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
  16.1-20.1.06, No. 98  
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Foreign Policy

Top leaders of China, DPRK hold talks in Beijing
2006-01-18 China Daily
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese President, held talks in Beijing with Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). During their talks, Hu and Kim exchanged views amid a warm and candid atmosphere on furthering relations between the two parties and the two countries, and on international and regional issues of common concern. Important and wide-ranging consensus has been reached. Kim paid an unofficial visit to China from Jan. 10 to 18 as Hu's guest. During his stay in China, Kim visited central China's Hubei Province, south China's Guangdong Province and China's capital Beijing. Hu hosted a welcoming banquet in honor of Kim in Beijing and accompanied Kim in a visit to a crop research institute under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Wu Bangguo, member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and Wen Jiabao, member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese premier, met with Kim respectively. Members of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Huang Ju, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan accompanied Kim in his visiting tours or took part in related activities. Hu, on behalf of the CPC, and the Chinese government and people, extended a warm welcome to Kim. To maintain close contacts between top leaders of the two sides is a major characteristic of China-DPRK good neighborly friendship, Hu said, adding that since Kim became the WPK's general secretary, leaders of the two sides have had exchanges of visits with fruitful results each time. Under the current circumstances when international and regional situations are undergoing profound and complicated changes, said Hu, to further advance the relations between the two parties and the two countries is in line with the common interests of the two countries and conducive to the peace, stability and development in Northeast Asia. He said in recent years, with concerted efforts from both sides, the relations between the two parties and the two countries have made new progress, and the two countries have scored new achievements in economic and trade cooperation of mutual benefit and maintained close consultation and cooperation in international and regional issues. Sino-DPRK traditional friendship is the common treasure of the two parties, countries and peoples, said Hu. It is an unswerving strategic guideline of the CPC and the Chinese government to consolidate and develop bilateral good neighborly friendship and cooperation. Hu said the Chinese side will make joint efforts with the DPRK to continuously inject new vigor and vitality into bilateral traditional friendship and push forward the growth of bilateral good neighborly friendship and cooperation so as to bring more benefits to the two countries and their peoples and contribute more to the peace, stability and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the world at large. () Kim said the DPRK-China relationship has been cultivated by leaders of old generations of the two countries and carried forward under the new circumstances. The friendship has not only pushed forward the socialist construction of the two countries, but also promoted peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and the world at large. He said the WPK and the DPRK government will, as always, further explore bilateral cooperative potentials in various fields, especially in the economic field, conduct cooperation in the principles of meeting each other's needs, reciprocity and win-win, and make every effort for the better development of bilateral friendship. Hu spoke positively of the DPRK's domestic construction and said the CPC and the Chinese government and people sincerely hope for political stability, economic prosperity and people's happiness in the DPRK, and are delighted to see the DPRK's achievements in building a strong and prosperous country. Hu said the Chinese side will, as always, support the WPK's, and the DPRK government and people's active exploration of a development path conforming with the country's own conditions. He said he is convinced that the DPRK side will, under Kim's leadership, make new achievements in building a strong and prosperous country with unity and arduous work. Kim said that under the leadership of the CPC, China has made great achievements in socialist modernization construction with Chinese characteristics and in the reform and opening-up drive. He attributed China's remarkable development to the important thought of Three Represents, concept of scientific development, and building a socialist harmonious society. These guidelines and policies put forward by the CPC conform with China's own conditions. Kim said that during his visit in China, he witnessed the outstanding achievements in various fields in South China, especially the special economic zones. China's new look and vigorous development gave him a deep impression and fully proves that China's reform and opening-up policy is correct. He said the WPK and the DPRK government and people feel delighted with China's development and congratulate China on the progress. He said the DPRK firmly believes that the hard-working Chinese people will, under the CPC's leadership with Hu as the general secretary, make new and greater achievements in fulfilling the goal mapped out in the 11th Five-Year Program, the building of a socialist well-off society with harmonious development, and the great cause of realizing the reunification of the motherland. ()

Kim promises to push forward Six-Party Talks
2006-01-19 China Daily
Kim Jong-il, the top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), pledged to push forward nuclear talks during his China trip, which was confirmed Wednesday after a week of media speculation. At a summit with President Hu Jintao, Kim said his country "will stick to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and fulfil the joint statement issued in the fourth round of Six-Party Talks." "The DPRK's stance on promoting Six-Party Talks remains unchanged," Kim was quoted by Xinhua as saying. He said the DPRK is willing to work with China to overcome difficulties in the talks. Kim's trip coincides with negotiators launching a flurry of diplomatic contacts to revive the Six-Party Talks, which began in 2003. The other participants in the talks are the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia. The US envoy on the DPRK's nuclear programmes, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, met Chinese officials yesterday amid reports that he also had a meeting with his DPRK counterpart to revive the disarmament talks. Hill said no date has been set for resuming the talks. Pyongyang agreed in September to give up its nuclear programme in exchange for aid and security assurances. But discussions have stalled since November after Washington imposed sanctions on the DPRK for alleged counterfeiting and other government-directed wrongdoing. The DPRK has refused to return to the negotiations unless Washington lifts the financial sanctions. President Hu, who visited the DPRK between October 28 and 30 last year, reiterated China's principled stance on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, noting that it is a correct choice to settle problems by peaceful means through dialogue. "China is ready to unswervingly make joint efforts with relevant parties including the DPRK to promote the Six-Party Talks process," he said. ()

U.S. deputy secretary of state to visit China
2006-01-20 People's Daily
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will visit China from Jan. 23 to 25, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan announced at a regular press conference in Beijing Thursday. During his visit in Beijing, Zoellick will meet with Chinese leaders and senior officials from the Foreign Ministry exchanging views on China-U.S. relations and on major international and regional issues of common concern, said Kong. In his meeting with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, Zoellick will review issues raised in the last round of China-U.S. strategic talks, and consult on the third round slated in the first half of 2006. China and the United States held two successful strategic talks in August and December last year on issues including trade, intellectual property protection, the Taiwan issue, bird flu, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the RMB exchange rate, which were described by Zoellick as "constructive". Kong made a positive comment on current China-U.S. relations at Thursday's press conference. "Though facing with some problems, bilateral relations are heading forward in an unprecedented width and depth," Kong said, adding the two sides need to keep constant contacts and frequent exchange of views. According to a release from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, Zoellick said in a recent speech that the United States and China are "two large and important stakeholders in the international system". He said he is convinced it is important to keep contact with Chinese colleagues and "look forward to a good exchange of views in Beijing on security and proliferation issues -- particularly in Northeast Asia, and Iran". The talks would focus also on "China's efforts to promote internal openness and reform", and a planned donors conference for Afghanistan, the release said. After Beijing, Zoellick will travel to Chengdu in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, where he will meet with senior local government officials and visit the Chengdu Panda Research Base, said the release. Zoellick's upcoming China visit draws attention of Chinese experts on international relations. Qu Xing, vice president of the China Foreign Affairs University, said Zoellick's visit shows that the United States values China's role in the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and its will to further promote the process of the six-party talks. China's position on Iran's disputed nuclear program is another concern of the U.S. side, said Qu. He said it is of great importance to the two nations to keep strategic contacts in the current complicated international situation. Before proceeding to China, Zoellick is expected to stop in Japan and meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

China willing to enhance legislative cooperation with Sweden
2006-01-20 People's Daily
The Chinese National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, is willing to promote legislative exchanges and cooperation with its Swedish counterpart, Riksdagen, said a senior Chinese legislator on Thursday. Li Tieying, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee who heads a NPC delegation to Sweden, remarked at a meeting with Swedish Parliament's First Deputy Speaker Per Westerberg and Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Bosse Ringholm. Li said China and Sweden have made remarkable achievements in their cooperation in various fields. China's NPC attaches importance to its ties with Riksdagen and is ready to enhance bilateral legislative exchanges and cooperation. Speaking highly of relations with China, the Swedish officials are happy with the rapid development of the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, and wish to upgrade bilateral cooperation in various fields. The NPC delegation arrived in Stockholm on Thursday for a four- day visit at the invitation of Riksdagen. They have visited Denmark and will also visit Germany.

Greece to continue working for lifting EU arms embargo against China
2006-01-20 Xinhuanet
Greece reiterated in Beijing Thursday that it agrees that the EU arms embargo against China should be lifted, and will continue making efforts to this end. Greece made this reaffirmation in the China-Greece joint statement signed here Thursday by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Greece would continue making efforts within the European Union for the early lifting of the arms embargo against China, taking into account the China-EU all-round strategic partnership and relevant conclusions of the EU summit, the statement says. The EU leaders reaffirmed their political will during the EU summit to work towards ending the ban. China has urged the EU on many occasions to lift the arms embargo at an early date. China demands that the European Union observe its political commitment and lift the arms embargo against China as soon as possible, so as to remove the last obstacle to China-EU relations, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Africa wins Beijing's backing in campaign for UN reforms
2006-01-18 SCMP
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has pledged China's support for a permanent African seat on the United Nations Security Council. Speaking during a brief visit to Nigerian capital Abuja on Monday, where he met his Nigerian counterpart, Oluyemi Adeniji, at the airport for 30 minutes, Mr Li said: "China is in support of Africa's aspirations for UN reforms." As Africa's most populous country and the current head of the African Union, Nigeria has spearheaded the continent's push to be represented on the world's top decision-making body. Mr Li cut short his planned three-day trip to Nigeria to travel to Kuwait to offer condolences for the death of former ruler Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, Nigerian officials said. Libya was to have been the last stop on an African tour that has also taken him to Cape Verde, Senegal, Mali and Liberia. Mr Li's trip is aimed at increasing China's diplomatic and economic presence in a region that supplies about a third of its oil. China's top offshore oil producer, China National Offshore Oil Corp, agreed this month to pay US$2.3 billion for a stake in a Nigerian oil and gas field, its largest overseas acquisition. On Friday, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said she did not think "China seeking oil in Africa is a threat to the United States' interests". However, she added, most of China's investment in Africa was limited to oil-producing countries. "So one would hope that China's investment would be broader and that it would contribute not only to China's development and growth ... but it would also contribute to Africa's growth and development," Ms Frazer said. On Thursday in Senegal, Mr Li said he did not plan to sign new energy deals on the trip. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud will visit the mainland for two days from Sunday and is expected to discuss possible co-operation in oil and energy security. ()

SCO to hold 6th summit in Shanghai this June
2006-01-17 People's Daily
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold its sixth summit in its birthplace Shanghai this June, Zhang Deguang, secretary-general of the SCO, said in Beijing Monday. Speaking at a reception commemorating the second anniversary of opening the SCO Secretariat, Zhang said the year 2006 marks the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the SCO, and the coming summit will summarize the work in past five years and put forward the future development. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui said the Shanghai summit will give a strong impetus to the all-round development of the SCO and further expand the organization's influence among the international community. The Chinese side, which is currently holding the presidency, has begun full-scale preparations for the summit and commemoration events, said Li. Before the reception, Zhang told reporters that the SCO will set up a working group handling energy issue in the first half of 2006, discussing possible cooperation within the member states on projects like gas and oil pipe-building, oil exploration and others. "Energy cooperation is a key area of economic cooperation among SCO member states," said Zhang in an interview. "The working group on energy issue will compose of experts in related areas from the six member states," he added. Zhang refutes some media's report calling SCO as "oriental NATO", stressing: "SCO is an organization that advances peace and cooperation, and it will never become a military bloc." He also said the SCO has no intention to absorb new member states at the current stage. "Absorbing new member states needs a legal basis, yet the SCO has no rules concerning the issue. Therefore some western countries have no need to worry about whether India, Iran or other countries would become new members," said Zhang. More than 100 diplomatic envoys of SCO member states in China, representatives from some other countries and international organizations were present at the reception. Dubbed "a new model of regional cooperation", SCO is an intergovernmental international organization founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by six countries of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It also has four observer states, including Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Iran.

Beijing's 'flexible approach appeals to Taiwan people'
2006-01-16 China Daily
Beijing is adopting a soft and pragmatic people-centred approach on cross-Straits ties to counter Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's hard line against the mainland, analysts said yesterday. Experts on Taiwan studies predicted that the mainland's goodwill and sincerity would appeal to more Taiwan people who hope for peace and stability across the Straits. Their comments came after President Hu Jintao pledged on Saturday to provide mainland-based Taiwan business people with better aid and services. During his tour of Xiamen in the eastern province of Fujian, which faces Taiwan across the Straits, Hu said the mainland welcomes more Taiwan people to do business. The president said business collaboration between the mainland and Taiwan benefits people across the Straits as well as the economic development of both sides, Xinhua News Agency reported. Hu also expressed his hope that both sides would establish three direct links trade, transport and postal services across the Taiwan Straits at an early date. Taipei has banned such links since 1949. Li Jiaquan, a researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Hu has sent a clear message that Beijing is focusing on economic issues to serve the fundamental interests of Taiwan people. "By addressing what concerns the Taiwan public most, President Hu is applying the principle of 'putting people first' to deal with cross-Straits issues," he told China Daily. "His flexible and pragmatic approach is in contrast to Chen's unreasonable and irresponsible attitude towards cross-Straits relations." In his New Year speech, Chen used scathing political rhetoric to highlight what he called investment risks on the mainland while vowing to tighten control over cross-Straits economic exchanges. He also repeated a timetable to write a new "constitution" for Taiwan before 2008, a move widely believed to move the island towards de jure "independence." Chen's remarks have drawn mounting criticism from the public on the island, especially the business community, for defying wide expectations for him to take a more conciliatory stance. "When Chen is ignoring local people's common aspirations for economic development and better ties with the mainland, Beijing has moved to heed their call," Li said. "The Taiwan compatriots will decide for themselves which way benefits their well-being most." Mainland-based Taiwan business people yesterday also hailed President Hu's overture as "positive news" for their investment as well as cross-Straits relations. "We feel greatly encouraged by President Hu's goodwill gesture towards Taiwan investors and Taiwan people, given Chen's confrontational overture two weeks ago," said Deng Yao-wen, chairwoman of Zunlong Group. ()

World pledges US$1.8 bln for bird flu control
2006-01-18 Xinhuanet
Over 1.8 billion US dollars of donations were collected for reinforcing global efforts in bird flu prevention and control here on Wednesday at the International Pledging Conference on Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza. "This conference has been very successful," the European Union (EU) commissioner for health and consumer protection Markos Kyprianou said. "Originally, we have estimated the financial need to cover the financial gap was around 1.2 billion U.S. dollars. We went beyond that amount," he told press after the meeting. Sources with China's Foreign Ministry said the pledged donations include 121.6 million U.S. dollars from the the European Commission, 134.9 million U.S. dollars from the EU, 468 billion U.S. dollars from the Asian Development Bank, 334 million U.S. dollars from the United States and 155 million U.S. dollars from Japan. Australia, France, Germany, Canada and Britain also pledged their donations, the ministry said. Kyprianou said nearly one billion U.S. dollars had been pledged in grants, which would go mainly to developing countries "that are in most need." The remaining donations would come in loans, he said. To ensure the fund to be used effectively and productively, the conference adopted a multidonor financing framework report on avian and human influenza. The framework outlines a financing framework that is linked to a set of currently identified priority funding needs. "There are a number of important priorities for grant funding: for the infected or high-risk countries, notably Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam; and for integrated core programs in Africa," the framework report says. The report said the financing framework is designed to be flexible. "Given the nature of the disease, these funding needs can change rapidly, notably if new outbreaks of the animal disease are not addressed in a timely fashion." Meanwhile, participants of the donors' conference also passed a Beijing Declaration, committing themselves to ensuring effective development and implementation of integrated national action plans guided by political leaders at the highest level and mobilizing all sorts of resources in their own countries to join the global fight against bird flu. They also pledged to subscribe to a long-term strategic partnership between the international community and the countries currently affected or at risk in which adequate and prompt financial and technical support is mobilized to support those countries. The declaration says the countries are committed to sharing information and relevant biological materials related to avian influenza and developing capacity and infrastructure in animal and public health sectors. "We've got an excellent declaration," UN's coordinator on avian and human influenza David Nabarro said, adding that the commitments were made "not only in terms of cash, but also in terms of partnership, in terms of openness on information, in terms of cooperation on research, in terms of evaluating results and impact." The conference was held under the co-sponsorship of the Chinese government, the European Commission and the World Bank. Nearly 700 representatives from over 100 countries and 20 international institutions attended the conference. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivered a speech at the conference, announcing that the Chinese government would donate 10 million U.S. dollars to the global combat against avian influenza. He also promised that China will continue to offer assistance within its capacity to its neighboring countries through bilateral channels. Avian influenza has now spread from Asia to the Middle East and Europe with the prospect that the disease might also spread to Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. ()

'No evidence' that Tamiflu combats bird flu
2006-01-19 SCMP
Influenza experts say they have found no credible evidence that the drug Tamiflu is effective against the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. In an article published in The Lancet medical journal today, they also warn against over-reliance on Tamiflu and other drugs in global preparations to prevent a pandemic triggered by bird flu. They say it could inhibit development of other measures to fight the disease. The researchers from the Cochrane Vaccines Field in Rome and the University of Queensland in Australia say they reached their conclusion after reviewing data from 51 clinical trials of two classes of antivirals, including Tamiflu. "As viral load and virulence of pandemic viruses are considerably higher than those of seasonal influenza viruses, the use of neuraminidase inhibitors [such as Tamiflu] in a serious epidemic or pandemic should not be considered without concomitant measures, such as barriers, distance, and personal hygiene," they say in the article. "Over-reliance on a pharmacological solution to the ravages of influenza may impede the development and implementation of broader intervention strategies based on public-health measures." They say they found "no credible evidence" that the drug was effective against the deadly H5N1 virus. Older antivirals amantadine and rimantadine should also not be used for seasonal or pandemic influenza control because they are ineffective and can cause adverse side effects such as hallucinations, the researchers say. The Lancet article comes days after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director, Julie Gerberding, urged doctors not to prescribe amantadine and rimantadine after discovering the predominant strain of this year's seasonal flu virus had built up high levels of resistance to them at alarming speed. Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist with Cochrane, said Tamiflu and related drug Relenza did not stop viruses being spread through sneezing. But they did diminish the effect, the study added. Consultant at Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection, Thomas Tsang Ho-fai, said the centre would keep monitoring the situation and any new developments. But he said guidelines for doctors on prescribing Tamiflu would remain the same regardless of The Lancet findings. Flu expert Malik Peiris, professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said there was no real need to change the guidelines. "This ... analysis of all the data does support the fact that Tamiflu and Relenza do shorten the course of the illness by one and half days or so. So it is not something dramatically different," he said. "It is important that it will be left up to the government to make whatever stockpiles they need and for physicians to prescribe the best as they see fit but people should not be panicking and taking these pills left right and centre. That will certainly make things worse." The World Health Organisation has asked governments to stockpile Tamiflu as part of a flu pandemic preparedness plan.

 

Domestic Policy

China reports new human death from bird flu
2006-01-19 China Daily
A Chinese woman in southwest China's Sichuan Province died from bird flu, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, bringing the country's total death toll from the disease to six. The 35-year-old woman surnamed Wei from Zhoujiaxiang Village of Jianyang City died on January 11, the ministry said on its Web site.The woman -- a poultry slaughterer -- lived in a village where domestic birds had died, the statement said, though it did not say if they had succumbed to the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus to which the victim tested positive. This is the ninth human case of bird flu reported in China. Those having close contact with the new victim have been put under medical observation. So far, none of them has shown abnormal symptoms. The new case had been reported to the World Health Organization, the ministry said. ()

HK finds H5N1-positive wild bird carcass
2006-01-19 Xinhuanet
A dead wild bird in Hong Kong has been confirmed of positive to the virus of H5N1, announced the local authorities on Thursday, but they dismissed the fear that there is an outbreak of avian influenza in the city. "In Hong Kong, it's the first time we have found the virus on the species," said an official from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). However, "there's no cause of alarm," said the official, for patrol conducted in a five kilometer-radius circle had found no avian influenza on poultry farms. Neither did further survey over Hong Kong's other poultry farms find bird flu, caused by H5N1, or poultry abnormality, the official told a news conference broadcast live. The authorities therefore decided to keep open a wetland park, where the body of the wild bird was found. The body of the wild bird, magpie robin, was collected on Jan. 10 in the country area of Tai Po, northeastern of the Hong Kong Island. Laboratory test had confirmed that the wild bird was positive to the virus of H5N1, which has caused the bird flu now epidemic around the world. Previous to this case, Hong Kong has kept a zero-outbreak record and the authorities have launched aggressive campaign to prevent the disease from entering the territory. There has no clue as how and where disease affected the dead magpie robin, a common species in Hong Kong and the southern part of China, said the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Though reiterating there's no need to panic, the authorities again reminded the public to pay attention to personal hygiene so as not to be affected.

China's fight against bird flu has big financial gap
2006-01-18 People's Daily
China's fight against the avian/human pandemic influenza is facing a relatively big financial gap, said China's Chief Veterinary Jia Youling in Beijing Tuesday. Jia made the remarks at a conference in Beijing aimed to collect global financial resources to stop the disease from further spreading among birds and from birds to humans. As one of the earliest countries that reported bird flu cases, China has taken a number of forceful and effective measures in curbing the disease. Yet China is now in need of financial, technical and material assistance from the international community to help it with the thorough prevention and control of bird flu. The specific urgencies include the strengthening of grassroots capabilities to prevent and control bird flu, better quarantine measures at the customs, an improved system on monitoring migratory birds, more efficient research on and spread of vaccine, anti-viral drugs and fast-diagnosis technologies, more effective training of veterinaries and health workers and increased public awareness. According to governmental statistics, 32 reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian flu (HPAI) in China in 2005 killed 154,600 birds. And 22.57 million birds were culled in a bid to wipe out the disease. The cordon placed on 31 epidemic regions have been lifted so far. Jia admitted that China has achieved initial results in combating bird flu but the overall situation remains severe. "The problems in China's fight against bird flu are tough." China has the largest number of poultry in the world, of which 60 percent are raised by separate households. Most rural and western areas have weak competence to prevent and control animal epidemics and poor medical service system. Geological positions also add difficulty to the country's efforts curbing the disease with three out of the eight migratory routes for birds crossing its territory. "Most population and most birds meant huge responsibilities and heavy tasks for China," said a WHO official who is unwilling to be named. ()

Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak under control
2006-01-19 China Daily
A recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease near Xuzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province, has been brought under control, according to experts in the province. All the cows raised in Duanzhai Village, Xinyi County have been slaughtered and disinfection work has been done, Yuan Rijin, an expert with Jiangsu Agriculture and Forestry Bureau in charge of the investigation of the disease, said yesterday. About 20 cows in the village were reported to be showing the symptoms of slobbering and water blistering on January 11. Experts from Jiangsu Agriculture and Forestry Bureau confirmed the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease after an investigation on January 12. A total of 100 cows raised in the village were killed and buried on January 13 in order to prevent further infection, said Yuan. Experts sent by the Ministry of Agriculture said on Monday that the cows in Duanzhai Village suffered Asian I type of foot-and-mouth disease, defined by the World Health Organization as a Level A highly contagious disease between domestic animals. No other cases of infection have been reported in surrounding villages, according to Xu Caizhu, spokesman of Xinyi government. "The outbreak is under control," he said. According to Xu, currently more than 30 people organized by the local government have been guarding the two entrances to the village since Saturday, to prevent the disease from spreading. The village has been disinfected twice daily since the disease broke out, and facilities used by the cows have been either destroyed or fully disinfected, said Xu. All domestic animals that might be infected by the disease have been immunized, he added. Seven people who raised the infected cattle are being kept in isolation for observation, Xu said.

China appoints new vice foreign ministers
2006-01-19 Xinhuanet
The State Council has appointed Lu Guozeng and Li Jinzhang as vice foreign ministers, according to an announcement Thursday. The State Council has also appointed Dou Yupei as vice-minister of Civil Affairs and Wei Chao'an vice-minister of Agriculture. It has removed Lu Xinhua from the post of vice foreign minister.

32,000 investigated for corruption
2006-01-20 China Daily
More than 32,000 people were investigated last year by public prosecutors in China for alleged corruption, and over half were found to be guilty, according to sources with the Supreme People's Procuratorate. "We still face a serious task in fighting corruption," Xinhua News Agency quoted an official with the anti-corruption and bribery bureau of the Supreme People's Procuratorate as saying in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province. Officials abusing their rights in personnel arrangement, justice and project authorization will be the focus for punishment. Other major target areas include finance, project contracting, land management, mineral development and government purchasing, sources said. Meanwhile, the corruption case of the former vice-secretary of Shanxi Provincial Party Committee Hou Wujie is being reviewed by the No 1 Branch of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate, and a decision will be made soon. He was charged with accepting bribes of some US$100,000 from Shao Jianwei, the vice-director of the Taiyuan Municipal Bureau of Public Security, who was seeking promotion. Hou was dismissed from post and expelled from the Party in 2005. In related news, former vice-president of the Agricultural Development Bank of China Hu Chushou was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for accepting bribes worth US$789,000.

1,740 officials accused of dereliction of duty
2006-01-15 Xinhuanet
Chinese procuratorates at various levels investigated 1,740 government officials in 1,522 cases of dereliction of duty related to violation of the order of the market economy from August to November in 2005. The figures were disclosed by Wang Zhenchuan, vice procurator-general of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) at a national meeting on anti-dereliction of duty. He added that the cases caused 2 billion yuan of direct economic losses. The SPP launched a special campaign to crack down on government officials' dereliction of duty which severely affected economic development and caused severe losses for citizens, in July 2005. In the campaign, investigation of 21 major cases topped the work agenda of the procuratorates at various levels, including the coal mine flooding accident in Xingning county of south China's Guangdong Province, the coal mine explosion accident and its fatalities cover-up scandal in Ningwu County of north China's Shanxi Province, and the cases of inferior-quality fertilizer sales in Huai'an City of east China's Jiangsu Province. The SPP has taken measures to fight dereliction of duty, including setting up anti-dereliction of duty organs in procuratorates of various levels. "The country's prosecuting bodies have for long lacked professionals specialized in investigating dereliction of duty. To set up anti-dereliction of duty bureaus in prosecuting bodies at different levels will recruit more professionals to fight against dereliction of duty," said a SPP source. He said the country's prefecture-level and county-level procuratorates would all have anti-dereliction of duty bureaus by June this year.

Protest after police crack down on vice
2006-01-20 SCMP
Hundreds of protesters clashed with armed police outside the Shenzhen government office yesterday after authorities shut down dozens of discos and massage parlours in an attempt to clean up the city's image. The protest was one of the largest in central Shenzhen in recent years. More than 3,000 people - most of them workers at nightclubs and massage parlours - marched to the government office in Futian to voice their anger. The authorities despatched 5,000 armed police, security guards and plain-clothes officers to the scene. The two sides faced off near the government building and the roads had to be closed temporarily. "I saw hundreds of armed police arrive by bus. They surrounded the protesters and told them to disperse. There were some minor clashes and about 10 people were arrested," said a taxi driver who witnessed the protest. He said some of the protesters were stripped down to their underwear by the police. Armoured vehicles were also called in. Police dispersed the crowd after about half an hour. The protesters were put in buses and taken away. The showdown came after the Shenzhen government closed more than 100 discos and nightclubs in the Shazuicun red-light district on Wednesday. The authorities said these premises were operating without proper licences. The city government has launched several anti-vice campaigns over the past two years to try to clean up the area.

Leadership dismisses rights group's report
2006-01-20 SCMP
Beijing lashed out at an international human rights group yesterday for its routinely dim assessment of the situation on the mainland. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in its annual report that China remained beset by widespread abuses of citizens' rights. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said he did not bother to read the report. "The Human Rights Watch organisation has always held a strong prejudice against China's government, people and realities." He said China had made "unprecedented" efforts to improve citizens' legal rights, but "as in other developing countries constrained by natural conditions, history and levels of politics and economic development, China does have room for improvement".

Family of dead teen paid to keep quiet: villagers
2006-01-17 SCMP
The family of a 15-year-old Zhongshan schoolgirl beaten to death on Saturday during a clash over land disputes is believed to have received 130,000 yuan to say their daughter died after a heart attack, villagers said yesterday. An aunt of second-year middle school student Feng Meiying said the girl's body was cremated yesterday, but declined to say if she had been killed by police. "My niece did not come to the highway [demonstration scene] on Saturday night because it is far from our home. She died of heart trouble," the aunt said. Meiying's father hung up the phone when the South China Morning Post asked whether his daughter was beaten to death. Residents of Sinfeng village, Sanjiao township, where the Feng family lives, said the family had received 130,000 yuan from the local government. "I believe they are lying," a villager said. Another villager said Meiying was seen throwing rocks at police during the protest. One resident said he saw Meiying beaten unconscious after being dragged from underneath a police car. "More than 200 pairs of eyes witnessed the girl being beaten," he said, adding that police attacked everyone they came across. Officials from various levels of the Zhongshan government contacted yesterday denied Meiying died during the clash. A Zhongshan municipal propaganda department spokesman said the girl's death was a rumour. "I hope you will not be misled by it," he said. Another spokesman for the Sanjiao township government said police never used force to disperse villagers. A township government official confirmed Meiying's death, but said it was not related to the clash as the girl died on Friday, a day before Saturday's clashes. An employee of the Hong Kong textile company which bought the land from the township government said it had no knowledge of the land dispute. Nearly 1,000 villagers staged a sit-in outside government offices and blocked traffic on Saturday near the provincial expressway connecting Guangdong with Beijing. It was the latest chapter in a 12-year battle to obtain reasonable compensation for land taken by local governments for industrial development. No villagers were at the scene of the demonstration last night, with the area under tight surveillance as police cars patrolled from one village to another. The Zhongshan Daily yesterday reported more than 300 armed police had been sent to the scene to disperse thousands of protesters and onlookers on the highway. It said no one died in the incident, but two police officers were injured when the villagers threw firecrackers. A woman from Heping village said they blocked the highway to attract media attention because there were seven villages involved in the land disputes. "We are fighting for later generations because the township government sold our land to a Hong Kong-owned textile factory for 50 years," she said. The resident said about 12 hectares in her village had been requisitioned by the government. Officials promised to pay them 180,000 yuan for one hectare three years ago. "They paid us 600 to 700 yuan a year in rent three years ago, but not a cent after that," she said, adding that officials even refused to let them see the land contracts with the Hong Kong company. She said villagers suspected public funds had been embezzled by the township government. "We have to fight for justice at any cost."

 

Economy

Unemployment to remain at 4.6%
2006-01-20 China Daily
China will contain the registered unemployment rate in urban areas under 4.6 per cent this year, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MOLSS) said yesterday in Beijing. "In urban areas and townships, about 9 million people are expected to find jobs. Of the 5 million laid-off workers from State-owned enterprises, 1 million of those above the age of 40 will get the opportunity to return to work," said Hu Xiaoyi, spokesman of MOLSS. "Without effective policies, these goals will be hard to meet," said Mo Rong, deputy-director of the Institute for Labour Studies under MOLSS. An important document was released in November 2005 that focused on improving the employment and re-employment rate. "Besides policy support, market mechanisms will also play an important role," said Hu. "Self-employed workers will also get preferential policies," Hu added. ()

Personal savings hit record US$1.7 trillion
2006-01-17 China Daily
China's personal savings rose to a record 14 trillion yuan (US$1.7 trillion) at the end of last year, mainly because people put aside more money to pay for education, health care and housing, analysts said yesterday. The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, said on Sunday that savings reached 14.1 trillion yuan (US$1.74 trillion), or more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) per capita. The figure was 12.6 trillion yuan (US$1.56 trillion) for 2004. Yet, even as people get richer, they have become more cautious in their spending. "People are forced to save for future expenditure," said Peng Longyun, a senior economist with the Asian Development Bank's Resident Mission in China. According to an earlier report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, education, housing and medical costs have become the "three mountains" weighing on the shoulders of the Chinese people. In addition, culture and tradition are also factors behind the high savings rate. "Compared to Americans, Chinese people are more inclined to save their money in banks rather than spend it," said Qi Jingmei, a senior economist with the State Information Centre. The lack of sophisticated wealth-management services and products also contributes to high savings. "Wealth management in China is still in its infancy. Although people want to invest, they don't have many channels." Qi said. She added that services provided by banks for common people are particularly limited, leaving them with no option but to save. Public consumption contributed only 37.8 per cent to China's gross domestic product in 2004, compared to 60 per cent in the United States. Critics have noted that China's economy relies too much on investment, which accounts for 48.1 per cent of its GDP. The government has already announced tax policies to redress the balance between investment and consumption, such as raising the threshold for personal income tax. Yet the country is unlikely to see a big surge in consumer spending in the next few years, said Qi. ()

China has 111 million Internet users
2006-01-18 Xinhuanet
The number of Chinese netizens rose to 111 million at the end of 2005, an increase of 17 million from a year ago, according to statistics released Tuesday. This means 8.5 percent of Chinese people have become netizens, namely people that use the Internet for at least one hour each week. The ratio, however, remains behind the global level of 15.2 percent. Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) also reveal that 64.3 million Chinese netizens have broadband access to the Internet, up 50.2 percent from a year ago. There exists a wide gap between Internet use in cities and rural areas, the statistics show. There are 19.31 million netizens in the rural areas, making up only 2.6 percent of the rural population. There are around 91.69 million netizens in cities, making up 16.9 percent of the urban population, according to the CNNIC. Internet users had paid 100 billion yuan (12.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the services last year, said China Internet Information Center. The report said the actual Internet expense of each netizen amounted to 103.6 yuan (12.9 U.S. dollars) per month on the average, excluding the charges of various kinds of services like the e-commerce provided many websites. Currently the Internet popularization ratio in China is 8.5 percent, much higher than the world's average of 1.52 percent.

China becomes world's 2nd largest auto market
2006-01-16 Xinhuanet
More vehicles were sold in China last year than in Japan, making China the world's second-largest auto market after the United States with almost 6 million units sold, the People's Daily said Friday. But if imports of 160,000 cars were excluded, China was still No. 3, the paper said. Domestic vehicle sales last year rose 14 percent from 2004 to 5.8 million units, the newspaper said, referring only to China-made products. Sales this year of vehicles are expected to grow 10 to 15 percent to 6.4 to 6.6 million units, the report said, citing figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. But sales of passenger vehicles, including sedans and sport utility vehicles, jumped 21 percent to nearly 4 million units, the newspaper said, bouncing back from a relatively lackluster rise of 15 percent in 2004. In 2003, sales almost doubled. Car sales had been slowing, due in part to the government's crackdown on easy auto credit to help cool an overheating Chinese economy. The stronger performance in 2005 was partly due to healthy sales in secondary markets in poorer inland provinces, the paper said, quoting an official at the auto association. China has turned into a booming market for automakers stuggling under discounting in saturated mature markets like Europe and the United States. Earlier this month, General Motors Corp. announced a 35 percent rise in China sales to 665,390 vehicles in 2005, exceeding the combined 564,300 units sold by Volkswagen AG's two Chinese joint ventures.

 

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

Govt ousted Friday 13th
2006-01-18 Mongol Messenger
MPs spent two days debating the MPRP cabinet members' resignations before the 39 MPs who voted unanimously ejected Prime Minister Ts. Elbegdorj's government from power five minutes before midnight on Friday 13th, regarded in many countries as an unlucky day. The Democratic Party, Civil Will- Republican Party and the independents did not vote and left the chamber. Twenty-nine MPs from the MPRP joined Democrats J. Narantsatsralt, M. Enkhsaikhan, J. Batkhuyag and M. Sonompil, L. Gundalai (POP), Motherland Party's B. Erdenebat, Ts. Jargal, S. Otgonbayar and B. Tserenbaljir and B. Jargalsaikhan (Republican Party) to vote for the ousting. Of the 18 cabinet ministers, 5 were not entitled to vote as they were not MPs. They included Prime Minister Ts.Elbegdorj; N. Althankhuyag (Finance); P. Tsagaan (Education, Culture and Science); D. Dorligjav (Professional Inspection Agency) and U. Barsbold (Education). The other nine MP ministers were MPRP members: Deputy Prime Minister Ch. Ulaan; T. Gandi (Health); Ts. Sharavdorj (Defence); D. Terbishdagva (Food and Agriculture); S. Batbold (Industry and Commerce); Ts. Munkh-Orgil (Foreign Affairs); T. Ochirkhuu (Fuel and Energy), Su. Batbold (Justice) and U. Khurelsukh (National Emergency Management Agency). DP cabinet ministers who are MPs but could not vote were S. Bayartsogt (Cabinet Secretariat); N. Batbayar (Construction and Urban Development); G. Batkhuu (Roads, Transport and Tourism) and Ts. Bayarsaikhan (Social Welfare and Labour). After the vote, parliament resolved to dismiss the Elbegdorj government under provision 6 of article 25.1 and part two of provision 43 of the constitution. The resolution also said that the ousted prime minister and cabinet would continue in office pro tem, until replaced. After the dismissal, outgoing Prime Minister Ts. Elbegdorj said that he could not agree with the reasons for the dismissal. "There is a dividend of over Tg100 billion for Mongolia in the Erdenet ore plant, which could be spent on education and health. There is a budget surplus of Tg60 billion. I am happy to hand over these resources to resolve priority issues for the nation." Closing the session, Speaker Ts. Nyamdorj thanked Elbegdorj and his cabinet for their work for more than a year in difficult political conditions. "For the remaining three years there will still be difficult conditions, and we must show tolerance in cooperation. I am confident the two major political parties will collaborate without slamming the doors in each other's faces." The MPRP cabinet members who applied for leave to resign, precipitating the crisis, were Deputy Prime Minister Ch. Ulaan, U. Barsbold, T. Gandi, T. Ochirkhuu, U. Khurelsukh, Su. Batbold, Ts. Munkh-Orgil, S. Batbold, D. Terbishdagva and Ts. Sharavdorj. Their reasons included that the Motherland-Democracy Coalition had broken up; the MPRP-DP contract no longer had legitimacy due to non-fulfillment of its basic principles; and there were irreconcilable differences between the prime minister and the MPRP. The speaker sent the resignation applications to the structure standing committee, which began to consider the matter at 12.30am January 12.

 

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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