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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
  1.5-5.5.06, No. 113  
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Foreign Policy

China, US space partnership welcomed
2006-05-04 China Daily
China looks forward to co-operating with the United States in the space field, and expects personnel exchanges between the two sides will become "normal", a senior aerospace executive said yesterday in Beijing. Asked to comment on the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) chief Michael Griffin's upcoming trip to China, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp President Zhang Qingwei said China had always welcomed such visits. He said that in January, a bipartisan congressional delegation visited China, Delegation member Tom Feeney talked about immediate areas of US space co-operation with China, and reportedly said that future US spacecraft should be able to dock at the space station China is planning. Griffin said he had accepted an invitation from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to visit China for talks on possible Sino-American space co-operation. The agenda of the trip has not been announced yet. "We welcome them (US visitors) to take a look over here," Zhang told China Daily. "But personally, I hope the exchanges will become more reciprocal." Zhang was referring to the fact that while China's door has been open to US visitors, Chinese aerospace staff have frequently been denied visas in recent years. Most recently, when deputy chief of CNSA Luo Ge visited the US earlier last month, some members of his delegation were denied visas, according to Zhang. Chinese space scientists have sometimes had difficulty in attending international space conferences held in the United States, even though the events were not sponsored by the US, Zhang added. Zhang said he hoped the situation would change. NASA chief Griffin was quoted by AFP as saying of his upcoming China visit: "I think the United States has always benefited from discussions, I do not see how it can hurt us." Griffin told a Senate subcommittee on science and space during a hearing in Washington DC last Tuesday that he was looking forward to the visit. Griffin said that the United States needs both good partners and competitors in space exploration, and sometimes they can be both a competitor and a partner. Zhang said as with other countries, China and the United States can co-operate in areas including deep space exploration, commercial satellite launches and manned space flights. "So far as technology is concerned, we will respect each other's intellectual property rights," he said. Zhang, also deputy chief commander of China's Manned Space Programme, said that technological innovation has enabled China to "spend less money but achieve more" in its manned space programme. ()

Finance ministers of China, Japan and ROK call for further regional co-op
2006-05-04 Xinhuanet
The finance ministers from China, Japan and South Korea said here Thursday that they have agreed to make continuous efforts to seek the possibility to further enhance regional financial cooperation. They said the three countries have made considerable progress in cooperation and the regional financial cooperation within the ASEAN+3 is going toward a favorable direction. "Through meaningful and fruitful discussions, we have made considerable progress in the cooperation among the three countries," the ministers said in a joint message after the 6th Trilateral (China, Japan, South Korea) Finance Ministers' Meeting. The three ministers, Jin Renqing of China, Sadakazu Taniguki of Japan and Han Duck Soo of South Korea, are here attending the 39thAnnual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The message said that the prospects of the three countries' economic growth for 2006 are positive because of the strong demand in the region and continued robust growth of the world economy. They said they welcomed the completion of the CMI (Chiang Mai Initiative) review, which started in the 2004 ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers' Meeting in Jeju, South Korea. Officials at the meeting said that during the finance ministers' meeting of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN+3) on Thursday afternoon, they are expected to strike out a plan to further expand the region's financial cooperation on the basis of the CMI, which was borne in May 2000. "We also agreed to make continuous efforts to seek the possibility to further enhance the regional financial cooperation beyond the CMI, including exploring the ways of achieving multilateralization of the CMI," the ministers said. The ministers also reaffirmed their strong commitment to promoting other regional cooperation projects such as the Asian Bond Markets Initiative. ()

Vatican furious at Beijing ordinations
2006-05-05 SCMP
The Vatican yesterday slammed Beijing for ordaining two Catholic bishops without papal approval, saying it was a grave violation of religious liberty and Pope Benedict was deeply angry. Although the Holy See said the appointments had created "new obstacles" when Sino-Vatican relations were just starting to warm, a top Vatican official said dialogue on resuming ties would continue. By canon law, clerics taking part in unsanctioned acts face automatic excommunication. But a Vatican source said the bishops involved would be given the chance to explain themselves first. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the ordination of Bishop Ma Yinglin of Yunnan on Sunday and Bishop Liu Xinhong of Anhui on Wednesday were "deplorable episodes" that should belong in the past. "The Holy Father has learned of the news with profound displeasure," he said, delivering the Vatican's first statement on the matter. "It is a grave wound to the unity of the Church." China's Foreign Ministry dismissed the criticism as "without any reason". The bishops were elected through "democratic procedures" that "fully respected" the wishes of the faithful. "We are sincere about improving Sino-Vatican relations and have made positive efforts," it said. But Dr Navarro-Valls said mainland bishops and priests had been subjected to "strong pressure and threats" and had been forced to take part in the ordinations "contrary to their conscience". "We are therefore facing a grave violation of religious liberty," he said, dismissing mainland arguments the ordinations were made to cope with a shortage of bishops. The statement repeated the Holy See's wish for "honest and constructive dialogue" with Beijing but added such actions "do not favour such dialogue but instead create new obstacles against it". A top Vatican official said the Holy See was "surprised" by the appointments, one of the topics under negotiation. But despite the move, "the Holy See will not stop the dialogue," the official said. Liu Bainian, vice-chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said the mainland would continue to ordain bishops without papal approval. The latest move appeared to be just the start of Beijing's tactic to raise the stakes in the negotiation. Responding to speculation that Beijing planned to ordain up to 20 bishops soon, a Vatican official said it would be "almost impossible" for the Holy See to complete the scrutiny process necessary for approval.

Chinese fishermen attacked in South China Sea returns home
2006-05-04 Xinhuanet
The Chinese fishing boat attacked by gunmen from an unidentified foreign boat in the South China Sea has returned home, carrying the bodies of four fishermen and eight survivors. The fishing boat arrived at Tanmen port of Qionghai City, Hainan Province on May 2. The fishing boat carrying 15 fishermen, all natives of Tanmen, were attacked by the armed boat at 18:00 p.m. on April 27, when they were fishing in the waters near the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. Four fishermen were killed on the spot and two were wounded. All the equipment on their boat, worth 170,000 yuan (about 21,000 U.S. dollars), including a radio and navigation apparatus, were robbed by 13 gunmen from the foreign boat. The fishermen were conducting legitimate fishing activity in waters of the Nansha Islands when they were attacked. The nationality of the attackers is still unknown, according to the city government of Qionghai. The fishermen managed to report the incident through other fishing boats to the Agriculture Ministry of China, and the ministry instructed a patrol boat to sail to the scene for rescue efforts. The South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese navy also sent military surgeons to help the rescue work. The two wounded and another fisherman were brought back to Sanya City by the patrol boat. Local government has set up a special team to deal with problems arising from the incident. Other Chinese fishing boats in the waters of the Nansha Islands have got warnings after the incident.

 

Domestic Policy

New rule to regulate organ transplants
2006-05-05 China Daily
From July 1 it will be mandatory for all organ transplant operations in China to be discussed with and approved by a medical science and ethics committee. The measure is part of a new regulation that will play a vital role in banning the sale of organs and putting a stop to practices that violate the ethics and medical standards of organ transplants, officials said. This is the first time a Chinese health authority has set up a special committee and taken measures to help regulate organ transplants, Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, said. The ministry will set up a State-level committee of experts in management, medical treatment, nursing, pharmacy, law and ethics to guide the country's work, Mao said. Medical institutes and hospitals at various levels will also be required to organize their own committees to approve all organ transplants. A key task of the committee is to ensure that the organs used for transplants are voluntarily donated instead of being sold or randomly taken from people, Mao said in an exclusive interview with China Daily. Sources claimed that at least 2 million patients in China need organ transplants each year, but only 20,000 transplants can be carried out because of the shortage of donated organs. At the same time, there are too many hospitals performing organ transplants, and many of them are not qualified to do so. Managers of many small hospitals invite doctors from other hospitals to carry out one or two organ transplants and then claim they are able to provide the service in order to attract more patients. There are currently 500 hospitals in China conducting liver transplants. () Many people have been enticed to profit from this situation by offering their organs for sale. In many hospitals, those patients with money or connections to managers or doctors have greater sway and more chance of obtaining an organ sooner. For example, while thousands of Chinese people are waiting in line for operations, many foreigners have successfully gotten organ transplants in recent years. Experts said that this is primarily because they have more money. () The July 1 regulation also brings a set of medical standards for organ transplants in an effort to guarantee medical safety and prevent the waste of limited organs. ()

China to address urgent environmental issues
2006-05-04 Xinhuanet
The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) of China vowed recently to tackle the serious environmental problems that may trigger mass protests over pollution. Mass protests of such kind have been on the rise in recent years, increasing at a rate of almost 30 percent a year, and they often occurred in economically developed regions, Zhou Shengxian, head of the SEPA, was quoted by the China Daily as saying. The newspaper reported on Thursday that more than 50,000 disputes over environmental pollution occurred in 2005, and 97.1 percent of all environmental mishaps involved the release of pollution. Water contamination made up 50.6 percent of the total accidents. Almost 40 percent of environmental accidents involved air pollution. The accidents collectively caused up to 105 million yuan (about 13.1 million U.S. dollars) in direct economic losses, said the newspaper. "This environmental problem has become one of the main factors that affect national safety and social stability," said Pan Yue, deputy director of the SEPA. Zhang Lijun, another deputy director of the SEPA, said the administration had an annual increase of 30 percent of environmental complaints, with more than 90 percent requiring SEPA's help to get rid of the problems, Zhang said. Zhang called for a more timely and effective response to people's complaints to prevent them from escalating into mass protests. Zhang said that some local officials are sheltering local companies, which discharge heavy pollutants, because they have shares in them. "We have heard many complaints saying: no clean official, no clean water," Zhang said. In the middle of last month, Chen Changzhi, vice-minister of the Ministry of Supervision, said they would join hands with the SEPA to crack down on corruption that may be behind the ineffective closure of companies that discharge heavy pollutants.

Death toll hits 31 in Shaanxi coalmine gas blast
2006-05-04 Xinhuanet
Death toll from a coal mine gas blast in northwest China's Shaanxi Province rose to 31 Tuesday with a miner still missing, according to the rescue headquarters. The gas explosion rocked Wayaobao Township Coal Mine in Zichang County of Yan'an City on Saturday afternoon, when 39 miners were working underground. Seven miners managed to escape to the ground. Twenty-eight bodies have been identified and compensation is being distributed to the families of the victims. The local police have detained the owner of the coal mine and other managerial staff. A team of officials from the State Council will arrive at the site of the accident Tuesday to carry out investigation. Wayaobao Township Coal Mine is a legal, privately-invested coal production entity with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons. After the gas explosion, Shaanxi provincial government urged a checkup on all the province's coal mines in a bid to prevent possible accidents.

Death toll rises to 14 in Guizhou coal pit gas accident
2006-05-03 Xinhuanet
Rescue workers have confirmed altogether 14 miners were killed in a coal pit gas deflagration in mountainous Weining County, southwest China's Guizhou Province. The efforts to hoist the bodies of the killed miners were thwarted because of the high concentration of toxic gas in the 200-meter-long underground passage for coal digging, said an official in charge of the rescue operation Wednesday. Gas deflagration happened at a coal pit near Titian Village of Dongfeng Township in northwestern Guizhou, around 8 p.m. Tuesday, but was not reported to the Guizhou Provincial Bureau of Work Safety until early Wednesday, sources from the bureau said. The coal pit only has a single shaft but got no ventilation facility. It didn't obtain a permit for coal production. The gas deflagration occurred when the gas accumulated in the shaft met with a spark of fire. Most of the killed were locals. The two owners of the illegal coal pit have fled and the police have been hunting them down. A team sent by Guizhou Provincial Bureau of Work Safety and Guizhou Provincial Bureau of Coal Mine Safety rushed to the site to help handle the aftermath of the accident. Cause of the accident is under further investigation. Like gas blast, gas deflagration is also listed as a major hazard for the coal mining industry, as the burning produces a great amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and intense heat.

 

Tibet

Ozone hole confirmed over Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
2006-05-04 Xinhuanet
Scientists have confirmed a 2.5 million-square km hole in the low-level ozone layer over western China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The hole formed in December 2003 over the plateau, which stands at an average 4,000 meters above sea level, according to an article in the reputable Chinese science magazine "Scientific Report". Experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Meteorology Research Center have proved a significant decrease in total column ozone. The article is based on comprehensive research and analysis of data from both ground monitoring and the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer, a satellite-borne instrument used to measure global ozone levels. The scientists have been monitoring ozone changes over the plateau since a dramatic loss in upper-level ozone was recorded in summer 2003. However, they are divided over whether another hole will form over the plateau (the other two are over the Antarctic and the Arctic). The article says an area of 2.5 million square km air with a total ozone of less than 220 Dobson Units (DU) was found over the plateau from December 14 to 17, 2003, and hit a record low of 190 DU. The international measuring system of Dobson Units prescribes 100 DU to equal a one-millimeter thick layer of pure ozone with conditions of one standard atmospheric pressure and a temperature of zero centigrade. This is the first time that an ozone minimum-hole or extremely low ozone has been witnessed over the region, the article says. However, experts believed that the cause of the hole over the plateau differs from that in the two poles, due to varied atmospheric movements. "The decrease of ozone over the plateau was caused by airflow exchange in the sky. When low-ozone air currents in lower layer enter the upper air layer, the overall ozone density is reduced," the article says. The ozone holes over the Poles were caused by the global "greenhouse effect". Ozone is one of the gases forming the Earth's atmosphere and is the major shield against Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation, absorbing approximately 90 percent of solar UVB. Excessive exposure to UVB can cause skin cancer in humans and is a major contributor to glacial melting.

China's Qinghai-Tibet railway to boost tourism in Tibet
2006-05-03 People's Daily
China's Qinghai-Tibet railway will begin trial operation on July 1 this year, and it has attracted large numbers of travelers to go sightseeing in Tibet. To date, train tickets for the six lines to Tibet, including from Beijing to Lhasa, have been booked up by travel agencies, according to railway sources. The 1,142-kilometer-long Qinghai-Tibet railway, which runs across the frozen tundras of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau from Golmud of Qinghai to Lhasa, is the first railway connecting the Tibet Autonomous Region with other parts of China. With the trial operation of passenger trains, tourists will find it more convenient to travel to Tibet, since the railway is comparatively low-cost and safer than other transport means, said Ma Baocheng, deputy general manager of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company. For travelers to have sufficient time to enjoy the natural beauty on the plateau, the passenger trains will depart in the morning and arrive in the evening. Meanwhile, this world's highest and longest plateau railroad will have two oxygen supply systems on trains to combat the effects of altitude sickness on passengers. Oxygen will come from a system like central air-conditioning on trains, which can ensure the oxygen content in carriages at about 85 percent of that in plain areas, said Ma, adding that oxygen masks will also be installed near seats for passengers to use in case they still feel sick. About 800,000 more travelers will visit Tibet by way of Qinghai with the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, said Zhang Fuhua, an official with the Qinghai tourism administration. Qinghai is making efforts to speed up the tourism infrastructure construction to cope with the increase of tourists, Zhang said.

 

Taiwan

Chen turns back on the US and goes the long way to Paraguay
2006-05-03 SCMP
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian finally set off yesterday on a marathon trip the island's media dubbed "a journey to nowhere" - bound for Latin America the long way round after rejecting the United States' humiliating offer of a refuelling stop in Alaska. When the China Airlines jet taking him to Paraguay and Costa Rica left Taipei yesterday morning, no one, not even Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, would say where it was heading. "The plane is heading west to Paraguay," was all that the spokesman, Michel Lu Ching-lung, would say, adding he was unable to comment further since he was not on the plane. Then Taiwanese media, quoting a presidential source, said the presidential Boeing 747 was heading for Lebanon, which recognises Beijing, not Taipei. There was, briefly, hope in government circles that Mr Chen could regain some ground by scoring a diplomatic point. But it was not to be. Three hours before the jet would have reached Beirut, Lebanese authorities denied it permission to land. "We got a request [from China Airlines] for landing, but we did not issue permission for it to land," a Beirut airport official was quoted by Taiwanese cable news channel TVBS as saying. The mainland's ambassador in Beirut admitted he had asked the Lebanese authorities to reject Mr Chen's flight. The setback was a new blow for Mr Chen, following Washington's rejection of his requests for an overnight stay in either New York or San Francisco. When the US offered to allow a refuelling stop in Alaska, the Taiwanese government said it had accepted it. But at the last minute Mr Chen decided he would fly westwards instead - a journey of 37-1/2 hours - apparently in anger at the US snub. He had never previously been denied permission to stop over in a major US city since becoming president in 2000. Turned away by Lebanon, Mr Chen's plane eventually landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, nine hours and 20 minutes after leaving Taipei. The UAE is not one of Taiwan's official allies either, but Mr Chen also stopped over there last year. Taiwanese TV networks broadcast the plane's arrival in Abu Dhabi, where it stopped for more than three hours, with Mr Chen staying on board. After refuelling, China Airlines officials said it took off for a 13-hour flight to the Dominican Republic, one of Taiwan's 25 remaining diplomatic allies. However, media speculated Mr Chen could be planning a stopover in a non-allied African country but was not saying which one to avoid being blocked by Beijing. Mr Chen is expected to return to Taipei on Thursday after a three-day stay in Paraguay and a two-day stay in Costa Rica, where he will attend the inauguration of president-elect Oscar Arias on Monday.

 

Economy

Chinese, EU companies to hold 5,000 business talks at S.W. China trade fair
2006-05-05 Xinhuanet
Approximately 850 small and medium-sized firms from China and the European Union (EU) are expected to hold 5,000 face-to-face business talks during an investment and trade fair slated for Nov. 9-10 in Chengdu, capital of SW China's Sichuan Province. The organizing committee has received applications from 836 Chinese companies involved in agriculture, tourism, health care, environmental protection, factory equipment, construction equipment, information technology and electronics. A team of Chinese and EU experts will select 500 qualified Chinese companies and 400 EU companies to attend the fair, the largest in the history of Sino-EU economic cooperation. Despite recent trade disputes, China-EU trade exceeded 200 billion U.S. dollars last year and EU has become China's largest trade partner. The 2006 Sino-EU investment and trade fair will be at the joint sponsorship of the European Commission, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Sichuan provincial government.

 

Mongolia

ROK President comes visiting
2006-05-04 UB Post
The President of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Roh Moo-hyun, will arrive in Ulaanbaatar on May 7 for a three-day state visit at the invitation of his Mongolian counterpart, President N.Enkhbayar. His visit is expected to strengthen the already substantial cooperation between the two countries, mainly in the fields of exploration of natural resources and information technology. His visit would help lay a cornerstone for coprosperity in Northeast Asia, according to a statement by the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. President Roh is the first state-level foreign guest to the 800th Anniversary of the Mongolian State. He is scheduled to meet with President Enkhbayar, Parliament Speaker Ts.Nyamdorj and Prime Minister M.Enkhbold. High-level visits between South Korea and Mongolia are not new. Kim Dae-jung the former South Korean President, paid a state visit here in 1999, and in 2001, the then Mongolian President, N.Bagabandi, returned the visit.

Accessing internet becomes cheaper
2006-05-04 UB Post
The Internet service fee was reduced greatly on May 1. People in Mongolia who paid between US$ 60 and 120 per month for using the internet will now be charged a flat rate of US$ 19.99, according to the Communication Regulation Committee. The earlier service, expensive though it was, did not meet people's expectations. The Information Communication Technology Authority is now ready to introduce high internet technology such as ADSL, Wireless and ISDN to Mongolia. These systems have speeds up to one hundred times more than what was available on the old dial-up connection. The fee for installation of the internet has also been reduced from US$ 250 to US$ 30. Some private companies are now likely to offer facilities to connect to the internet from a hand phone.

Free lunch program in two schools
2006-05-03 Mongol Messenger
First and second grade pupils at12 suburban public secondary schools now get a free lunch at school. The largest mobile telephone operator company in the country, MobiCom, is sponsoring the program which will cost over Tg 300 million and will continue until Children's Day, June 1, 2006. A total of 9,944 children are given a meal worth Tg 500 every day, which consists of a cup of milk, yogurt, a pie and wet tissue paper. Suu Milk, Gum, and Ogooj Confectionery companies are supplying their products to the program. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ts.Enkhtuvshin, visited public secondary schools No. 68 and No. 79 in Bayanzurkh district on Tuesday to see for himself how the program runs. Altogether 1,539 children from the two schools are covered in the program, and they are happy. "I told my mom and dad that our school now gives us food. They were happy," said B.Zolboo, a girl at the first grade. Teachers feel the children's interest in their lessons has visibly grown since the program started. Some children, however, carry the food home for their younger siblings, a teacher said. The Minister said the Government does not yet have the resources to fund such a project nationwide, and expressed his happiness that a private company had initiated this, even on a small scale. He hoped the government would be able to launch a similar program next year, to cover students from the first grade to the fifth.

Corruption identified
2006-05-03 Mongol Messenger
The Asia Foundation on April 25 at Parliament House announced that they had commissioned a survey by the Sant Maral centre on the scope of corruption and the public attitude towards it. The study will be conducted every six months for the next three years. The first survey was in the last fortnight of March, with 1,030 respondents in Ulaanbaatar, Dornod, Omnogobi, Khovd and Khovsgol aimags. The replies unanimously named the three most pressing issues in Mongolia as unemployment, corruption and poverty. Three-quarters of respondents said that in the last three years, corruption had increased and would probably get worse in the next three years. Asked what they understood as corruption, they named receiving gifts, civil service nepotism, issuing licences for money, giving gifts during election campaigns and spending state money in the constituency an MP represented. One quarter of respondents had paid a bribe at least once in the previous three months, which they said was to get faster service. Many believed that politicians, courts, police and businesses were not willing to combat corruption. They said that corruption was worst in land matters, customs, mining and the courts. They claimed that the average bribe in Ulaanbaatar was Tg250,000, and Tg100,000 in rural areas. The Asia Foundation spokespersons said that it was necessary to implement relevant legislation and create and strengthen institutions, saying that these were obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, ratified in 2005. They stressed the need for better access to information, stronger civil society organisations and reporting of all corrupt practices.

 

North Korea

North Korea orders halt to spread of fake notes
2006-05-03 SCMP
Seoul: North Korea has ordered local authorities to stop spreading fake currency, a South Korean civic group said. The North's Workers' Party issued the instruction to its local party organisations on March 26 to "come up with measures to get rid of the phenomenon of fake money being circulated".

 

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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