SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
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Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  6.3-9.3.06, No. 105  
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Foreign Policy

Japan leaders must correct mistakes: FM
2006-03-08 People's Daily
Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing yesterday reiterated China's objections to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine that honours Japan's convicted World War II war criminals. Li described the visits as inexplicably "stupid and immoral" and demanded that Koizumi and other Japanese leaders not repeat them. "Japanese leaders must demonstrate courage and sincerity and correct their mistakes," Li said at a news conference held on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress. He urged Japanese leaders to learn from Germany, whose leaders shunned Adolf Hitler and the Nazis after World War II. "We cannot bring the war victims back to life, but we should at least refrain from doing anything that hurts the feelings of the victims' offspring," Li quoted a German official as saying. He described the fourth round of Sino-Japan East China Sea consultations, which concluded yesterday, as "pragmatic and constructive." "China and Japan have agreed to hold the next round of consultations as early as possible," Li said. On Sino-US trade, Li said China is not pursuing a trade surplus. "We are willing to take active measures to gradually resolve the imbalance," Li said, asking Washington not to politicize its trade frictions with Beijing. One of the major reasons for the surplus is US restrictions on high-tech exports to China, he said. He noted that the restrictions are against World Trade Organization norms and unnecessary as many of the products on the list, such as computers and high tech nuclear power equipment, could be used for either civilian or military purposes. ()

China, Yemen vow to strengthen relations
2006-03-09 Xinhuanet
China is wiling to make concerted efforts with Yemen to further consolidate and strengthen bilateral ties, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said on Wednesday in Saana. Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, voiced the wishes when meeting with Yemeni leaders. A CPC delegation led by Wang arrived in the Yemeni capital on Sunday for a five-day visit. Wang expressed appreciation for Yemen's consistent support for China on the questions of Taiwan, Tibet and human rights, saying that the CPC and the Chinese government always regard Yemen as a reliable friend. For their part, Yemeni leaders spoke highly of the friendly relations between the two countries, and stressed that Yemen values its cooperation with China. They voiced admiration for the great achievements China has scored since it implemented the policy of reform and opening-up. They also expressed gratitude to the CPC, the Chinese government and people for their long-standing support and assistance to Yemen, and hoped that President Saleh's upcoming visit to China in April would yield fruitful results. Saleh reiterated Yemen's adherence to the one-China policy, saying Taiwan's reunification with the motherland is an irreversible trend.

China issues human rights record of the United States
2006-03-09 People's Daily
China issued Thursday the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2005 in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005 issued by the U.S. State Department on Wednesday Released by the Information Office of China's State Council, the Chinese report listed a multitude of cases to show the serious violations of human rights both in and outside the United States. The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2005 from seven perspectives: on life and security of person, on infringements upon human rights by law enforcement and judicial organs, on political rights and freedom, on economic, social and cultural rights, on racial discrimination, on rights of women and children and on the United States' violation of human rights in other countries. This is the seventh consecutive year that the Information Office of the State Council has issued human rights record of the United States to answer the U.S. State Department annual report.

Co-ordination vital to curb human pandemic
2006-03-07 China Daily
As the spread of bird flu picks up pace around the world, China yesterday called for closer international co-operation to help prevent a human pandemic. "The international community should further improve the information-sharing mechanism for the disease," a Ministry of Agriculture official said. Apart from China, only a few developing countries have submitted bird-flu virus samples to international organizations for technical assistance, said the official who did not want to be identified. He made the remarks as more than 30 experts gathered in Geneva yesterday for a three-day meeting called to sharpen the global response to any human outbreak of H5N1 bird flu. The Ministry of Health confirmed on Sunday the country's ninth human fatality a 32-year-old man in South China's Guangdong Province - from the infection. H5N1 has spread to at least 15 new countries in the past month. The virus has infected 174 people since 2003, killing 94 of them, according to news reports. The ministry official said H7, H5 and H2 types of avian influenza have been reported in North America, Europe and some Asian countries in recent years. Some of the strains are very virulent, and others are of great value for developing either human vaccines or prevention technology. "Therefore we hope that with the co-ordination of relevant world organizations, countries concerned will submit bird-flu virus strains in a timely fashion," he said. In addition to co-operating with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in bird flu prevention, the Ministry of Agriculture has offered technical and material as well as financial aid to countries including Viet Nam, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Indonesia, he said. "China remains committed to participating in, and promoting, international co-operation for bird flu control," he said. ()

Faith placed in young bishops to heal rift with the Vatican
2006-03-06 SCMP
Zhan Silu, one of the rising generations of mainland Catholic bishops endorsed by the Pope, says the Vatican and Beijing could resume diplomatic relations "in the near future". Bishop Zhan, who is also a National People's Congress deputy, said mainland Catholics hoped to see the two sides reconcile their differences. "I believe this [resuming ties] is a natural development. Through mutual efforts, I think this goal could be realised very soon," he said. Last month the Holy See elevated bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, leader of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, to cardinal. Church observers said the move was a friendly gesture by Pope Benedict towards the Chinese people, even though many of those in the pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong view Cardinal Zen as a troublemaker. Bishop Zhan, from Fujian province, said mainland Catholics could only communicate with the Vatican through indirect channels. "But we all belong to one church. We often pray for the Holy See," he said. He is one of the young bishops tipped by overseas observers to become the next generation of mainland church leaders. ()

 

Domestic Policy

Senior officials discuss matters of national importance with lawmakers, advisors
2006-03-09 Xinhuanet
Chinese President Hu Jintao, top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday joined panel discussions with the country's lawmakers and political advisors on national issues. Deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, and members of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, are here to attend the annual full sessions of the two organs. CPPCC National Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin and other senior officials including Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun and Luo Gan also participated in such discussions. They are all in the nine-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the top decision-making body of the ruling party. "We should always give top priority to and properly resolve issues related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers, make efforts to build new countryside and promote the formation of new industry-agriculture and urban-rural relations so as to create a new situation for the work related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers," said the president while discussing with advisors from the agricultural sector. It would be a central task to steadily increase the income of farmers, Hu added. While joining lawmakers from Hong Kong and Macao in group discussions on Tuesday morning, Wu Bangguo said that the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region assumes the supreme legal status in Hong Kong, and all legislative, administrative and judicial activities in Hong Kong must accord with the Basic Law. ()

Hospital found overcharging 200,000 yuan
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
Four officials with a Harbin hospital were punished over a 5.5 million yuan (US$670,000) medical bill that raised serious questions about the state of healthcare on the mainland, the China News Service said Monday. Weng Wenhui, 74, died Aug. 6 after 68 days of treatment in the Second Hospital Affiliated to Harbin Medical University. His total medical bill came to 5.5 million yuan. The president of the hospital was suspended from his post while three other department chiefs were sacked after investigators found that 200,000 yuan had been overcharged during Weng's treatment, hospital official Li Wenzhi said at a news briefing Monday. The Ministry of Health sent three taskforces to carry out an investigation after domestic newspapers extensively covered the case as the "most expensive medical treatment on the mainland," Li said. Weng's treatment at the Harbin hospital cost a total of 1.32 million yuan, not the 5.5 million yuan reported by newspapers, investigators found. The rest of the money was spent on imported drugs and medical experts from other hospitals, which were arranged for by the patient's family members. The hospital did have other problems in management and charging, Li said, but he added that it was reasonable for a patient to receive 94 blood transfusions a day to sieve and dialyze the blood. He was referring to a widely quoted detail that Weng received 94 blood transfusions July 30. Weng's family insisted the patient be transferred to an ICU and invited more than 100 doctors from Beijing to treat him, although the Harbin hospital had persuaded them to give up as his disease was terminal, Li said.

Girl dies from bird flu, bringing China's toll to 10
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
A nine-year-old girl in east China's Zhejiang Province has died from bird flu, bringing China's death toll of the disease to 10. The girl, surnamed You, died on the night of March 6 after all rescue efforts failed, according to the information office of the Ministry of Health. So far, no bird flu outbreak in poultry or new suspected human case has been detected in Zhejiang, the office staff told Xinhua. As of March 7, the Chinese mainland had reported 15 confirmed human cases of bird flu, among whom 10 had died. Globally, 175 human cases involving 95 deaths had been reported to the World Health Organization by March 6, according to the WHO's website.

China faces realities of manned spaceflight
2006-03-08 China Daily
Tight budgets and the sheer technical challenge means that China will likely not put a man on the moon for at least another 15 years, a senior Chinese space official said on Sunday. The country will also have to postpone its next manned space trip from 2007 to the second half of 2008 to give more time to test new equipment, said Huang Chunping, lead engineer behind the rocket that sent China's first man into space in 2003. The 2008 mission was expected to include a spacewalk and the ship could carry up to three people, Huang said, all of which makes the trip that much more technologically difficult. "We're in no rush. We have to take it one step at a time," Huang told Reuters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of parliament, where he is member of China's top advisory body, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. China has come a long way since then paramount leader Mao Zedong lamented in 1957 -- the year the Soviet Union put the first ever man-made object into orbit -- that the country was incapable even of putting a potato into space. China launched its first satellite in April 1970 aboard a Long March rocket. Since then industry analysts estimate it has launched over 50 satellites. In October 2005, China sent another spacecraft carrying two men into orbit for five days, and a "round the moon" project, the first major step in China's lunar exploration plans, is expected to be launched in 2007. The unmanned lunar orbiter is part of China's plan to eventually land astronauts on the moon before 2020. Huang said even that could be optimistic. "Putting a man on the moon -- it will be impossible for at least the next 15 years," he said. As China was still a developing country with many problems, especially in its vast countryside where some 750 million people live, the space program had to compete for resources, Huang added.

People accountable for coal mine flooding punished
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
A total of 16 people accountable for the coal mine flooding that claimed 121 lives last year in southern Guangdong Province on Wednesday received prison terms ranging from two years with reprieve to six years. The criminals, including Wang Zhuoxiong, chief of the local work safety watchdog, Li Zhenquan, deputy director of local land resources bureau, and many other city-level officials, were penalized for dereliction of duty, bribery, or illegal mining. In accordance with the Communist Party of China (CPC) penal code, another 22 local officials in charge of mining administration have received administrative punishment. According to sources from local courts, Zeng Yungao, the mine owner, and another 17 business people related with the mine, will receive punishments soon. The Daxing Coal Mine of Xingning City was flooded on August 7 with 127 miners working underground. The mine had been operating without a licence and in violation of local government orders to shut down after a July flooding at another nearby pit in the same city that killed 16 miners.

 

Taiwan

Commitments to Taiwan compatriots remain unchanged: top advisor
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
The mainland will not change its solemn promise to Taiwan compatriots because of the deliberate provocation and obstruction made by the Taiwan authorities, China's top advisor Jia Qinglin reiterated here Wednesday. "We should further expand cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation and try hard to implement the principle of pinning hope on the Taiwan people," said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), while participating in a panel discussion of Taiwan delegation to the NPC. He called for vigorous implementation of all the policies and measures that had been announced while continuing to serve the Taiwan compatriots for their interests, as well as expansion of cross-Strait economic and cultural exchange and cooperation. The top advisor expressed the hope that non-governmental organizations of the two sides will launch earlier negotiations on the issue of charted passenger and cargo flights in a bid to achieve substantial progress. Jia also called for the development of exchange and dialogues with Taiwan parties and organizations that acknowledge the 1992 Consensus and oppose to "Taiwan independence" so as to resume cross-Straits talks on the basis of the consensus. The panel discussion was held on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, to examine the work report delivered by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the draft outlines of China's 11th Five-Year Plan on the national economic and social development between 2006-2010.

 

Economy

China issues report to criticize U.S. for its democracy of money
2006-03-09 People's Daily
The United States has always boasted itself as the "model of democracy" and hawked its mode of democracy to the rest of the world, but in fact, American "democracy" is always one for the wealthy and a "game for the rich," according to a report released here on Thursday. The report, titled the Human Rights Record of the United Statesin 2005 and released by the Information Office of China's State Council, says that "the democratic elections in the United States,to a great extent, are driven by money." During the mayoral election of New York City in November 2005, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent 77.89 million U.S. dollars of his fortune for re-election. That came to more than 100U.S. dollars per vote. According to a survey, in Washington D.C. a U.S. senator needs about 20 million U.S. dollars to keep the seat in the Senate. "Decisions of the U.S. Congress and the Administration are deeply influenced by money," the report says. In the United States, various firms and interest groups hire public relations and consulting companies to lobby the Congress and the Administration, spending money to influence their decisions and win government contracts, it says. On Jan. 4, 2006, mainstream U.S. media carried reports on super lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleading guilty to three felony charges including a conspiracy involving corruption of public officials and agreeing to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors in investigating members of Congress and aides suspected of corruption. The case is the largest power-for-money scandal in American politics for several decades. It was reported that 20 members of Congress and their aides have been involved in this unusual large-scale scandal. ()

Beijing suffers widening urban, rural gap
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
Beijing has witnessed a growing disparity between urban and rural income, Qiang Wei, deputy secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has said. Per capita net income of rural residents in the national capital stood at 7,860 yuan (990 U.S. dollars) in 2005, up 9.6 percent over the previous year, said Qiang. Meanwhile, the per capita disposable income of urban residents hit 17,650 yuan (2,206 dollars), a growth of 12.9 percent as against the 2004. Despite continuous increase in recent years, the income of rural residents was nearly 9,800 yuan (1,225 dollars) less than that of their urban compatriots, a sharp jump from the gap of 2,563 yuan (320 dollars) in 2004, Qiang said on the sideline of the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. He noted that there are more than 3 million farmers scattered in some 3,900 villages around the city. Official statistics show that the per capita net income of rural residents across China amounted to 3,255 yuan (406 dollars) in 2005, a real growth of 6.2 percent. The per capita disposable income of Chinese urban residents was 10,493 yuan (1312 dollars), a growth of 9.6 percent after deducting price factors. Qiang pledged to explore ways to increase farmers' income in the drive of building new countryside in line with China's 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Plan, including modernizing agriculture, fostering city-oriented agricultural services, encouraging the development of industry and service sectors in the suburbs, as well as helping rural labor forces to take up non-agricultural businesses. A fundamental national compensatory mechanism concerning the development of various sectors, land resources, biological system, natural disasters and social issues should be set up to balance rural and urban development, in a bid to promote social equality and harmony, said Niu Wenyuan, a leading expert on China's sustainable development and a member of China's top political advisory body which is in an annual session here. China is determined to accelerate the rural development to reduce the yawning gap with urban areas. According to the "socialist new countryside" initiative revealed in the latest government work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao, China plans to pour 339.7 billion yuan in the rural areas and completely rescind agricultural tax throughout the country this year, in addition to many other positive measures.

Debts owed by local govts exceed 1 trillion yuan: advisor
2006-03-08 Xinhuanet
China's local governments, particularly those at county and township levels, are facing a huge financial crisis with the overall debts owed by them having exceeded 1 trillion yuan (125 billion U.S. dollars), a political advisor said here on Wednesday. "According to 2004 figures, the debts of local governments in China totaled at least 1 trillion yuan, with half of the debts borrowed by provincial and city-level governments and the other half shared by county and township-level governments," said Feng Peien, a member of the Tenth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body in its annual full session here. In a speech delivered at a plenary meeting of the more than 2,000 advisors in the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday afternoon, Feng said according to his study, the average debts owed by the township-level governments across the country now stands at 4 million yuan (500,000 dollars). "The financial crisis faced by the local governments has reached an alarming level, which might lead to the bankruptcy of government credit and harm the social stability," Feng warned. In an earlier interview with Xinhua, Gan Yuping, another CPPCC National Committee member, attributed the ballooning local government deficit to an unreasonable revenue-sharing system between the local and central governments, as well as the overburdening of the local governments in the payment of public welfare spendings on education, health and rural infrastructure construction. However, some other advisors have also blamed local officials for wasting public money on dining and wining, unnecessary meetings and building of extravagant office buildings. ()

China works out plan to further protect IPR
2006-03-09 Xinhuanet
The Chinese government has worked out a plan aimed at intensifying the nation's efforts to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2006. The Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday on its website the plan formulated by the National Protecting IPR Working Group in cooperation with other departments will be of great significance to guide the country's IPR protection effort. The plan covers trademarks, copyrights, patents and the import and export sectors and includes measures like protecting IPR by the ministries of public security, information industry and culture, as well as the General Administration of Customs, Copyright Bureau and other departments. In accordance with the plan, China will draft, stipulate and revise 17 laws and regulations concerning trademarks, copyrights, patents and customs in 2006. China will also adopt a series of measures to increase public awareness about protecting IPR and will conduct international exchanges and cooperation to this end.

 

North Korea

Rare US summit for Pyongyang
2006-03-08 SCMP
North Korea should return to six-country nuclear talks regardless of the outcome of discussions on the US sanctions placed on Pyongyang over money laundering, the State Department said ahead of yesterday's rare summit between the two countries. Senior North Korean diplomat Ri Gun was due to meet US counterparts in New York, with the Americans expected to give its evidence that Pyongyang was counterfeiting luxury goods and US$100 notes. North Korea responded to the sanctions by boycotting six-party talks. "Regardless of this briefing, the North Koreans ought to come back to those talks as soon as possible," a State Department spokesman said. The US slapped sanctions on Pyongyang after a sting operation recovered US$3.35 million in "supernotes" - top-quality counterfeits that are almost indistinguishable from genuine US currency.

 

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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