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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
  13.3-17.3.06, No. 106  
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Foreign Policy

Putin to discuss energy cooperation with China during visit
2006-03-16 China Daily
Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the possibility of building an oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China, Russian Ambassador Sergei Razov said Thursday morning in Beijing. Razov told a press conference that discussions on the feasibility of the construction of an oil pipeline extending from Russia's Skovorodino to the Russia-China border are underway between Transneft of Russia and China National Petroleum Corporation, which are to take charge of the pipeline construction. The proposed pipeline will be a branch of a planned oil pipeline that runs from eastern Siberia to Russia's Pacific coast. Lazov said Russia-China cooperation in the field of energy is "very important." He expressed the hope that during President Putin's visit to China from March 21 to 22, the heads of state of the two countries will reach new agreement on energy development. Energy cooperation between Russia and China has a broad prospect and bright future, Lazov said. Lazov and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui held a joint press conference on the Year of Russia to be held in China. Russian President Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao will jointly inaugurate the event in Beijing next week. Lazov said Russia plans to supply 15 million tons of crude oil to China by railways in 2006. In addition, the two countries are discussing exports of natural gas to China. He said relevant corporations of Russia and China are jointly studying the feasibility and plan of exporting gas to China. The current task of the two sides is to complete the business discussions, which are key to the signing of a large-scale contract of gas supply, Lazov said. On the cooperation on nuclear energy, Lazov said construction of the Tianwan nuclear plant in Lianyungang in East China's Jiangsu Province is the largest project in the two countries' bilateral economic cooperation. The project will lay the foundation for future cooperation on peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said. Lazov said Russia is willing to play an active role in the development and implementation of China's nuclear power plan. Nuclear energy cooperation is of mutual benefit to the two countries and has broad prospects, Lazov said.

China urges Russia, Iran to continue nuclear talks
2006-03-14 China Daily
Iran should continue talks with Russia aimed at brokering a compromise in the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear plans, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. There was "still space" for a negotiated settlement in the deepening confrontation that has pitted Iran against increasingly impatient Western powers, who say Tehran wants to be able make atomic weapons and may push the dispute to the United Nations. "All concerned parties should step up diplomatic efforts. China hopes Iran will fully cooperate with the IAEA and adopt confidence-building measures to create the conditions for a negotiated resolution," spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference in Beijing. He was referring to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Also on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met in Beijing with Iranian envoy Mohammed Javad Larijani, brother of Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani. During their talks, Li urged countries involved to remain patient and avoid taking actions that could "complicate the situation", according to a report on the Foreign Ministry's Web site, www.fmprc.gov.cn. Iran faces a possible U.N. Security Council resolution as Western countries move to curtail its plans to enrich uranium. On Tuesday, the permanent members of the Security Council, including China, will meet to discuss a draft statement on Iran's nuclear plans. In recent days, Iran has sent uncertain signals about the Russian plan, which would allow it to develop nuclear power but oblige it to enrich atomic fuel in Russia under international inspections. The United States and European Union say Iran may seek to divert enriched fuel to weapons development. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was "extremely disappointed" with Iran's behaviour in the two countries' talks. But Qin repeated China's position that Iran and other powers must seek diplomatic compromise, and Russia's plan still offers the best way out of the "stalemate." "We support negotiations between Russia and Iran and hope they can still make progress," he said.

China: Military buildup 'transparent'
2006-03-16 China Daily
China insisted Thursday it hasn't concealed details of its defense strategy, after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged greater openness from Beijing on its military buildup. Rice, who was in Australia ahead of three-way talks over the weekend that include Japan, said China should "undertake to be transparent" about the 14.7 percent increase in its military budget for the year. But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Beijing has adopted "appropriate and visible military transparency measures." He said China regularly publishes papers on its national defense and is open about its military expenses, while Chinese troops have increased exchanges with other countries. "These have been in compliance with our development strategy and security commitment," Qin said at a regular news briefing. "What is more important is that our national defense strategy is totally transparent." This year's defense spending accounts for about 7.4 percent of China's total budget, which the government says is about the same proportion as in recent years. The spending boost brings expenditure up to 283.8 billion yuan (US$35.3 billion; euro28.6 billion), but analysts believe the true spending figure is several times higher if weapons purchases and other key items are included. Recent purchases include submarines, jet fighters and other high-tech weapons. Premier Wen Jiabao said this week that the Chinese military would never pose a threat to another country.

China, Sri Lanka vow to strengthen all-round cooperation
2006-03-16 People's Daily
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and visiting Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said Wednesday that the two countries are determined to push forward the all-round and cooperative partnership. During their talks, Rajapakse said that the two countries enjoyed long-term friendliness and Sri Lanka's new government will continue to carry out friendly policy toward China and dedicate to the all-round cooperation. Tang said that the Chinese government will continue to develop all-round cooperation with the Sri Lankan government. Rajapakse thanked the Chinese government's sincere help to Sri Lankan in a long period, especially after the country was hit by tsunami in 2004. ()

China supports UN human rights body
2006-03-17 China Daily
China supports the creation of the new UN Human Rights Council, which will strengthen the body's role in this field, Zhang Yishan, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Wednesday. The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday (local time) to replace the UN's Human Rights Commission with the new council with 170 members, while only the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau voted against. Zhang told the General Assembly: "The international community and people all over the world lay great expectations on the council. "They all hope that the council will play its due role, and more effectively enhance all human rights and fundamental freedoms at global level," Zhang said. Zhang pointed out that the draft resolution stresses that civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and the right to development are interlinked and equally important. He stressed that the draft resolution indicates that the human rights issue should be dealt with impartially and in a non-discriminatory manner to avoid double standards and politicization, and promote genuine dialogue and co-operation in the field of human rights. "The above principles shall become guidelines for the future work of the council in order to avoid the reoccurrence of political confrontation at the Human Rights Commission," the Chinese diplomat declared. However, he also made it clear that the draft resolution failed to fully reflect the concerns of many developing countries, including China, on some issues. "First, it does not provide effective guarantees to prevent political confrontation caused by a country's specific resolution, which has become a chronic problem at the Commission on Human Rights," Zhang noted. "Second, the universal periodic review to be developed by the council may overlap with the work of human rights treaty bodies and special mechanisms, thus increasing report burdens for developing countries," he said. "Third, according to our understanding, recommendations by the council are limited to the General Assembly." He said the Chinese side would further express its concerns during consultations after the council is established. Zhang promised that China is ready to adopt an active and open attitude, co-operate closely with all other parties, and play an active part in the council's work. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the resolution "historic" and added: "Now the real work begins. The true test of the council's credibility will be the use that member states make of it." US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the United States supported Annan's original proposal for a small permanent council elected by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly to deal with its pre-eminent concern of keeping rights abusers from winning seats. But the resolution adopted on Wednesday calls for election by an absolute majority 96 members.

 

Domestic Policy

China to press on with reforms: Premier Wen to NPC
2006-03-14 China Daily
China must press on with its historic reform agenda of the past two decades despite growing economic, social and environmental problems, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said. "We need to consistently and unswervingly press ahead with reform and opening up," Wen told a press conference following the end of the nation's annual parliamentary session. "We need to continue to adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Although there will be difficulties in the way ahead, we cannot stop. Back-pedaling is not a way out." The economic and social reforms introduced by then-leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s have transformed China, with its economy now the fourth biggest in the world. Wen admitted that his government had in recent years not adequately addressed issues that affected ordinary people's livelihoods. "The problems I find most heart-breaking during my past three years' work are that I haven't been able to better solve the problems that Chinese people are most concerned about like health, education, housing and security," he said. Wen also acknowledged that masses of farmers were suffering injustices due to the illegal seizures of their land. "We need to respect the democratic rights of the farmers, especially their right to independently operate their contracted land," Wen said. On the environment, Wen admitted the government had failed to stop severe pollution and there was no easy solution. "We are now faced with a very serious problem of environmental pollution; this is a major problem facing China's development," he said. "To be honest with you, we failed to deliver on the targets concerning environmental protection." Wen's press conference followed the end of the annual session of the National People's Congress or parliament, which sat for 10 days in Beijing. China's leaders had made the plight of the 745 million rural people, who have seen most of the benefits of the nation's economic growth go to the cities, the main focus of the proceedings. One of the main measures approved by the congress on Tuesday morning was a 14.2 percent rise in spending on the countryside. China will now spend 42 billion dollars this year on rural development as part of what Wen characterized as a historic shift to build a "socialist countryside".

China heading for water pollution crisis: Official
2006-03-16 China Daily
China is heading for a water pollution crisis as a booming economy raises industrial discharges and the number of incidents of toxic chemicals being spilled into rivers rises, a top environmental regulator said Thursday. More than 300 million people in rural China already lack access to water considered clean enough to drink, said Pan Yue, deputy minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration. China has recorded 70 pollution incidents in rivers since a chemical plant accident in November poisoned the Songhua River in the northeast and forced a major city to temporarily shut down its drinking water system, Pan said. "The environmental crisis, particularly for water, is coming to China earlier than expected," Pan said in an interview with a visiting group of American newspaper editors. The amount of sewage and industrial effluents discharged into China's rivers and lakes has risen each year since 2001, with more than 200 million tons of each released in 2004, according to a report handed out to the visiting delegation. "In the next 15 years China aims to achieve a well-off society _ defined as a quadrupling of our gross domestic product _ but if we maintain current production and consumption patterns then our pollution and consumption of energy resources will also be increased fourfold," he said.

28 confirmed dead after boat sinks
2006-03-17 People's Daily
At least 28 people are confirmed to have drowned when an overloaded boat sunk in a river in Yuechi County in Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Wednesday. As by press time last night, rescue workers had pulled 12 people to safety. Rescue team leaders revealed they had recovered the bodies of 28 people. No accurate number of passengers on board the boat at the time it sunk in Youxi River is available. But according to a survivor, at least 40 farmers were on the vessel. "In the hope of finding more survivors, or recovering the bodies of more victims, the rescue team will keep searching," said Yuan Xianfeng, vice-mayor of Guang'an. "They will also pay visits to houses in villages along the river to identify who may have taken the boat," he added. The cause of the sinking was overloading, said Lin Shucheng, chief of the Sichuan Safety Supervision Administration. Owned by Tang Yongsheng, a local farmer in Youxi Town who died in the incident, the boat was 9.57 metres long and 1.97 metres wide. It was only registered to carry a small number of passengers. "When the incident took place, it had at least 40 people on board," said Wang Hua, a 31-year-old survivor from Liujiaba Village of Youxi Town. Most passengers on the boat were farmers in villages along the Youxi River. "Like me, they had gone to Youxi Town to buy chemical fertilizer and food in a fair there," Wang said. "The boat was built eight years ago, and could not carry many passengers, and sank in the river after navigating about 200 metres from Youxi Town," he said. Wang, who was not injured, was saved by a passing boat. Four injured survivors are hospitalized in the Yuechi County Hospital and are receiving treatment. "The four patients, including a 62-year-old man and a girl less than three years old, are out of danger," Tang Biao, deputy chief of the hospital, told China Daily.

 

Tibet

Communication channel with Dalai Lama open
2006-03-15 China Daily
A senior Tibetan official said yesterday that the central government has been keeping open a communication channel with the Dalai Lama. He also urged the exiled figure to "do things beneficial to the Tibetan people." Qingba Puncog, chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the just-concluded annual session of the National People's Congress that the central government has been sincere in holding negotiations with the Dalai Lama. He said the Dalai Lama should be held fully responsible for the failed contacts in the past as he had misjudged the situation. According to Qingba Puncog, the Dalai Lama sent his envoy home for the first time in 1979 and Deng Xiaoping made it clear then that the fundamental issue is for the Dalai Lama to declare and acknowledge that Tibet is an inseparable part of China. The central authorities have since let the Dalai Lama's envoys come back for contacts many times. For example, his brother Gyalo Thondup alone has come back more than 10 times. However, the chairman said the Dalai Lama had never given up the separatist activities and continued to change strategies to influence world opinion. He stops talks whenever he thinks the situation is in his favour; and pledges to resume them when he thinks he is at a disadvantage. Even when he is seeking contacts with the central government, the Dalai Lama has never given up separatist activities both at home and abroad, the chairman said.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan marchers protest against Chen Shui-bian
2006-03-13 Xinhuanet
Tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Taipei yesterday under the banner of "Fighting for livelihood, saving Taiwan," denouncing their "president" Chen Shui-bian for fanning tensions with the mainland. Cross-Straits ties hit a new low since February 27 when pro-"independence" Chen scrapped the island's policy-making "national unification council" and its 15-year-old guidelines on eventual unification with the Chinese mainland. Beijing, which holds that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to one and the same China, called Chen's move "a dangerous step towards Taiwan 'independence'." Led by Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), the marchers braved light rain and walked to the "presidential" palace in Taipei, waving banners reading "We love peace! We hate war!" Local media reports said the column of demonstrators was as long as 6 kilometres. Organizers had said they planned to mobilize 100,000 people to take part in the protest. Ma said the march was meant to warn Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to avoid exploiting cross-Straits issues for political gain and spend more time improving the state of Taiwan's economy and the quality of its administration. "There are very severe grievances from the grassroots about the government, their livelihood...," Ma said. The island's opposition heavyweights, including People First Party Chairman James Soong, New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming and Taiwan's "parliamentary" speaker Wang Jin-pyng, joined the demonstration. Demonstrators carried banners criticizing Chen's "independence"-leaning policies, and demanded he "terminate (his) corrupt regime." Allegations of government corruption paid a large role in the stinging defeat sustained by the DPP in local elections in December. "We don't need Taiwan 'independence.' We want to live, we want to survive," said a retired veteran surnamed Lee. "Taiwan 'independence' is a dead end. It is (Chen's) own personal view, not the view of the majority of the people," Lee said. Ma, seen as the opposition's best hope to win the "presidency" in 2008, blamed Chen for unnecessarily provoking Beijing, saying the government should focus on the economy rather than politics. "The government has been reeling from one scandal after another and people are suffering, but our 'president' chooses to make 'independence' his main agenda," the KMT leader said. "We must let our government hear the real voice of the people," said Ma, whose party opposes "independence" and favours closer ties with the mainland. Businessman Chiang Chien-min agreed: "I am very dissatisfied. I am dissatisfied with the economy, the corruption cases and the incompetent government." Taipei city councillor Wu Guo-dong told demonstrators that their action was necessary to save Taiwan from the threat of an armed confrontation with the mainland. "We have to fight against Taiwan 'independence' which will bring us to the brink of war," he said. Twelve representatives of different sectors including farmers, students, fishermen and government employees took turns to voice their resentment towards the government at the square outside the "presidential" office. They said from a makeshift stage that their lives had worsened since Chen won power in the 2000 "presidential" polls. Chen was re-elected in a disputed election in 2004.

 

Economy

US$480-million joint project with Europe on helicopters
2006-03-16 China Daily
Eurocopter, an affiliate of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), will work with China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II) to produce six-ton-class lifter helicopters in China. Norbert Ducrot, vice-president of Eurocopter, told Xinhua News Agency last week that the two sides would each invest 200 million euros (US$240 million) on research and design of the helicopter, called Z-15, in China. Two assembly lines will be set up, one in France and the other in Harbin, capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, and the new lifter is expected to start trial flights in 2009. You Zhiqiang, director of the promotion office of Harbin Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), which is under AVIC II, said the new lifter will be for civilian use in transportation, search and rescue. "Experts from the two companies have already began joint research on the lifter," he said, adding that the helicopters will be on sale by 2012. Eurocopter began to tap the Chinese market in the 1960s when it worked on aircrafts such as the Alouette III and the light-lifter EC 120. It is the third co-operation between Eurocopter and HAIG, said You. The first co-operation was in the early 1980s, when HAIG introduced the design of its Z-9 helicopter, a multi-purpose light helicopter. The Z-9 is now widely used in the military. The second co-operation was the most successful, said You. In 1992 the two sides co-designed a 1.6-ton light lifter called the EC 120. The EC 120 proved to be a hit in the Asian Pacific Region, with an average annual sale of some 70 helicopters, You said. However, You said HAIG just contributed a little in the designing process and the core technology was mainly from Eurocopter. This time, the two sides will each contribute half of the research and design work, You said.

 

Mongolia

Reports on trade and investment framework agreement
2006-03-16 UB Post
Mongolian government officials, led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ya.Sodbaatar, met with the US government officials, led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China and Mongolia Affairs Timothy Stratford, on March 8, 2006 in Washington for the second meeting under the United States - Mongolia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). During the productive meeting the two sides discussed a wide range of bilateral trade, development, and investment issues. The agenda covered priority trade issues for both countries, including the development of closer trade ties and improving transparency and intellectual property rights for U.S. companies in Mongolia. Corruption, and its potential adverse impact on much-needed foreign investment in Mongolia, was highlighted and measures to combat it discussed. In addition, the two sides discussed how to strengthen trade and development cooperation, including the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences program, the Millennium Challenge Account program, and other development assistance programs. Mongolia expressed its interest in negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States. The United States presented information on complex reform requirements covering textiles and customs administration needed prior to engaging in free trade agreement negotiations. The United States has TIFAs with number of countries in order to enhance trade ties and coordinate regionally and multilaterally through regular senior-level discussions on trade and economic issues. Regular, ongoing dialogues established through TIFAs with other countries and regions have led to concrete, positive results, resolved trade differences and led to a deepening of economic relationships. Two-way trade in goods between Mongolia and the United States totalled US$165 million in 2005. The U.S.-Mongolia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement was signed in 2004.

Govnt, donors focus on development
2006-03-08 Mongol Messenger
The government and foreign partners on March 1 ended a two-day meeting on the country's economic and development progress. The meeting focused on better management for results and harmonization, debt management, private sector development and education, saying that later meetings would review other priorities. Mongolia receives a significant amount released on the meeting, run by the government and the World Bank, said, "It marks an intensification in the government- external partner cooperation to establish clearer development priorities and better align this external support with the government's own planning and budget cycle through regular six monthly meetings focused on achieving results and a higher accountability for aid." The statement continued, "The government and partners will work to improve coordination...based on existing planning and budget mechanisms and on a new MDG-based national development strategy under preparation." "We mutually agreed on a new mechanism of cooperation based on principles of accountability, transparency, support for real economic development, results on the ground and elimination of any overlaps." "Particular attention will be needed addressing cross-sectoral issues, ensuring adequate focus on poverty reduction, and using an open and collaborative process involving line ministries, parliament, civil society and the private sector." "To generate a needs-based programme of activities costed and aligned within sustainable resource envelopes, the government and partners agreed on the need to strengthen capacity and institutions to ensure national strategy, medium term planning and the budget are strongly linked." Finance Minister N. Bayartsaikhan noted the need to increase the effectiveness of foreign loans and aid, bearing in mind the high level of current exteristernal debt, numerous competing needs and vulnerability to external conditions. "In working to achieve the MDGs and other development goals, one key challenge will be to develop a sharper, more coherent strategy for public debt management and to maintain the right balance between private direct investment, grants and loans," he said. "Our aim must be to strengthen our economy to withstand future shocks and dips in commodity prices that will inevitably happen." The meeting agreed that Mongolia had made significant progress in the transition to a market economy. With recent economic growth supported by rapidly rising minerals prices and production, there was a budget surplus in 2005, compared to deficits of more than nine percent in the late 1990s. The statement said, "Mongolia is on track to achieve some of the MDGs, including universal primary education, and has made significant progress on others, including reducing infant and child mortality."

Doctors in first kidney transplant honored
2006-03-16 UB Post
The Deputy Minister of Health, A.Otgonbold, met with Chinese and Mongolian medial surgeons last week following Mongolia's first successful kidney transplant. The doctors were presented with awards from the ministry and the thanks of the family of the transplant recipient. "Both the patient and the kidney donor's health are stable and in good condition. All appropriate medical precautions are being taken," said L.Jambaljav, the surgeon general of the hospital. The transplant took place at the Central University Hospital (widely known as Hospital No.1) and included a medical team of Chinese and Mongolian surgeons. Although the surgery was successful, it has highlighted the needs, both material and technical, that impede the level of medical treatment available in Mongolia. One doctor noted that the main hospital has only ten kidney dialysis machines, which are not sufficient for patients.

 

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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