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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
  2.1-6.1.06, No. 96  
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Foreign Policy

China hopes six-party talks achieve new progress in new year
2006-01-06 People's Daily
China hopes that the six-party talks will resume at an early date and achieve new progress in the new year, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday. Qin told a regular press conference that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is confronted with some new and complicated factors. All parties concerned should take the whole situation into account and properly handle relevant issues through full communication and consultation, he noted. Qin expressed his hope that all concerned parties jointly create a sound environment to push forward the progress of the six-party talks. "China will, as always, keep contacts with all other five parties," the spokesman said. The six-party talks, which is aimed at resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, entered the fifth round in November 2005. The six parties - China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan - agreed in a chairman's document on Nov. 11 to hold the second-phase meeting of the fifth round at the earliest possible date.

Chinese FM spokesman: Japan's claim over diplomat suicide "unfounded"
2006-01-06 People's Daily
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday that Japan's accusations over the suicide of a Japanese diplomat in Shanghai were "unfounded." Qin made the remark when asked to comment on Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe's assertion earlier on Thursday that the Chinese agents' actions were in violation of international conventions. "Japan's claim is unfounded, and is an intentional attempt to instigate trouble," Qin told a regular press conference. Qin said that China is a responsible nation that protects the lawful rights and interests of foreign diplomatic personnel in the country. China has always abided by international conventions including the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the spokesman noted. "We request the Japanese side to handle this issue calmly and properly and not make fresh trouble for Sino-Japanese relations," Qin said. "It is a suicide case, and China and Japan clearly defined the nature of the case a year and a half ago," according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

FM spokesman: China-Africa friendship based on mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity
2006-01-06 People's Daily
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday that the traditional friendship between China and African countries is based on mutual respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Qin made the remarks at a regular press conference Thursday afternoon, following the announcement of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing's visit to six African countries. Li's official visit will take him to Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Nigeria and Libya. Chinese foreign ministers traditionally kick off New Year diplomacy by making Africa their first overseas destination . Qin stressed that foreign countries' respect for China's sovereignty and its territorial integrity is a key political requisite for China establishing diplomatic relations with them. He reiterated that this respect is the foundation of the friendly and cooperative relationship between China and Africa. Qin noted that China has been active in developing mutually beneficial cooperation between Africa and itself, adding that through bilateral channels or the multilateral China-Africa Cooperation Forum, cooperation will be extended to wider areas. ()

China-Pakistan treaty of friendship, cooperation and good-neighbourly relations goes into effect
2006-01-05 Xinhuanet
The Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-Neighborly Relations between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan went into effect on Wednesday. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and Pakistani Ambassador to China Salman Bashir exchanged the Instruments of Ratification of the treaty and signed the certificate on behalf of their respective governments. Premier Wen Jiabao signed the treaty with his Pakistani counterpart Shaukat Aziz during his visit to Pakistan in April, 2005. ()

Chinese vice president to visit Kazakhstan in early mid January
2006-01-06 Xinhuanet
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong will pay an official visit to the Republic of Kazakhstan from January 9 to 12 at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and attend the inaugural ceremony of President Nazarbayev during his visit. ()

China ready to expand energy cooperation with Bolivia, FM spokesman
2006-01-06 Xinhuanet
China is ready to expand friendly cooperation with Bolivia in various fields, including energy cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing Thursday. Qin made the remarks in response to a question about potential China- Bolivia energy projects during Bolivian President-Elect Evo Morales's upcoming visit to China. China and Bolivia have enjoyed sound cooperation and China hopes to maintain mutually beneficial cooperation and exchanges with Bolivia at different levels, Qin said. ()

 

Domestic Policy

Central government website opens formally
2006-01-01 Xinhuanet
The website of China's central government, www.gov.cn, opened formally at zero hour Sunday following a three-month trial operation. There was no grand ribbon-cutting ceremony for the launch of the website. But according to Wu Jiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, this could be seen as a starting point for the establishment of an electronic government and a demonstration of the Chinese government's resolve to make itself more transparent and service-oriented. The website has aimed at providing a platform for the departments under the State Council, or the Chinese cabinet, and the provincial, autonomous regional and municipal governments across the country to release information on government affairs and provide online services. Since the beginning of its trial operation on October 1, 2005, it has won acclaims from almost all circles of the society. An online survey, conducted by the website itself, showed that 93 percent of the responding netizens regarded the launch of the website as "something quite necessary." The website, in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and English versions, has four sections. The section of information about government affairs is for providing information on government work. The service section provides online services for citizens, enterprises and foreigners. The other two sections offer communication channels between the government and citizens, as well as a search engine. Wu, an expert on administrative science, said the formal opening of the website is a major step in pushing forward administrative innovation and building a service-oriented government in China. The website is a window for the citizens to learn all information concerning governmental affairs, and therefore can help safeguard the citizen's rights to know and get involved in government administration. The website will help enhance the communication between government and citizens. And the governments could directly get public feedback on their policies through the website, thus promoting the practice of "democratic and scientific policy-making," said Wu. ()

China launches site to report corruption
2006-01-05 China Daily
China is putting its marathon anti-graft crackdown online, launching a Web site for the public to report corrupt officials. The site adds to efforts to assure China's public that the Communist Party of China and the government takes complaints seriously. The new site (www.jubao.gov.cn) is run by the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision. The Web site offers Chinese villagers and others a way to lodge complaints directly, bypassing local authorities who are sometimes criticized for retaliating against petitioners or refusing to take action on complaints. ()

Jailed mainland reporter freed early
2006-01-05 SCMP
Mainland journalist Jiang Weiping has been freed early after spending five years in jail for writing about corruption, according to a US-based human rights group. Jiang was released from a prison in Dalian on Tuesday after the Dalian Intermediate People's Court commuted the remainder of his sentence for good behaviour, said John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco. The journalist had been due for release on January 3, 2007. He was originally sentenced to eight years in prison in 2001 for supplying state secrets and inciting subversion. The sentence was later reduced to six years after an appeal. Jiang's release comes ahead of President Hu Jintao's planned visit to Washington early this year. The central government has previously released political dissidents before leaders' overseas trips. The high-profile case attracted the attention of the US government and international human rights groups. His name is understood to have been on a list of areas of concern that US President George W. Bush handed to the central government during his trip to the mainland in November. US Ambassador to China Clark Randt has also previously named Jiang as a human rights case of concern in several speeches. He said in a statement yesterday that he welcomed Jiang's release. "His release represents a positive new beginning to the new year," Mr Randt said. "I look forward to seeing even more progress on human rights as we move forward in 2006." Jiang, 50, was a reporter with Xinhua and Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po newspaper, which is backed by the central government. In 1999, he wrote some articles for a Hong Kong magazine that alleged that then-Liaoning governor Bo Xilai had covered up corruption in his province. Mr Bo is now commerce minister. Another of Jiang's stories alleged that a Shenyang vice-mayor had gambled away 30 million yuan of public funds in Macau. Jiang returned home for a meal after his release on Tuesday and would be applying for a passport to join his wife and daughter in Toronto, Mr Kamm said. Even though Jiang's political rights had been suspended until January 2009, the law allowed him to apply for a passport. Vincent Brossel, head of Reporters Sans Frontieres' Asia-Pacific desk, said that while he was happy with Jiang's release there were still many journalists detained by the central government. Two that top his list are Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong of Singapore's The Straits Times, and researcher Zhao Yan of The New York Times. Both are due to go on trial soon. Last July the mainland released Wu Shishen, a former Xinhua editor, after he completed a 12-year sentence.

Supreme Court to withdraw death sentence review power
2006-01-05 Xinhuanet
China's top judge and president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) Xiao Yang reaffirmed here Thursday that the SPC will withdraw the death sentence review power in 2006. A SPC source disclosed that new criminal courts have been established for handling death sentence reviews. The SPC is selecting qualified judges nationwide to take charge of the work. China's 1979 edition of the Criminal Procedural Law specified that all death sentences with immediate execution must be reviewed by the SPC. However, in a bid to strike hard at crime, the people's court organizational law, promulgated in 1983, made it possible for some death sentences with immediate execution to be reviewed by the provincial higher people's court. Since then, facts show that allowing provincial higher people's courts to review death sentences results in inconsistency and injustice. When addressing a national conference attended by heads of courts at the provincial level, Xiao also urged courts to open court sessions when hearing death sentence cases in second instance, to speed up trial supervision reform, to unify judicial adjudication yardsticks and to further improve the juror system and judicial democracy.

Nation closes 5,290 coal mine shafts
2006-01-04 Xinhuanet
By Tuesday, China had reported 5,290 coal mine shafts closed or soon closed, according to sources with the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) on Wednesday. The figure is much higher than the earlier goal of 4,000, said the work safety watchdog at a video conference held here. China has suspended production of a total of 12,990 coal mine shafts for consolidation, said the SAWS. Before Jan. 1, 2006, the SAWS published a list of 2,728 coal mine shafts required to be closed in two batches. A list of over 2,500 other coal mine shafts to be closed will be published soon, said the SAWS. Over 23,329 coal mine enterprises have submitted applications for work safety licenses. Among them, 22,231 applications have been received. 17,111 have already received licenses. Enterprises that did not submit an application after July 13 last year, were refused licenses previously or were confirmed as unqualified after check have to stop production for consolidation. Coal mine gas checks and monitoring have been made in 2,296 gas-intensive shafts in 20 coal production provinces of the country. So far, 5,711 measures for controlling coal mine gas have been proposed by experts and technological improvement projects valued at 55 billion yuan (6.8 billion US dollars) have been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission, said the SAWS.

Report ranks China 6th in overall strength
2006-01-06 China Daily
China ranks sixth globally in overall national power, a top think-tank concludes in a report released yesterday in Beijing. "In terms of comprehensive national prowess, China stands among the secondary tier of world powers, greatly dwarfed by the United States, and behind Britain, Russia, France and Germany," Wang Ling, an associate researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said. Wang's findings, published yesterday in the annual Reports on International Politics and Security, were the first of their kind measured from the perspective of econometrics, the book's editor-in-chief Wang Yizhou said. Econometrics is defined as the application of mathematics and statistics to the study of economic and financial data. The editor conceded that apart from the indisputable top ranking for the US, different gauging criteria might yield different ranking orders in the secondary tier. Wang's ranking was made from 10 major countries, chosen by their economic, demographic and territorial sizes. In determining the aggregate national strength, Wang took into consideration the economic power, military and diplomatic capacities and what she called "national power resources" of each country and governments' macro-control capacity. These factors and their sub-indices were aggregated to give an overall "score" for each nation. Calculated by this methodology, China scores 59, compared with 91 for the US and between 65 and 61 for Britain, Russia, France and Germany. The criteria places China marginally ahead of Japan, which scores 58, Canada, 57, and South Korea, 53. Specifically, China ranks fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, in military and diplomatic capabilities, and gross domestic product (GDP), among the 10 countries including India. ()

Beijing drops out of top 10 'best city' list
2006-01-03 China Daily
Beijing may be the nation's capital, but according to a recent survey, it does not even rank in China's top 10 cities in terms of suitability for living. The city came 15th in the list, as compared to third in 2004, due to its bad traffic, high housing prices and heavy pollution. Coastal city Dalian in Northeast China was selected as China's most suitable city for living, followed by Xiamen, also a coastal city, in East China's Fujian Province. Following were Mianyang in Southwest China's Sichuan Province and the provincial capital Chengdu; Wuhan, provincial capital of Hubei; Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang; Shanghai; Nanjing, provincial capital of Jiangsu Province; Qingdao in Shandong Province; and Chongqing Municipality. Beijing was not the only other well-known city to miss the top 10: Tianjin, Shenzhen, Xi'an and Guangzhou also lost out. The list was compiled last month by Beijing-based polling agency Horizon Group after interviewing 3,434 urban residents aged between 18-65, and 1,604 investors. The urban habitable index, which takes traffic, environment, social welfare and security into account, averaged 65.7 out of 100 points. "The findings indicated that there is much room for improvement in Chinese cities," the polling agency said. The agency listed major problems faced by Chinese cities such as shortage of housing supplies, tough job markets, lack of or poor waste water and garbage treatment, and pollution. Social groups differ over the degree of satisfaction with cities. "Investors and high-income groups showed a high degree of satisfaction, but low-income groups were generally dissatisfied because of soaring housing prices and grim employment situation," said the polling agency. The Chinese mainland has about 660 cities and 41 per cent of its population are urbanites. By 2020, the rate is expected to surpass 60 per cent.

Migratory birds blamed for Sichuan outbreak
2006-01-05 China Daily
Migrating birds may have triggered the country's latest bird flu outbreak in Dazhu County, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, a local veterinary official said yesterday. "The cause of the outbreak is still under investigation. But it is most likely to have been spread by migratory birds, since no bird flu has been reported in other parts of Sichuan or neighbouring Chongqing Municipality," said Su Lin of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Health. Su, chief of the Emergency Response Office under the department, said Dazhu is where migratory birds from North China such as white cranes stop before flying further south to spend winter. Dazhu County is nearly 400 kilometres east of provincial capital Chengdu. Although most migratory birds from the north have left Sichuan for the south, some remain and will not leave until Spring Festival, which starts on January 29, said Su. Su said that nobody has been infected with the H5N1 virus in Dazhu, as the blood tests of all the 16 people in close contact with the dead poultry were negative. In Beijing, Chief Veterinary Officer Jia Youling yesterday said the Ministry of Agriculture had sent an expert team to Dazhu to guide control efforts. In line with China's animal epidemic prevention regulations, the epidemic site in Dazhu is being put under quarantine isolation for a minimum of 21 days. Jia said he believed the isolation would be lifted on schedule in three weeks. Between December 22 and 25, 1,800 chickens and ducks died in three households in Yangjia Town's Liuyan Village. ()

Waterworks resumes supplies after spill
2006-01-04 China Daily
A waterworks in South China has resumed supplies to tens of thousands of people after being shut down for more than a week following a dangerous toxic spill, the Beijing Times newspaper reported. Normal operations were resumed late Sunday at the Nanhua Waterworks, near Yingde, a city of one million residents in Guangdong province, the report said. The spill from a state-owned smelting works in Guangdong on December 15 had threatened water supplies to several cities in the province. Tens of thousands along the Beijiang river lacked drinking water after the smelting works released excessive amounts of cadmium, which can cause neurological disorders and cancer. Although the resumption at the waterworks was the most important in terms of cleaning up the river, other smaller cities downstream of Yingde are still at risk. The newspaper quoted local officials as saying the reopening of the Nanhua waterworks was not only good news for Yingde, but could also offer an expample for downstream cities still threatened by the spill. The toxic spill was China's second in as many months after a benzene slick from a factory in northeast China cut tap water to millions of city-dwellers in November. The two spills have focused attention on water pollution in a country where millions still lack safe drinking water and most rivers are polluted by industrial and human waste.

 

Tibet

Tibet forest still aflame
2006-01-05 Xinhuanet
Bush forest fires in a small Tibetan county have not been brought under complete control by Thursday after two days of rescue work. Strong winds, dangerous mountain landscapes and no water sources within two kilometers made the rescue work especially difficult, according to a local rescue team. The fires broke out at 12:50 p.m. Sunday in bushes of Tingri county in Xigaze, at the foot of Mount Qomolangma, or the Everest. Fire flames could be spotted when fire fighters arrived at the site, and the fire flames were put out on Thursday after two days of fighting, according to local rescue team. But the gales were strong enough to revive any sparkles in the forests, according to the rescue team. The fires were dispersed at the steep mountain peaks and valleys embedded in snow-covered mountains, according to the rescue team. The fire occurred at longitude 86.56 east and latitude 25.51 north, about 50 kilometers from Mount Qomolangma. The fires, involving 15 kilometers of forests in length, are about four kilometers away from the virgin forests in a natural reserve around Mount Qomolangma.

 

Economy

GDP up 9.8% in 2005, says NDRC
2006-01-03 China Daily
China's economy grew 9.8 percent in 2005, said Ou Xinqian, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission here Sunday. The commission's previous estimate for last year's economic growth was 9.4 percent. This figure was adjusted according to the newly-revised GDP in 2004. China last month revised the size of its economy in 2004 by 16.8 percent to 15.99 trillion yuan (1.93 trillion U.S. dollars), with over 90 percent of the newly-added 2.3 trillion yuan from better data about the services sector. Ou revealed the figure at a meeting on the coal supply and demand. She said China's CPI remained within two percent in 2004 and the fixed assets investment grew 25 percent.

China takes another step towards flexible yuan
2006-01-05 Xinhuanet
China took another step towards currency flexibility on Wednesday by letting banks set its daily opening foreign-exchange rate, a change that might allow the yuan to move much faster than previously possible, the Reuters reported. The new system, the latest in a long line of policies aimed at gradually freeing up the yuan, accompanied the introduction of open over-the-counter trading that will eventually replace the current system of anonymous and automatic order matching. The changes, announced late on Tuesday, went into operation on Wednesday. The yuan remains tied to a 0.3 percent range on either side of a daily mid rate against the dollar. But whereas the mid rate has until now been the previous day's close, allowing only very slow movement, it will now be the average quote of market makers -- theoretically allowing a rise at the opening of trade each day. "The old system was effectively a crawling system that limited day-to-day movement within 0.3 percent," Jun Ma, Deutsche Bank's Greater China chief economist, said in a research note. "This change theoretically allows a very different central parity rate from the previous day's closing price." But maybe only theoretically. Ma reckoned the central bank would allow the yuan to rise only slowly -- about 4 percent this year. ()

16pc target set for money supply growth
2006-01-06 SCMP
The People's Bank of China yesterday said it is targeting broad money supply growth of 16 per cent this year, a goal analysts said fitted with government pledges to keep monetary policy stable. The new M2 target was similar to last year's growth objective, which was set at 15 per cent early last year but raised to 17 per cent in November. "We will continue to implement a stable and healthy monetary policy," the central bank said after the money supply targets were announced during an annual meeting of its officials. Huang Yiping, chief Asia economist at Citigroup in Hong Kong, said: "This is very much similar to what the central bank expected last year. Going forward, our reading is that it's still very much like a neutral policy."

 

Mongolia

Anniversary year launched
2006-01-04 Mongol Messenger
On January 1 the celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the Great Mongolian State began in Sukhbaatar Square, with President N. Enkhbayar, Prime Minister and national organizing committee chairman Ts. Elbegdorj and Speaker Ts. Nyamdorj, MPs and government members present. The president said that 800 years ago, the Ikh Khuraldai (Grand Assembly) of Mongols was held, conferring the title of Chinggis Khaan, great Khaan of all Mongols, on Temujin and establishing a united state. He said that the year would be celebrated with new buildings, a special parliamentary sitting, an international exhibition, festival of ethnic groups, a South-east Asian Children's Festival and a Mongolists' congress. He reminded the audience that the UN had passed Mongolia's resolution for the world to join in the celebrations of the anniversary. He appealed to the public to make their own contribution to the anniversary, to maintain solidarity, to be proud of their history and culture, and to contribute to world civilization in their own Mongolian way.

Mongolia makes bright economic start to New Year
2006-01-04 UB Post
Finance Ministry announces first ever budget surplus BY B. BULGAMAA
Early information from 2005's state budget is making pleasant reading for the moneymen in Ulaanbaatar. The Minister of Finance, N. Altankhuyag, revealed that preliminary data suggests Mongolia will show a surplus of Tg30 billion, the first time the country has not been in deficit since the switch to the free market in 1990. Estimates show that total expenditure was around Tg 743 billion with income topping that at Tg 789 billion. He went on to add that he believed that the main categories of the macro economy were also on the up with real economic growth at six percent and inflation at nine percent. The full results of the budget will be announced officially on March 20. D. Baasankhuu of the Ministry of Finance's State Budget Policy Regulation Department revealed that he believed the surplus was created by the improved relative prices of gold and copper on the world market - the two metals are Mongolia's leading exports. He also noted that economic conditions within Mongolia are also improving and that the balance of imports and exports within foreign trade is shifting in the right direction. Along with the improved trade conditions Baasankhuu also believed that a new system introduced by the Ministry of Finance has had a positive economic impact. The program was designed to limit expenditure within the state budget at all levels, putting the Ministry of Finance in direct control of regulating the outgoings. And with the country generating its first ever surplus, the plan seems to have worked. Baasankhuu did however; urge both business and the public not to get too carried away with the results. He emphasized that the budget is extremely sensitive and highly dependent upon the prices of exportable commodities like gold and copper. He called for new systems to form a solid economic base and to reduce expenditure. To this end the Ministry of Finance will be looking to plan further reform of expenditure.

 

North Korea

No talks while there's sanctions, says N Korea
2006-01-04 SCMP
North Korea said it cannot return to nuclear disarmament talks unless the US lifts sanctions imposed for its alleged currency counterfeiting and other illegal activities, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the North's ruling Workers' Party newspaper. In September, Washington placed sanctions on a Macau-based bank after it allegedly helped the North distribute counterfeit currency and engage in other illicit activities.

 

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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