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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
  24.4-30.4.06, No. 112  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese FM underlines fruitful results of President Hu's Arab-African visit
2006-04-29 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya on April 22-29 was of great significance to the development of relations between China and the four nations, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in Nairobi Saturday. Li said President Hu's Arab-African tour, following a visit to the United States, has achieved the desired goal of consolidating traditional friendship between China and the four nations, enhancing mutual trust and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. The visit ushered in a new situation featuring the development of mutually beneficial relations between China and Arab, African nations and developing countries at large, Li said. He said President Hu held in-depth talks with leaders of the four nations and exchanged views with them on bilateral ties and regional and international issues of common concern. During the tour, the president made important speeches on how to boost China's links with the Arab and African nations under the current situations, and met entrepreneurs, students as well as public representatives, Li said. China signed 28 accords with the four countries, which covered a variety of fields including politics, security, economy and trade, energy, education, health system, culture and tourism during Hu's visits.

STRENGTHENING OF POLITICAL MUTUAL TRUST, PROMOTION OF BILATERAL RELATIONS
During the four-nation tour, President Hu pointed out that efforts should be made to push forward in an all-around way a new type of strategic partnership between China and Arab and African countries featuring political mutual trust, economic mutual benefit and mutual support in world affairs. Hu said as China and the four nations are all developing countries, they have common interests in safeguarding world peace, boosting common prosperity and improving their people's living standards. China and the four countries should increase exchanges and consultations, boost mutual trust, expand pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation and have closer coordination in regional and international affairs, Hu said. These opinions were echoed by leaders of the four countries. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz said people in his kingdom cherished deep appreciation for the Chinese people and their leaders, and Saudi Arabia would always be a sincere and trustworthy friend of China. Moroccan King S. M. Le Roi Mohammed VI said Hu's visit to his country had injected new vitality into the Morocco-China relations, and he hoped for a continued expansion in bilateral cooperation. Nigerian President Olusengun Obasanjo said Nigeria-China ties had stepped onto a track of strategic partnership, and he hoped such partnership could make constant headway. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki said his country expected to develop better and closer ties with China.

INNOVATING WAY OF COOPERATION, CONSOLIDATING PRACTICAL COOPERATION
During the visits, Hu noted that China would work with the four nations to develop mutually complementary and win-win cooperation. He put forward a series of proposals, including extending bilateral cooperation from the single field of trade exchanges to a greater scope covering investment and technology, undertaking contracted projects, and expanding governmental cooperation to a broader range involving governments, enterprises and other economic entities. President Hu also proposed increasing intelligence-related projects such as cooperation in capacity building, human resources training and technology exchanges, promoting the development of primary products processing to realize value added, optimizing and upgrading traditional manufacturing industry, attaching great importance to facilitating local development and improving people's livelihood. Hu's proposals and commitments made during the visits were lauded by the governments and business communities of the host countries. They expected more Chinese corporate investments and cooperation in areas of infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing sector, energy and resources. Saudi business communities, in particular, expressed their aspirations to establish a strategic and global economic partnership with China. Some world media believed that the cooperation between China and the four nations plus other developing countries will be more mutually beneficial and China's development will bring about tremendous opportunities for the economic development of the Middle East and African countries.

STRENGTHENING BILATERAL EXCHANGES, BUILDING HARMONIOUS WORLD
Hu stressed that the Chinese civilization, the Arab civilization and the African one, all of which were the most ancient in the human history, should conduct various exchanges and dialogues to deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the people, promote the development of bilateral ties and revitalize the ancient civilizations so as to make greater contribution to the mankind of the 21st century. The president also expounded on China's path of peaceful development, the opening-up strategy and the concept of building a harmonious world, which helped deepen the four countries' understanding of China's domestic and foreign policies. Speaking highly of the great achievements China had made in economic and social development, leaders of the four countries expressed their wish to learn and draw from China's successful experience. They hoped to join hands with the Chinese people in building a better future.

STRENGTHENING COORDINATION, JOINTLY SAFEGUARDING REGIONAL PEACE
During the visits, Hu noted that enhancing concerted coordination among the developing countries conformed to the common interests of all parties. He said China is willing to make joint efforts with other developing countries to safeguard the tenet and the principles of the UN Charter, strengthen consultation and cooperation within the framework of the United Nations and multilateral organizations, jointly defend the legal rights of the developing countries. Hu expounded on China's positions on the Middle East conflict, Iran's nuclear issue, Iraq and Sudan, noting that China considered that all actions and initiatives concerning the Middle East and the Gulf region should respect the choice of the countries and people in the region. China supports the efforts of the African nations to seek unity, build up national strength, and seek the settlement of African issues independently, said Hu, adding that China also supports the leading role of the African Union in strengthening African solidarity and cooperation. During the Chinese president's four-nation Arab-Africa tour, all the host countries highly evaluated China's important status in the international arena, considering China a major force in promoting world peace and development. They praised China for playing a constructive role in international affairs and pursuing impartial stands on relevant international issues, and hoped that China would play a greater role in Middle East and African affairs.

US visit was fruitful, says FM
2006-04-24 China Daily
President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States was "fruitful" and a "milestone" in bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said on Saturday. During the four-day visit, President Hu conveyed the idea that China and the US are "not only stakeholders, but also constructive partners." Speaking to reporters aboard the special plane which took Hu from the United States to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Li said the president's US visit yielded important results. From Seattle, where Microsoft and Boeing are located, to Washington DC and then New Haven, the location of the prestigious Yale University, Hu's tight schedule featured 32 official activities. He delivered a total of six speeches to US government officials, enterprises, academicians and students. "The visit promoted comprehensive and constructive co-operation between China and the United States after President Hu repeatedly said that Sino-US relations have progressed beyond a bilateral relationship to one with global influence and a strategic significance," Li said. Hu told his various hosts that China and the US shared important strategic interests in safeguarding world peace and promoting mutual development as both face threats in the field of traditional and non-traditional security, he added. The US side appreciated President Hu's remarks, according to the foreign minister. US President George W. Bush expressed his "welcome" to a peaceful and prosperous China, noting the two nations shared many strategic interests. During Hu's visit, China and the United States also agreed to take joint steps to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. Bush told Hu that he understood China's concern about the Taiwan question and that there was no change in the US policy on Taiwan, Li said. Talking about bilateral economic and trade relations, Li said Hu's visit would strengthen Sino-US co-operation in the field. Explaining China's concept and road of development, President Hu said China would hold high the banner of peace, development and co-operation, pursue an independent foreign policy of peace, and commit itself to peaceful development. Hu's visit achieved the goal of promoting dialogue, improving mutual trust, deepening co-operation and taking constructive and co-operative relations between the two countries to a new stage, the foreign minister added.

Wen calls for talks on trade dispute with EU
2006-04-25 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday that the Chinese government wished to settle trade disputes with the European Union (EU) through dialogue and consultation. "China is willing to strengthen political exchanges and cooperation to resolve issues of common concern, including trade disputes, with the European Union based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," Wen told visiting Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. "I hope that Finland will continue to contribute to China-EU relations when it holds the rotating EU presidency in the latter half of this year," he told Vanhanen. Finland was one of the first developed countries to establish diplomatic relations and signed a bilateral trade agreement with the People's Republic of China. () The Finnish government also expected Premier Wen to visit Finland this autumn to attend the ninth China-EU Summit and the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Vanhanen added. Wen said the ASEM encouraged exchanges and cooperation between the two continents and played an important role in supporting the Asia-Europe partnership. ()

Zeng urges Japan to 'respond seriously'
2006-04-24 China Daily
Vice-President Zeng Qinghong on Saturday urged Japan to respond seriously to President Hu Jintao's recent proposals on improving bilateral relations. "Friendly Sino-Japanese co-operation is important to both countries, to Asia and even to the world," Zeng told Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Toshihiro Nikai, who was attending the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference 2006. China-Japan relations are at a low point currently as Japanese leaders continue visiting the Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class-A war criminals are honoured, despite protests from China and other Asian neighbours. When meeting with leaders of seven Japan-China relationship organizations last month, President Hu urged Japanese leaders to draw a lesson from history, act with consideration of benefits of the two peoples and the future of bilateral ties. Hu also expressed willingness to hold talks with Japanese leaders as soon as they stop visiting the shrine. Zeng told Nikai that China hopes Japan can approach the proposals seriously. Nikai said China and Japan should work together to promote friendly co-operation, and Japan will promote exchanges and co-operation with China in environmental protection, intellectual property rights and tourism. After the bilateral talks, Nikai told the press that both sides also agreed to seek a peaceful solution to the dispute over gas exploration in the East China Sea. "I expressed the idea that the East China Sea should be a sea of peace, instead of confrontation," Nikai said. "Vice-President Zeng agreed with that." When addressing the opening ceremony of the BFA annual conference on Saturday, Zeng said China's smooth development will provide more opportunities for regional co-operation in Asia. According to Zeng, China's gross domestic product will exceed US$3 trillion in 2010, with annual imports over US$1 trillion. Meanwhile, energy consumption per unit will be reduced by 20 per cent and emission of pollutants cut by 10 per cent.

Premier Wen sets out strategy to tackle environmental pollution
2006-04-23 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has called for stricter measures to ensure officials responsible for pollution accidents are held to account, noting that environmental protection has still not received enough attention in some areas. "Those who cause major pollution accidents through making wrong decisions or lax supervision must be severely punished," Wen said on April 17 at the sixth national environmental protection conference held in Beijing. The full transcript of the speech was published on Sunday. The official accountability system has already led to the sacking of government officials after environmental incidents, including former environmental chief Xie Zhenhua after the Songhua River accident last November. The conference, attended by environmental chiefs from various regions in China, coincided with choking dusty weather that plagued the Chinese capital for days. "We must be fully aware of the severity and complexity of our country's environmental situation and the importance and urgency of increasing environmental protection," Wen said. Wen said environmental protection will become part of the assessment system of economic and social development and the performance of officials. "From this year, levels of energy consumption and discharge of pollutants of various regions and major industries should be released to the public every half year to facilitate supervision," said Wen. Zhou Shengxian, head of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said pollution has posed a great threat to social stability, noting there were 51,000 disputes over environmental pollution last year. He said China has experienced 76 environmental emergencies since serious pollution of northeast China's Songhua River on Nov. 13, 2005 - one in every two days on average. Unless effective measures are taken, he said, pollution will become even more serious. At the meeting, Wen called for quotas to be set for the discharge of pollutants in various regions. He also demanded construction projects that fail environmental impact appraisals, restrictions or a ban on development in certain functional areas, stronger law enforcement, the establishment of proper prices for pollution discharge and treatment, an increase in investment in environmental protection and an improvement in the monitoring and management systems. "We must spend money on pollution control sooner or later. The sooner the better," said Wen. He urged hard work in the following areas:

  • intensify treatment of pollution and solve outstanding environmental problems. The most urgent tasks at present are to curb water and air pollution.

"Our chemical plants are mostly located along rivers. They would cause serious consequences if accidents occur," said Wen.

  • improve protection of eco-systems and strive to reverse ecological deterioration. On one hand, improper development activities should be controlled. On the other hand, continuous efforts should be made to protect and create more forests.
  • accelerate economic restructuring to create an industrial system that will aid resource conservation and environmental protection.
  • advance environmental science and technology to improve environmental protection capability.

"Protecting the environment is to protect the homes we live in and the foundations for the development of the Chinese nation," said Wen. "We should not use up resources left by our forefathers without leaving any to our offspring." Wen said China has surpassed most economic development targets during the past five years, but not the two main targets in environmental protection. China set targets of cutting discharge of sulphur dioxide by 10 percent and chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 10 percent during 2000-2005. ()

NGOs in environment protection dilemma
2006-04-24 Xinhuanet
China's non-governmental organizations (NGO) committed to environmental protections have been operating in dilemma, with weak power and money shortage, an official survey revealed over the weekend. The survey made by the All-China Environment Federation on China's 2,768 environmental protection NGOs found that only a little over 20 percent of the NGOs had registered with authorities, and more than 70 percent lack fixed funding sources for operation. The survey showed that about 80 percent of NGOs have a membership of below 30. More than 90 percent of NGO leaders have a college or higher degree. In 2005, nearly 3 billion yuan (370 million U.S. dollars) was raised by these NGOs for environmental protection. However, most of the NGOs are small in size employing a total of 70,000 full-time staff. Due to the lack of funds, about half of the full-time workers are unpaid or ignored of required welfare insurance. Monday's China Daily quoted Wang Yuqing, director of the State Environment Protection Administration as saying that the administration welcomed the NGOs' work. "Our relationship should not be based on opposition, but rather be co-operative and complementary," he said. He encouraged NGOs not to linger on general appeals, instead make in-depth investigations and then put forward feasible suggestions.

Solomon Islands opposition party apologizes
2006-04-28 People's Daily
A spokesman for the opposition party of Solomon Islands, Gordon Darcy Lilo, said on Wednesday that his party has written a letter of apology to Chinese Solomon Islanders who left the island following riots. According to reports from Radio New Zealand International, Lilo said the letter is "asking them (the Chinese) to come back to the islands." The protests that began on April 18 turned into the most serious rioting and looting seen in the country since 2003 when Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific governments intervened to help end years of bloody conflict between ethnic gangs. The Chinese were among the biggest victims of the riots. Chinatown was nearly levelled following looting and arson. He said this after the resignation on Wednesday of Snyder Rini as prime minister of the state, after just a week in office. Protesters and opposition MPs accused him of corrupt links to prominent local business leaders and of accepting cash from Taiwan. According to Australian Associated Press, the Solomon Islands parliament will elect a new prime minister next Thursday. Nominations for the prime minister open today and close tomorrow. A curfew was lifted yesterday amid relatively calm situation. Also yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang blamed Taiwan's chequebook diplomacy for sparking recent anti-Asian riots in the Solomon Islands, urging relevant countries to think about the lessons that could be learned in this regard. "For a long time the Taiwan authority has grossly and wantonly promoted chequebook diplomacy, which has boosted corruption, chaos and disturbance in some countries as well as undermined the fundamental interests of the local people," he said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

NATO-China relations fully recovered: NATO spokesman
2006-04-27 People's Daily
Relations between NATO and China had fully recovered from the difficult time after NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999, said a spokesman for the organization on Thursday. There was obviously difficulty in relations in that period, said James Appathurai. "But I can tell you now, based on my own experience, that relations between China and NATO have fully recovered, that the relations, such as they are, are friendly," he told reporters at a briefing prior to the opening of an informal meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization foreign ministers in Sofia. "They reflect what both parties wish the relationship to be: that is, it is informal, but it is very warm." He said that there was no structural, formal cooperation between China and NATO, "But I have no doubt that if both parties at some point wish for that to take place, it can and will." NATO warplanes bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in May 1999, killing three Chinese journalists living there. The incident took NATO-China relations to its lowest ebb.

Irish Foreign Minister to visit China
2006-04-29 People's Daily
Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern will pay an official visit to China from May 11 to 13 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang announced Sunday.

 

Domestic Policy

Drought hits China, affecting 10 million people
2006-04-30 Xinhuanet
China is suffering sustained drought as over 10 million people have been facing drinking water shortage since mid-April, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in Beijing Sunday. A total of 16.6 million hectares of cropland have been struck by severe drought in most parts of northern China regions and southern Yunnan Province, the headquarters said. Meanwhile, 7.88 million heads of livestock have also suffered from the shortage of drinking water, it said. The headquarters has ordered local governments to take strong and effective measures for drought relief. The Finance Ministry has earmarked 100 million yuan (12.5 million U.S. dollars) of special funds for drought-stricken areas to fight the disaster.

Chinese girl in critical condition with virus
2006-04-29 China Daily
An 8-year girl is in a critical condition in hospital with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. Health chiefs said on Friday she was receiving treatment at Suining Municipal People's Hospital in Southwest China's Sichuan Province. She is the third person to contract bird flu in Sichuan and the 18th in the country. Twelve of the country's 18 cases have proved fatal. Su Lin, chief of the Emergency Response Office of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Health, said the latest victim was in a critical condition. The girl, surnamed Sun, is from Tangjia Township in Suining, a city in central Sichuan. She showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on April 16. Poultry deaths occurred in her house before she fell ill. "Investigators report the deaths of chickens in several farm houses nearby, too," Su told China Daily. Tests on the girl carried out by the Sichuan Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed she was suffering with bird flu. China's national CDC confirmed she had the H5N1 strain on Thursday. She is confirmed to be infected with bird flu in line with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese official standards, said the Ministry of Health. Governments and health departments at all levels in Sichuan took immediate prevention and control measures after the case was revealed. Nearly 150 people who had been in close contact with the girl have been put under medical observation by local health authorities. "Every day, medics take their temperatures and observe whether they have symptoms of a cold. So far, no one has shown any abnormal symptoms," Su said. The Ministry of Health has reported the case to WHO, Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan Province, as well as several countries. Sichuan's first two human bird flu cases occurred in January, and both patients died. The first case involved a 35-year-old woman surnamed Wei in Jianyang in western Sichuan. She was a poultry slaughterer. The second case involved a 29-year-old grocery store owner surnamed Cao in Jinhua Town in the suburbs of Chengdu. She had not been in contact with any dead poultry before falling ill.

China's legislature approves convention on nuclear waste management
2006-04-29 Xinhuanet
China's legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, on Saturday voted to join the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The legislature agreed that the Chinese government will maintain its own interpretation of the term "trans-national transportation" and that the treaty does not apply to the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) of People's Republic of China until notice is given by the government of People's Republic of China. Joining the convention will be conducive to the safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste and the promotion of the healthy development of the country's nuclear industry. Forty nations have signed up to the convention since it came into effect in June 2001. The convention only applies to the management of spent fuel generated from civil nuclear reactors and radioactive waste from civil operations; it excludes military and national defence applications. It sets requirements for the location, design, construction, safety evaluation, operation and retirement of disposal facilities. Every signatory country is required to adopt legislative, supervisory and administrative measures under its own legal framework to meet the requirements.

Beijing police trained to fight possible terrorism
2006-04-29 China Daily
More than 40,000 police officers will be trained in Beijing to deal with "unexpected events" including major terrorist attacks in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympic Games. A major "field training" programme was officially launched yesterday as part of the move that will see police in the capital trained in all aspects over the next two years. The programme started with a "hostage rescue" demonstration that included using "explosions" by the city's special crack police. Qiang Wei, Beijing's deputy Party secretary and also head of the Beijing Olympic Security Co-ordination Group, said the training programme was part of the efforts to ensure a safe and peaceful Olympics. "Beijing is an international metropolis with a low crime rate. But to prevent and handle unexpected incidents that may happen during the Games, we need a strong force," said Qiang, whose name literally means "strong safeguard." At yesterday's demonstration two armoured police vans sped by with sirens blaring and lights flashing; policemen in black flak jackets advanced with guns or shields in hand, shooting at simulative terrorists. Some climbed onto the roof, descending vertically with a rope into the courtyard and subduing gangsters. The Hollywood-style demonstration was held at the Beijing People's Police College, which is rarely open to outsiders. The college is the location where all 40,000 police officers receive their training, said Zhao Yuan, director of the training department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. She said it would be a three-phased programme. "From then on to the end of this year, the focus would be given to separate basic skills, such as physical strength," Zhao said. Next year officers will receive training in simulative conditions. And in 2008, field training in the college as well as at Olympic venues will be conducted. Zhao said police officers would receive different training courses according to specified duties. Beijing police also started to receive foreign language training in 2001. Bureau figures show that about 17,480 officers have so far received the Beijing Oral English Certificate. Zhao said such language training would be carried on, and it was estimated that by the end of next year, more than 60 per cent of Beijing police officers would have passed the oral test. "Besides English, some other major languages such as French, German and Arabic will also be included in the training." Diplomats from 37 foreign embassies in Beijing were also invited to yesterday's launching ceremony. Janusz Tatera, counsellor of the Polish Embassy, who is also secretary general of the Polish Olympic Committee, said the demonstration was a good move to provide a safe Olympics.

Govt warns officials against IPR violations
2006-04-27 Xinhuanet
The Chinese government published an action plan on Wednesday to crack down on infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR) over the next two years and has vowed to prosecute local government officials who fail to follow the plan. An official with a task force for IPR protection under the government said the plan highlighted the government's determination to protect IPR. The plan promises to improve the country's legal framework, and increase administrative and judicial efforts to protect IPR. China's crackdown on IPR infringements will encourage independent innovation and safeguard the legitimate interests and rights of IPR holders, says the plan. Copyright piracy, trademark and patent infringements have been listed as a top priority. Local governments are instructed to firmly clamp down on pirated audio and video disks and on shipments of pirated products by mail, air, road and rail. Local leaders will be held accountable for failures to protect intellectual property rights, and officials will be prosecuted if they are suspected of covering up IPR infringements, including failures to report criminal offences, say the plan. It calls for closer cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to curb violations of IPR laws and regulations. It also aims to improve awareness and capability in the corporate world, research institutions, and schools of higher learning, encouraging them to create, manage, use and safeguard IPR. Public education will also be strengthened. The plan calls for a mechanism to enable governments to coordinate efforts to prevent cover-ups in infringement cases. It will include a supervising administration to prevent serious violations and break up the gangs involved. The plan also urges local governments to make IPR protection a priority and to include it in social and economic development programs. () Under Chinese law, IPR-related criminals face up to seven years in prison and fines in accordance with different types of infringements. China's customs and public security authorities will hold regular joint meetings to combat infringements, the Shanghai Evening Post reported on Thursday.

 

Taiwan

Lien Chan back home after trip to mainland
2006-04-26 China Daily
Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Honorary Chairman Lien Chan returned to Taiwan yesterday after a 13-day visit to the mainland. He left Shanghai at 1 pm yesterday for Taiwan, travelling via Hong Kong.
Lien arrived in Beijing on April 13 to attend the Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum. He left Beijing on April 17 to visit Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai in East China.
Lien delivered a short speech at the Shanghai Pudong Airport, saying that his third visit to the mainland during the past year was "very successful." Lien said he went to his ancestral village for the first time in his lifetime, enabling him to finally discover his roots. "When I spoke to thousands of fellow villagers, I felt deep affection between them and me, which made me once again firmly believe that cross-Straits prosperity will be achieved through joint efforts of the people in the mainland and Taiwan." Chen Liangyu, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), met with Lien Chan on Monday and extended a warm welcome. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao and Lien Chan discussed peace and development across the Taiwan Straits when they met on April 16. Lien Chan received warm congratulations from Hu Jintao for the success of the Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum, which concluded on April 15. Lien said the four suggestions put forward by Hu on cross-Straits peace and developments were very far-sighted. To further demonstrate the sincerity of the mainland to boost relations, 15 new beneficial policies were announced at the closing ceremony of the forum. The policies allow more Taiwan fruits and aquatic products to be sold to the mainland and the mainland will recognize university diplomas issued in Taiwan. During his stay on the mainland, Lien Chan also visited the Great Wall in Beijing and received honorary doctor's degree from Xiamen University in Fujian Province.

 

Economy

Processed oil may be deregulated
2006-04-25 China Daily
The central government is considering deregulating prices of processed oil amid record high global crude prices, a senior economic official said yesterday in Beijing. Industry analysts say once controls are lifted, China's oil prices, which are currently much lower than international levels, will increase markedly. "The market should be the guide in a pricing system, but at the same time, the government should be the regulator," said Zhu Hongren, deputy director of the Economic Operation Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a press conference in Beijing yesterday. But Zhu said he did not know when the new pricing mechanism would be announced by the State Council, China's central government. China has taken gradual steps to decentralize crude and processed oil prices, which were fully under government control before 1998. Since then, the government has allowed domestic crude oil prices to move with the global market. However, refined oil prices remain detached. Oil prices have rocketed since 2003, with crude oil reaching more than US$60 per barrel on the international market this year, far higher than the price paid for the commodity by domestic users. Prior to the price hikes nationwide, the retail price of domestically processed oil was only about US$43 per barrel. The government-dominated pricing system has prevented price fluctuations of many daily necessities and products, but the mainland's oil refineries have born the financial brunt. PetroChina, the nation's biggest oil company, said in Beijing that it lost 19.8 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion) on refining and fuel sales in 2005. "At the same time, we have to reform the pricing system because of China's commitment to the World Trade Organization," said a researcher with the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission. China has promised to open its oil refining market to foreign investors by the end of 2006. "Therefore decentralized prices and improved competitiveness of domestic refineries are essential," said the researcher, on the condition of anonymity. But he said the new pricing mechanism would not be announced in the near future, despite the fact that oil prices jumped past US$75 a barrel on Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. "We adjusted prices last month and maybe some disadvantaged groups are still feeling the impact, with government subsidies yet to materialize," said the researcher. At the end of last month, the commission decided to increase ex-factory petrol prices by 300 yuan (US$37.5) per ton and the cost of diesel by 200 yuan (US$24.9) per ton. Retail prices for petrol have also gone up by 250 yuan (US$30.8) per ton, while diesel prices were increased by 150 yuan (US$18.5) a ton. To offset the impact of the rises on sensitive groups, the commission said the State Council has decided to offer subsidies to communities such as fishermen, farmers, State-owned forestry enterprises and urban public transportation firms.

Anti-money laundering bill casts net wider
2006-04-26 Xinhuanet
A draft bill to combat money laundering widens the scope of the proposed law from financial institutions to realtors, law and accounting firms and jewellers. The draft law on anti-money laundering, which was yesterday submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) for examination, says financial as well as non-financial organizations should shoulder the responsibility of "controlling and monitoring." Money laundering refers to the practice of moving illegally acquired cash through financial and other systems so that it appears to be legally acquired. Financial institutions such as banks, insurers, and securities and futures firms are usually considered the frontline in the war against illicit money movements. But the draft law aims to choke off as many channels as possible to fight the scourge and associated crimes such as smuggling, drug trafficking and bribery. The draft law stipulates that real-estate; law, accountancy, pawnshop and jewellery firms establish mechanisms to combat money laundering and professional training provided to their staff. They are also required to establish the identities of customers, as certain the exact source of capital and probe the true purpose of transactions. Large and suspicious transactions have to be reported to the anti-money laundering monitoring centre set up two years ago. Yi Xianrong, a finance researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily yesterday that the stipulations would add more teeth to the law because they cover almost all possible sectors which could involve money laundering. All companies, no matter their business, should monitor and stop money laundering, said Yi. An important function of the draft law is to "cut financing channels for terrorists" in the country, said Feng Shuping, deputy director of the Budgetary Work Commission of the NPC Standing Committee. While the draft law focuses on monitoring and preventing money laundering, the penalties will be spelt out in the Criminal Law, Feng said. The draft law also covers international co-operation in fighting the menace significant against the backdrop of several cases of officials embezzling and laundering money overseas. Last year, China joined the Financial Action Task Force on Anti-Money Laundering as an observer. The NPC Standing Committee started a five-day session yesterday to examine a package of laws and international conventions, including draft amendments to the Partnership Law. The draft amendment on partnership firms is expected to boost venture capital in high-tech enterprises, according to Yan Yixun, vice-chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the NPC. Establishing limited liability partnerships will help promote the development of professional services, such as accounting and legal firms, according to Yan. Members of NPC Standing Committee will also examine the draft law on safety and quality of agricultural products, the draft law on passports and amendments to the Criminal Law.

 

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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