek, inked the nine-point joint declaration. The two countries are willing to further promote contacts and liaisons at different levels and in different fields to push forward bilateral relations, it says. "To keep and promote bilateral relations is in line with the aspirations of the two peoples and is in the interests of both countries," says the joint declaration. The two sides respect each other's choice of path of development and domestic and foreign policies in line with their own national conditions. "They take note that there are differences in political, economic and social perspectives and in basic values," says the document, adding that the two countries are willing to shelve differences and enhance mutual understanding through intensified dialogue and contacts. The Czech Republic stated that it will stick to the "one China" policy and favors a peaceful solution to the Taiwan issue through constructive dialogue. The Czech Republic is opposed to any acts that would lead to an escalation of tension across the Taiwan Straits or a change of Taiwan's status. The Chinese side appreciated the Czech Republic's adherence to the "one China" policy and reiterated its position on the Taiwan issue, says the document. The two sides agreed to expand mutual investment and promote economic and trade cooperation both in scope and scale. The two sides are willing to complete as soon as possible the preparation of a final text for an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and tax fraud. ()

Chinese premier meets with Slovakian president
2005-12-07 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Bratislava Wednesday with Slovakian President Ivan Gashparovic on further promoting bilateral cooperation. Wen, who flew here earlier Wednesday after winding up his four- day official visit to France, spoke highly of the bilateral ties between China and Slovakia in his meeting with the Slovakian president. The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation and exchanges so as to push their relations to a new high. Wen said that Slovakia has maintained social stability and fast economic growth since its independence in 1993, and the Chinese people are happy with the progress Slovakia has made in various fields. He noted that in recent years the bilateral relations have registered a smooth development. The Chinese premier also said that with the continuously strengthened mutual understanding and trust, trade cooperation between the two countries has been accelerated, and a considerable headway has been achieved in cooperation in science and technology, culture, education and sports. Slovakia's accession to the European Union has opened up new room for practical cooperation and coordination in various fields, he said. ()

China, France sign 16 agreements on cooperation
2005-12-06 People's Daily
China and France signed on Monday in Paris 16 cooperation agreements concerning various sectors on the sideline of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's ongoing visit to France. Both Wen and his French counterpart Dominique de Villepin were present at the signing ceremony. The biggest deal was a framework agreement on the Chinese purchase of 150 aircraft from Airbus's A320 family of single-aisle planes, signed by the European aircraft maker Airbus' chief executive, Gustav Humbertand and the president of the China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group, Li Hai. A financial protocol was signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and French Finance Minister Thierry Breton on the funding of SHITAI railway linking Shijiazhuang and Taiyuan in central China. An administrative agreement of bilateral cooperation was signed by French Labor Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Chinese Labor Minister Tian Chengping. Another administrative agreement was signed by vice-president of the National Development and Reform Commission of China Zhang Xiaoqiang and French Minister for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Trade, Small-Scale Industry, the Professions, Renaud Dutreil. Chinese Transport Minister Zhang Chunxian and French Minister Delegate for Tourism Leon Bertrand signed a cooperation agreement in the fields of sea protection and maritime assistance and another cooperation agreement on highway. Chinese vice Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou and French junior Minister for Foreign Trade Christine Lagarde signed an administrative agreement on access of French small and medium- sized enterprises to Chinese market. Chinese Ambassador to France Zhao Jinjun signed a cooperation agreement with Francois Guinot, president of the National Academy of Technologies of France. An agreement of strategic partnership was signed between France Telecom mobile phone operator and Chinese telecommunications equipment provider ZTE Corporation, which also signed an entry agreement with the general council of the French province of Vienne. Chinese Agriculture University and French Academy of Agriculture signed an agreement on establishment of a sino-French R&D center.()

Mongolian president leaves Beijing for home
2005-12-03 Xinhuanet
Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar left here Saturday afternoon, concluding a seven-day state visit in China. Enkhbayar held talks in Beijing with Chinese President Hu Jintao and met with other high-ranking officials, including Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin. The two sides discussed cooperation in education, tourism, infrastructure building, energy exploration and environmental protection. A number of cooperative agreements were signed. The Mongolian president delivered a speech on "Globalization and Small Countries" at Beijing University, expressing the hope todevelop his landlocked country in a global context. He also traveled to Tianjin, a major port city adjacent to the Chinese capital, Shanghai, economic hub of the country and Hangzhou, one of China's most beautiful cities along the eastern coast since ancient times. China was Enkhbayar's first foreign destination since he took president in June this year. It reflected Mongolia's priority on developing bilateral relations with the People's Republic of China, he said. Enkhbayar arrived in the country on Nov. 27 at the invitation of President Hu Jintao.

China, Belarus issue joint statement
2005-12-06 Xinhuanet
China and Belarus issued a joint statement here Tuesday, pledging to promote China-Belarus relations and to enhance cooperation in various fields. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Belarusian President Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko, who arrived here Sunday on a three-day official visit to China as guest of President Hu, issued the statement. Leaders of the two countries agreed that to cement and promote China-Belarus relations accords with fundamental interests of both nations and peoples, and is conducive for safeguarding peace, stability and development of the region and the world at large. According to the statement, both sides are satisfied with the healthy and fruitful development of bilateral relations and China-Belarus relations has entered a new phase of all-round development and strategic cooperation. China and Belarus are ready to maintain the active momentum of high-level visits and exchanges in other levels, and will continue to keep close cooperation in major issues concerning national independence, sovereignty, consolidation, territorial integrity and national dignity, in an effort to safeguard the fundamental interests of both nations, says the statement. Belarus promised in the statement to abide by principles of China-Belarus political document on the Taiwan issue, to firmly support the one-China policy, to oppose so-called "Taiwan independence" in any form, to oppose Taiwan to join in the United Nations and other international organizations, and not to set up official links with Taiwan or sell weapons to Taiwan. ()

China will spare no effort to minimize water-borne pollution damage to Russia: Hu
2005-12-09 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao said in Beijing Thursday that China will spare no effort to minimize the water-borne pollution damage to Russia, which was caused by the toxic spill in the Songhua River. Hu told visiting Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev that China will deal with the issue seriously with an attitude of "being highly responsible to the two countries and the two peoples." "We will take all necessary and effective measures and do our utmost to minimize the pollution and reduce the damage to the Russian side," Hu said, adding that China is also ready to improve communication and consultation with Russia, provide assistance and enhance cooperation. "I believe relevant problems will be properly solved with our joint efforts and close cooperation," Hu said. The pollution spill in northeastern China's Songhua River was caused by an explosion at a Chinese petrochemical plant early Nov. Medvedev told Hu that the Songhua River pollution is a common challenge to both China and Russia, and the two countries should improve cooperation to overcome difficulties and conquer the disaster. Before meeting with Hu, Medvedev, also president of the organizing committee of the Russia Year in China, had held talks with Chinese State Councilors Tang Jiaxuan and Chen Zhili. The two sides agreed to hold large-scale cultural activities within the coming two years, a move to strengthen bilateral strategic partnership. The Russia Year in China scheduled for 2006 and the China Year in Russia for 2007 were in a joint statement during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to China last year. The two goodwill programs cover a wide spectrum of areas including culture, education, economy, political systems and traditional customs of the two countries. Hu said he hoped the organizing committees of the two countries and relevant departments would improve coordination to ensure the cultural programs full success. The Chinese president also hailed China-Russia relations, saying that China is ready to further pragmatic cooperation with Russia and try to score new progress in cooperation on economy, trade, energy, science and technology. Hu also expressed his hope that the two countries would upgrade their strategic cooperative partnership to a new level through closer cooperation in regional and international affairs and jointly safeguard world and regional peace, stability and development. In response, Medvedev said Russia-China relations are currently at a high level with vibrant cooperation in economy, trade and cultural areas and the two also share many consensus on key international issues. He said he believed that the Cultural Year programs to be held in the next two years would be successful.

China, US continue high-level dialogue
2005-12-08 China Daily
China and the United States started the second round of high-level strategic dialogue in Washington yesterday, in an effort to maintain the momentum of improved bilateral relations. The two-day talks, co-chaired by Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, were held four months after the first round in Beijing. The topics during the closed-door meeting would be "broader" in scope compared with previous talks, insiders said. Yin Chengde, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies on Sino-US relations, said the ongoing dialogue is expected to focus on issues of "strategic, overall and long-standing importance" to the two countries, such as trade, security and energy. "It is also expected to pave the way for President Hu Jintao's visit to the US early next year," Yin told China Daily. Yin said Sino-US relations have gained a sound momentum this year thanks to frequent high-level visits and expanding communication channels. "The Bush administration is adjusting its policies towards China, from a 'strategic competitor' to a 'stake holder'," Yin said. The Taiwan question, although still very important to Sino-US relations, is gradually dwindling in its significance in bilateral ties, said Yin. "The dialogues will help strengthen understanding and mutual trust," he said. But Yin said the structural contradictions in China-US relations would not change if the US adopts a policy of both "co-operation" and "containment." The first dialogue came as a result of the consensus reached by President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart George W. Bush during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Chile last year. The dialogue is regarded as a new peak in Sino-US relations, following recent frequent high-level visits and exchanges. Bush visited Beijing on November 19 and met with Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao for in-depth exchange of views on Sino-US relations.

Chinese FM spokesman: China, US share common concerns on African affairs
2005-12-07 People's Daily
China and the United States share common concerns on African affairs and will strengthen further cooperation in this regard, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Tuesday. Qin told a regular press conference that the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer exchanged views with officials of Chinese Foreign Ministry on African situation during a recent visit to China. Chinese and African people have been supporting, helping and cooperating each other. The Chinese government always values its relation with Africa and is willing to enhance cooperation with African countries in various fields on the basis of five principles of peaceful coexistence, Qin said. The cooperation between Chinese and African countries is mutual benefit, and conducive to long-term bilateral relations and to the peace, stability and development of Africa, he said. The cooperation between China and Africa is not directed against any third party. It is baseless to say that China poses a threat to the United States in Africa, Qin said. China firmly sticks to the road of peace and will not threaten or harm any other country's interests, Qin said. China develops relations with other countries based on the principle of mutual respect and benefit, as well as on the basis of generally recognized principles governing international relations.

ASEAN-China Senior Official's Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur
2005-12-07 Xinhuanet
Senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China held a meeting in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday and both sides expressed satisfaction over the positive development of ASEAN-China relations, a high-ranking Chinese official said. Cui Tiankai, director-general of the Asian affairs department under the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told Xinhua that the ASEAN- China Senior Official's Meeting focused on the preparation of the 9th ASEAN-China summit scheduled to be held here on Dec. 12. With the joint efforts, Cui said, both sides believe the forthcoming summit will achieve fruitful results and further enhance ASEAN-China strategic partnership for peace and prosperity. In a related development, the preparatory Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) was also held here Wednesday. The SEOM finalized the documents to be signed by the ASEAN Economic Ministers as follows: The Mutual Recognition Arrangements on Engineering Services, Agreement on the ASEAN Harmonized Electrical and Electronic regulatory Regime, and Agreement on ASEAN Single Window. The meeting also discussed a report to be presented to the Economic Ministers on the current status of the Free Trade Agreement with ASEAN Dialogue partners, namely South Korea, India and Japan and on the mechanism to enhance ASEAN+3 linkages. ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

China calls for joint efforts with Japan to bring bilateral ties to normal
2005-12-07 Xinhuanet
China on Wednesday urged politicians and insightful people from China and Japan to join efforts to bring bilateral ties back to normal. "The politicians and people with insight of the two countries should work together to conquer difficulties so as to promote the normal development of bilateral ties and ensure that the two countries will be friendly from generation to generation," Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong said when meeting with a delegation of the Japanese Social Democratic Party led by the party leader Fukushima Mizuho. "The China-Japan relationship is currently faced with serious difficulties and China is not the one who should shoulder the responsibility," Zeng said. () Describing China and Japan as close neighbors and countries of great regional influence, Zeng said the development of Sino-Japanese relations concerns not only the fundamental interests of the two peoples but also the prosperity and stability of Asia and the whole world. "The Chinese party and government value the relations with Japan," Zeng said, expressing the hope that the two countries bear in mind the three political documents reached between the two countries and realize peaceful coexistence, friendship, reciprocal cooperation and common development with the attitude of taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future. Zeng also expressed his appreciation of the Social Democratic Party, saying that the party has played an active role in promoting the friendly cooperation between China and Japan. He said the Communist Party of China will join efforts with the Japanese party to push forward Sino-Japanese ties. Fukushima said the Japanese leader's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine is a major obstacle blocking the healthy development of bilateral ties and her party is firmly opposed to it. She said the Social Democratic Party of Japan believes that Japan should face up to its historical responsibility and adhere to peaceful development. Fukushima said the relations between Japan and China are important and her party will continue making efforts to promote bilateral good-neighborly and friendly cooperation. Tomiichi Murayama, Japan's former prime minister who was at the meeting as an advisor to the Japanese delegation, said the friendship between Japan and China was established and cultivated by the older generations of leaders of the two countries and efforts should be made to bring the bilateral ties back to normal.

Malaysian minister apologizes for crimes
2005-12-07 China Daily
Malaysia's home minister said yesterday that Malaysia was sorry for recent crimes against Chinese citizens in Malaysia, expressing the "shock and dismay" of the government and people of his country. "The thing is, for the things that have happened, especially there was a case of murder and there was a case of rape. These are outside our control, actually, but we apologize, because we don't like to see these things happen," said Azmi Khalid at a press conference in Beijing. "Results of the investigation will be made public and everything will be transparent," Azmi said. According to a separate press statement from his delegation, Azmi told his Chinese counterparts that "Malaysia does not treat Chinese tourists any differently from other tourists." "The minister also expressed the government and people of Malaysia's shock and dismay at the recent incidents involving Chinese nationals," it said. Azmi is currently on a week-long tour of China in an attempt to mend fences following a series of abuse incidents involving Chinese nationals, including the notorious case of a naked Chinese-looking woman forced to do ear squats in front of a Malaysian policewoman. The minister refused to reveal any details of the ongoing investigation, saying neither the woman nor the policewoman had been identified. However, he urged the woman in the video clip to come forward, and promised to grant her legal status if her residence is illegal. He said the prime minister had appointed a former chief justice to head the special inquiry commission. ()

FM spokesman: Chinese military spending transparent
2005-12-09 Xinhuanet
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday that China's military spending is open and transparent when asked to comment a speech by Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro urging China to increase military transparency. Qin said at a routine news conference that China adheres to peaceful development and a defensive national defence policy, adding its military expenditure should not only cover the livelihood and training expenses of those serving in the army but also meet the country's current national defence requirements in a world with numerous complicated changes. China has already written clearly about its military expenditure in a white book on Chinese national defence, openly giving details on its military growth, said Qin. "The Japanese side should not make a fuss over the military spending of China over and again but explain, as soon as possible, to its neighbors as well as the international community about its own military moves," said the spokesman. "Some of its recent moves have caused concern to both the neighboring countries and around the globe." The most important thing, as Qin acknowledged, on the Japanese side, should be making substantive efforts by taking actions to overcome the political hurdles impeding the growth of friendly and cooperative relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors, including its relationship with China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). ()

UN envoy's allegations on torture under fire
2005-12-07 SCMP
Beijing yesterday vigorously denied the findings of a UN special rapporteur that torture is widespread in China and said it had asked the envoy to think again. Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, last week criticised China for abusing prisoners, adding the government had obstructed his investigations and prevented their family members from meeting him. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: "China cannot accept the so-called conclusion that torture is widespread," adding that torture was banned in China. "The rapporteur was in China for two short weeks, and went to three cities after which he made the judgment. This lacks an objective foundation and does not accord with reality," Mr Qin said. "China has already made this position clear to the rapporteur and requested that he correct his conclusion." The National People's Congress passed a bill this year mandating punishment for police who torture detainees but Mr Nowak urged deeper reforms, saying the country needed an independent judiciary and monitoring systems. He said suspects were routinely beaten and police were under heavy pressure to extract confessions. There was also evidence the authorities had intimidated victims and family members the UN team tried to interview, Mr Nowak said. Mr Qin said: "As far as we know, no police prevented family members of detainees from meeting the rapporteur. Nobody followed Nowak or his activities." Mr Qin also hit out at a report released last month by the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, which said forced evictions in China were rife and that 400,000 had been moved for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "That organisation must be on drugs," Mr Qin said. "If they came to China they would see the improvement in living conditions of the Chinese people."

 

Domestic Policy

China confirm fifth human case of bird flu
2005-12-09 China Daily
A suspected human case of bird flu in October has been confirmed, the Ministry of Health said last night. It is the fifth human infection China has reported in the past two months. Of the other four, two were reported in East China's Anhui Province, and one each in Central China's Hunan Province and South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The latest victim is a 31-year-old woman surnamed Liu from Heishan County in Northeast China's Liaoning Province. She had symptoms of acute pneumonia, such as high fever and breathing difficulty, on October 30. She later recovered and was discharged from hospital on November 29. Experts had known that she owned chickens which died of bird flu and kept a check on her. She tested negative for laboratory tests before December 5 but on that day, experts from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention tested her blood samples again and she tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. All the people who had close contact with her are free from the disease. ()

No outbreak reported where girl was infected
2005-12-07 People's Daily
The latest human case of bird flu infection in China is in an area where no animal outbreak has been reported and officials are trying to trace how the 10-year-old girl contracted the virus. The fourth human infection of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus in the country was in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Xinhua reported late on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of Health. The girl was hospitalized on November 23 and local doctors said yesterday that her condition was stable. The girl in the South China region reportedly had contact with domestic poultry one to two weeks before she fell ill, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday. But details were sketchy; the WHO does not know where the poultry was, or whether any fowl were ill, or how she contracted the virus, spokesman Roy Wadia told China Daily. Local experts, as well as those sent by the Ministry of Health, are investigating potential sources of exposure. Wadia described a few scenarios on how the girl could have been infected: If only a few domestic birds die in a backyard, it might be difficult to identify the deaths as part of an outbreak but people who come into contact with such birds may get infected. If poultry are not vaccinated properly they may be harbouring the virus, without getting sick or dying, and spreading infection, possibly to people who come into contact with them. "Although this is only a guess, there have been some examples in which human cases of bird flu were reported first and then the animal epidemic," Roy said. The two people in Anhui Province who died after contracting the H5N1 virus were in areas that did not have any reported outbreak in poultry yet both of them had contact with sick or dead birds before they fell ill, he said. In Hunan where a girl died before tests could be done to determine the cause of death and her brother recovered from bird flu it was only after the children were ill that the authorities found out they had been exposed to sick or dead birds. ()

Death penalty appeals to be heard in open court
2005-12-08 Xinhuanet
The Supreme People's Court of China on Wednesday issued a notice, requiring that local courts sit in open session when hearing appeals in death penalty cases. The Court's direction is aimed at ensuring justice and openness in death penalty cases. The Supreme People's Court requires that from January 1 2006, appeals in death penalty cases which have provoked major controversy are to be heard in public, and from July 1, 2006, all appeals in death penalty cases are to be heard in open court. This notice marks another important step in the Supreme People's Court's reforms of the conduct of death penalty cases, following their announcement in October that they are to once again assume the power to review death sentences, transferring that responsibility from the provincial higher people's courts. "To hold appeals against the death penalty in open court session is conducive to improving the protection of human rights", a leading official from the Supreme People's Court said on Wednesday. "It serves as a procedural guarantee for preventing mis- judgements in death sentence cases," According to China's Criminal Procedural Law, a people's court shall hold open court sessions when hearing appeals in cases raised by a people's procuratorate. The Law says in regard to other appeals, that a people's court should, in principle, hear the case in open court. For cases in which the facts are clear, it is not necessary for the court to sit in public. In reality, many courts have failed to hear death penalty appeals cases in public. ()

China calls for prohibition of biological weapons
2005-12-06 Xinhuanet
China will continue to enhance consultations and cooperation with all parties concerned to completely and thoroughly prohibit biological weapons and make the achievement of biotechnology serve the civilization and development of mankind, a senior Chinese official said Monday in Geneva. "The rapid development and enormous potential of biotechnology and life science have greatly contributed to the fight against diseases and safeguard of health by mankind," said Hu Xiaodi, head of the Chinese delegation to the 2005 meeting of the states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). "However, they also have brought new challenges to the prevention of the bio-terrorism threat and abuse of bio-research for weapon purposes. In this new situation, scientists bear the special and important duty of implementing the BWC and eliminating the threat of biological weapons," Hu told the meeting. Exploring the appropriate code of conduct for scientists in the multilateral framework of the BWC, regulating the behavior of scientists, and helping the scientific community better understand and voluntarily implement the BWC are of great significance to promoting biological arms control, he added. China upholds that in light of different level of economic and scientific development and different manage systems of various countries, it is appropriate for individual state, if necessary, taking into account their own national situation, to develop and improve their own guidance code for regulating the behavior of biological scientists at the national level, he said. ()

Medical bill scandal worsens as fresh allegations emerge
2005-12-08 China Daily
A scandal reported recently involving an enormous medical bill has intensified, with a report on Sohu.com saying treatment costs for one patient in a Harbin hospital may be as high as 10 million yuan (US$1.23 million). Weng Wenhui, diagnosed with lymphatic cancer, was treated at a hospital in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, for 67 days before dying at the age of 75 on August 6. The retired high school teacher reportedly left his family with a 5.5 million yuan (US$680,000) bill, including 4 million yuan (US$493,000) for imported medicine that doctors urged the family to buy. The scandal, exposed on China Central Television (CCTV) two weeks ago, has ignited official investigations and public uproar over the country's increasingly expensive health care system. Guo Yukuan, the CCTV reporter, was quoted by the Sohu report as saying the medical bill did not include charges for inviting Beijing doctors for treatment. The 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University arranged specialists for a series of group consultations, ratcheting the total cost up to nearly 10 million yuan. In one case the fee for a specialist was 300,000 yuan (US$37,000), Guo said. Beijing News Daily reported yesterday that an investigation team from the Ministry of Health has also confirmed the medical bill for Weng was not the total cost, though problems of "excessive treatment and spending" existed in the 5.5 million yuan charge. For example, the hospital charged the late Weng's family for 1,180 diagnoses and blood transfusions costing 258,000 yuan (US$31,851), including 94 transfusions on one day. Jiang Hongchi, Party secretary of the medical university, said about 20 specialists from Beijing paid more than 100 visits to the hospital for special consultations. He said he could not comment on the role of the specialists while the investigation is ongoing. The newspaper said the hospital had not abided by the rule that consultation fees be handed over to the medical institution where the specialists come from. So far, it is not clear whether the medical institutions in Beijing permitted all the trips, or if the specialists pocketed the fees, the newspaper said, adding the hospital has admitted the group consultations were a mess. ()

Corrupt official steals Three Gorges' cash
2005-12-05 China Daily
An official who stole 2.81 million yuan (US$350,000) of the Three Gorges Reservoir Project resettlement fund has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Du Jiang was convicted of pocketing the money when he was in charge of land acquisition work between December 1998 and May 2004, according to a Xinhua report on Friday. He was the boss of the farmland protection section of the Land Resources Bureau in Wushan County, Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. Another 1.79 million yuan (US$ 220,000) of the fund was taken by associates. Du was deprived of his political rights and stripped of all property, according to the No 2 Intermediate People's Court of Chongqing. Six local farmers in collusion with him received sentences with terms varying from two-and-a-half months to life, the Xinhua report said. The case is said to be the biggest corruption case of its kind involving the reservoir project, the world's biggest hydroelectric scheme, which began in 1993. So far, the amount of money put aside to compensate displaced residents has reached 45.3 billion yuan (US$5.59 billion), said officials from the Three Gorges Construction Committee. Xia Kailiang, deputy director of the committee's supervision office, admitted corruption has occurred in the project, especially in the management of the relocation fund, but he insisted "corruption and funds' embezzlement has been minimal" compared to the huge amount of investment. "And we have found that towns and villages, the lower management levels of the resettlement fund, are most vulnerable to corruption," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying. ()

Vice-mayor of spill city kills himself
2005-12-08 SCMP
A vice-mayor of Jilin city, who was in charge of rescue efforts after a petrochemical plant explosion last month led to massive contamination of the Songhua River, is believed to have committed suicide, local police said yesterday. An investigation led by the Jilin province Public Security Bureau into the death of Wang Wei was under way, a local police spokesman said. "Wang was found dead at his home on Tuesday and it is believed that he committed suicide," said the spokesman. "The investigation is continuing and I don't know the exact cause of Wang's death." Wang was in charge of environmental protection and production safety. His death came before a State Council investigation team, led by Li Yizhong , director of the State Administration of Work Safety, arrived in Jilin city yesterday. The team has been tasked with examining the cause of the factory explosion on November 13 and the resulting toxic chemical spill into the Songhua, which caused one of the country's worst incidents of river pollution. The disaster left millions residents of Harbin and other downstream cities without water for days, while the authorities' initial cover-up attempts tainted China's international image. Before the Jilin trip, Mr Li vowed to severely punish officials found to be responsible for the blast and the spill of toxic chemicals, Xinhua reported. "We must be responsible for the people. Cover-ups of the accident and negative attitudes towards the investigation deceive the public and show ignorance of the dignity of the law and the power of the government," he said. "The responsibility of related enterprises and government departments must be investigated thoroughly. Any people or organisations found guilty of dereliction of duty will be severely dealt with in accordance with the law. "Those who break the law will be handed over to the judicial departments. People who are found to have provided false information to investigators will also be punished harshly." Wang, 43, who became Jilin city's vice-mayor earlier this year, assumed a high-profile role in dealing with the aftermath of the blast at the Jilin petrochemical plant, owned by PetroChina, which killed eight people and injured 60 others. He was quoted the day after the blast as saying there would not be any widespread contamination. However, an initial central government investigation found at least 80 tonnes of cancer-causing benzene and nitrobenzene had been discharged into the river. ()

 

Tibet

Tibet marks Panchen Lama's enthronement anniversary
2005-12-09 People's Daily
Tibet commemorated the enthronement anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama Thursday, 10 years after Gyaincain Norbu became the highest ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism at the tender age of six. Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the Panchen Lama's residence in Xigaze, 270 kilometers from the regional capital Lhasa, basked in glory Thursday morning as more than 1,300 Tibetan Buddhists flocked in for a grand celebration ceremony that went on for three hours. "Ten years ago I was enthroned as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama," the 11th Panchen Lama told the faithful crowd as they put their palms together and silently prayed, "and I've been given very good living conditions and favorable chances to learn... I owe my progress today to my dear teachers, particularly Jamyang Gyamco, as well as the broad masses of Tibetan Buddhists and people from across the country who have always supported me." The past decade witnessed Gyaincain Norbu grow-up from a child to the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. He has presided over many religious ceremonies in Tibet as well as Tibetan communities in Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces, and blessed nearly 300,000 Tibetan Buddhists through the holy head-touching ritual. "I will carry forward the glorious traditions my predecessors have left over and be a good living Buddha who loves his motherland, his religion and serves his country and its people," he said at the end of his brief speech. "With all my heart, I pray for peace forever in the world and prosperity of our motherland." Gifts were presented by representatives from 21 noted Tibetan lamaseries, ranging from symbolic items like Buddha figurines, sutras and the holy pagoda to silk and satin. ()

 

Taiwan

HK talks to boost Beijing-KMT ties
2005-12-07 SCMP
Honorary Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan will visit Hong Kong to hold talks with senior Taiwan affairs officials from Beijing aimed at boosting co-operation with the Communist Party. Mr Lien, made honorary chairman after he stepped down as KMT chief in August, was scheduled to arrive today for a five-day visit, a spokesman said yesterday. "He will receive an honorary doctorate degree in law to be conferred on him on Thursday by the Chinese University of Hong Kong," the spokesman said. He would also make a speech at the university on Saturday. However, the spokesman declined to confirm whether Mr Lien would meet Chen Yunlin , director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), and Wang Daohan , chairman of the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, which deals with Taiwan issues in the absence of formal relations. Taiwanese media said Mr Lien would meet Mr Chen and Mr Wang on Friday to discuss a high-level KMT-CCP economic forum scheduled to be held this month in Taipei. He might also meet Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. The unprecedented forum between the KMT and Communist Party was made possible by Mr Lien's landmark visit to the mainland in April. But it has not been welcomed by the government of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, which has refused to issue entry permits for a 60-strong delegation led by the TAO director. Local media reports said that due to the snub, Mr Lien had been asked to discuss relocating the meeting to Hong Kong with the TAO director. But KMT mainland-affairs director Chang Yung-kung said the party was still trying to hold the forum in Taipei. He called on the Chen government to "heed the voice of public opinion" - referring to the KMT's landslide victory in last Saturday's local government elections - and allow the mainland officials to visit Taiwan for the forum and further relax its cross-strait policy.

KMT, PFP hold talks on merger, for 1st time
2005-12-09 Xinhuanet
Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party in Taiwan held their first ever talks on the issue of merger between the two political parties Thursday in Taipei. A possible merger between the two parties has, once again, become a hot topic immediately after the local elections in Taiwan on Dec. 3, which ended up with a victory for KMT candidates who reaped 14 of the 23 mayoral positions. A five-member PFP team had a close-door meeting with KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and other senior KMT officials. The talks is merely a preparative meeting for the upcoming summit of the two parties, said a KMT spokesperson, adding that the two parties will push forward the cooperation and merger after the summit. There are still many problems hindering the merger of the two parties, such as the future position of PFP Chairman James Soong, according to local media.

 

Economy

HK gears up for WTO meeting
2005-12-05 Xinhuanet
Despite anti-globalization groups' warning to stage demonstrations, Hong Kong is gearing up to hold a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) coming on Dec. 13. The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said Monday afternoon the city is well prepared for the WTO conference, while giving out a whole set of rules to regulate traffic, security and public order during the meeting to be held from Dec. 13 to 18. Streets, public service and sea areas close to the meeting venue, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center facing the Victoria Harbor, will become inaccessible to the public and open only to those holding a special badge. Certain routes of Star Ferry, the vessel transporting public commuters across the Harbor, will stop operating in the period. A total of 9,000 police will be deployed to guarantee the security of the conference, which will be participated by some 11,000 people from the world. It could be the biggest police operation of HKSAR in terms of manpower resources being deployed, said the police. With the conference drawing close, local press has run more stories on anti-globalization NGOs' warning to stage protests around the meeting venue. South China Morning Post reported that some companies and agencies near the meeting venue have spent large amount of money on temporary relocation to avoid inconvenience to be caused by the event. Meanwhile, the government has marked places for protesters to demonstrate and said there would be no lenience to violence, but denied there's any "blacklist" for violent protesters. "Should groups or individuals behave in a way that threatens to disrupt the conference, threatens the personal safety of others, causes extensive damage to property, or causes serious disruption of traffic at major thoroughfares, they will expect nothing but resolute action from the Police," said a police officer overseeing the security arrangement for the meeting.

Airbus mulls plane assembly in China
2005-12-05 Xinhuanet
China is likely to become only the third country assembling Airbus aircraft after France and Germany, according to an agreement signed yesterday during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to France. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was inked between the National Development and Reform Commission and Airbus at the southwestern French city of Toulouse, headquarters of the European plane consortium. Premier Wen arrived at Toulouse yesterday afternoon at the start of a four-day visit to France that is expected to be dominated by trade issues. A highlight of the MOU, aimed at strengthening industrial co-operation between China and the aircraft giant, is to study the possibility of establishing an assembly line for Airbus single-aisle aircraft in China. "We are very pleased to enter into discussions about possible next steps of co-operation with our Chinese industrial partners who, over the years, have developed real industrial competence on which we can now draw," Gustav Humbert, Airbus president and chief executive officer, said at the signing ceremony. Currently, five affiliates of China Aviation Industry Corp I (AVIC I) and AVIC II are involved in producing parts for Airbus aircraft. Airbus Deutschland GmbH, based in Germany's Hamburg, develops and manufactures about one-third of Airbus aircraft and is responsible for final assembly of the A320 family single-aisle models. Other Airbus aircraft are assembled in France. Wen yesterday toured an assembly plant of the A380 superjumbo, the world's largest passenger jet which can accommodate as many as 800 people in an economy-class configuration. China has ordered five A380 in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. ()

 

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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