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
  9.1-13.1.06, No. 97  
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Foreign Policy

Hill visits Beijing to push for nuke talks
2006-01-13 China Daily
Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei met his US counterpart Christopher Hill yesterday afternoon in Beijing and once again called on all the involved parties to make joint efforts to resolve the six-party nuclear talks. Hill, the chief US negotiator on the issue, was in Beijing for several hours to discuss ways to push talks forward after stopovers in Seoul and Tokyo. During the talks, Wu reiterated China's longstanding position on the nuclear issue, which is the adherence to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and a peaceful solution through dialogues. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told reporters in yesterday's press conference that China hoped all parties would continue to work closely together. "All parties must show goodwill and sincerity to push forward developments," Kong said. On his arrival in China, Hill told reporters in the airport that the date for the resumption of the negotiations would be a major theme of the discussions and Washington remains committed to the six-party process. "We need all six parties to agree on a date, so I'm looking forward to hearing from my Chinese colleagues how they're doing in getting all the parties together," Hill was quoted as saying. Hill left Beijing on the same day and will continue his Asian tour to Viet Nam, Malaysia and Cambodia. The fifth round of talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear programme which also involves Beijing, Washington, Seoul, Moscow and Tokyo concluded without an agreement on November 11 in Beijing.

DPRK nuke talks facing tough times: China
2006-01-11 China Daily
China said on Tuesday DPRK nuclear talks were facing a "difficult situation", a day after Pyongyang declared it saw no point in returning to six-party negotiations because of U.S. sanctions. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan made the comments as China has been playing host to the six-party talks, which group the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, and which last met in November. The six were meant to meet again early this year to try to make progress on DPRK's agreement in principle to dismantle its nuclear weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees, but that now looks unlikely due to Pyongyang's anger over Washington's crackdown on its finances. Kong said the US sanctions against the DPRK companies had introduced complications on the Six-Party Talks. "My view is that we are facing a difficult situation now but all parties should make efforts so as to resume the next round of talks as soon as possible," Kong told a regular news conference. Kong declined to say whether China felt the U.S. sanctions against DPRK should be linked with the six-party talks, saying only that the sanctions and DPRK's objections to them were "a new, complicating factor". "The Chinese government attaches importance to the combat of money laundering and other financial crimes," he said. The United States has clamped down on companies it suspects of helping DPRK in counterfeiting, money laundering and the drug trade, and says the sanctions are a separate matter from six-party talks. ()

Kim 'visits Guangdong' - hotel tells guests to go
2006-01-13 SCMP
Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is in Guangzhou and will visit Shenzhen today, sources in Guangdong said - after the city's best-known luxury hotel yesterday ordered guests to leave and staff said it was booked out until Monday for "an important meeting". As bemused guests quit the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island - where all traffic was barred - a convoy of minibuses, limousines and police cars swept up to the five-star establishment. Mr Kim is widely believed to be on a two-day visit to Guangdong, but one so hush-hush that not even Xinhua, the mainland's state news agency, has been allowed to post reporters in the hotel. Only two North Korean reporters were being allowed to accompany Mr Kim's delegation, media sources said. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan - for the second time this week - said he had no information regarding a visit by Mr Kim, and a Russian news agency quoted a source in the North Korean capital as saying Mr Kim was still in Pyongyang. If any North Korean VIP had crossed into China by train on Wednesday, as was reported, the source said, it was probably someone close to the North Korean leadership and possibly a relative of the "Dear Leader". South Korea's national news agency, Yonhap, meanwhile reported Mr Kim was in Beijing receiving medical treatment. The last time Mr Kim visited China, his trip was only confirmed by Beijing after he had left. Sources in Guangzhou said the North Korean leader would visit its giant University Town this morning before heading to Shenzhen. A White Swan spokesman said he was not authorised to disclose whether Mr Kim was staying at the 843-room hotel, but said all its rooms and food and beverage outlets were fully booked for "an important meeting" in the next few days. A sales department employee said the hotel was expecting "a very important visitor". Assistant general manager Janet Xie said bookings would not be accepted until Monday. Drivers were told to vacate the car park at the hotel because the "Korean president" was coming, Yonhap reported. Guests at the White Swan were asked to check out around noon but were given no explanation. An unknown number were found rooms at other hotels. ()" US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who arrived in Beijing from Seoul yesterday to discuss holding a new round of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme, said Washington had some fresh ideas on ways to break the deadlock. He said the Chinese side had not told him the whereabouts of Mr Kim. Asked whether he would meet the North Korean leader, Mr Hill said: "I have no plans."

China ready to expand military ties with US
2006-01-11 Xinhuanet
China is ready to expand its military relations with the United States on the basis of mutual benefits and equal consultation, said Minister of National Defense Cao Gangchuan in Beijing Tuesday. Cao, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and a state councilor, made the remarks during his meeting with a delegation from the US-China Working Group under the US House of Representatives. Cao said Sino-U.S. relations are on a sound development track and the leaders of both nations have maintained close exchanges and contacts. Last year, Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President George W. Bush met five times, and reached lots of consensus on promoting Sino-U.S. constructive cooperative ties, Cao noted. Military ties serve as an important component part of the overall Sino-U.S. relationship, he underscored, adding that both sides should make efforts to upgrade Sino-US military ties and make it consistent with overall bilateral relations. "We are glad to see our military ties gradually resume and develop in recent years with joint efforts of both sides," Cao acknowledged. ()

Chinese vice president, Russian president expect another fruitful year for bilateral ties
2006-01-12 People's Daily
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong met in Astana on Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin and both leaders said they believed 2006 will be another fruitful year for the development of Sino-Russian relations. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of re-elected Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Zeng said to Putin that bilateral ties experienced comprehensive and profound developments in 2005, in which fruitful achievements were obtained in the cooperation in various fields, and political mutual trust and the role of the Strategic Partnership of Coordination was steadily enhanced. This year is the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Sino-Russian Strategic Partnership of Coordination and the first "Year of Russia," said the vice president. The year of 2006 is of great importance in pushing forward bilateral cooperation in various fields, said Zeng. For his part, Putin also spoke highly of the developments of Russian-Chinese relations in the past year. Russia would implement the agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries on the development of bilateral relations, including the cooperation in such fields as the economy, trade and energy, said Putin. He hoped that both sides would work together to ensure the "Year of Russia" is a success. The Russian president expressed confidence that 2006 would be another fruitful year for the development of bilateral relations.

Chinese vice president meets Kyrgyz president
2006-01-11 People's Daily
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong said on Wednesday in Astana that China would continue to work together with Kyrgyzstan in a joint effort to crack down on "the three evil forces" -- terrorism, extremism and separatism. In a meeting with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Zeng said China and Kyrgyzstan should intensify cooperation in the security field to safeguard regional security and stability as well as the interests of the two countries. Both Zeng Qinghong and Bakiyev are here to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Zeng noted that China and Kyrgyzstan have had fruitful cooperation not only in the bilateral area but also on international and regional issues. The Chinese vice president said China is willing to work together with the Kyrgyzstan to implement the consensus and agreements reached by the two heads of state and deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields. Zeng hoped that the two countries could expand economic and trade cooperation, especially in telecommunications, mining, water and electric resources. Bakiyev said the important consensus he reached with Chinese President Hu Jintao has promoted the development of bilateral relations. It is a common aspiration of the two countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation, Bakiyev said. ()

Chinese government issues African Policy Paper
2006-01-12 Xinhuanet
The Chinese government issued the African Policy Paper on Thursday, presenting to the world the objectives of China's policy toward Africa and the measures to achieve them. In the African Policy Paper, the Chinese government put forward its proposals for cooperation with Africa in various fields in the coming years, with a view to promoting the steady growth of China-Africa relations in the long term and bringing the mutually-beneficial cooperation to a new stage. The paper, composed of more than 3,000 English words, is divided into six parts, including Africa's position and role, China's relations with Africa, China's African policy, enhancing all-round cooperation between China and Africa, Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and its follow-up actions, China's relations with African regional organizations. According to the paper, enhancing solidarity and cooperation with African countries has always been an important component of China's independent foreign policy of peace. The general principles and objectives of China's African policy are as follows: Sincerity, friendship and equality; Mutual benefit, reciprocity and common prosperity; Mutual support and close coordination; Learning from each other and seeking common development. This is the first time for the Chinese government to issue a paper elaborating its policy toward Africa. Among the 53 countries in Africa, 47 have established diplomatic relations with China.

China, India hope for early solution to border issue
2006-01-11 People's Daily
China and India Tuesday agreed in Beijing that joint efforts should be made to work for an early solution to the border issue. In his meeting with visiting Foreign Secretary of India Shyam Saran, Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said that it is in the fundamental interests of both countries to solve the border issue at an early date, adding that China and India should go a step further to explore the framework for the solution to the border issue. Echoing Tang's views, Saran said that India is also willing to explore ways for an early solution to the border issue from the perspective of strategic cooperation. Tang said that China and India are big developing countries which are facing a similar mission of developing their economy and improving people's living standards. Noting that the two countries have many in common, Tang said that China attaches great importance to building a friendly neighborhood with India. "The announcement of building a strategic and cooperative partnership by both governments last year indicates Sino-Indian relations have entered a new phase of development," Tang said. ()

Japan-US military cooperation should strictly be confined to bilateral category: FM spokesman
2006-01-12 People's Daily
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday that military cooperation between Japan and the United States should be "strictly" confined to the bilateral category. When asked to comment on an allegation that Japan would regard war over the Taiwan Strait as an event in its surrounding areas and allow the United States to use its military facilities, Kong said the alliance between Japan and the United States is a bilateral arrangement. "Therefore, the bilateral arrangement should be strictly confined to the bilateral category," Kong said, noting that such arrangement should avoid bringing complicated factors to regional security and stability. Moreover, the spokesman said, Japan and the United States should, proceeding from the security, peace and stability of the region as well as their own long-term interests, do more for the benefit of peace and stability in the region, and not the reverse.

China, Japan agree to hold 4th-round talks on East China sea gas issue
2006-01-10 Xinhuanet
China and Japan agreed in Beijing Monday to hold a new round of consultations on the East China Sea gas issue in Beijing at an early date to resolve their gas dispute, said an official of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. The agreement came after informal talks at a working level held Monday morning between Cui Tiankai, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Asian Affairs Department and Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asia and Oceania Affairs Bureau, the Japanese official said anonymously. "Both sides agreed that the fourth round of negotiations will be held as soon as possible, perhaps in late January or early February, around China's Spring Festival holiday," he said. "The Chinese officials said they were studying the issue and planned to present a new plan at the next meeting," he added. Nobuyori Kodaira, director general of Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency, also took part in the talks, according to the official. The two sides also reviewed the current bilateral ties and other issues, expressing their will to improve the chilly relations, according to the official. ()

China warns Japan about Lee Teng-hui visit
2006-01-13 China Daily
China warned Japan on Thursday that a possible visit by former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui could further raise tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. A Tokyo newspaper said on Wednesday Lee planned to travel to Japan in May, and Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said the government had yet to decide whether to grant him a visa. Beijing reviles Lee as a "splittist" who, as the island's leader from 1988 to 2000, pushed for Taiwan's independence from the mainland. "If you look at his past, you know him now; if you look at him now, you know what he'll be like in the future," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan said of Lee. Kong told reporters at a regular briefing that "Japan is crystal clear what sort of man he is" and should deny him a visa under any conditions. Otherwise, Kong said, Japan would be "providing a speaking platform for Taiwan separatists." The daily Yomiuri newspaper said Lee, who studied in Japan during World War Two and speaks fluent Japanese, may visit for two or three weeks from May 10 at the invitation of private groups. Beijing's ties with Tokyo are deeply strained by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a war shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. Abe said that Lee had not applied for a visa, but added: "We would deal with a visit by Lee or other prominent figures from Taiwan appropriately in line with our basic policy toward Taiwan." The Yomiuri said Japan would decide whether to issue Lee a tourist visa after confirming whether he would refrain from political activities. ()

Chinese president calls for stronger China-Bolivia links
2006-01-10 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao put forward four suggestions for advancing relations between China and Bolivia in the new century Monday. Hu raised the propositions during a meeting with visiting Bolivian President-elect Juan Evo Morales Ayma in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday morning. Hu said the two countries should increase high-level contact by expanding friendly exchanges between governmental departments, legislatures and political parties. He said the two countries should continue to share mutual understanding and support on issues concerning fundamental interests of the two nations. Hu also proposed that the two countries should deepen economic cooperation and trade by exploring new possibilities of expanding cooperation in such areas as investment and trade. He said China will encourage strong and prestigious Chinese companies to invest in Bolivia and welcome Bolivian companies to do business in China. Hu said China and Bolivia should expand cooperation in such areas as culture, education, science, technology and medical service, thus promoting dialogues and exchanges between different civilizations and enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples. Hu said the two countries should strengthen cooperation on international and multilateral affairs and jointly safeguard the rightful interests of developing countries so as to promote peace, stability and development of the world. ()

China expresses hope for Mongolia's political stability
2006-01-13 Xinhuanet
China on Thursday expressed its concern over Mongolia's political changes, saying that it hoped the country would maintain political stability. "Mongolia is China's friendly neighbor. Domestic changes there, especially political changes, certainly draw concern from China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular press briefing. "The issues are, in the first place, Mongolia's internal affairs," Kong said, adding that China hopes China-Mongolia cooperation will move forward in a healthy and steady way. Mongolia's biggest political party on Wednesday announced it had quit the coalition government. In a statement, the Mongolian People's Revolution Party (MPRP) said it made the decision following internal conflicts in the coalition. The MPRP said the internal conflicts had weakened the ability of the government to run the country. The MPRP, which has 38 of the 76 seats in the Grand Hural, Mongolia's parliament, said it hoped to form its own government with other parties. The MPRP also demanded Prime Minister Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's resignation.

 

Domestic Policy

Death toll of bird flu rises to five after two more
2006-01-12 China Daily
The deaths of two more people on the Chinese mainland, revealed yesterday, raised the toll from bird flu to five. There are eight confirmed human cases of avian influenza on the mainland, the Ministry of Health said. Of the two recent deaths, one was a 10-year-old girl surnamed Tang in Ziyuan County of South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the other, a 35-year-old man surnamed Guo in Suichuan County of East China's Jiangxi Province. They contracted the H5N1 virus and died of complications from the disease on December 16 and 30 despite medical treatment. Two farmers in East China's Anhui and a worker in East China's Fujian all women died of the disease in November and December last year. The country's eighth human case, a 6-year-old boy in Central China's Hunan Province, is in a critical condition with both his lungs seriously damaged. His case was reported on January 9. A 9-year-old boy in Xiangtan County of Hunan Province and a woman in Northeast China's Liaoning Province have both recovered from the disease. Experts blamed the fatalities to delayed reporting, diagnosis and treatment. Even the best anti-viral drug, such as oseltamivir, will not be as effective if given one or two days after the infection, according to Roy Wadia, spokesman for the Beijing Office of the World Health Organization (WHO). Diagnosing bird flu is difficult as its symptoms are similar to those of respiratory illnesses, Wadia said. Only quick diagnosis and treatment can ensure effective medical treatment, he said. () The WHO cannot predict when a pandemic will occur, or if it will occur at all, Wadia said. "As more outbreaks occur among poultry and animals around the world, and as more human cases occur, the virus has more chances to transmit more effectively from animals to humans, or possibly among humans as well," Wadia said. The WHO has alerted countries, especially those in Asia, to be ready to respond quickly to any signs of emergence of a pandemic strain of the H5N1 virus. Asia remains the centre of H5N1 avian influenza, as it is in this part of the world that the virus is prevalent, even entrenched, the spokesman said.

Poor surveillance led to human infections
2006-01-11 People's Daily
The main reasons for human infections are a lack of effective bird flu surveillance in villages and towns as well as delayed reporting of outbreaks, according to the Ministry of Health. Spokesman Mao Qun'an offered the explanation yesterday following the ministry's announcement of China's eighth human case of H5N1 bird flu on Monday night. A 6-year-old boy, surnamed Ouyang, in Guiyang County of Central China's Hunan Province is reported to be in a critical condition in hospital. Experts have found ill chickens in the area where the boy lives, but have yet to test whether they are infected with H5N1. Most of the human cases on the Chinese mainland were first reported in big hospitals before investigations were conducted in the patients' villages to find the source, Mao said. The probes have usually led to the discovery of poultry epidemics where they lived but which were not reported, he said. At village clinics or township hospitals, the human infections were typically diagnosed as pneumonia from unknown causes because doctors there are not qualified to detect bird flu infections. As a result, the best window of opportunity for treatment was missed, leading to the three fatalities in China, he said. The monitoring and reporting system of infectious diseases now covers 66 per cent of China's township hospitals, and more than 90 per cent of hospitals at county levels or above. More village doctors will be encouraged, and financially supported, to join the system, Mao said, adding that all hospitals have been asked to scrutinize pneumonia cases without clear causes.

Minister: One-child policy remains effective in future
2006-01-07 Xinhuanet
China's family planning policy on the mainland will be maintained over the coming years, a senior official said on Friday in Beijing. Zhang Weiqing, minister of the State Commission of Population and Family Planning, said it was long-term State policy to stabilize the present low-level birth rate and that it would be strictly implemented in the nation's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) and beyond. Speaking at a national conference on family planning, he refuted rumours which said that China will loosen the present policy and allow all couples to have a second child. Some experts claimed that Shanghai, China's most economically developed city, would allow people to have a second child in 2016, the Shanghai-based Dongfang Morning Post previously reported. But any adjustment of the birth policy must be carried out by the State Council the central government, and local governments had no rights to make changes, Zhang said. He added the policy was being maintained as the population was still quickly increasing, posing a great burden to the country's economic development, environment and resources. Under the current birth rate, the population of China, which has the world's biggest population, is expected to reach 1.37 billion by 2010, 1.46 billion by 2020 and 1.5 billion by 2033. On the mainland, 90 million families have adhered to the family planning policy. Not all people, however, are forbidden to have more than one child. In the minority group regions, there are no restrictions. And in the country's rural areas, if a couple's first child is a girl, considering that rural families need labourers to help with farm work, the State allows such couples to have a second child. Many flexible policies have also been made to take care of couples who have special difficulties, such as those whose first child is disabled. China currently has nearly 1.3 billion people on the mainland. The aim of the family planning initiative is to control the number within 1.37 billion before the end of 2010, Zhang said. His commission began a nationwide campaign in the middle of last year to protect the rights of girls, rewarding those families which prefer to have only one child even if it is a girl. More support will be given to those one-child couples whose child passes away before their parents, and to those elderly people in an ageing society now. The decades-old State policy has helped to reduce a great population burden for the country and created a social atmosphere of having less children. ()

PLA downsizes its forces by 200,000
2006-01-10 China Daily
China downsized its military by 200,000 by the end of last year to optimize force structures and increase combat capabilities, the People's Liberation Army Daily reported yesterday. The two-year programme to trim the military was completed on schedule; and troop numbers were down to 2.3 million compared to 3.2 million in 1987, the newspaper said. The changes included reducing layers in the command hierarchy, cutting non-combat units such as schools and farms, and rearranging officer duties. The number of land forces was reduced by a large margin, while the navy, air force and missile-specialist Second Artillery Force were strengthened. "The ratio of land forces has plunged to a historic low," the report said without giving any numbers, and added that the ratio of combat troops had increased remarkably. Streamlining of the officer corps was the focus of the latest restructuring, said the report: About 170,000 officers were demobilized to "optimize the ratio between officers and soldiers." In the past, the PLA was over-staffed with officers. ()

China bans alcohol sale to minors
2006-01-12 Xinhuanet
Chinese retailers selling alcohol products to minors under the age of 18 will be punished as of April this year, according to a new regulation which took effect on Jan. 1. These products include distilled liquor and most beer and wine with an alcohol content of more than 0.5 percent, according to the regulation on the control over the circulation of alcohol products. Alcohol dealers are also demanded to put signs about no alcohol sale to minors at their shops. The punishment for violators ranges from government warning to a fine of 2,000 yuan (250 U.S. dollars). Although the government allows a grace period of three months to enforce the regulation, many alcohol dealers have responded quickly. In Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, the five outlets of France's supermarket giant Carrefour set up signs of the sales bank on their alcohol counters. "Our staff are asked to check the ID card, driver's license or passport of buyers who look like minors," said Wang Xiaozhong, public relations manager of Carrefour China. Similar signs are also seen in stores in Urumqi in the northwest and Guangzhou in the south. Nevertheless, it is easy to set up signs, but hard to refuse the buyers. Owners of some grocery stores in Tianjin told Xinhua that many kids would say that they bought alcohol for their parents, not for themselves. In Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, market inspectors found that not only supermarkets but also restaurants and bars were selling alcohol to minors during the New Year holiday. Experts with the Nanjing Alcohol Marketing Association said the ban would help keep young people from alcohol but it was not easy to carry it out smoothly. They suggested concerned government departments strengthen enforcement of the regulation. Drinking alcohol is popular in China, one of the earliest countries in the world to make such products. A survey conducted by the Psychic Health Research Institute of Beijing University shows that the number of Chinese alcohol drinkers, including quite a few minors, has been increasing in recent years, and 84.1 percent of them are male drinkers.

China faces severe ocean pollution
2006-01-11 Xinhuanet
China's ocean environment, especially the shallow waters just off the coast, has been severely polluted by an increasing run-off of contaminants into the sea. A report released by China's State Oceanic Administration says the country is faced with severe challenges in handling the pollution of the ocean. The report, China's Oceanic Environment Quality 2005, says that the ocean has been polluted by a harmful algal bloom, a sudden, massive growth of microscopic and macroscopic plant life. It is estimated that last year there were over 80 incidents of algal blooms in the shallow waters off China's coast, leading to direct economic losses of nearly 8.6 million US dollars. A spokesperson for the State Oceanic Administration, Li Chunxian, says a run off of pollutants from the land is the source of the contamination. "The run-off of pollutants from the land is heavy. That causes the deterioration of ecological system in the ocean, rivers, bays and wetlands. The pollutants contain substances that aid the growth of harmful algae. The excessive run-off of pollutants also damages the ecosystems of coral reefs." In addition, algal blooms cause fish to die by lowering the oxygen concentration of the water. Over the past five years, China has seen increased contamination of the ocean. ()

Ex-provincial procurator-general gets 17-year sentence for taking bribes
2006-01-10 China Daily
Ding Xinfa, former provincial procurator-general of east China's Jiangxi Province, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for bribery and embezzlement on Monday. The Intermediate People's Court of Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, handed down the verdict in the first instance. Ding's personal assets worth of 900,000 yuan (around 111,250 US dollars) were confiscated. According to the court verdict, from 1993 to 2003, Ding took advantage of his posts as director of the provincial bureau of public security and later procurator-general in Jiangxi, to seek personal gain from six people who gave him and his family members bribes of more than 2.75 million yuan (around 340,000 US dollars).Back in 1998, when he was director of the provincial bureau of public security, Ding embezzled 1.1 million yuan (around 137,500 US dollars) of public funds for others to run profit-making businesses. All the illicit money and bribes accepted by Ding had been recovered, the court said. The court verdict said Ding Xinfa had committed the crime of accepting bribes. In his civil servant capacity, Ding accepted bribes and misused his power to seek illicit gain for those who offered the bribes. The amount of bribes he took was particularly large. However, in view of the fact that Ding had confessed to most of his crimes, repented of them, and been active in returning bribes, he was given a lenient punishment, court verdict said.

Chinese transportation official gets 14 years in jail for taking bribes
2006-01-13 People's Daily
A former transportation official in north China's Hebei Province has been sentenced to 14 years in prison with political rights deprived for three years on bribe-taking charges, sources said Thursday. Zhang Quan, former deputy director of the Hebei Provincial Department of Transportation, was found guilty of taking bribes during the period of 2002 to 2004, sources with the Jingxian People's Court in Jingxian County in Hebei said. The bribes included 1.623 million yuan (200,370 U.S. dollars) and 1,000 U.S. dollars in cash, 160,000 yuan worth of shares, and 5,000 yuan worth of shopping cards. Approximately 1.7 million yuan of illicit money has been retrieved and turned over to the national treasury, sources said. In mid-December last year, another transportation official in southwest China's Guizhou Province was executed on charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes. Lu Wanli, former director of the Guizhou Department of Transportation, accepted more than 25.6 million yuan (3.2 million U.S. dollars) worth of bribes from June 1998 through January 2002.

 

Economy

China's Central Bank denies dollar plans
2006-01-11 China Daily
China said Tuesday it has no plans to sell dollars from its $800 billion-plus foreign reserves, rejecting speculation that had jolted financial markets and fed speculation about the possible impact on the U.S. dollar. "We won't sell off our dollar-denominated assets," a central bank official, Tang Xu, told Dow Jones Newswires. China's foreign currency regulator said last week its plans for 2006 include "widening the foreign exchange reserves investment scope." That sparked speculation that Beijing might shift some reserves from dollars, the bulk of its holdings, into other currencies. China's foreign currency reserves are the world's second-biggest after Japan, and traders closely watch how they are handled. Much of the reserves are in U.S. Treasuries, and any move to sell them could influence bond and currency markets. Financial analysts say China has few options to move assets out of dollars due to the vast size of its reserves, because financial markets in other currencies offer fewer bonds and other assets. Gold prices have risen to their highest level in nearly 25 years on international markets, partly due to speculation that China and other nations' central banks might shift reserves into precious metals. Gold closed at $546.50 an ounce on Tuesday in Hong Kong, up $4.50 an ounce from Monday's close. That's the highest since March 1981. Tang, director-general of the central bank's Research Bureau, said foreign reserves were expected to top $800 billion at the end of 2005, up from $769 billion when the last quarterly report was issued in September, according to Dow Jones.

CNOOC takes 45 percent stake in Nigerian oil
2006-01-09 China Daily
China's largest gas and oil producer CNOOC said it had agreed to buy a 45 percent stake in an oil block off the coast of Nigeria for almost 2.3 billion dollars. The Hong Kong-listed unit of the China National Overseas Oil Corporation said it had signed a firm agreement with Nigeria's South Atlantic Petroleum to acquire the stake in the OML 130 block in the Niger Delta. The purchase would be funded from internal resources, a CNOOC statement said. "The purchase of this interest in OML 130 helps CNOOC gain access to an oil and gas field of huge interest and upside potential, located in one of the world's largest oil and gas basins," CNOOC chairman Fu Chengyu said Monday. "With one of the leading deep water experts as the operator of the field, we have every confidence for the fast and efficient production of oil." The block covers about 500 square miles (1,300 sq km) and water depths range from about 1,100 to 1,800 meters (3,630-5,940 feet). It is being operated by French oil giant Total. Total estimates the block could contain some 600 million barrels of recoverable oil with a potential for some 500 million more barrels, the statement said. The field is due to come into production in 2008. The transaction is expected to be finalised in the first half of this year and is conditional on approval from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Chinese government. The deal is China's latest attempt to acquire foreign oil to fuel its booming economy.

China, India sign energy agreement
2006-01-13 China Daily
China and India signed a slew of co-operation pacts in the hydrocarbon sector yesterday to ensure secure energy supplies. In the "Memorandum for Enhancing Cooperation in the Field of Oil and Natural Gas" signed yesterday between Mani Shankar Aiyar, the visiting Indian petroleum and natural gas minister, and Ma Kai, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, both sides identified key areas for partnerships. They include upstream exploration and production, refining and marketing of petroleum products and petrochemicals, research and development, conservation, and promotion of environment-friendly fuels. The agreement also allows trading in oil and joint bidding in third countries that will help both nations reduce the burden on the exchequers. "We look upon China not as a strategic competitor but as a strategic partner," said Aiyar at a news conference at the Indian Embassy in Beijing last night. "Both China and India recognize that unbridled rivalry between them only results in the seller of the assets being benefited irrespective of which of the two countries wins the bid," Aiyar told reporters on Thursday. "Therefore it does make sense ... to have circumstances in which India and China march shoulder to shoulder." He added: "I don't think it is necessary for either India or China to purchase its energy security at the expense of the other." Such cooperation would be subject to information sharing between governments and companies that could facilitate later commercial decisions, Aiyar said. ()

2004 GDP growth revised to 10.1pc
2006-01-10 SCMP
The National Bureau of Statistics has revised the mainland's economic growth for 2004 to 10.1 per cent from 9.5 per cent after taking into account data from an economic census completed last year. In a statement posted on its website yesterday, the bureau also adjusted figures for gross domestic product growth from 1993 to 2003. The new figures mean the mainland's GDP grew an average of 9.6 per cent a year between 1979 and 2004, or 0.2 percentage points higher than originally stated. The new figure for 2004 GDP was 15.99 trillion yuan - up from 13.69 trillion yuan - making the mainland the world's sixth-largest economy that year instead of seventh, ahead of Italy and chasing France and Britain. The census revealed that the services sector played a much greater role in the mainland economy than previously believed. The bureau raised 2003's GDP growth rate to 10 per cent from 9.5 per cent, 2002's to 9.1 per cent from 8.3 per cent and 2001's to 8.3 per cent from 7.5 per cent. China International Capital chief economist Ha Jiming said the revisions would not have profound implications for the government's macroeconomic policies because while the level of growth was higher, the trend was unchanged, with growth slowing from 2004's 10.1 per cent to last year's estimated 9.8 per cent after the revisions. Huang Yiping, chief Asia economist with Citicorp in Hong Kong, said the revised figures were positive for capital inflow into the mainland, but also warned that the economy needed to calm down. "On the one hand, growth has been high, so probably there is a strong need for more tightening measures," he said. "But on the other hand, many people argue that structurally it is a bit better because the under-reporting came mainly from consumption activities and the service industry." ()

 

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

Coalition government on the brink of resignation
2006-01-12 UB Post
The coalition government of Mongolia is on the brink of resignation after M.Enkhbold, chairman of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, stated that 10 ministers out of 17 cabinet members has signed in an agreement to be resigned. On January 11, around 1:30pm, media journalists were present in a face-to-face meeting of M.Enkhbold and the Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj (DP). "After the collapse of democratic coalition in December 2004, the MPRP has considered that the current government has become incapable in legal environment last December," Enkhbold said. "Today, no any foreign country nor international organization, even a legal subject of Mongolia, treated me, a person representing executive governance of the country, as legally incapable in exercising its full power," Elbegdorj said. Enkhbold said that a slowdown of economic growth and an increasing inflation have caused the MPRP to make the above decision. Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj told back Enkhbold that his party should take back its decision and reconsider it. "I understood that the MPRP's governing council has made its decision and made its 10 minister to sign in it afterwards." The issue of government resignation would be discussed in a nearest parliament session. "There are too many pending questions that need to be resolved here on my desk. We can't run away from these problems. This decision of the MPRP is a subversive policy, that would push Mongolia into politically unstable situation," he said. He said Enkhbold has left soo many problems unsolved when he was working as UB Mayor. He said that all levels of the capital city administration has become "inbred". Same political party people, family relatives, and close friends, were placed at every public service positions of the capital city administration, according to Elbegdorj. Enkhbold agreed that top officials of the metropolitan administration were formed from a single party. However, he denied that the public service has become "inbred". But he said that those should not be connected with the resignation of the government. Prime Minister said that the Democratic Party would not enter into the new government. "Today, those ten ministers have signed in favor of their party's decision. Tomorrow, there is no warranty that they wouldn't sign again in a document against the interest of Mongolian people," Elbegdorj said. Those signed ministers include; 1. Premier Minister, Ch.Ulaan, 2. Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, S.Batbold 3. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ts.Monkh- Orgil 4. Minister of Nature and Environment, U.Barsbold 5. Minister of Defense, Ts.Sharavdorj 6. Minister of Fuel and Energy, T.Ochirkhuu 7. Minister of Industry and Trade, Su.Batbold 8. Minister of Food and Agriculture, D.Terbishdagva 9. Minister of Health, T.Gandi, and 10. Minister of Emergencies, U.Khurelsukh "In 2004, we [MPRP] gave seats of Ministry of Finance, and Ministry of Social Welfare and Labour to the Democratic Party, which are the ministries should accelerate economic growth. We handed over a country with 10 percent economic growth to the coalition government, which is now at 6 percent," said Enkhbold. In addition, all local administrative governors from aimags and soums, are from MPRP, except two governors are from the Democratic Party. "If the government resigns, potential business investors, international communities, who were looking at Mongolia with positive belief, would flee from Mongolia. And, the people would lose their hope to the government," Elbegdorj added. Prime Minister said that the anti-corruption measures, amendment to taxation bill, and mining law were going to be discussed at the parliament. R.Gonchigdorj, head of the Democratic Party, stated that the MPRP seem to be resigning the government because their corruption cases were about nearly

Mongolian troops hold court in Sierra Leone
2006-01-12 UB Post
A contingent of 250 Mongolian soldiers (MONBAT) serving as 'blue helmets' for the United Nations took over the responsibility of guarding the Special Court in Sierra Leone on January 8. They replaced Nigerian troops who had been responsible for the court for just over a year. The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone. It is designed to bring to justice those chiefly responsible for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone since 1996. To date it has seen 11 people indicted on various charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. In a brief ceremony in front of the court itself the UN commander General Tommy Goransson witnessed the handover from Nigeria's Lieutenant- Colonel C.I. Obiakor to Mongolia's Lieutenant- Colonel B.Bayarmagnai. The Mongolians are now the only UN troops remaining in Sierra Leone after the peacekeeping mission ended in December of last year. They will be under the command of the peacekeeping mission in neighboring Liberia. This deployment will be MONBAT's first assignment in West Africa, however several members of the party have served in UN missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara and Sudan. Others have also served as part of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The troops will be equipped with heavy weapons and armored personnel carriers. They will also undertake operational exercises with other UNJ forces, mainly from the neighboring misson in Liberia. The forces there include Irish and Swedish contingents that are on stand by to deploy by air, land and sea in support of the Mongolians if required. Sierra Leone was wracked by a civil war that ran between 1991 and 2001, costing 120, 000 lives and left thousands injured - many horrifically so. At the height of its operations in 2001 the peacekeeping mission to Sierra Leone was the largest in the world with 17, 000 peacekeepers deployed across the country to disarm rebel fighters.

Global warming cooking up problems in countryside
2006-01-12 UB Post
During a cold winter there are plenty of us who would be happy to see the temperatures rise by a few degrees. However, the Hydrology and Meteorology Institute has released figures that show global warming is causing some alarming problems in the Mongolian countryside, where scores of rivers, streams and lakes are simply drying up. In the ten years since 1996 Mongolia has suffered from a cycle of particularly dry weather. During that time 683 rivers, 1,484 springs and 760 small lakes have dried up. Those figures how that on average 68 rivers, 148 springs, and 76 lakes each year have withered into nothing more than dust. Another result of the rise in global temperatures has been the melting of glacial ice. Estimates suggest that in the years between 1940 and 2002 the glaciers in Mongolia were reduced in size by almost 30 percent. In particular the glacial square near the Kharkhiraa and Turgen mountains lost 37.5 percent of its overall size. The research also suggests that Mongolia is in for more of this climate change. It predicts that by 2039 temperatures will have risen on average by 1.9 degrees, by 2069 that CIRCUS SCIENCE number will be up to 3.6 and by 2099 it will be a frightening 6.5. News of glaciers melting may sound alarming, but for many it is not too concerning since glaciers are hardly an everyday sight. One thing that is affected by global warming though and is part of many people's daily lives is livestock. The researchers believe that global climate change is responsible for the loss of weight in the majority of Mongolian animals. Over the last twenty years it is estimated that the average cow has fallen by 13.6 kg, sheep have fallen by 3.63 kg and goats by 2kg. It is thought that global warming has damaged the wooded steppe on which the animals graze making it harder for them to maintain their size and weight. On top of weight there is also the question of production, such as wool from sheep and milk from cows. That too has taken a bashing with the average wool yield down by 0.5kg.

 

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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