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
  27.2-3.3.06, No. 104  
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Foreign Policy

China, Japan to discuss East China Sea issue next Monday: FM
2006-03-02 Xinhuanet
China and Japan will hold the fourth round of consultations on the East China Sea issue on March 6 and 7 in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said here on Thursday. The Chinese delegation will be headed by Hu Zhengyao, director of the Asian Department of Chinese Foreign Ministry, while the Japanese delegation will be led by Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. "The two sides will continue to exchange views on the East China Sea issue," Qin said. () Qin said that the NPT mechanism plays a significant role in promoting nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament of nuclear weapons and peaceful use of nuclear energy, highlighting that the nuclear cooperation between countries should comply with the NPT mechanism and international obligations. The international community is making efforts to maintain the effectiveness and the authoritativeness of the NPT mechanism, Qin said. China, as a founding member of the treaty, calls for more countries to join the treaty as nuclear-free members and contribute to maintaining the NPT mechanism and regional and international peace and stability, Qin said. India and the United States on Thursday reached an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation during U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to India. Iran nuclear issue: As there is still room in resolving the Iran nuclear issue within the framework of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), China hopes the international community regains trust in Iran, Qin said. "China supports the negotiations between Russia and Iran and hopes they will bear fruit," said Qin at a regular press conference, adding that China hopes Iran will reinstate the suspension of activities related to uranium enrichment. "China also hopes Iran will cooperate in a comprehensive way with the IAEA and clarify the open questions in its nuclear program, to create condition for properly resolving the nuclear issue through negotiations," said Qin. He said China will continue to keep contacts with all sides and make diplomatic efforts to help resolve the Iran nuclear issue with the framework of IAEA. The IAEA will hold a board meeting on March 6. Qin said China hopes that the meeting will be helpful for the realization of the above goals.

Chinese, German PMs discuss Iran nuclear, Taiwan issues
2006-03-03 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in Beijing Thursday there is still possibility of resolving the Iran nuclear issue within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While talking over phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Wen said China supports the international nuclear non-proliferation system and advocates the issue be resolved through diplomatic talks. China backs the talks and negotiation between Iran and Britain, France, Germany and Russia and is willing to keep contacts with concerned parties including Germany, he said. Wen said China hopes the concerned parties will show restraint, patience and a constructive attitude in a bid to create conditions for peacefully resolving the issue. On the Taiwan issue, Wen called on the international community to keep alert to the dangerous move by the Taiwan authorities which on Monday ceased the function of the "National Unification Council" and application of the "National Unification Guidelines". The move is a "grave provocation" against the one-China principle universally observed by the international community and will undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, he said. The German government firmly adheres to the one-China policy and is worried about the Taiwan authorities' move, said Merkel, hoping the Taiwan issue will be resolved peacefully in line with the one-China policy. Wen spoke highly of the close cooperation between China and Germany. He appreciates Germany's new government for continuing its friendly policy on China. Merkel said that relations with China are important to the German government and it supports frequent exchanges and cooperation in such fields as economy, trade and science and technology. Germany will maintain high-level contacts and enhance dialogue and cooperation with China, she noted. On the Iran nuclear issue, Merkel said that it's very important to solve the issue via diplomacy. The EU side will continue talks with Iran in a bid to keep the issue from deteriorating and Germany will maintain contacts and coordination with China, she said.

Switzerland to intensify and institutionalize strategic dialogue with China: Interview
2006-03-01 People's Daily
Mr. Samuel Schmid, Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports of Switzerland, emphasized on the importance of maintaining intensified and institutionalized "strategic dialogue or discussion" between Switzerland and China in reply to an interview with People's Daily Online in the Swiss Embassy in Beijing. Replying to the question of "How do you assess the exchanges and cooperation with China with regard to defense affairs in the future?", Mr. Samuel Schmid stressed that Switzerland and China have already conducted frequent and well-coordinated cooperation in such fields as national defense, security policies, economic development and military officer training. The two countries have also conducted exchanges and dialogue on the human rights issue. Switzerland is willing to intensify and broaden such cooperation with China in every field, and would like to institutionalize such strategic discussions on a regular basis, presumably once in every one or two years. When asked by People's Daily Online on the role played by China in the six-party talks on the Korean Nuclear Issue, Mr. Samuel Schmid commented favorably on China's huge efforts to keep the six-party talks moving forward, which were at times full of difficulties. He expressed his hope that the six-party talks can be resumed through the efforts by such countries as China. As Mr. Samuel Schmid is the chief Swiss official responsible for sports affairs, People's Daily Online also asked him for an assessment of China's preparatory efforts for the 2008 Olympics, as well as his expectations for this major event in Beijing. Mr. Samuel Schmid replied that he "firmly believes China will be a very nice host of the 2008 Olympics" and that China will make the Games a wonderful event through elaborate preparations. He also says Switzerland feels honored to have won a bidding effort for a major Olympics project in Beijing. The Federal Councillor also exhibited a typical Swiss sense of humor by predicting that "although Switzerland runs ahead of China in Turin Winter Olympics, China will surely rank before us during the next Olympics". Having paid two visits to China up to now --- with the first visit coinciding with the 2003 SARS outbreak --- Mr. Samuel Schmid was "deeply impressed" to witness the tremendous changes that have taken place in China during the interval. The overall living standards of the Chinese people have been greatly enhanced, and China's progress is evident in almost every aspect. During his visit to Shanghai, Mr. Samuel Schmid has seen a large number of investments and signs of innovation. This prosperous metropolis has also left him with a deep impression. What is more noteworthy is that he feels the Chinese leaders are fully aware of the concomitant problems that have arisen together with the swift social and economic development of the country. He can feel the determination and awareness of the Chinese leadership to lead the whole nation to fulfill the goal of all-round well-off society. The prospects for China's development, he believes, are very nice. Mr. Samuel Schmid reiterated the official stance that Switzerland will stick to the "One-China Policy". He also expressed his regret over recent signs of escalating tension across the Taiwan Straits, owing to Taiwan authorities' abrupt abolition of the National Unification Council. Mr. Samuel Schmid also mentioned that, in a conference held last year, it was stated that China should become one of the focal points for strategic cooperation for Switzerland. To him, such a prospect is already unfolding.

China, Hungary to improve parliamentary ties
2006-02-27 Xinhuanet
China's top legislator Monday pledged to further exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese and Hungarian legislatures to facilitate bilateral relations. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), made the remark in his meeting with Szili Katalin, speaker of National Assembly of Hungary. The Chinese NPC will continue its high-level exchanges with the Hungarian parliament, increase in-depth cooperation between the special committees of the legislatures, and enhance communication on legislation so as to serve the comprehensive development of China-Hungary relations, said Wu. Appraising cooperation in such fields as trade, tourism, culture, education, Wu acknowledged that China is ready to make joint efforts with Hungary to expand cooperation and lift bilateral relations to a new height. China values its relations with the European Union (EU) and will work with Hungary to develop a Sino-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, Wu added. Szili Katalin said Hungary will play a positive role in improving EU-China relations and go on adhering to the one-China policy. Wu voiced his appreciation for Hungary's support of the one-China policy. After the meeting, the economic committees of the two legislatures signed a memorandum on cooperation on economic policy.

 

Domestic Policy

CPPCC members play active role in drafting China's new five-year program
2006-03-03 People's Daily
Members of China's top advisory body have fulfilled their due responsibilities and played an active role in the process of drafting the 11th Five-Year (2006- 2010) Development Program, an official said in Beijing Thursday. It is a key function of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to assist the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government in working out the blueprint for the country's economic and social development in the coming five years, said Wu Jianmin, spokesman for the Fourth Session of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee. After careful studies and discussions on some key issues of the draft, CPPCC members raised some 40 proposals and suggestions concerning nine aspects including the guidelines and goals of the blueprint, building a new countryside, revitalizing the country through science and education, and human resources. At least 26 of them have been adopted by the National Development and Reform Commission, Wu noted. The spokesman particularly praised the active role played by CPPCC members from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, stressing that the top advisory body has always attached great importance to their suggestions. Some of their advices concerning the new five-year program have been adopted, Wu confirmed, expressing the hope that Hong Kong and Macao CPPCC members will continue to put forward suggestions during the imminent annual session of the CPPCC National Committee. The fourth sessions of the Tenth National People's Congress (NPC) and CPPCC National Committee will begin on March 3 and 5 respectively, which will last for about two weeks. ()

Party affairs to be more transparent
2006-03-02 China Daily
The Organization Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee plans to improve transparency by appointing spokespersons to disseminate information, a senior Party official said yesterday. "We have selected the candidate(s)," Ouyang Song, deputy minister of the department which is responsible for admitting cadres told a press briefing organized by the State Council Information Office. Central government ministries and commissions as well as provincial governments have spokespersons as a result of the information office's push for better communication, but Party organizations have yet to adopt the practice. The department, which now releases information on the promotion or dismissal of cadres through Xinhua News Agency, is also considering setting up a website, Ouyang said. "A spokesperson system helps enhance the public's trust in the authorities," said Hu Guangyun, an associate professor with Tsinghua University's School of Public Policy and Management. "We don't know how far the Organization Department will go with regard to transparency, but we've seen a positive gesture," Hu said. At yesterday's news briefing, Ouyang admitted there have been some cases of unrest associated with a great number of farmers in rural areas, mainly because of farmland acquisition by local governments. But he denied that these conflicts threaten overall social stability. "China is the world's most stable country. It shouldn't be strange that in a country so large, which is developing at such a pace, certain areas will experience mass incidents." He noted that the Party and the government are taking measures to solve the problem. The Party will continue to strengthen education and inculcate discipline among its members to fight corruption and curb abuse of power, said Ouyang. ()

Vice-premier is sick, but may not be quitting yet
2006-03-03 SCMP
Mainland authorities yesterday confirmed Vice-Premier Huang Ju, the nation's sixth most senior leader, is ill in hospital, breaking weeks of silence over his absence from official events. Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) spokesman Wu Jianmin told a news conference Mr Huang was recovering from his illness. "Not long ago comrade Huang Ju was sick and he was admitted to hospital for treatment. He is now recovering," Mr Wu said. His comments were the first official confirmation of Mr Huang's illness following weeks of speculation about his condition. Mr Huang has been absent from major events usually attended by the entire Politburo Standing Committee. The South China Morning Post reported last month that Mr Huang, 68, had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during a routine medical check-up before the Lunar New Year and had been in hospital since. Pancreatic cancer is a serious disease that is usually hard to cure. But Mr Wu's remark that Mr Huang was recovering suggests it is unlikely Mr Huang will quit the party's top echelon any time soon. It is widely expected Mr Huang will miss the annual session of the CPPCC, which opens today, and that of the National People's Congress, which begins on Sunday. Another subtle signal that Mr Huang will not fade from the political scene immediately was the official release on Wednesday of a speech he made in mid-January. Analysts said it was aimed at sending a message that Mr Huang was still in charge of financial reforms. Were Mr Huang, an ally of ex-leader Jiang Zemin , to quit, it would clear a politburo seat for an ally of President Hu Jintao.

200 gov't employees involved in fund misuse
2006-03-03 China Daily
Nearly 200 central government employees were punished or face judicial proceedings for misusing funds in the 2004 financial year, the nation's top legislative body said yesterday. The announcement follows last June's "audit storm," in which Auditor-General Li Jinhua revealed that 38 central government departments had misused almost 9.1 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) in the financial year. Xinhua yesterday quoted the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress as saying that 121 people had received administrative punishment and 76 were arrested, being prosecuted or convicted. "Most of the departments were active in correcting their wrongdoings," said the standing committee in a report. The embezzlement and misuse of funds spanned various departments and related to hospitals, universities, water projects, highway construction and scientific research. The legislative body said the State Council has largely been dealing with problems involving university fees, hospital charges, use of scientific research funds, construction of irrigation and water treatment works and rural highway construction. Li reported to the National People's Congress last year that there were gross irregularities in the business operations of the four major asset-management companies. However, there was no mention of corrective measures in Xinhua's report. The four companies China Huarong Asset Management Corp, China Great Wall Asset Management Corp, China Orient Asset Management Corp and China Cinda Asset Management Corp were all set up in October 1999. Li also reported last year that 1.6 billion yuan (US$190 million) was allegedly used in violation of the law by former top officials of 10 State-owned enterprises such as the State Development & Investment Corp.

China tops world in road accidents and death toll: official
2006-03-01 People's Daily
Chinese Vice Minister of Communications Xu Yahua said here on Sunday that both the country's number of road accidents and the related death toll rank the first in the world last year. In 2005, 98,738 people were killed in 450,000 road accidents and 470,000 others were injured, with direct property losses totaling 1.88 billion yuan (233.8 million U.S. dollars), the minister said. He called for strengthening management over drivers training schools to improve the quality of the would-be drivers in a bid to reduce road accidents. Statistics showed 92.7 percent of road accidents last year and 92.2 percent of the deaths were caused by drivers. Road safety has become one of the top concerns of the country, Xu said. With the fast expanding auto market in China, the number of drivers increased by 5.5 million a year, or an annual growth of 10 percent, during the country's 10th Five-Year plan (2001-2005) period. There are 6,500 drivers training schools throughout the country, and the figure may rise to 7,000 this year.

Death toll rises to 15 in Hunan coal mine accident
2006-02-27 Xinhuanet
Rescuers retrieved on Monday the bodies of the other nine miners who were missing in a coal mine gas blowout accident in Central China's Hunan Province but the whereabouts of three others remained unknown. As of 9:30 p.m. Monday, the rescue operations were going on with all-out efforts despite slim chances for the survival of the missing miners, said the local government officials. A gas blowout accident occurred around 17:00 Saturday at Dayuan Coal Mine in Longhui County of Shaoyang City when 24 miners were working underground in the shaft and only six miners managed to escape. The preliminary investigation showed that the accident was due to violation of mining operation rules. Officials from the State Administration of Work Safety arrived at the accident site on Sunday to further investigate the cause of the gas blowout.

Coach fire leaves 16 dead in Guangxi
2006-03-02 Xinhuanet
Sixteen people have been killed as a coach caught fire Wednesday afternoon when driving through Hengxian County in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The coach was carrying more than 40 passengers from southwestern Sichuan Province to Guangxi, when it suddenly caught fire for the unknown reason at the Hengxian County section of the expressway from Nanning, the regional capital to Wuzhou City in Guangxi. Medical personnel have immediately reached the site to move the injured passengers to nearby a hospital.

China issues plans public health emergencies
2006-02-27 Xinhuanet
The State Council, or the China's cabinet, has published the emergency plans against four kinds of public health accidents in a bid to decrease the impact on the public to the minimum. The four emergency plans include one on public health accidents, one on medical and health aid during the accidents, one on major sudden animal epidemics and one on major food safety accidents. According to a document by the State Council, one plan provides guidelines for the handling of sudden major infectious diseases, unidentified group diseases, major food or occupational poisonings that may render grave health harm to the public. China will set up a unified national monitoring and emergent response network for early detecting public health accidents, said the document. The emergencies will be handled by the governments of different levels according to the degree of their seriousness, it said. A second emergency plan was issued on the medical and health aid for the affected during sudden public accidents which serves to reduce the impact on the people to the minimum. The plan will offer guidelines for handling the medical and health aid for the casualties and health harm problems that appear during sudden public accidents. The health authorities at different levels should set up leading groups to that effect which can jump to organize field medical and health aid on receiving related reports, according to the rules stipulated by the plan. The third emergency plan will handle sudden major animal epidemics that may result in serious loss in stock-raising and cause grave health harm to the public. According to the plan, the country will set up a monitoring and reporting network for the epidemics and the vet authorities at different levels should analyze the information collected by the network and make warnings in time. The Ministry of Agriculture will be responsible for the organizing and coordinating of the emergency handling of sudden nationwide animal epidemics, it said. The fourth plan is designed on the handling of major food safety accidents that may cause diseases or deaths or lead to grave potential dangers to the public health. All the major dieteticly caused diseases which appear at such links as planting, breeding, processing, packaging, storing, transportation, circulation and consumption, according to the plan, will be under strict supervision. The government will set up a nationwide unified monitoring and reporting system and a nationwide unified report phone number to respond to such accidents, said the plan. When major food accidents take place, emergency measures will be organized by the national emergency headquarters or by the ones at province levels, it said.

40% Chinese dissatisfied with local govt services: survey
2006-02-26 Xinhuanet
More than 40 percent of Chinese residents are dissatisfied with the services provided by local government departments, according to a survey released recently by the Horizon Research Group. The survey, based on 3,258 residents aged between 18 and 60 years old from China's ten large cities and eight small towns, shows that 43.3 percent of small town residents and 40.7 percent of city dwellers surveyed are displeased with the local government service, reported the China Youth Daily. Meanwhile, the departments of the central government receive the highest satisfaction rate among the respondents and the satisfaction rate is decreasing with the level of government departments descending. Chinese residents turn to some local government departments for such issues as marriage registration, social security and credential application, and file complaints to the governments if they encounter illegal practices. The survey also shows that despite their dissatisfaction, many people are unwilling to file complaints, for more than 60 percent of the surveyed believe "the government could not solve the problems even if they complained" and 40 percent think that "government departments often ignore the public complaints." Experts urged the departments concerned to take concrete reform measures to provide better public services and even remove officials responsible from their posts. "To hammer out a people-oriented government is not just a slogan but requires governments at various levels and functionaries to make real efforts to provide qualified services to the people," said the Dazhong Daily in a comment. ()

Hundreds detained in crackdown on dissent
2006-03-02 SCMP
Hundreds of people have been detained as authorities intensify a crackdown on dissent before the annual National People's Congress session, petitioners and a rights lawyer said yesterday. Police raided hostels near the south Beijing train station on Tuesday night and rounded up more than 400 people visiting the capital to air grievances, petitioners said. "Seven or eight goods vehicles took them away ... I heard they will come back again to arrest more people tonight," said Qian Lili, who has been trying to lobby for a fair trial over the murder of her son several years ago. Another petitioner and lawyer Gao Zhisheng confirmed the news before their phone conversations were cut off. Beijing resident Gao Yuqing, 68, who has been lobbying authorities over her pension rights, said police had put her under house arrest early yesterday. "They sent police cars round to guard me ... they are stopping me from going out," she said, while a male voice tried to interrupt her in the background. "She's talking nonsense," the voice said. Police have also stepped up surveillance of dissidents, with outspoken writer Liu Xiaobo and veteran democracy activist Li Hai reporting that police were guarding their homes and stopping them from going out. "They have been here since February 13. They seem particularly nervous this year," Liu said. Aids activists Hu Jia and Qi Zhiyong , who is disabled from gunshots sustained during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, remained missing after disappearing last month, friends said.

Activist freed after term cut
2006-03-02 SCMP
A jailed organiser of labour protests four years ago has been freed after his sentence was reduced slightly in a sign that Beijing might consider resuming early releases of prisoners in response to foreign lobbying, a US-based activist said yesterday. Xiao Yunliang's release comes as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit Washington in April. He was released last Thursday after his sentence was cut by 24 days, said John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco who has helped to arrange the release of other mainland prisoners. "I think it's a sign of China's intention to return to the table and discuss with the United States early releases and other human rights issues," Mr Kamm said. The mainland's last major release of a political prisoner was one year ago, when its most prominent Muslim prisoner, businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, was allowed to leave for the US. Beijing suspended early releases after that, possibly out of anger that Ms Kadeer publicly criticised the central government. Mr Xiao was sentenced to four years on subversion charges after thousands of laid-off workers in the northeastern city of Liaoyang held marches demanding benefits from state firms. Another organiser of the protests, Yao Fuxin , did not receive a similar sentence reduction and was due to remain in prison until March 2009, Mr Kamm said.

Two human infections reported in East China
2006-02-27 People's Daily
Two people confirmed on Saturday to be infected with bird flu were in critical condition yesterday as agricultural authorities warned of a possible massive outbreak among birds in the country. The two who tested positive for the deadly H5N1 virus are a 9-year-old girl in East China's Zhejiang Province and a 26-year-old woman farmer in East China's Anhui Province. In a report published on its website on Saturday, the Ministry of Health said the girl, surnamed You, showed signs of fever and pneumonia on February 10 while the woman, identified only as Wang, showed similar symptoms a day later. The woman had contact with sick and dead chickens in Yingshang County where an outbreak of the virus in poultry was reported late Saturday and the girl from Anji County had contact with sick chickens while twice visiting relatives in another county of Anhui, it said. The woman, two months pregnant, was in the No 2 People's Hospital in Fuyang yesterday, according to the doctor in charge, who would only give his surname Li. He refused to disclose further information such as the prognosis for the woman and her unborn child. "We put 54 people under medical observation because they had close contact with the woman," said a Yingshang government official surnamed Sun yesterday. "But they have been discharged because they are all healthy." Till yesterday afternoon, the number of people infected with bird flu in China reached 14, including eight deaths. The Ministry of Agriculture said it had detected the H5N1 strain of the virus in the dead poultry in Yingshang on Saturday and culled more than 200 fowls. The girl was also critically ill and local authorities have deployed more than 20 health workers to treat her, Xinhua News Agency said yesterday. ()

 

Taiwan

Premier Wen warns of dangerous move by Taiwan authorities
2006-03-02 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday called on the international community to keep alert on the dangerous move by the Taiwan authorities to cease the functioning of the "National Unification Council" and application of the "National Unification Guidelines". The move is a grave provocation against the one-China principle widely observed by the international community and will undermine the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, said Wen over aphone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German government firmly adheres to the one-China policy and is worried about the move, said Merkel, hoping the Taiwan issue could be resolved peacefully in line with the one-China policy. Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian declared Monday afternoon to cease the functioning of the "National Unification Council" and application of the "National Unification Guidelines."

Hu condemns Chen's secession move
2006-03-01 China Daily
President Hu Jintao yesterday denounced Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian for scrapping a policy-making council on unification with the mainland, warning that "anyone who moves against the trend of history is doomed to failure." Hu called Chen's decision "a dangerous step forward towards Taiwan independence." Despite repeated warnings from Beijing and strong opposition within and outside the island, Chen announced on Monday that the "national unification council" founded in 1990 shall "cease to function" and the "national unification guidelines" shall "cease to apply." "It's a grave provocation to the one-China policy universally adhered to by the international community and cross-Straits peace and stability," Hu was quoted as saying during a meeting with visiting Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid. The president said Beijing has the unswerving will and determination to oppose Taiwan secessionist forces and their activities. "We will continue to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification, but we will never tolerate the secession of Taiwan from the motherland," Hu said. Also yesterday, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body, said Chen's "perverse acts will only end up hurting him." He said the most important and urgent task now is to resolutely oppose and curb Chen's push for de jure "independence" of Taiwan through "constitutional re-engineering." Earlier yesterday, the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council jointly issued a sternly-worded statement, pointing out that the risk and danger posed by Chen's push for Taiwan "independence" continue to rise. "If he prevails, it will definitely heighten cross-Straits tension and seriously endanger peace and stability in the Straits and the Asia-Pacific region," it said. "Chen's determination to take a radical pro-independence path to fully provoke antagonism and confrontation within Taiwan and across the Straits will only lead Taiwan society closer to disaster." The statement also accused Chen of imposing the will of a handful of secessionists on 23 million Taiwan people. "We will never allow secessionist forces to separate Taiwan from the motherland in any name or way," it said. While singling out Chen for harsh criticism, the statement again calls for increased economic and cultural exchanges across the Straits. It expressed concern for Taiwan people and promised to strive for the prospect of a peaceful reunification. "Taiwan compatriots are our blood and flesh," it said. "Whatever the circumstances, we will be considerate towards Taiwan compatriots and try every means to consider and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests." A newspaper poll in Taiwan showed a majority of 703 people interviewed opposed scrapping the unification council. Taiwan's main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT) which favours closer ties with the mainland, has threatened "parliamentary" moves to oust Chen. KMT Chairman and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that Chen should be removed from office for breaking a promise he made in his 2000 and 2004 inauguration speeches not to abolish the council or the guidelines. Chen "disregarded public sentiment and destroyed his own promises," Ma told reporters. "We have only this method to express our strong dissatisfaction." A US State Department spokesman in Washington, speaking on Monday before Beijing issued its statement, called on Chen not to take any unilateral steps to change the status quo. Washington will continue to hold Chen "by his commitments not to make unilateral moves,?said the spokesman, Adam Ereli. "We attach great importance to that commitment, and we'll be following his follow-through carefully.? But a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday urged Washington to take firmer action against Chen's secessionist move. "We are urging the US side to get a clearer understanding of the severity and dangerousness of Chen Shui-bian's secessionist activities,?spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news briefing. He said the United States should "take concrete actions to oppose Taiwan secessionist activities and send no erroneous signals to pro-independence forces? China's eight non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce also issued a joint statement yesterday, condemning Chen's move.

 

Tibet

Tibetan envoy tells of more understanding
2006-02-27 SCMP
Fundamental differences persist, but there is a growing understanding between the two sides following a meeting of state and Tibetan officials this month in Guangxi, the Dalai Lama's special envoy said. Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, said that he led a four-man team on a trip to the mainland between February 15 and 23. Dalai Lama envoys have attended four rounds of talks with senior officials since 2002. Details have not been released, but talks are believed to have focused on the Dalai Lama's demands for more autonomy for Tibet to protect its unique Buddhist culture. "Today there is a better and deeper understanding of each other's position and the fundamental differences that continue to exist in the positions held by the two parties," Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari said. "This round of discussion also made it clear that there is a major difference even in the approach in addressing the issue. However, we remain committed to the dialogue process and are hopeful that progress will be possible." On February 16, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang refused to confirm any talks between the Tibetan delegation and state officials, but said that delegation members were visiting in their private capacities.

 

Economy

China aims to deflect U.S. pressure on yuan
2006-03-01 China Daily
China on Wednesday let the yuan rise to its highest level since July's revaluation and restated its commitment to freer capital flows as U.S. officials began new talks aimed at reducing America's big trade deficit with China. Tensions over the deficit, which on U.S. figures rose to $201.62 billion in 2005, are rising ahead of a visit to Washington in April by President Hu Jintao.The U.S. Treasury is also due to rule next month on whether China is deliberately manipulating its currency to gain an unfair export advantage. The yuan rose as high as 8.0374 per dollar. It has now appreciated 0.9 percent since it was revalued by 2.1 percent on July 21. Washington, under growing political pressure from the trade deficit, wants Beijing to let the yuan move much more freely. China's People's Daily, said with an eye on the growing protectionist mood in the U.S. Congress, that trade issues should not be politicised. "China is not deliberately seeking an overly large trade surplus and hopes to achieve a basic balance between imports and exports," the paper said in an editorial in its international edition on Wednesday. Along with most economists, Washington believes that allowing market forces to work would push the yuan much higher given China's fat balance-of-payments surplus and $819 billion stockpile of foreign exchange reserves, second in size only to Japan's. China plans to make the yuan basically convertible under the capital account in the near term," Zou Lin, a senior official with the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Securities News. However, letting more money leave China would work counter to Washington's intentions by easing some of the pressure on the yuan to rise, said Qu Hongbin, an economist with HSBC. Meanwhile, making the yuan fully convertible, as opposed to basically convertible, would entail allowing local residents to freely invest their yuan savings overseas, Qu said. "This won't happen until the problems of the domestic financial system are fixed -- a 10-year job, in our view," he said in a note to clients.

 

Mongolia

Civil Will Party-Dem Party agree
2006-02-28 Mongol Messenger
The Civil Will and Democratic party representatives on February 21 signed a memorandum of understanding for a shadow cabinet. Those signing for the DP were B. Batbayar, S. Lambaa, Z. Enkhbold and E. Bat-Uul (DP). S. Oyun, Ts. Gankhuyag, M. Zorigt and D. Galsanbuyan signed for the CWP. They agreed on the immediate establishment of a shadow cabinet to offer alternatives to government policy, monitor budget expenditure and realisation of government action plans, while supporting initiatives for national development. They decided to meet as a Joint Council of the DP executive council and the CWP political council to decide upon funding and structure. The shadow cabinet will be responsible to this council. CWP leader Oyun said she will find out more about how the British shadow system works when she attends a Future Asian Development meeting in London this month. She has proposed that the Mongolian shadow cabinet comprise only tem members, fewer rather than the 18 in the government cabinet, with some shadowing more than one minister.

PM meets China's ambassador
2006-02-28 Mongol Messenger
On February 21, Prime Minister M. Enkhbold met Chinese Ambassador Gao Shu Mao and reiterated the importance of relations with neighbouring countries. He noted that 2003 visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao was a significant factor in the development of cooperation, as trade turnover between the two nations had doubled since that visit. Enkhbold explained government policy and action to the ambassador and stressed the urgency of loans of $300 million agreed during the Chinese president's visit. He said he particularly hoped for help in building a parallel railway line and a housing project. He assured the ambassador that the recent change of government would make little difference. "Although the political situation was recently unstable, you can be confident that government policy will not change." The ambassador said that he could see a speedy, businesslike start for the situnew government, and that cooperation suggestions needed completion of drafting. He said that President N. Enkhbayar's planned attendance at the June Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit was important. The same day the prime minister met new Turkish Ambassador Omur Solendil, who said he wanted to expand the bilateral ties with cooperation in all sectors. He talked about how the two countries had worked together in making historical findings, and said that a high level Turkish representation would be in Mongolia to open the 46km Khoshoo Tsaidam-Kharkhorin road, due for completion in September. He added "One Ulaanbaatar street will be renamed Ankara Street and a statue related to Turkish history will be erected in the capital." Enkhbold said he hoped that Turkey would be represented by highranking officials such as the president and prime minister at the 800 th anniversary celebrations.

Swiss splash out
2006-02-28 Mongol Messenger
On February 21 SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) donated Tg200,000 to each of 1,371 low-income households in Khovd Aimag. The National Statistics Office says that Khovd has one of the highest rates of poverty, with 63 percent of families (12,000) below the subsistence level. Most have little or no income other than the allowance for needy children (Tg3,000 per child per month), and many try to live by selling firewood, scrap metal and bottles from the garbage. Some of the beneficiaries were herders who lost most or all their animals in the 200-2003 zuds and moved to urban areas. The Swiss organisation works with JCS International and the funds are delivered through Khan Bank branches free of charge. A five-person team set up a committee of soum and bag governors and locals to pick the recipients from households earning under Tg3,000 per member per month. Swiss Consul and SDC country director Markus Dubach said, "We have full confidence that they will spend the cash wisely. The cash profits our beneficiaries and everyone in Khovd because it brings a large amount...to the local market." SDC also helps herders and exherders with entrepreneurial ideas and skills but no start-up money from a Tg55 million fund. A ceremony to hand out savings books in Jargalant soum was attended by Dubach and local MPs D. Demberel, L. Purevdorj and Ts. Damiran.

 

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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