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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
  26.12-30.12.05, No. 95  
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Foreign Policy

War of words erupts over diplomat's suicide
2005-12-30 SCMP (South China Morning Post)
A Foreign Ministry spokesman slammed the Japanese government yesterday for intentionally smearing Beijing's image by claiming a Japanese diplomat had killed himself in Shanghai after being blackmailed by a Chinese intelligence officer. The agency wanted information on Japanese encryption systems, the magazine said in a six-page report citing various unnamed foreign ministry sources. Speaking at the regular press briefing yesterday, ministry spokesman Qin Gang accused Tokyo of "ulterior motives" in bringing up the suicide case a year and a half after it happened. "After one and a half years, Japan brings up the case again and links the suicide with Chinese officials," he said. ( ) "What the Japanese media reports is groundless," he said. "As I said earlier, there was a conclusion drawn by both sides [China and Japan] about the nature of the case. Now they play up the incident with an ulterior motive to intentionally smear China's image. ( ) The case has put further strain on already tense Sino-Japanese relations after disputes over war shrine visits by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and oil exploitation in East China Sea. Meanwhile, Mr Qin said as far as China was concerned, its policies on ties with Japan were clear, and it hoped to maintain a stable relationship with its neighbour. "Sino-Japanese relations are a very important bilateral relationship for us," he said. "The reason for the grim situation with Sino-Japanese relations in the past two years is very clear."

China demands US lift sanctions on firms
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
Chinese government on Wednesday demanded that the United States lift sanctions imposed on six Chinese companies accused of supplying Iran with missile technology or chemical arms material. ( ) Washington has repeatedly sanctioned Chinese companies accused of providing missile and other weapons technology to Iran, Pakistan and other governments in violation of international weapons controls. The Foreign Ministry statement said Beijing has a "responsible attitude" toward preventing weapons proliferation and has taken steps to tighten export controls. In making the announcement Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the sanctions were based on "credible evidence," which he did not disclose. The companies on the U.S. list were the China Aerotechnology Import Export Corp.; military contractor China Northern Industries Corp.; Zibo Chemet Equipment Co.; the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group; Ounion International Economic and Technical Cooperative Ltd. and the Limmt Metallurgy and Minerals Co. Employees who answered phone calls on Wednesday to those companies said they had no information about possible sales to Iran.

Six-party talks set to resume next month
2005-12-26 Xinhua News
The Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are expected to resume next month, a senior Chinese official has said. "We hope all the parties concerned make joint efforts to help start the second phase of the fifth round of the nuclear talks in January," Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei told China Central Television (CCTV) over the weekend. Wu is also the chief Chinese negotiator in the talks; and the parties involved are China, the United States, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan. ( ) In another development, Beijing and Pyongyang inked a pact on Saturday to jointly develop offshore oil reserves in an effort to further boost bilateral ties. The deal was signed after a 45-minute meeting between Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan and his DPRK counterpart Ro Tu Chol in the Great Hall of the People. However, no details of the exploration plan were available. ( ) Vice Premier Ro Tu Chol of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) concluded his four-day visit to China and left here Tuesday. During the visit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan met with Ro on separate occasions.

 

Domestic Policy

Family planning policy becomes controversial topic
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
( ) Since China launched its family planning policy three decades ago, most couples have only one child. Disputes are now raised across the country over the expanding gray generation and skewed gender ratio. Official statistics showed that China now ranks in the low-birth-rate" club with a population natural growth rate of 0.9 per thousand. At the same time, people above age 65 make up 7.6 percent of China's total population, a sign of a quicker pace into an aging society. The gender gap among children born in China has been widened in recent years. Figures show that the average ratio of boys to girls was 117 to 100, exceeding the norm of 105 to 100. Chinese economists said at the forum that the imbalanced population structure and aging population are likely to be a bottleneck of China's long-term economic growth and bring about a series of economic and social problems. "With a birth rate drop, China's labor force may stabilize at its height in 2013 and then gradually drop year by year", said CaiFang, head of the Population and Labor Economy Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS). () Professor Zeng Yi from the China Economic Study Center of the Beijing University proposed a two-children policy in future at the forum. Zeng suggested that women should be allowed to have their second babies at an age between 32 and 34. According to Zeng, his proposal may help slow down China's pace into an aging society and postpone the arrival of a population peak of 1.48 billion people to the year 2038. Zeng's proposal has aroused objection from a group of Chinese scholars and officials. Renowned Chinese economist Fan Gang said a relaxed family planning policy in China will lead to an additional population of 100 million or 200 million, a big challenge to the employment. Some other experts said the readjustment will surely bring about an unexpected expansion of population in China, which will terminate the low-birth rate. ( )

Population may peak at 1.45 bln: report
2005-12-28 Xinhua News
China's population growth in recent years has been characterized by a lower growth rate with peak number ahead of time and accelerated aging, according to a research report made by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Experts estimate that China's population is likely to hit a peak between 2025 and 2030 earlier than expected. The peak population, however, will probably be about 1.45 billion in the future, not to top 1.6 billion. When China's population reached 1.3 billion early this year, some predicteed that a peak would come in 2050 and reach about 1.6 billion, hitting an all time high. The research report believes that China's population will not even reach 1.6 billion even if it is calculated according to different assumptions in line with the fifth national population census in 2000. China's peak population will arrive ahead of time after China's population growth turns to feature low birth, mortality and natural growth rates, said Zhang Yi, an expert with CASS Institute of Population and Labor Economics. ( )

Jail for those who help sex selection
2005-12-26 Xinhua News
Those who assist others with foetal gender selection that leads to abortion will be jailed, according to a revision to the Criminal Law that was discussed by top legislators yesterday. The amendment was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the ongoing session, which opened on Saturday and will close on Thursday. "The revision aimed to prevent the selection of a child's gender, when not conducted for medical purposes," An Jian, vice-director of the Commission of Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee said in a report. ( ) As quite a number of Chinese families, particularly in rural areas, prefer boys to girls, unauthorized services providing ultrasounds of the unborn child are prevalent among some parents and local hospitals. These parents would then abort their child should it not be a male. China's boy to girl ratio stands at 1.19 to 1, much higher than the world standard of 1.06 to 1. ( )

Safety given top priority at Beijing Olympics
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
Security measures are in full swing to ensure a safe and peaceful Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, officials said yesterday. Among them are regulations to be released next year, which will spell out requirements on traffic control, behaviour at venues and what to do in the case of an emergency. "The temporary regulations will only apply to Beijing during the Games," said Lu Shimin, deputy chief of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. Lu, also head of the security department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) also disclosed a plan to build a security headquarters, which will include a traffic control centre, two fire fighting stations and a police bureau. ( ) It aims to ensure that ample security personnel and measures are deployed. Police forces will be assigned one of three different tasks to deal with different situations. We'll test the system next year in big sporting events such as the China Open and Beijing 2006 World Junior Championships," said Yu. To prevent terrorist attacks, a special-forces team of 150-personnel has been set up for the Games. This team may be expanded next year. Bureau chief Ma Zhenchuan said that international co-operation is key to a safe and peaceful Olympics. "We have no experience in holding such large scale events, so it is essential that we learn from the experiences of other countries which have hosted such events," he said. ( )

Inner Mongolia sets up special force to fight riot, terror
2005-12-28 Xinhua News
A special police force was set up on Wednesday in Hohhot, capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in a bid to fight riots and terror. The special force, affiliated with the Hohhot Municipal Public Security Bureau, is composed of 240 police officers who have undergone special training, according to Cui Haiwei, director of the bureau. The special force will also undertake work as security guards or patrol police for important occasions, Cui said. "It's the first of its kind in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region," Cui said, adding that the special force is armed with the most advanced regular and high-end weapons in the country. It was founded in light of the requirements of the Ministry of Public Security, Cui said.

Delaying payment to workers will be a crime
2005-12-28 Xinhua News
To better protect employees rights and interests, Chinese lawmakers are considering adding an article in the Criminal Law to deliver criminal penalties to employers that delay salary payments or run away. In a report delivered at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) on Wednesday, He Luli, vice chairwoman of the Committee, said that the legitimate rights and interests of employees have been basically safeguarded since the introduction of the Labor Law on Jan. 1, 1995. But she cautioned that many problems in violation of laborers' rights and interests still exist, especially in labor-intensive sectors such as construction, garments and accommodation, and in many small and medium-sized private businesses. ( ) Government statistics showed that the number of employed people in Chinese cities and towns jumped from 190 million in 1995 to 265 million in 2004. In order to settle the issue of delayed payment of wages to migrant workers, 16 provincial-level regions and municipalities have set up the mechanism to ensure the payment of salaries and 14 provincial-level regions have introduced a system to monitor the delivery of salaries. ( ) Less than 20 percent of employers are found to have signed labor contracts with their workers in small and medium-sized private businesses, most of which have no trade unions to guarantee the staff's rights.

80% of private firms violate employee rights
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
Four in five private enterprises in China have not signed job contracts with their employees. That's the startling result of a survey by the country's top legislators. "The legal rights of employees were frequently violated in more than 80 per cent of private companies, specially in real estate, light industry, clothing and catering," He Luli, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said yesterday at the ongoing session. According to the Labour Law that came into effect in 1995, a contract between employer and employee is mandatory. The lack of contracts leaves workers in a legal limbo: they cannot seek termination benefits should they be asked to leave; they have no right to medical treatment even in case of a workplace accident; and employers do not contribute their share to the pension fund. But the tight employment market has forced job seekers to take up whatever work is available; and requirements in the Labour Law for written contracts, timely payment and compensation are often ignored in practice. ( )

7th human bird flu case found in Fujian
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
The Ministry of Health on Thursday announced the country's seventh human case of H5N1 bird flu. The infected was a 41-year-old factory worker surnamed Zhou in Sanming City, east China's Fujian Province. She showed symptoms off ever and pneumonia on Dec. 6 and was hospitalized two days later. She died on Dec. 21, according to a report released by the ministry. Zhou's samples tested negative of H5N1 virus by the Fujian Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Dec.13, but further tests by the state CDC and the Fujian provincial CDC both showed positive results, said the ministry. Zhou has been confirmed to be infected with bird flu in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government, the ministry said. This is the third human fatality from bird flu reported in China. ( )

Co-op with WHO against bird flu
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
China and the World Health Organization (WHO) have already set up a sound cooperation mechanism on preventing human cases of highly contagious avian flu, said Qin Gang. Qin confirmed at a regular press conference that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the virus samples of human cases of the disease in December 2005. ( )

Information flow will be made easier: Minister
2005-12-30 Xinhua News
Foreign journalists will have increased and wider access to government departments and find it easier to cover emergencies, China's top information officials said yesterday. Apart from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which holds regular news conferences, more Chinese ministries public security, education and health will have their spokespersons briefing the media every month in the new year, State Council Information Office Minister Cai Wu said. The office is also pushing other powerful departments, like the Ministry of Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission, to come on board, Cai told a press meeting yesterday. "More and more departments have realized that closer interaction with the media is a boost rather than a barrier to their work," Cai said. Sometimes, department leaders are busy, and sometimes they are not accustomed to facing the media; through increased exposure and push from journalists, more will offer to talk to the press, Cai said. ( ) In addition to those departments, 27 provinces and municipalities have also established their own news release systems. ( )

China launches whistle-blowing website
2005-12-29, 2005 SCMP
China is putting its marathon anti-graft crackdown online, launching a website for the public to report corrupt officials, state media said on Thursday. The site adds to efforts to assure China's public that the ruling Communist Party takes complaints seriously at a time when many say they face retaliation for reporting abuses. The new site is run by the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. Liu Fengyan, the commission's deputy secretary, said it marks "another step forward by the government in curbing corruption through the introduction of strict prevention and punishment measures", according to Xinhua. Beijing has punished thousands of officials in an effort to stem graft and other abuses that have outraged China's public, threatening to erode acceptance of communist rule. On Tuesday, a former Cabinet minister was sentenced to life in prison on charges of taking bribes. The new website offers Chinese villagers and others a way to lodge complaints while avoiding local authorities, who some complain refuse to take action or retaliate against petitioners. Mr Liu said more than 67,000 songs with anti-corruption themes were composed and over 24,000 singing concerts held in the past year "to educate key officials about self-discipline", the report said.

Govt sets major tasks for rural development
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
China has set major tasks for its rural development in the 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010) at a central work meeting closed Thursday. China's agriculture and countryside, still at the stage of mountain climbing, remain the weakest part of the national economy, said the meeting. The government would spend more on the development of its agriculture and countryside including boosting infrastructure construction, it said. Steady improvement of grain production and ensuring the safety of nation's food supply are another important task for the country's rural development. The rural land management policy would be maintained and the use of farmland would be strictly controlled, so as to guarantee the development of agriculture and the stability in the countryside, the meeting said. ( )

Legislature abolishes agricultural tax
2005-12-29 Xinhua News
China's 2,600-year-old agricultural tax will be rescinded as of Jan. 1, 2006, after China's top legislature voted on Thursday to adopt a motion on the regulations revoking the agricultural tax. The motion with only 94 Chinese characters was voted favorably by 162 lawmakers and abstained by one. Wan Baorui, former vice minister of agriculture and vice chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of National People's Congress told Xinhua that the abolition of the agricultural tax demonstrates that industry has outgrown agriculture to some extent along with the country's economic development. And the country ushers into a new era of "industry subsidizing agriculture". Official figures show that agriculture contributed to 13.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2004, and industry and tertiary trade contributed to 46.2 percent and 40.7 percent respectively. Agricultural tax, China's most ancient tax category, started to be collected in 594 BC. From that time, agricultural tax has existed for 2,600 years in China with dominant rural economy. During the more than 2,000 years, agricultural tax was always the main source of the country's coffer. ( )

 

Mongolia

Gundalai's POP registered
2005-12-28 Mongol Messenger
On December 21, MP L. Gundalai officially registered the Party of the People (POP) at the State Supreme Court as Mongolia's 21st political parties. Gundalai will be installed as chairman of POP, which he claims already has over 3,000 members. The party leadership will comprise a congress of 21 members seven of whom have already been named.

National herd tops 30 million
2005-12-28 Mongol Messenger
The National Statistics Office has announced that preliminary figures from this year's livestock census showed that Mongolia has 2 million (7.1 percent) more animals (30,014,400), crossing the 30 million mark for the first time in six years. Eighteen aimags had 5.3-18.5 percent more livestock.Cattle were up 90,100; sheep up 1,028,900; goats up 88,000. Camel numbers fell 4,500, horses 4,700. Mongolia now has 252,100 camels, 2 million horses, 1.93 million cattle, 12.71 million sheep and 13.11 million goats.

News in brief
2005-12-27 Mongol Messenger
The Industry and Trade Ministry has opened a website (www.MongoliaTrade.mn) to publicise and promote trade, production, services and local products worldwide. Launching the website on December 26, Minister S. Batbold said, "We hope this website will bring the world of trader closer to Mongolia and Mongolian traders closer to the world. "The site is in Mongolian and English and has search links to Google and Yahoo.

 

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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