SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
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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
  12.12-16.12.05, No. 93  
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Foreign Policy

India, China to speed up border dispute talks
2005-12-16 Xinhua News
India and China have agreed to speed up the process of resolving their long-standing border dispute, a report quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying. "I had very good discussions with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao," Singh told reporters travelling with him from an East Asia summit in the Malayasian capital Kuala Lumpur. ( ) In another development, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference in Beijing that the two countries will hold friendly discussions so as to find an appropriate solution to the border issue. China and India account for more than 1/3 of the world's total population, Qin pointed out, saying that Sino-Indian friendship not only conforms to the interests of the two neighbours, but also benefits the peace and stability of Asia and the world. ( ) The special envoys -- India's National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and China's Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo -- held talks in Beijing in September but without any apparent progress on the dispute. Singh said another round of talks is scheduled to take place in New Delhi next month. "Another meeting is planned in January. Both of us (Wen and Singh) agreed that these negotiations should be expedited and both of us expressed our commitment to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the border issue," he said.

AP: China leader still displeased with Japan
2005-12-15 China Daily
Given the frosty relations between China and Japan, their leaders can't really be pen pals. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made clear his continuing displeasure with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when he ignored Koizumi's request to borrow his pen during a signing ceremony Wednesday at a regional summit in Malaysia.Wen had already refused to formally meet one-on-one with Koizumi at the summit amid a feud over the Japanese leader's visits to a shrine honoring war dead, including 14 Class A WWII war criminals. As leaders of the newly inaugurated East Asia Summit were signing a declaration on the group's establishment, Koizumi leaned over and asked to borrow his pen. Wen ignored him for several seconds until Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, smiling broadly, intervened to repeat the request. Wen then passed the pen to Koizumi with a smile, but the snub was widely noted in an otherwise uneventful ceremony. Wen on Monday blamed Koizumi for the chilly relationship between their countries because his five visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine had "deeply hurt the feeling of the Chinese people." ( )

Kazakhstan set to open pipeline to China
2005-12-15 China Daily
Kazakhstan is due to open the valves Thursday on a major pipeline carrying oil to China. For the vast Central Asian nation, which is expected to become one of the world's largest oil exporters, the 625-mile pipeline opens a huge market. It is designed to carry 140 million barrels of oil annually to China. For China, the new route is a key achievement in its efforts to secure energy supplies for its booming economy. The pipeline is a 50-50 joint venture between state companies China National Petroleum Corp. and KazMunaiGaz. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev is expected to push a button at KazMunaiGaz headquarters in the capital, Astana, to open the flow from the pipeline that starts in the central town of Atasu, 174 miles to the south. ( ) Earlier this year, China National Petroleum Corp. bought Kazakhstan's third-biggest oil producer, Canada-based PetroKazakhstan, whose energy assets are all in Kazakhstan and include one of the country's three oil refineries. China also signed gas exploration contracts in Uzbekistan, and it is expected to sign a major natural gas supply deal with Turkmenistan in January. The Kazakh-Chinese pipeline will initially carry oil from the Kumkol field in central Kazakhstan, which used to be operated by PetroKazakhstan. By 2011, when it reaches full capacity, the pipeline is expected to be used to ship oil from Russia's western Siberia.

Russia to provide China with 240 jet engines in next 5 years
2005-12-15 People's Daily
In the coming few years the total demand from southeast countries for Il-76 combat-support cargo aircraft and Il-78 air refueling tanker will surpass 50, a spokesman of Russian air company Ilyushin said at the 8th Pulau Langkawi air show held in Malaysia. Russia is talking with several southeast Asian countries over the selling of Il-76. Experts estimate demand of 12 sets from Malaysia and Indonesia respectively. Besides, Vietnam and Thailand showed strong interest in Il-76MF, a heavy cargo aircraft equipped with PS-90A engine. Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE also expressed their intention to purchase Il-76. Ilyushin leaders also expect an order from Jordan. Russia inked a deal with China in last September to provide 38 Il-76MD military cargo aircraft and Il-78MK air refueling tanker (equipped with D-30KP-2 engine). According to the contract, Russia will also provide China will 240 sets of engines from 2006 to 2010, their total value exceeding 300 million US dollars. The whole contract is worth about 1 billion dollars. All these planes will be assembled by Tashkent Aircraft Production Corporation, Uzbekistan.

Japan motive for huge military expense questioned
2005-12-14 Xinhua News
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang delivered a stern rebuke to Japan yesterday, refuting claims that China poses a threat to neighbouring countries. Qin said accusing remarks by Democratic Party of Japan President Seiji Maehara, who said China is a practical threat and urged Beijing to increase military transparency, is groundless. "We are always seeking development along a peaceful path." He noted that China hopes Japanese Government and public figures to make contribution to improve a bilateral friendship. ( )

China denounces US criticism on human rights
2005-12-11 Xinhua News
China strongly opposes to the assault of the US government on the pretext of human rights issue, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said here Sunday. Qin made the remarks in response to the US State Department spokesman's statement on Saturday's International Human Rights Day, in which the US side criticized China's human rights situation. Qin said China has scored remarkable achievements in the field of human rights protection. The Chinese people fully enjoy human rights and freedom according to law. ( ) The United States itself has severe problems of violating human rights, and it is being strictly criticized by the international society as it refused the investigation of a special rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Commission, said Qin. ( )

 

Domestic Policy

China reports 6th human case of bird flu
2005-12-15 China Daily
A new human case of bird flu was reported in Suichuan County, east China's Jiangxi Province, according to a Ministry of Health announcement Thursday evening. It said the patient, a 35-year-old man, is a private vendor. He developed signs symptoms of high fever on December 4 and was admitted into a local hospital, a Xinhua dispatch says. The ministry experts confirmed the human case of bird flu, and the ministry has reported it to the World Health Organization and noticed Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions, as well as some countries. He is the sixth human case of bird flu reported in China. ( )

New rich challenge family planning policy
2005-12-14 Xinhua News
China's 'nouveaux riches' are not only competing with each to buy grandiose mansions and fast, expensive cars, their latest status symbol is a brood of children. Quite a few of China's wealthy people are skirting China's one-child family policy by simply paying to have two or more children. The one-child family policy was enacted in the 1970's to curb a huge population explosion. In 2002 the law was amended to allow ethnic minorities to have more than one child and peasants to have a second child if their first is a girl. The changes were never designed to allow city residents of have multiple babies. The recent amendments imposed fines as a means to prevent families from giving birth to more than one child. However, affluent people are now simply paying the 'social maintenance fee' for a second and subsequent child. A Beijing newspaper says it's a throw back to old attitudes that equates large families with wealth, status and happiness. Business tycoons and show biz celebrities are finding a number of ways of getting around the one-child family policy. Many simply pay the fine which can be as high as 150,000 yuan or about $20,000 US dollars for urban dwellers or as low as 7,000 yuan or almost 900 US dollars for rural residents. Some wealthy people are even emigrating abroad for the sole purpose of having a second or third child whom they bring back to raise in China. ( )

Deadline set for wage payment to migrants
2005-12-13 Xinhua News
Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan Tuesday ordered the operators of State-invested projects to deliver their delayed payment of the wages of migrant workers within a period of less than two months. Addressing a national teleconference on delayed payment of the wages of migrant construction workers, the vice-premier called on governments at all levels to ensure contractors of non-State-invested projects pay the wages of migrant construction workers that are long overdue. All localities should ensure migrants farmers-turned construction workers get their wages on time and in full before they return home for the Chinese Lunar New Year, one of the major festivals in China that falls late January 2006. It used to be common for contractors of construction projects to delay payment of the wages of migrant workers for up to one or more years, and as a result many migrant workers had to return home almost empty-handed. ( )

Program to exam impact of Songhua river pollution
2005-12-13 Xinhua News
China has initiated a program to evaluate the ecological impact of the Songhua River water pollution in northeast China and put forward countermeasures, said a senior environmental official said here Tuesday. The evaluation program is "an urgent and arduous job" that needs the joint efforts of related departments, said Zhu Guangyao, deputy director general of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). ( ) The program, initiated by the SEPA, is composed of 14 task forces that have been ordered to prepare plans to deal with issues such as the moving and transformation of pollutants, the absorption of pollutants after freezing, the stagnation of the pollutants, and their impact on the environment, drinking water and fishery security, said Liu Zhengtao, chief researcher of the CAES. ( )

China to shut down 4,000 mines by Dec. 31
2005-12-13 Xinhua News
In the wake of a series of recent fatal colliery accidents, China's work safety authorities vowed yesterday to adopt a package of "iron-handed" measures to improve the problematic workplace safety situation. The State Council will dispatch several overhaul panels into eight major coal-producing provinces, including Shanxi, Hebei, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Liaoning and Shaanxi in the upcoming fortnight, said Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), during a televised conference. Supervision efforts on colliery work safety will focus on a number of aspects, according to Li. To conduct a thorough safety check-up on possible dangers and enhance supervision on collieries that were asked to stop production for improvements; To shut down at least 4,000 coal mines that could not meet work safety standards even after improvements by December 31. ( )

Patrols to ensure Olympic safety
2005-12-13 China Daily
To ensure a safe Olympic Games in Beijing, more patrol police will be deployed in the city's five suburban districts, including Tongzhou, Daxing, Changping, by 2008. The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau announced yesterday that the increased patrol police force would be equipped with advanced devices, more police dogs, patrol cars and even motorcycles. Although Beijing is regarded as one of the safest cities in China, suburban regions where migrants are located account for about 70 per cent of all crime in the city. He said over the next two years, more than 400 police dogs would be deployed to strengthen patrol forces, providing crime-fighting canines for every patrol car. Today, the city has 490 patrol cars but only about 70 police dogs. ( )

Frequent mishaps test nation's emergency response
2005-12-12 Xinhua News
A spate of mishaps, including the Songhua River pollution, the rampant virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu, and frequently visited strong typhoons, render 2005 a memorable position in China's disaster chronology. No doubt, this has forward a harsh challenge to Chinese government. In this July, the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, decided in a regular meeting to set up a general emergency response plan, including 25 sub-plans for specific emergencies and 80 ministerial ones. ( ) "A powerful anti-public incident ability could help to polish a confident and mature government image," he said. Up to November, 1,855 lives were taken by natural disasters, incurring 199 billion yuan (25 billion US dollars) direct economic losses, and ranking the most serious in recent years, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA). In response, China has launched national natural disaster response plans for 29 times since the start of this year, evacuating 15.15 million victims, MCA said. ( ) "After this major water pollution incident, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has failed to pay due attention to the incident and has underestimated its possible serious impact," said a circular issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council. The director of SEPA Xie Zhenhua resigned for the environmental incident, and he is another ministerial officials being disposed after the then Health Minister Zhang Wenkang and Beijing Mayor Meng Xuenong, who were removed from their posts for failing to response properly 2003's SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) crisis. ( )

Trade union members surpass 150 mln
2005-12-12 Xinhua News
The total number of China's trade union members has surpassed 150 million in 2005, up 9.7 percent year on year, the Workers' Daily reported here Monday. The number of trade union organizations at various levels has reached 1.174 million, up 15.1 percent over the previous year, sources with All-China Federation of Trade Unions was quoted by the paper as saying. Meanwhile, the trade union aid network has been set up in this year, the paper reported, saying that 310 aid centers for needy workers have been established and 1 billion yuan (about 125 million US dollars) has been distributed to needy workers by the end of last September.

Direct train to connect Beijing-Lhasa
2005-12-11 Xinhua News
It will take travelers only 48 hours by direct train trip from Beijing to Lhasa, capital of west China's Tibet Autonomous Region as of July 1 next year, a railway official said. Travelers can enjoy the world-class tourist sites along the newly-built line during the 48-hour direct railway trip, including the Qinghai Lake," said Zhang Shuguang, director of the Transportation Bureau with China's Ministry of Railways. The new railway line will be operational at the Beijing's West Railway Station from July 1, 2006, the official said, adding that key parts of the line, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, had been completed on Oct. 12 this year. Qinghai-Tibet section of the railway is the world's highest railway, the official said, adding that some 960 kilometers of the tracks were laid at 4,000 meters above sea level, with the highest parts reaching 5,072 meters. The railway is still the world's longest plateau railroad which extends 1,956 kilometers from Qinghai's provincial capital Xining to Lhasa in Tibet. The Golmud-Lhasa section, completed on Oct. 12 this year, zigzags 1,142 kilometers across the Kunlun and Tanggula mountain ranges. ( )

Village shooting 'no Tiananmen'
2005-12-14 SCMP
Beijing yesterday rejected any attempt at associating the police shooting of villagers in Guangdong last week with the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy students. The rejection came as activists, intellectuals and the international media drew parallels between the use of force to quell the riot, triggered by land seizures in the village of Dongzhou, Shanwei , and the violent suppression of pro-democracy protesters 16 years ago in central Beijing. The local government has put the death toll from last week's riot at three, but villagers fear the real figure could be as high as 20 because many villagers are still missing. If the latter figure is confirmed, the Dongzhou riot would be the deadliest assault by mainland security forces on civilians since the 1989 crackdown, in which hundreds or thousands are believed to have been killed. In a regular briefing in Beijing yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the two incidents were not comparable as no conclusion had been reached about the Dongzhou violence. "Conclusions have been reached on the 1989 incidents, but no conclusion has been drawn on this event. How can we know if they are the same type of incident?" he asked. The Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao yesterday reported that Guangdong party secretary Zhang Dejiang had visited Dongzhou last Wednesday - a day after the shooting - to "give important instructions on the investigation and handling of the incident". The newspaper also identified the commanding officer who gave the order to open fire as Wu Sheng , a vice-director of the Shanwei Public Security Bureau. Guangdong newspapers reported on Sunday that he had been detained by prosecutors for allegedly mishandling the riot. Despite villagers' calls for central government intervention, Xu Youyu, a political theorist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing was likely to adopt the same approach in handling the Dongzhou incident as it had with the Tiananmen Square crackdown. "A denouncement of the local government's handling is not likely, especially when this time security forces were used. When a crisis involving political sensitivity occurs at the local level, the central government tends to handle the issue in the traditional manner, namely to cover it up and suppress the media and those who speak up," Professor Xu said. He said the central government should come up with a new approach to assuaging social discontent before people lost their faith in all levels of government. "People have long lost their faith in local governments. When bad things happen, they think they're the local governments' fault. And they believe the central government can help them. But now, more and more people have lost their faith in Beijing. This is a serious problem," he said. "The central government should be happy that there still are people visiting the petition offices in Beijing - that means there are still people who trust them." But Professor Xu said it was not likely that Beijing would properly address the problem because it needed to maintain a relationship with the local officials. "The local governments have been doing things that embarrass the central government. But they know that even if Beijing is aware of their wrongdoings, that wouldn't do them any harm as Beijing would have to rely on them to carry out policies and to keep local administrations in order," he said. "Beijing has to weigh between maintaining the stability of the governments and a governance crisis as it tries to avoid upsetting local officials."

 

Taiwan

Beijing urges DPP to strengthen ties
2005-12-15 Xinhua News
Beijing yesterday renewed its warning against Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's obstinate push for "independence" despite his party's crushing defeat in recent local government elections. Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the setback suffered by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) showed the Taiwanese people value peace and stability with the mainland. "The result of the recent Taiwan elections reflects the Taiwanese people's wish for social stability, economic development as well as peaceful and stable cross-Straits ties," he told a regular news conference. "But we have noted that the Taiwan leader has yet to abandon his attempt to create confrontation and sabotage ties across the Straits through the 'constitutional re-engineering' project." Chen has pledged to draft a new "constitution" through referendum in 2006 and to bring it into force in 2008, a move widely seen as edging the island towards formal "independence." Li said Chen's secessionist scheme goes against the fundamental interests of people across the Straits and poses the biggest threat to peace and stability between Taiwan and the mainland. ( )

 

Mongolia

Justice Minister appointed
2005-12-15 UB Post
On December 8, State Great Hural (parliament) approved Su.Batbold (MPRP) as Minister of Justice and Home Affairs. The vacancy was filled after a period of over five months, when ex-Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Ts.Nyamdorj was elected to parliament speaker on July 1. The proposal to nominate Batbold was first put forward at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Law by S.Bayartsogt, head of the Secretariat Office of the government. At the meeting, the committee discussed the proposal of Batbold's appointment and agreed unanimously to submit his name for approval at the parliament session. A couple of questions were addressed to Batbold at the parliament discussion after Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj gave a biography of Batbold, whose professional qualification is in agricultural engineering. Four MPs expressed concerns over the new appointment. Z.Enkhbold (DP) advised him to be free from the interests of political parties and E.Bat- Uul (DP) advised him to work hard to provide safety to foreign tourists coming next year, when the country celebrates the 800th anniversary of its statehood. ( )

Anti-Corruption Day
2005-12-13 Mongol Messenger
International Anti-Corruption Day in Mongolia was marked on December 9, for the second year. That was the date, in 2003, when UN member countries signed the UN Convention Against Corruption. This year, the slogan was You Can Stop Corruption.Anti-Corruption Programme national council head D. Lundeejantsan said, "Corruption is not only a national issue, but a concern for every individual. A working group has drawn up an anti-corruption bill. "This calls for an Anti-Corruption Office under the General Prosecutor, but with independent status. The law it implements applies to state officials, staff of corporate units and state-owned organisations, election candidates, and Mongolian staff of international organisations and projects.

 

Patrick Dreher
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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