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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
  22.5-27.5.06, No. 116  
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Foreign Policy

Ties with Germany scale new heights
2006-05-23 China Daily
China and Germany signed 19 agreements Monday to intensify collaboration in such fields as railways, finance, telecommunications, and energy at a ceremony attended by Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The partnership between China and Germany in the magnetic levitation (Maglev) field has "been fruitful" as demonstrated by the operation of the 30-kilometre railway between downtown Shanghai and Pudong International Airport, Wen pointed out. Merkel is expected to ride on the Maglev train later today before she returns to Germany. "I'd like to make a point here that China has a positive attitude in co-operation with Germany in Maglev technology," Wen said. China is conducting a feasibility study on using Maglev technology on a 175-kilometre railway linking Shanghai and neighbouring Zhejiang Province, Wen said at a joint news conference with Merkel at the Great Hall of the People. "Considering the investment is huge, we need an in-depth evaluation." An expected contract on the rail link project was not signed. The Maglev link between Shanghai and Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, is estimated to cost 35 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion); and a Siemens-led group is bidding for the project. But Siemens walked away with success in other fields it signed framework agreements with China Mobile and China Unicom to provide GSM equipment and services, as well as with Beijing Guohua Power Generation Corp for strategic partnership in IT business. It also signed a framework agreement on technical co-operation with the Ministry of Railways for 6-axle freight and passenger platform locomotives. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on the protection of intellectual property in the textile industry. Wen said China is sincerely committed to protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs). "Protecting IPRs is not only China's international obligation, but also helps the country's own development," Wen said. During one hour of talks, both leaders agreed to start the first round of a strategic dialogue this year to improve political consultation. They also agreed to enhance co-ordination in international affairs. "China supports a bigger role for Germany in multilateral organizations, including the United Nations," Wen told his guest. In response, Merkel said Germany hoped to maintain high-level contacts with China and have bilateral strategic talks to co-ordinate stances on key international and regional issues. She also pointed out that Germany and China had become close economic partners. Trade volume between the two sides reached US$63.2 billion last year, or one-third of that between China and the European Union. Merkel, who also met President Hu Jintao yesterday, said she and the Chinese leader agreed during their talks that Iran must not have nuclear weapons or proliferate weapons of mass destruction. "We spoke in great detail about the possibilities of a diplomatic solution for Iran, that the conflict should be resolved by diplomatic means and Iran must not have nuclear weapons," Merkel said. "We want to direct the efforts of the (international) community more strongly towards reaching this aim." Merkel arrived in Beijing on Sunday night for a three-day official visit, her first visit to China since taking office last November. She arrived in Shanghai last night.

China key to resolving nuclear crises-Annan
2006-05-23 China Daily
China is crucial to the success of talks on reining in North Korea's nuclear programs, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday as he urged Beijing to take a more active role in protecting human rights. In a speech to students at Peking University, Annan said he spent "a good deal of time" talking with Chinese leaders about the nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea and the importance of nuclear non-proliferation. "As host of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula, China has played a crucial role," he said. "China's ongoing leadership will be essential to ensure that multilateral diplomatic efforts result in a peninsula free from nuclear weapons. We cannot allow the current stalemate to continue." Christopher Hill, the top U.S. negotiator to the talks that also group the two Koreas, Japan and Russia, is due in Beijing on Wednesday in a renewed push to restart the negotiations. The delegations agreed in principle in September that Pyongyang would dismantle its nuclear programs in exchange for aid, security assurances and improved diplomatic ties. But the last session in November ended without progress and North Korea has refused to take part since then. China, which has veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has also been at the center of diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to stop its nuclear research, which Western powers believe is aimed at making weapons. China and Russia have resisted Western efforts to impose tougher measures such as sanctions on Iran. Annan also raised the thorny topic of human rights, calling them a "crucial set of norms to uphold" and urging China, whose record on the subject is a chronic subject of international scrutiny, to play a responsible role as a member of the new Human Rights Council. "Now it is time for China and other members of the council to find ways to ensure the protection of the human rights of all people in every country in the world," he told the students. The watchdog group Human Rights in China had urged Annan to raise the issue, saying the climate for lawyers, petitioners, journalists and religious practitioners was deteriorating. Annan arrived in Beijing on Friday on the third leg of an Asian tour, having already been to South Korea and Japan. He said the three Northeast Asian powers, whose ties have been strained over issues stemming from Japan's World War Two occupation of the Korean peninsula and parts of China, could improve relations by working together in areas such as environmental protection.

China refutes U.S. criticism of its military power
2006-05-26 People's Daily
China on Thursday refuted the criticism of the United States characterizing its military budget as "absent greater transparency," saying such criticism showed "cold-war mentality." "China is sincere in terms of its military expenditure and its efforts for increasing mutual trust on defense with other countries," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, commenting on a U.S. annual report on China military power. The report, issued by the U.S. Defense Ministry recently, continued to spread the "China threat" fallacy and severely violated the principles governing international relations. "China, a large country with long borders, is facing the task of safeguarding national sovereignty and striving for reunification," said Liu. "Thus it is quite normal for China to properly increase its military expenditure." On Wednesday, Liu said the report has exaggerated China's military power and military expenditure with ulterior motives and wantonly interfered in China's internal affairs. Liu also refuted the allegation that China's development is now "at a crossroads", saying China will steadfastly pursue its only road of peaceful development. On the Taiwan question, Liu urged the U.S. side to honor its commitments, adhere to the one-China policy, abide by the three communiques and oppose "Taiwan independence".

China's top legislator starts official visit to Russia
2006-05-27 Xinhuanet
China's top legislator Wu Bangguo arrived here Friday afternoon to start his official and goodwill visit to Russia. Wu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), said in a written speech upon his arrival that China and Russia have carried forward friendly tradition and composed a new chapter of neighborly friendship under new circumstances. Mutual political trust has been strengthened, cooperation in various fields has been expanded and strategic coordination improved. All these have brought benefits to the two peoples and made great contributions to the maintaining of world peace and stability, Wu said. During his 4-day visit in Russia, the Chinese top legislator will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov and State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov to exchange views with them on bilateral relations and international issues of common concerns. Wu will also attend the first meeting of the cooperation committee between the NPC and the State Duma, and the meeting among parliament leaders of the 6-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization to be held in Moscow. He expressed his belief in his written speech that his visit would further enhance mutual political trust, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and strengthen neighborly friendship. Wu is here at the co-invitation by the Russian Federation Council Chairman and the Russian State Duma Chairman after winding up his visit to Greece.

Chinese, U.S. chief negotiators meet on DPRK nuclear issues
2006-05-26 People's Daily
The chief negotiators for China and the U.S. to the six-party talks regarding nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula met in Beijing Thursday, agreeing to implement the joint statement from the fourth round of talks. Speaking as a news conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, meet here for four hours to discuss issues of common concern. Last September, negotiators from China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United Sates, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan issued the joint statement at the end of the fourth round of the talks, establishing a framework for a solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Wu and Hill agreed during their meeting that the joint statement and the important promises made by the parties should be implemented as soon as possible. The two chief negotiators also agreed to establish a long-term peace mechanism in northeast Asia and that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula accords with common interests of all parties concerned. Hill, who arrived in Beijing on Wednesday night, was expected to leave on Thursday for the ROK. During his stay in China, Hill also met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei respectively to follow up on Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States last month. The two sides agreed to make joint efforts to promote the constructive partnership of cooperation between the two countries. Spokesman Liu Jianchao said China always maintains that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue should be solved peacefully through dialogue, and China has made efforts to break the current standoff. The six-party talks has been in a stalemate since the first phase of the fifth round of talks that ended in November last year. As for U.S. sanctions against a Macao-based bank accused of aiding the DPRK to launder money, Liu said the investigation is still under way.

China calls for Japan's cooperation to mend ties
2006-05-26 Xinhuanet
A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official said in Beijing Thursday that China hopes Japan would work with China to push bilateral ties back on the track. "We hope Japan would take concrete measures to push China-Japan ties back on the track of healthy and stable development," He Guoqiang, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, told Tetsuzo Fuwa, former chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Japan. Leaders of the two countries have suspended exchanges since 2001, after Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro began paying homage at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine that honors convicted Japanese war criminals. He Guoqiang said leaders of the CPC and the Chinese government have expressed commitment to improving China-Japan ties on many occasions, which shows China's positive attitude and sincerity. Chinese President Hu Jintao had explained China's policy on China-Japan relations on March 31 in a meeting with the heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations. Hu made it clear that the major obstacle in China-Japan relations was Japanese leaders' insistence on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine. Hu, however, noted that the Chinese government believed the Japanese people's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were different from that of their leaders, and ordinary Japanese soldiers who were forced into war were different from the few militarists and class A war criminals. In response, Fuwa said his party would continue to make efforts to help repair relations between the two countries. Fuwa was leading a delegation of the Communist Party of Japan to have academic exchanges with the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

DPRK foreign minister to visit China
2006-05-23 Xinhuanet
Paek Nam Sun, minister of foreign affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will pay a visit to China between May 30 and June 6 at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. Li will hold talks with Paek. Chinese leaders will also meet with Paek. Besides Beijing, Paek will visit Guangzhou, capital of south China's economically thriving Guangdong Province.

China sincere about improving ties with the Vatican, FM spokesman
2006-05-26 Xinhuanet
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing Thursday that the communication channel between China and the Vatican is "unblocked" and China is sincere about wanting to improve ties with the Vatican. Reports say that Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen will depart for the Vatican on Friday and may meet with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss Sino-Vatican relations. Spokesman Liu Jianchao said China hopes the Vatican will respect the Chinese government's religious policies and relevant laws and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs under the pretext of religion. He said the Chinese government has two principles in dealing with relations with the Vatican. First the Vatican must terminate its so-called diplomatic links with Taiwan, and it should not interfere in China's internal affairs, including any intervention under the pretext of religious affairs.

China makes progress in human rights protection: EU official
2006-05-27 Xinhuanet
China has made progress in human rights protection and promotion, said a European Union (EU) official at the 21st round of China-EU Human Rights Dialogue here on Friday. The remarks were made by Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, a legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry of Austria, which is currently holding the EU presidency. During the talks, Wu Hailong, director-general of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences, the Foreign Ministry of China, briefed Trauttmansdorff on the Chinese government's measures to implement its People-Oriented principle, protect and respect human rights, and to establish a harmonious society. The two sides, during the two-day dialogue, held lengthy discussions on the issues related to the implementation of the international human rights covenant, cooperation in the UN human rights mechanism, the management of non-governmental organizations, and education on human rights. Both sides believed that the Human Rights Dialogue rounds, conducted on the basis of equality and mutual respect, reflected the maturity of the relationship and the deep mutual trust between China and the EU, and anticipated that this fruitful round would increase understanding, reduce divergence and boost the China-EU strategic partnership. The two sides also exchanged views on the function of the newly-established UN Human Rights Council. The China-EU Human Rights Dialogue, which began in 1997, is held every half year.

 

Domestic Policy

China strives to balance income distribution
2006-05-26 People's Daily
The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) met here Friday to look at ways to more fairly distribute incomes in society. Chinese President Hu Jintao presided over the meeting. A news release from the meeting said that China should uphold and improve the system in which distribution according to work is dominant and coexists with other modes of distribution. The release said future reforms should concentrate on increasing incomes of poorer people, expanding the moderate-income population, effectively taxing high-income earners and banning illegal income. The discussion was aimed at finding ways to narrow the income gap between people in different regions and within certain social sectors. The government will deepen its reform on the income system of civil servants, and government employees should be paid according to their occupation and rank and a unified standard should be adopted, the released said. It said the country will adequately increase the incomes of government workers at the grassroots level. It also stressed that people working in remote areas should be provided subsidies and the incomes of employees of enterprises and its retirees also need to be improved. Basic pensions, subsidies provided to retirees of enterprises should be properly raised, it said.

Officials to be punished for pollution
2006-05-25 SCMP
Local officials who fail to curb and control worsening pollution will be punished or lose promotion opportunities, the mainland's top environmental official has warned. The pledge by Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa), came as the nation's top legislature admitted poor law enforcement should be blamed for the worsening environment. The National People's Congress has unveiled an annual campaign to examine enforcement of "green" laws at local level, which, together with Mr Zhou's remarks, have come to the aid of local environmental watchdogs. "Leading officials who pay little attention to halting pollution and fail to meet the environmental targets must not be promoted," Mr Zhou was quoted as saying yesterday by the People's Daily. "Cadres who dare to ignore environmental laws must pay the price." The top green watchdog says 163 officials from 12 provinces and municipalities, including seven government heads, have been punished for their involvement in pollution accidents and other cases violating environmental laws. But the report did not state specific punishments for the officials or say if any officials had been transferred to judicial authorities. Sepa said last week it had received 49 reports of environmental accidents since January. Official statistics show there were more than 50,000 disputes over environmental pollution last year. Despite increased government spending and repeated crackdowns, there has been little sign the environment is improving, Sepa says. Pollution accidents occur on the mainland every other day on average, the watchdog estimates. Mr Zhou criticised top local officials who blindly pushed for economic growth at the cost of environmental damage, and the supervisory system for failing to check violations. "Many regions still make money through creating pollution, which benefits only a small fraction of people but the whole of society has to pay the price." ()

Death toll over fake drug rises to 9 in China
2006-05-22 People's Daily
Nine people have died from using fake drug made by a Chinese pharmaceutical company in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, hospital sources said Monday. The nine people were confirmed dead from using the fake Armillarisni A injection made by the Qiqihar No. 2 Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., said officials with the Third Hospital affiliated to Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong Province. The fake drug causes pain at alimentary canal and stomach and brings damage to kidney, nervous system and liver. Among the victims, five had been confirmed dead from using the fake drug by May 16. The hospital is the only one in Guangdong Province that purchased the drug. It has identified 64 patients who used the fake drug. Liao Xinbo, vice-director of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Health, said nine out of 18 people who used the fake drug before they died were believed to be killed by the drug. The other nine may have died from diseases and other reasons, Liao said. Five patients who fell ill over the fake drug are recovering in the hospital, said vice president of the hospital Cai Daozhang.

 

Tibet

Dalai Lama creating new 'obstacles', says Beijing
2006-05-27 SCMP
Envoys of the Dalai Lama have raised demands for Tibetan autonomy that China cannot accept, a government official said yesterday in comments that shed light on secretive talks. "During the process of making contacts, the Dalai Lama raised two big questions. One is greater Tibet. One is high-level or real autonomy," said Laba Pingcuo, secretary-general of the China Tibetology Research Centre. "The two demands he raised don't match the history of Tibet. The Dalai Lama's demands have set up great obstacles," he said after the fifth rounds of talks since 2002 which have produced no concrete results. But parts of the western provinces of Gansu, Qinghai Sichuan and Yunnan are also home to many ethnic Tibetans and are considered part of a historic, or cultural, Tibet whose future Laba Pingcuo indicated the Dalai Lama wanted to open for consideration. He seeks greater autonomy for Tibet, but Laba Pingcuo said more self-rule would be difficult.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's bid to join WHO rejected
2006-05-23 China Daily
Geneva: The World Health Assembly Monday rejected Taiwan's 10th bid for observer status at the UN health agency. The 192-nation assembly accepted by consensus the recommendation of the assembly's General Committee that it refuse to take Taiwan's bid to a vote. The World Health Assembly is the supreme decision-making body of the WHO. It generally meets in Geneva in May each year, and is attended by delegations from all member states. Its main function is to determine the policies of the organization. The Pacific nation of Palau said Taiwan should be included to improve global response to disease. But the Chinese delegation told the assembly that observer status must be reserved for sovereign nations. As Taiwan is part of China, the island is not eligible for such a status. "The essence of this issue is not health, but politics," said Minister of Health Gao Qiang. "The motive has remained the same. Namely to split China. "A small number of countries are tabling the proposal with the pretext of caring for the health of the people in Taiwan," Gao said. "We oppose making use of health issues to seek Taiwan independence." Taiwan applied for observer status at the WHO as a "health entity," claiming a closer link with the UN agency would help it battle outbreaks. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said last week that given an existing framework for allowing Taiwanese health experts' participation in WHO technical activities, no "missing links" arose from Taiwan's current level of participation. For five consecutive years before 2002, Taiwan tried applying to WHO under the name, "the Republic of China," before trying as a "health entity."

 

Economy

Pipeline dream turns into a reality
2006-05-26 China Daily/Xinhuanet
Alataw Pass, Xinjiang: Crude oil from Kazakhstan began flowing into Xinjiang in Northwest China yesterday the first time a pipeline has been used for imports. Experts say the piped oil would increase supply, improve energy security and provide an ideal outlet for Kazakhstan's exports. The first-phase 962-kilometre pipeline which originates in Atasu, Kazakhstan was completed late last year at an expenditure of US$700 million. The two countries split the construction costs. The pipeline will pump 10 million tons of crude a year, the amount doubling when the project is completed in 2011, linking Atyrau on the Caspian Sea. The total length of the pipeline would then be around 3,000 kilometres. The pipeline is designed to eventually carry 20 million tons annually, equivalent to 140 million barrels. "It means a lot for China's oil security," said He Jun, a Beijing-based energy analyst at Anbound Consulting. "Twenty million tons are about one-sixth all of China's imports." China imported 127 million tons of crude last year, which made up about 40 per cent of total consumption. Liu Hequn, a senior analyst at the planning institute of China National Petroleum Corp, said the pipeline was also a timely boost for China at a time when it is in talks with Russia for a proposed pipeline to deliver Siberian oil to the northeast. That line could be built by 2008 and carry about 19 million tons a year. China and Russia are also in talks over a cross-border natural gas pipeline which may run through Heilongjiang in the northeast or Xinjiang, with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic metres. Last year, China consumed about 48 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Currently, most of China's oil imports come from the Middle East and Africa, a lengthy journey by sea and passing through the Strait of Malacca which is vulnerable to piracy or other disruptions. Industry insiders hailed the new pipeline as beneficial to both countries. "It provides a direct link between Kazakhstan's rich oil resources and China's robust market," said Yin Juntai, deputy general manager of China Petroleum Exploration and Development Company. The pipeline was jointly developed by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Kazmunaigaz, the Kazakh state energy company. Kairgeldy Kabyldin, vice-president of Kazakhstan National Petroleum and Natural Gas Company, called the pipeline a "new paradigm of co-operation." China has completed laying a 252-kilometre oil pipeline from Alataw Pass to Dushanzi where the refinery's capacity will be expanded to 10 million tons a year by 2008. With crude prices continuing to stay high on the international market, the Chinese Government on Wednesday raised the prices of gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel by 500 yuan (US$62.4) per ton, a 10-per-cent rise. It was the ninth and the biggest price hike for refined oil products since July 2003. ()

 

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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