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
  13.2-17.2.06, No. 102  
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Foreign Policy

Pakistani president's China visit believed to spur bilateral ties
2006-02-17 Xinhuanet
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's imminent visit to China will help push forward the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership of cooperation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday. At the invitation of President Hu Jintao, Pakistani President Musharraf will pay a state visit to China from Feb. 19 to 23. Qin told a regular press conference that during the president's stay in China, Musharraf and Chinese leaders will exchange in-depth views on promoting bilateral ties and on international and regional issues of common concern. The related departments from the two countries will sign some documents of cooperation. China and Pakistan are friendly neighbors which share all-weather friendship and all-scope cooperation, Qin said, noting the all-scope cooperation is also reflected in the cooperation between the two sides in combating the "three evil forces", namely terrorism, separatism and extremism. Qin said China and Pakistan in recent years have made sound cooperation and close coordination in cracking down on the "three evil forces". The two sides enjoy common interests in this field, and increasing cooperation between the two sides in this sphere is conducive to the peace and stability of the two nations and of the region, he noted. Pakistan is an observer country of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which was established to safeguard regional peace, security and stability. "We expect more and increased cooperation with Pakistan in this field," Qin said. Noting that Sino-Pakistan relations have witnessed stable and healthy development in recent years, Qin said this year is the 55th anniversary of the forging of China-Pakistan diplomatic ties, and Musharraf's visit will unveil a series of events marking the anniversary. "I am convinced that Musharraf's visit to China will come to a successful ending," the spokesman said.

No plan to evacuate Chinese from Pakistan
2006-02-17 China Daily
China has no plan to evacuate its engineers and technicians from Pakistan after gunmen shot dead three Chinese engineers there on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. "A lot of Chinese work and live in Pakistan, and I don't think they should leave the country because of the incident," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press conference. The shooting happened at around 5 pm when the engineers' car was attacked in the town of Hub, about 700 kilometers southeast of Quetta, the Balochistan provincial capital. Two died on the spot, and another died later in a hospital. The Pakistani driver was also killed but three other Chinese in the car escaped unhurt. The attackers fled on motorcycle after the shooting, local police said. The victims Long Hongbao, Wei Jianping and Zhao Bin are from the Hefei Cement Research & Design Institute in East China's Anhui Province. They were in Pakistan to offer technical services for the construction of a local cement factory, scheduled to be completed in the first half of this year. Their bodies have been taken to the southern port city of Karachi. The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce have sent task forces to handle the aftermath of the killings. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao asked Pakistan to track down the gunmen and ensure the safety of some 1,000 Chinese workers in the country. Hu, who was informed about the killings late on Wednesday evening, ordered the Foreign Ministry, the embassy and consulates to urgently deal with the matter; and extended condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims. Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri at 1 am yesterday and urged Pakistan to properly deal with the aftermath, catch the killers as soon as possible and make utmost efforts to ensure the safety of Chinese people in Pakistan. Kasuri asked Li to convey condolences from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Hu and from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to Premier Wen Jiabao on the death of the engineers. He told Li that the Pakistani Government would do its utmost to catch the murderers and ensure the safety of Chinese people. Pakistan also issued a statement of strong condemnation. ()

Strategic vision vital for US-China relations
2006-02-17 China Daily
The United States should view and handle its relations with China from a "long-term and strategic vision" so that bilateral ties can develop "in the correct direction." Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remark at a regular press briefing yesterday in response to rising criticism of China in Washington on issues such as the trade balance and the value of the renminbi. On Tuesday, US Trade Representative Rob Portman released a review of Washington's trade relations with China, urging the Bush administration to take a tougher stance against China by rigorously enforcing trade laws. China's Ministry of Commerce has yet to respond to the report. Qin said it is normal to have some frictions during the rapid development and expansion of bilateral trade "but they should be solved properly through consultation between the two sides working as equal partners." He noted that Sino-US trade is mutually beneficial. "It is not unilateral, nor is it a favour granted by one side to the other." Qin cited Christmas as an example when Americans benefit greatly from low-cost gifts and artificial trees made in China. Exerting pressure or threatening to use sanctions is detrimental not only to Sino-US trade relations, but also to the interests of the US itself, he said. In his review, Portman asked the Bush administration to use "all options available" to compel China to "live up to commitments to open its markets and enforce intellectual property rights." On the Dalai Lama's visit to the Middle East, Qin said it is aimed at "internationalizing" the Tibet question and splitting the motherland. "China is firmly opposed to his visit," he said. He made the remarks as the Dalai Lama began a five-day visit to the Middle East.

German, Mexican FM to visit China
2006-02-16 People's Daily / Xinhuanet
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, will pay an official visit to China from Feb. 22 to 23 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. This was announced by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, secretary of Foreign Relations of the United States of Mexico, will pay an official visit to China from Feb. 19 to 21 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. This was announced by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang here Wednesday.

Chinese, Myanmar PMs hold talks, vowing to further neighborly ties
2006-02-15 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win on Tuesday in Beijing, vowing to further promote friendly ties between the two neighbors. The Premier said China and Myanmar have developed their bilateral relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and have carried out effective mutually-beneficial cooperation since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 55 years ago. ()The Chinese government attaches importance to the development of China-Myanmar relations, hoping the two countries will continue to cement bilateral traditional friendship and enhance cooperation in various fields so as to achieve common development, said Wen. Highlighting trade cooperation between China and Myanmar as the two countries enjoy complementary economies, Wen proposed the two countries, taking advantage of favorable tariff treatment China has provided, expand bilateral trade and materialize major cooperative projects on energy, resources and infrastructure construction. Wen called on more coordination under such multilateral mechanisms as 10+1, 10+3 and Greater Mekong Sub-region and promoting regional economic cooperation. Wen also encouraged businesses of the two countries to make direct contacts and enhance personnel and technical exchanges. Responding to Soe Win's introduction on the domestic situation, Wen stressed that Myanmar's internal affairs should be solved by its government and people. "As Myanmar's neighboring country, China sincerely hopes that Myanmar could continue to push forward reconciliation at home and realize economic development and social progress," Wen said. Soe Win said the Myanmar government and people appreciate the firm support and selfless help China has offered over the years, and regard China as a sincere friend. The Myanmar government will unswervingly adhere to friendly policies towards China, and sticks to the one-China principle, said Soe Win, adding that Myanmar will join hands with China to enhance the traditional friendship between the two peoples and facilitate the bilateral mutual-beneficial cooperation. Soe Win said he fully agrees with the proposals Premier Wen has made. ()

Cambodia reiterates one-China policy
2006-02-14 People's Daily
Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated on Monday that the Cambodian government adheres to the "one-China" policy and will not support any move that aims at destroying China's reunification cause. The Cambodian government, once again, reiterates its firm position to only support one-China policy, and wishes to see China continues its peaceful reunification process, Hun Sen said in a statement released Monday. The prime minister made the statement following remarks made by Chen Shuibian, leader of Taiwan authorities, which were aimed at splitting Taiwan from China. Taiwan Island is just a part of China and it is not entitled to act anything that contradicts to the whole process of China's reunification, Hun Sen said in the statement.

Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through negotiations, FM spokesman
2006-02-17 People's Daily
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that the Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved through diplomatic negotiations. In a regular press conference, Qin called for sober-mindedness, restraint and patience to settle the issue. He told reporters that China is very concerned with the latest developments of the Iranian nuclear issue and China's position is always consistent and clear: China is in opposition to any proliferation of nuclear weapons. China will continue to make efforts together with the international community in order to settle the issue at an early date, the spokesman said.

China has no connection with Japanese firm's nuclear-related export
2006-02-15 Xinhuanet
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday claimed that China has no connection with the allegation that a Japanese company has illegally exported nuclear-related machinery to China. Spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference Tuesday afternoon that China's position on nuclear non-proliferation is very clear: China is in resolute opposition to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in any form. As a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Liu said, China will firmly fulfil its responsibility and obligations. According to Japanese media, Tokyo police on Monday raided Japan's Mitutoyo Corporation, a precision instruments maker. The police alleged that the company was illegally exporting machinery that could be used in uranium enrichment, a key process in making a nuclear bomb. "In fact, the Japanese police said the company exported such machines to Japanese companies in China. We have collected some information and we believe this issue has no connection with China judging from the current situation," the spokesman said.

Fourth round of China-Japan strategic talks held in Tokyo
2006-02-13 People's Daily
The fourth round of China-Japan strategic talks were held in Japan from Friday to Saturday between Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi. The talks covered a variety of issues, and the two sides exchanged ideas in frank manners on how to deal with the remarkable problems blocking the development of bilateral relations. Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Ministry Department of Asian Affairs chief Hu Zhengyue, and Kenichiro Sasae, chief of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asia-Oceania bureau took part in the talks.

 

Domestic Policy

Cross-border heroin ring smashed
2006-02-16 China Daily
A two-year operation involving Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Thai police forces has smashed a cross-border drug ring, resulting in the arrest of 11 people and the seizing of 57.4 kilograms of heroin. It is the first drug-trafficking case involving co-operation by mainland and Taiwan police, General Administration of Customs announced yesterday in Beijing. Initial investigations indicate that the alleged ringleader Zhong Wan-yi, a Taiwanese, who had long been hiding near the Thai border in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, had engaged in drug trafficking to Taiwan. The location is near the "Golden Triangle," an area notorious for drug trafficking that covers parts of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, but no part of China. The sequence of events emerged in a statement released yesterday by the administration. April 2004: Yunnan border police were informed that a drug trafficking group with Zhong as its head were seeking refuge in Kunming, posing as Taiwan businessmen. The investigation found that the group had heroin supplies from the triangle area and then smuggled them from Bangkok to Taiwan aboard container ships. This information was later passed to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Taiwan and narcotics control departments in Thailand, and a joint task force was set up. ()

Police crack major oil smuggling case
2006-02-17 China Daily
An oil smuggling case worth about 14.4 million yuan (US$1.8 million) has been cracked recently by customs officials in the capital city of East China's Fujian Province. Officers detained 19 suspects who evaded taxes of more than 3.4 million yuan (US$422,000) in the case, 12 of whom were prosecuted on Tuesday. More than 3,600 tons of oil were involved in the smuggling operation. It is one of the largest cases of its kind uncovered in recent years in the province, according to Fuzhou Customs. In June last year, the anti-smuggling department under Fuzhou Customs received a report over smuggled oil being sold in the province's Pingtan County. Local customs officers looked into the case and found that a gang of smugglers often bought oil in the area around Taiwan Straits and then resold it through a middleman in the markets in Pingtan and the city of Fuqing. On August 25, customs officials in Pingtan, Quanzhou and Fuzhou captured 18 members of the gang in a joint operation. The final major suspect was caught in October. Further investigations revealed that, colluding with Taiwan criminals, the gang was led by Lao Li, who purchased fishery oil quotas given by Taiwan authorities to local fishermen. The smugglers then sold the oil to buyers on the mainland to make big profits. The gang carried out about 40 runs of bringing the diesel oil to the mainland from April last year before being apprehended. Driven by high profits, oil smuggling has been rampant in recent years in Fujian, said He Huaxiang, an official with Fuzhou Customs. According to He, Taiwan and other smugglers overseas convert their fishing boats into makeshift oil tankers and sell the oil illegally to mainland accomplices in the sea areas around Taiwan Straits. Their trade is often held secretly in inshore areas, which are hard to cover by anti-smuggling departments.

Communist Party of China vows heavier crackdown on corruption
2006-02-14 Xinhuanet
The discipline watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) pledged heavier crackdown on corruption and other acts violating the CPC's disciplines, according to its work report released Monday. "The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC punished 115,143 members last year, accounting for 1.7 per thousand of the party membership total," says the report on the work of the commission, delivered by secretary Wu Guanzheng at the commission's Sixth Plenary Session on Jan. 5. Of the punished members, 15,177 have been handed over to judicial departments for suspected involvement in criminal activities, the report says. The report disclosed that disciplinary organs of various levels put on file for investigation 147,539 cases involving violations of the CPC's disciplines from December 2004 through November 2005. Of these cases, 148,931 cases have been closed, which resulted in the expulsion of 24,188 members from the CPC. According to the report, 4,878 officials nationwide admitted they owned stakes in coal mines, with a total registered capital of 737 million yuan (91 million U.S. dollars). Of this, 562 million yuan (69.4 million U.S. dollars) had been withdrawn by November 2005. "A campaign to make government officials and leaders of state-owned enterprises give up their shares in coal mines has achieved initial success," Wu said in the report. ()

China announces 8th human death of bird flu
2006-02-11 Xinhuanet
A woman in Central China's Hunan Province has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll of the disease to eight, China's Ministry of Health reported on Friday. The victim is a 20-year-old farmer surnamed Long from Suining County of Hunan. She showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on Jan. 27 after culling poultry raised in her home. She died on Feb.4, the ministry said. Long's samples tested H5N1 positive by both the Hunan provincial center for disease control and prevention and China's national centre. She had been confirmed to be infected with bird flu in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government, said the ministry. Those having close contacts with Long have been put under medical observation by local health authorities. So far, no abnormal symptoms have been reported. The ministry has reported the new case to the WHO, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as several countries. This was the 12th human case of bird flu reported in China. Previously, the country reported 11 cases, among whom seven died. Chinese health officials said Friday that some cases of human infection of bird flu were caused by environmental contamination. The human cases found in the areas, where no outbreak of bird flu in animals had been reported, were caused by environmental contamination by sick or dead birds, said Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, at a press conference. About one third of the reported human cases of bird flu in the world were found in areas with no outbreak in animals, said Mao, adding the exact channels of the human infection are under investigation. A total of 166 cases involving 88 deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Feb. 9, according to the WHO Web site.

HK on high alert against bird flu outbreak
2006-02-16 Xinhuanet
Hong Kong is facing an increasing threat of the outbreak of avian influenza but the government will spare no effort in safeguarding the public from the lethal virus, an official said Thursday. Carrie Yau, the permanent secretary for health, welfare and food bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, made the remarks at a committee meeting Thursday afternoon to review the precautionary measures adopted by various relevant departments to guard against bird flu. Yau, also the chairperson of the Inter-Departmental Action Co-ordinating Committee, said there was no room for complacency and the government should continue to be on high alert and be prepare for the bird flu threat. HKSAR has stepped up its precautionary measures and strengthened surveillance on wild birds as well as poultry farms and stalls in recent weeks. Customs officers, in conjunction with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, have also tightened inspections at sea, land and air boundaries to deter smuggling activities on birds and poultry. To reduce the risk of H5N1 infection among poultry, Hong Kong has banned all backyard poultry as of Monday. The AFCD and the Environmental Protection Department will continue to inspect the villages to enforce the ban and seize backyard poultry. ()

China issues first guidelines on HIV
2006-02-13 China Daily
China issued its first official regulations on how to prevent and control the spread of the AIDS virus Sunday, mandating free testing and medication for the country's poor. The statute issued by the State Council, China's cabinet, protects HIV carriers and AIDS patients from discrimination and criminalizes intentionally spreading the disease, the Xinhua News Agency said. The law, which takes effect March 1, holds local governments responsible for providing free medication to impoverished patients. Local governments also must offer free consultations and treatment to infected pregnant women, Xinhua said. The Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, had estimated that up to 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures. The Chinese government announced last month there were an estimated 650,000 people living with the HIV virus in China, including 75,000 with full-blown AIDS. China had estimated two years earlier that it had 840,000 HIV-positive people, including 84,000 with AIDS. International health officials attributed the drop to better data collection methods. The new regulation protects the rights and privacy of AIDS patients and HIV carriers, as well as their relatives, Xinhua said. Their rights of marriage, employment, medical care and education are guaranteed, Xinhua said. The guidelines also hold people with HIV responsible for telling spouses, sexual partners and doctors about their infection. Anyone intentionally infecting others would be punished, Xinhua said.

Infectious diseases killed more last year
2006-02-14 People's Daily
Infectious diseases in 2005 killed almost double the number of the previous year, and authorities warned that the true figure might have been under-reported. According to the Ministry of Health, contagious diseases killed 13,263 people across the country last year, a jump of 82 per cent from 2004. HIV/AIDS has become the third deadliest communicable disease in China, even though tuberculosis (TB) still tops the list of the most fatal illnesses. Rabies, hepatitis B and tetanus in new-born babies are also very dangerous and the five diseases accounted for 89 per cent of the figure that died last year. More people contracted communicable diseases last year, about 4.4 million, mostly TB, hepatitis B, dysentery and sexually-transmitted diseases. "The incidence of infectious diseases last year was higher because the reporting system has been strengthened at medical institutes and fewer cases were missed," Mao Qun'an, the ministry's spokesman told China Daily yesterday in a telephone interview. "The reporting mechanism required by law and the adoption of the Internet for spreading information and other measures meant more cases were discovered," he said. Under Chinese law, reports on the situation with 27 serious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, anthrax, rabies, TB and hepatitis, should be made public; and since 2004, the ministry has been updating the public monthly on its website.

Fifteen die from carbon monoxide poisoning
2006-02-17 China Daily
Fifteen people have died and more than 270 others have fallen ill in northeast China from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a combination of burning coal and bad weather. Thirty-two residents were hospitalized and eight of them were in serious condition in Yanbian, Northeast China's Jilin Province, Xinhua news agency reported. Seven of the dead were found in their homes earlier, prompting local officials to send police to knock on doors in the region to check on residents. Experts attributed the deaths and illnesses to unusually low atmospheric pressure and increased rain and humidity, which trapped carbon monoxide from burning coal close to the ground, the China Broadcasting Station reported. Local authorities in the affected areas have stepped up publicity on how to treat carbon monoxide poisoning and urged locals to extinguish coal heaters and coal burners before they go to sleep, Xinhua said. China is the world's largest consumer of coal, which is used widely in rural areas for cooking and heating.

Municipal police chief gets life term for bribery in NE China
2006-02-17 Xinhuanet
A police chief in the northeastern Chinese city of Mudanjiang was sentenced to life imprisonment Thursday for bribery, abuse of power, and possessing unidentified property. All of the personal property of 60-year-old Han Jian, former director of the Mudanjiang Municipal Public Security Bureau, were ordered confiscated, according to a verdict by the Harbin Municipal Intermediate People's Court at the first instance in Harbin, capital of north China's Heilongjiang Province. Han was found to have taken a total of 980,000 yuan (121,746 U.S. dollars) in cash and other kinds of bribes during the 1994-2004 period, when he had worked as director of the Vehicle Management Department under the Heilongjiang Provincial Traffic Police Corps and later director of the Mudanjiang Municipal Public Security Bureau. In 2001 and 2002, Han paid out graft totaling 110,000 yuan (13,665 U.S. dollars) to Han Guizhi, then deputy secretary of the Heilongjiang Provincial Committee of Communist Party of China, for the latter to help promote him to police chief in Mudanjiang in June 2000. ()

70 mln victims of natural disasters need aid
2006-02-15 Xinhuanet
More than 70 million victims of natural disasters in China need aid this spring, according to an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The ministry has urged all levels of government to raise monetary aid in order to help victims of disasters such as typhoons, blizzards and earthquakes through these tough times, said Li Liguo, vice minister of Civil Affairs, at a national disaster relief meeting held in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Tuesday. According to ministry statistics, 73.43 million people nationwide will need aid in the spring, which is higher than the figures recorded in the same period in previous years. Li said that the country witnessed more severe and more frequent natural disasters last year than previous years, which left many victims without sufficient food or clothing. The ministries of Civil Affairs and Finance are still verifying the extent of the damages and are concocting a specific disaster-relief plan, said Li. In the first half of 2005, China allocated 1.84 billion yuan (230 million U.S. dollars) in relief for spring disasters, assisting 45.52 million victims.

China denies arrest of any individual for releasing online comment
2006-02-15 Xinhuanet
China's government denied the arrest of any individual for "just releasing his comment on the Internet", implying that any online comment shouldn't challenge nation's regulations and laws. "Since 2000, China has enacted serial regulations and laws for Internet service providers, by which China manages its Internet market in line with international conventions," said Liu Zhengrong, an official with the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office. Liu gave the remark in response to questions raised by foreign reporters who had expected him to confirm a case in which reportedly a Chinese dissident was arrested for releasing comment on the Internet at a press conference held on Tuesday. "It's common that some websites deleted law-breaking content from the webpage, for many international news providers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, have similar claims in their websites that netizen's comment should comply with relevant laws," he said. "It is unfair to slam website's deletion of harmful content in China which websites in other countries like the United States regularly do," the official said, "It is double-standard." Liu said the management of the Internet should not be an obstacle for the development of new technology and the public Internet users should be the master in management. "China has actively advocated professional guilds' participation in Internet self-discipline and lots of problems have been resolved with their self-discipline work," he said. Liu also said the Internet has developed in China for a relatively short time and China is ready to learn other countries' success in managing the Internet market. The authorities will protect foreign web companies' legitimate interests and rights in China, he said, noting that China is not "controlling" but "regulating" the development of the Internet. "Every market should have some rules for developing in a good order," Liu said.

Complain? Nobody will listen
2006-02-15 SCMP
More than 40 per cent of residents in 18 mainland cities are unhappy with government services, but many believe complaints will not make any difference, a survey has revealed. The Horizon Research Consultancy Group survey of 3,258 residents of 10 large cities and eight smaller ones found that more than 40 per cent were frustrated by red tape. Horizon chairman Victor Yuan Yue said the main complaint was about complicated procedures, followed by a lack of transparency when it came to policies, and then inefficient administration. The survey showed that cities with more developed economies, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, enjoyed much lower levels of public dissatisfaction. "Our past research also confirmed that administrative officers played a dominant role in less developed cities [and were more concerned with pleasing their superiors], while in developed cities officials would try to please both the officials above and the residents," Mr Yuan said. Among those who felt mistreated, more than 40 per cent said they had felt like filing a complaint but had not. Most said they thought a "complaint would not solve the problem", while some believed "the government would ignore my complaint", the survey showed. Residents of smaller cities were more likely to bear their dissatisfaction in silence because the infrastructure to handle complaints was lacking compared with the situation in large cities. More than a third of interviewees in smaller cities said the procedures involved in filing a complaint were too troublesome and almost 30 per cent said they did not know how to file one at all. "In big cities like Beijing you might get a response within a reasonable period if you file an official complaint. But in small cities the cost of filing a complaint for some trivial matter is too great, and many people don't think it's worth it," Mr Yuan said. "What we need here is a fast remedy mechanism."

 

Taiwan

Mainland always keeps promise to Taiwan: official
2006-02-15 Xinhuanet
The Chinese mainland will always keep the promise as made to Taiwan people, said Dai Xiaofeng, official with Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. He said here Wednesday that the mainland has already solved several issues for Taiwan people, such as same education fees for Taiwan students, more easy accesses for inbound and outbound trips, and no taxes on imported agricultural products. Charter flights were operated for the second time during the Spring Festival. In order to guarantee the quality of the pandas being sent to Taiwan, a special expert team was organized, he noted. They went to Sichuan province, which was a redundant of panda resource, to pick two lovely animals. Over 100 million people voted for the name of the pandas before the traditional Spring Festival, he added. Dai said his office tried to urge the Taiwan authority to allow in mainland visitors since the mainland decided so last May. The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council will further promote relevant jobs, such as detailed technological issues. He said the mainland has made full preparations for residents visiting Taiwan. He hoped the Taiwan authority can adopt a more active attitude to promote the job in order to benefit the two sides.

 

Tibet

Dalai Lama team in Beijing for talks
2006-02-16 SCMP
Envoys representing Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived in Beijing yesterday for secretive talks on allowing more autonomy for the Buddhist region, Tibet's government-in-exile said. It was the fifth round of talks since contacts between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's representatives resumed in 2002, but there have been no concrete results of a process the central government does not even openly acknowledge exists. "Our ultimate hope is to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of negotiated settlement with the Chinese leadership so that Tibetan people will have the freedom to preserve what is important to us, which is our cultural identity," said Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the government-in-exile. The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Although Beijing considers him a traitor, many Tibetans remain loyal to the figure they regard as a god-king. Thubten Samphel said that at the previous round of talks in Switzerland last year there was "very intensive, frank discussion". "This gives us hope that these contacts will deepen and eventually lead to peaceful settlement of the issue of Tibet," he said from Dharamsala, the Indian hill station where the Dalai Lama is based. Beijing's United Front Work Department, which has represented the mainland side in past rounds, declined to comment. Analysts say Beijing is committed to the dialogue in part because it fears that if the Dalai Lama, who is now 70, dies in exile, it could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule and leave a destabilising leadership vacuum. That could also strengthen support among Tibetans for full independence, especially among youth frustrated with the Dalai Lama's approach that advocates autonomy for Tibet as a part of China. Those pressures are keeping the dialogue afloat, despite its glacial pace, analysts say. "The Tibetan side have been keen that they're not going to come back unless they're convinced this is moving forward as a process," said one western diplomat. But the diplomat also cautioned that a resolution to the bitter dispute was likely to be a long way off. In what some saw as a confidence-building measure ahead of the dialogue, thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from Tibet and the mainland attended a prayer meeting in India last month alongside the Dalai Lama. Tibetans in western China have since burned skins of endangered animals, following statements by the Dalai Lama at the ceremony emphasising wildlife protection and calling on Tibetans not to wear illegal furs and skins. "It's a testament to the continued influence of the Dalai Lama," said Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet, who attended the prayer meeting. The Dalai Lama also spoke publicly at the ceremony about the dialogue with China.

 

Economy

China, G8 discuss global growth, trade
2006-02-13 Xinhuanet
A Chinese high-level finance official on Saturday called on the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial nations to play a more active role in moving forward the Doha round of trade talks. China's Vice Minister of Finance Li Yong and finance officials from rising economies of India, Brazil and South Africa discussed global economic growth and trade with G8 finance ministers at a G8 meeting in Moscow. China believes efforts should be made to build on the achievements of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting held in Hong Kong in December 2005, and move forward the Doha Round of trade talks toward a comprehensive and balanced agreement, Li told the G8 finance ministers. While providing aid for trade to developing countries, developed countries should take the lead in reducing tariffs on agricultural products and farm subsidies, enhancing market access, improving the trade environment and implementing special and differentiated policies for developing countries, Li said. The participants at the discussion agreed that global economic growth remains stable but still faces many challenges. In particular, the next phase of the Doha Round talks could have great impact on the sustained, stable growth of the global economy, the improvement of the multilateral trading system and the global efforts to reduce poverty, they said. The participants noted the progress made at the Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting in December 2005 in reducing farm export subsidies, the cotton issue, the abolishment of tariffs and quotas for the world's least developed countries, and developed countries' commitments to increasing aid for trade to developing countries. But, the participants said, differences remain, including over such core issues as agriculture and market access for non-agricultural products. They urged participating countries in the trade talks to show a greater political resolve to complete the Doha Round by the end of 2006.

China to face serious employment challenges
2006-02-14 Xinhuanet
China will face serious employment challenges this year and is likely to create less than half the jobs needed to cope with armies of new job seekers and laid off workers, said the country's top economic planner. Urban areas need to create around 25 million jobs to soak up newcomers to the labor market, those losing jobs from state firms and rural job hunters, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has told the English newspaper China Daily. But the commission said, according to Tuesday's China Daily, that the country would only be able to create an estimated 11 million jobs. "The level of surplus labor this year will reach 14 million, around one million more than last year," it said in a report conducted jointly with a number of other ministries. "As a result, it will be a tough challenge to tackle employment pressure," it said on its Web site www.ndrc.gov.cn. Unemployment pressure could rise as a result of economic overcapacity as firms sought to streamline their operations and trade frictions came to the fore, it said. China created some 9.7 million jobs last year, when the registered urban unemployment rate was held steady at 4.2 percent. Tens of millions of workers have been laid off from bankrupt orrestructuring state enterprises in recent years. Many experts say China's real jobless rate could be much higher if a more inclusive measurement was used, even without counting rural surplus labor numbering about 200 million. While the commission gave no prediction for the country's jobless rate this year, it said that around 6.6 million people faced possible job losses over the coming three years. China's supply of labor was seriously outstripping demand despite the nation's rapid economic growth in recent years, it said. The nation's newly added labor force would likely hit a peak of 17 million in 2006, it said, adding that around 60 percent of this total would come from rural areas.

China spends US$40 bln buying US planes
2006-02-14 Xinhuanet
Of the 863 operating civil planes in China by November 2005, 534 are from Boeing Company of the United States, a senior Chinese civil aviation executive said here Tuesday. "Calculated according to the catalogue price, China has spent nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars on purchasing planes from the United States," said Li Jiaxiang, president of the China National Aviation Holding Company, at the China-US Business Forum opened here Tuesday. He said that growth in China's civil aviation industry has contributed tremendously to development of Sino-US economic and trade relations. "The greatest beneficiary is the US plane manufacturing business," said Li. "China purchases a large number of plane engines, aero-electric equipment, accessories and advanced navigating devices each year and enjoys maintenance service provided by U.S. companies," said Li. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of employees of China's airplane companies have received various forms of professional training in the U.S., which have brought more profits to the U.S. aviation field, Li said. "The growth of China's civil aviation has provided hundreds of thousands job opportunities to the U.S. aviation industry, which proves that the two nations have win-win economic and trade relations," said Li. China's airline companies ordered 60 B787 aircraft and 70 B737 aircraft in 2005 alone, with a total price of more than 11 billion U.S. dollars, ranking 2005 as China's largest plane purchasing year. China has entered the development of transportation in the 11th Five-Year Development Program (2006-2010) and will need over 2,600 new planes in the coming 20 years, valued at a price of more than 213 billion U.S dollars, according to the latest analysis by the Boeing Company. China will purchase more than 100 airliners each year from 2006 to 2010, Gao Hongfeng, deputy director general of China's General Administration of Civil Aviation told a press conference here on Tuesday. However, official statistics say that the number of Chinese air travelers is quite small, with each Chinese only flying 0.06 time per year on average, while each American can fly 2.2 times a year. Experts predict that China will see an annual increase of more than 22 million middle-class consumers and will have become the largest tourist destination country and the fourth largest source of tourists before 2020, with the number of Chinese travelling abroad to reach 100 million. China signed an agreement with the United States in Dec. 2004 to promote bilateral travel and tourism cooperation and the U.S. will be completely open to Chinese tourists in the foreseeable future. Li said, the huge potential consumption by Chinese tourists in the U.S. will be conducive to narrowing the Sino-U.S. trade deficit. China and the U.S. should promote bilateral economic and trade ties under an effective communication mechanism, Li said, and airline companies of both countries should strengthen cooperation by investing and holding shares in each other's transport companies. The number of air travelers in China soared to 138 million in 2005, doubling the 2000 figure, due to increases in disposable income and economic activities, said Gao of the CAAC.

BMW sales climb 37pc in Greater China
2006-02-17 SCMP
German carmaker BMW reported unit sales in Greater China rose 37 per cent to 31,600 units last year, with the mainland accounting for about half the growth in Asia. Group chairman Helmut Panke said sales of the 3 series on the mainland increased 87 per cent to 9,000 cars after the launch of a locally made model in September. BMW does not release financial results until next month, but the firm's 50 per cent held loss-making joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive is expected to demonstrate a recovery in the second half. Brilliance previously announced a first-half loss of 56.6 million yuan on its 49 per cent interest in the Shenyang joint venture with BMW, compared with a profit of 35.4 million yuan a year earlier. While first-half unit sales rose from 4,983 to 7,253 cars year on year, the loss was due to price cuts and increased marketing expenses in order to clear old inventory for the launch of the new BMW model in the second half. BMW sold 23,595 cars on the mainland last year, with locally made cars accounting for 15,300 units and the rest imported. Mr Panke said yesterday that the company had no plans to expand the 30,000 vehicle annual capacity at its joint venture plant in Shenyang, and preferred to take things "step by step". Likewise, it is not planning to follow other domestic firms by exporting from China. Instead of launching new models on the mainland, the German firm plans to devote more effort to marketing its existing portfolio.

 

Mongolia

Shadow cabinet discussed
2006-02-15 UB Post
The Democratic Party (DP) and the Civil Will Party (CWP) have been discussing the proposed shadow cabinet. CWP wants a cabinet of ten members, leader S. Oyun arguing that it should comprise fewer ministries than the government's 18. She proposed merging of industry and trade with food and agriculture, that the shadow defense minister should also cover emergencies, and the shadow justice minister should cover professional inspection. This, she said, could be a model for if and when the CWP and/or the DP could form a government. Oyun said she was looking into the British Westminster style of shadow cabinet and will know more after attending a two-day meeting on Future Asian Development in London in March. The DP said they have formed a Council of Democratic Forces (CDF) in parliament, which they asked the CWP, independents and two Motherland Party members who had not supported the resignation of Ts. Elbegdorj's cabinet to join. A working group is drawing up the CDF rules, and they said they would discuss a shadow cabinet structure when this task was complete. The all agreed that the parliamentary opposition needed to be creative and well organised.

Appointments/Dismissals
2006-02-15 UB Post
At a special cabinet session on February 10 the following appointments and dismissals were made.
The following deputy ministers were officially relieved of their posts: D. Tsogt-Ochir (nature and environment); A. Battur (foreign affairs); S. Mendsaikhan (fuel and energy); Ts. Enkhtuvshin (industry and commerce); Ts. Sukhbaatar (justice); Ts. Ganhuyag (food and agriculture); and Sh. Enkhbat (health). They were replaced by: B. Enkhmandakh (nature and environment); Ts. Tsolmon (foreign affairs); T. Enkhtaivan (fuel and energy); Y. Sodbaatar (industry and commerce); Sh. Sukhbaatar (justice); and P. Ulaankhuu (agriculture).

Coughing up for air pollution
2006-02-15 Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar air pollution were explained to a meeting attended by city and district staff, Roads, Transport and Tourism Ministry staff, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, World Bank, ADB, WHO and MPs at Khaan Palace hotel. The pollution comes from ger district stoves, vehicles and the power stations, though the authorities place 90 percent of the responsibility on the coal-burning stoves, as almost 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar's 952,000 residents live in the ger districts. Some years ago the percentage was 48, and it is believed that an increasing urban migration will change the demography even more. The authorities said that they are looking at ways to improve ger area planning and introduce new heating systems. One proposal is to bring in briquettes of compressed fuel, which have been shown to burn more efficiently but are not yet popular. To promote the sale of briquettes, the mayor's office has offered soft loans for businesses to make them. The authorities claim that using these briquettes could halve city pollution, but that Tg4.6 billion was needed to supply every household with a stove adapted to burn them. They are planning to lease such stoves to half of all ger district households by the end of 2007 and the rest by the end of 2009. The night rate for electricity has been reduced to encourage the use of electric heating. Results have been disappointing because residents say they cannot afford to buy such heaters, and the authorities are looking at ways to lower the price. They said that the next stage would be to extend the central heating system to the ger districts. The 1954 Ulaanbaatar general plan did not include ger districts, so the city plan needs to be re-drawn for the heating system. Reports on other projects were given at the meeting, including the allocation of Tg2 billion to converting vehicles to LPG (liquid gas), Tg1.5 billion to renovate the low pressure heating system and Tg800 million for a mobile air pollution laboratory.

Environment protection
2006-02-15 Mongol Messenger
The Nature and Environment Ministry, the standing committee on nature, food and agriculture (NFA) and the World Bank project to improve nature management on February 6 and 7 held a seminar at Parliament House. They discussed development of partnerships and community relations through land ownership and steps taken to upgrade environmental protection and to legalise and guarantee the work of rangers. They agreed that one ranger should be allocated 100,000 hectares of mountain areas, 120,000 ha of forest, 500,000 ha of steppe, 600,000 ha of desert steppe and 800,000 ha of desert. In areas that were forested at state expense, there should be one ranger per 30 sq km, and in areas closer to cities and settlements, they could be responsible for 70 more. NFA committee chairman A. Bakei said that under the new law, environmental protection should concern not only rangers but also local people, who should care for forests, animals and plants through partnership communities and groups. He advised that those engaged in nature protection partnerships needed to plant trees and protection the wild fauna, and that the law imposed stricter responses on any breach. The seminar also heard about environmental action in other countries.

 

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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