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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
  29.5-2.6.06, No. 117  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese, U.S. presidents discuss Iran nuclear issue via phone
2006-06-02 People's Daily
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday told U.S. President George W. Bush that he welcomed the U.S. stance on resolving the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic means and its willingness to join negotiations on the issue. The Chinese government believed the international non-proliferation system should be maintained and the Iran issue be resolved in a peaceful way through diplomatic means and talks, Hu said in a telephone conversation with Bush Thursday night. "China is ready to maintain contact and coordination with the United States and play a constructive role in resuming negotiations at an early date," a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted Hu as saying. Bush told Hu that his country was determined to resolve the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic means. He said as long as Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities in verifiable ways, the United States would join relevant negotiations. The Iran nuclear issue is reaching a critical stage. Earlier on Thursday, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters in Teheran that Iran welcomed direct talks with Washington, but would not give up its nuclear rights. Senior representatives from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany were to meet in Vienna on Thursday to discuss the issue, China's Foreign Ministry said earlier. Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo would attend the meeting, which was expected to focus on a decision to offer Iran a package of incentives in return for suspension of its nuclear activities. The six nations achieved some progress in forming a common position at a meeting in London last Wednesday. Meanwhile, France, Germany and Britain, or the EU-3, have been trying to work out a package of both incentives and possible penalties to persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear programs. Mottaki said in Malaysia on Tuesday that Iran was ready to restart negotiations with the three European countries. ()

Russia, China close ranks in Central Asia
2006-05-31 China Daily
Russia and China moved to fortify their growing security cooperation in Central Asia but reassured the United States that their new-found unity of purpose in the region was not designed to subvert US interests there. Russian President Vladimir Putin however acknowledged growing "competition" to a new Central Asian security organization led by Moscow and Beijing while Chinese President Hu Jintao said the new group had become an "important force" for peace and stability in the world. In the first meeting of its kind, parliamentary leaders from the six countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met Tuesday in Moscow to discuss ways to harmonize their laws and begin building a legislative dimension for the grouping. The SCO parliamentary leaders, including Wu Bangguo, chairman of the standing committee of the Chinese legislature, held a meeting at the Kremlin with Putin, who said involvement of national legislatures in the organization would "enrich the partnership" of its member states. Led by China and Russia, the SCO, founded five years ago, also includes Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Other key countries in the region -- India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan -- currently have observer status and have also expressed interest in becoming full members. The United States however is not a member and, according to sources, is growing increasingly uneasy at the direction and purpose of the organization, which has been described by experts as the foundation of a new Eurasian counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ( NATO). One source who asked not to named said the US embassy in Beijing earlier this month delivered a message to the SCO secretariat voicing concern that some members may regard the group as a vehicle for countering US influence in the region. This could not immediately be confirmed in Moscow. In his meeting with the lawmakers, Putin said there was growing international interest in the SCO which he said "has become an important, influential regional organization" in the five years since its founding. He also cited efforts to counter this growing influence. "We see in the international arena there are attempts to create competition to our organization," Putin said. "I think it would be right if we did not engage in this and instead continued with the positive, constructive work that we have been doing for the past several years." Putin did not refer to the United States explicitly but Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of the Russian parliament, made clear afterwards that Moscow had Washington foremost in its mind. "Is it possible to fight terrorism and drug trafficking in the region without the participation of the states of the region? Of course not," Gryzlov said in remarks broadcast on state television. "But a proposal to create in Central Asia an organization parallel to the SCO, which the United States has called for, suggest that this can be done. This does not help the fight against threats. It only makes the threats bigger." Gryzlov did not elaborate, but reports in Russian and Chinese media in recent months have evoked a "big Central Asia" initiative, described as a US plan to set up a new grouping of Central Asian states -- excluding Russia and China -- to coordinate work in various fields. A report in the Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta on May 13 speculated that even Iran could be asked to participate in the new US-inspired grouping. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alekseyev however said Tuesday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was among the leaders who had confirmed his attendance at an SCO summit scheduled to be held in Shanghai next month, ITAR-TASS news agency said. ()

DPRK FM in Beijing for talks
2006-05-31 People's Daily
Paek Nam Sun, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), arrived in Beijing Tuesday for talks with senior Chinese officials on issues of common concern. "On issues that concern the interests of DPRK, China will keep communications with DPRK and step up mutual understanding and support," Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in a meeting with Paek on Tuesday afternoon. "Li and Paek exchanged views on Korean Peninsula nuclear issues," said a statement released by Chinese Foreign Ministry. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told the regular briefing Tuesday afternoon that Paek's talks with Chinese officials were "mainly about bilateral issues." China and DPRK have conducted active exchanges and cooperation in various fields, and the bilateral relations have shown renewed vitality, the statement said. Li reiterated that China would like to work with DPRK to continuously promote the bilateral ties. "DPRK will try its best to advance its friendly cooperation with China, which is the unchanged guideline of the DPRK government," Paek said. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao also met with Paek on Tuesday afternoon, discussing bilateral relations and issues of common concern. Paek is visiting China as a guest of his Chinese counterpart. Paek's China tour came at a time when the six-party talks on Korean nuclear issue remained stalled since the last round of meeting was held in Beijing last November. The last round of talks, involving China, DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, ended up with a Chairman's Statement, in which the parties concerned agreed to resume the talks as soon as possible. But as Washington imposed financial sanctions on Pyongyang for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering. Until now, there has been no signs that the talks will be resumed. Christopher Hill, chief U.S. negotiator to the six-party talks on Korean nuclear issue, visited Beijing last week and said that there was no new progress on the six-party talks. Experts said that Paek's talks with Chinese officials will not produce any substantial results on the resumption of six-party talks as he was not DPRK's chief negotiator to the nuclear talks. "But Paek's visit could at least ensure the good communication between China and DPRK," experts said. Paek will also tour Guangdong, a booming province in south China, where DPRK leader Kim Jong Il visited in January. Spokesman Liu Jianchao said Paek's visit to Guangdong is helpful to enhancing mutual understanding and exchanging experience on economic development.

Six nations to meet in Vienna over Iran nuclear issue, FM spokesman
2006-05-31 People's Daily
Senior representatives from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany will meet in Vienna on Thursday to discuss the Iran nuclear issue, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday. "There is a foreign ministers' meeting in Vienna," Liu Jianchao confirmed at a regular press conference. "Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will take part in the meeting." Liu urged the parties concerned to take constructive attitude to create favorable conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of the nuclear negotiation. China has been supportive of the peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomacy and negotiations. "As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran enjoys the right to peaceful use of nuclear power," Liu said. "But it should also fulfil its corresponding responsibility and commitment," said Liu. "It is urgently needed that Iran should fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and regain the confidence of the international community on its nuclear program," the spokesman said. China spoke highly of a package of incentives raised by France, Germany and Britain, said Liu. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are expected to talk about a decision to offer Iran a package of incentives in return for Iran's suspension of its nuclear activities. The six nations achieved some progress in formulating a common position at the meeting on the Iran nuclear issue in London last Wednesday.

Senior CPC official to visit four nations in June
2006-05-30 Xinhuanet
Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will visit Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Norway from June 6 to 19. The news was announced by Guo Yezhou, the spokesman of the CPC International Department, on Tuesday. Li will make the visit as a guest of the Legislative Chamber of Uzbekistan and the governments of Bulgaria, Switzerland and Norway.

Canadian court stays Lai's deportation
2006-06-02 China Daily
A Canadian judge ruled on Thursday to delay the planned deportation of accused smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing, one of China's most wanted fugitives. Lai, who fled to Canada in 1999 with his family, had asked for the delay while he challenges a ruling by Canadian immigration officials that he would get a fair trial if repatriated to China. The Canada Border Service Agency has been poised to remove Lai on May 26, but the judge's order stayed deportation at least until a federal court rules if it will hear his latest legal challenge. Federal Judge Carolyn Layden-Stevenson said Lai faced ¡°irreparable harm¡± if deported now, because it was unlikely that China would allow him to come back to Canada, if Lai eventually won the Canadian court case. Lai is accused of masterminding a multibillion-dollar operation that bribed officials and police to avoid taxes and duties on goods ranging from fuel to cigarettes smuggled into China's coastal Fujian province in the 1990s. Lai is put under house arrest in Vancouver and has denied wrongdoing. Canadian immigration officials have rejected Lai's attempts to get political asylum. Canada says it has received diplomatic assurances from China that Lai will not be executed if returned and convicted. Canada, which does not have capital punishment, has traditionally refused to deport accused and convicted criminals to countries where they face execution.

 

Domestic Policy

Ministries list ways of reforming health care
2006-06-01 SCMP
Eight mainland ministries have issued a circular listing as many measures to reform the country's troubled health-care system. A spokesperson for the National Development and Reform Commission said they were aimed at restoring order in pricing in the drug market and mitigating the public burden of exorbitant medical bills. The measures include a comprehensive adjustment of government-priced drugs. Price rises by non-profit-making medical institutions will be limited to 15 per cent and some drugs will carry a "suggested retail price" on their packaging.

Hope of survival is slim for 56 trapped miners
2006-05-31 China Daily
Rescuers in North China's Shanxi Province have pumped more than 100,000 cubic metres of water out of the pit in which 56 miners have been trapped for 13 days. Experts estimate that about 200,000 cubic metres of water filled the mine and the hope of finding any of the missing miners alive is slim. The catastrophic flooding occurred at around 8:30pm on May 18. At the time at least 266 miners were in the pit, 210 of whom managed to escape. The number of trapped miners has been revised from 57 to 56. Four more people, including labour contractor Duan Jingli and three water detection workers, have now been detained, bringing the number of people in police custody to 19. A panel authorized byState Council has been set up at the mine on Saturday to investigate the accident. Meanwhile three miners were killed in Dongliao County, Jilin Province, on Monday, when the ceiling of a coal mine collapsed, sources from the Provincial Administration of Work Safety said. The victims including Dong Guowei and Wang Zhongxu were among six miners trapped when the tragedy occurred at 7:40 pm in the private colliery. The other three managed to escape. The mine was not qualified for production and was undergoing safety work, officials said. He Shijie, a spokesman with the administration said medical workers were sent down into the pit to administer emergency treatment, but to no avail. The body of the first victim was found at 9:00 pm on Monday and the other two were dug out yesterday morning. Mine owner Zhang Gui has agreed to pay the families of the victims 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) each in compensation, according to Yang Zhigang, director of Liaoyuan Bureau of Work Safety.

 

Tibet

China lodges solemn representations to Belgium over Dalai Lama's visit
2006-06-02 People's Daily
China has lodged solemn representations to Belgium over Dalai Lama's visit, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao in Beijing Thursday. Liu told a regular briefing that Dalai Lama is a political figure in exile who favors separatism, and the Chinese government is strongly opposed to any country providing him with a venue for his separatist activities.

Tibetan Buddhists enjoy religious freedom: Panchen Lama
2006-06-01 Xinhuanet
Buddhists in southwest China's Yunnan Province enjoy full religious freedom, said Tibet's 11th Panchen Lama in a call for followers to be devoted to the religion and country. The 16-year-old high ranking figure of Tibetan Buddhism praised the economic and social development and the harmonious religious environment of southwest China's Yunnan Province. He urged local Buddhists to show passion to the nation and the religion, and safeguard the country and benefit the people. He also called on the Buddhists to make their due contributions to national solidarity and prosperity. Gyaincain Norbu, anointed as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995, made the remarks after a ten-day religious tour of Yunnan, which is home to more than 128,000 ethnic Tibetans. He visited temples in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Deqin County, Lijiang City, and Binchuan County, performing benediction rituals to more than 40,000 followers. The young Panchen Lama also met local Tibetan Buddhist representatives and government officials, expressing satisfaction over the implementation of the religious policies initiated by the Communist Party of China. He urged Tibetan Buddhists in the province to carry forward Buddhism and the ethnic cultures. Born in 1990 in Lhari County of Tibet Autonomous Region, Gyaincain Norbu was approved by the central government of China as the 11th Panchen Lama after lots were drawn among three candidates in a lamasery in the regional capital of Lhasa in 1995.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan leader Chen's close aides resign
2006-06-02 Xinhuanet
Two of Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's close aides resigned Thursday, amid opposition allegations of involvement in recent scandals that have caused Chen's popularity to plunge to record lows. Ma Yung-cheng resigned from the post of "deputy secretary-general to the President" and Lin Chin-chang from the post of advisory member to the "National Security Council". The resignations came a day after Chen decided to cede some of his major decision-making powers. At a meeting Wednesday, he announced that he would "clarify himself", "conduct reformation" and "ceding powers", promising he and his family members would "conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards". According to Taiwan media reports, Ma is one of the controversial government officials that have been called on by the opposition party to step down. Lin has drafted many important speeches for Chen. A few months ago, Chen Shui-bian's aide, Chen Che-nan, "Deputy Secretary-General to the President", was forced to resign amid accusations of involvement in scandals and is still being detained by the judicial organ in Taiwan. Skepticism has been rising since Chen made his speech, saying that he is just "using pretty words to cover up the scandals" and "averting focus of attention", Taiwan media reported.

43% of Taiwanese want scandal-hit Chen to resign
2006-06-02 China Daily
Almost half of Taiwanese doubt "president" Chen Shui-bian's pledge to hand government control to Taiwan's "premier" to take responsibility for a series of scandals, and 43 percent said they want him to resign, a poll said Friday. On Thursday, Chen pledged to give full control of the "Cabinet" to "premier" Su Tseng-chang and vowed to not interfere in the affairs of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party following accusations of corruption involving his administration and family. Forty-nine percent of respondents to the poll said they did not believe Chen would cede power, 18 percent said they thought he would, and the remainder said they didn't know, according to the China Times newspaper which conducted the poll. Meanwhile, 28 percent of respondents said Chen should be allowed to complete his second term in office - set to end in 2008 - while 43 percent said they want him to step down now, according to the poll. The rest had no opinion. Chen's announcement ceding power came in the wake of damaging allegations against his son-in-law, his wife and a close political ally. On May 24, police arrested Chen's son-in-law Chao Chien-min on suspicion he used inside information to profit from the purchase of shares in partly state-owned property company Taiwan Development Corp. Chao has denied the charges. The opposition has also accused Chen's wife of receiving free vouchers from the management of an upscale Taipei department store, and says she may have played a role in its takeover by a businessman whose bid was less than that of at least one rival suitor. The "presidential office" has denied any wrongdoing in that case. On Thursday, "presidential" Deputy Secretary-General Ma Yong-cheng resigned following opposition accusations that he got involved in business deals and took favors from executives - accusations that he also has denied. The newspaper conducted the poll of 704 people by telephone Thursday night. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

 

Economy

Minister concerned about China-Japan trade
2006-06-02 Xinhuanet
Trade between China and Japan is still growing but there has been a slowdown in growth, China's commerce minister has told Japanese media in a recent interview on the sidelines of an energy forum in Tokyo. The Sino-Japanese relationship has not moved to a situation where it is "politically cold and economically cool" from the undertone of "politically cold yet economically hot," Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said. Japan's investment in China remains at a fairly high level and bilateral trade keeps growing, but some developments are worrying, Bo said. He said Japan took a convincing lead in terms of both China-bound investment and trade in the 1980s and 1990s, but the European Union and the United States overtook Japan in 2004 as China's top trading partners. Bilateral trade grew only by 9.9 percent in 2005, much slower than China-EU and China-U.S. trade. China-Japan trade accounted for 20 percent of China's total overseas trade in 1994, but the figure dropped to 13 percent last year. In 2004, Japan also lost to South Korea in terms of investment in China. There are winners and losers in battlefields, but in the business world, more often than not, no one would emerge as the winner if there is a trade war between the two sides, Bo noted. There is no doubt that bilateral political strains dampens bilateral trade, he said, citing a Chinese saying which goes to the effect that there is good business without good partners. Bo also noted that market demand in China has never been so robust: demand for means of production and consumer goods in domestic market is expected to exceed 4 trillion U.S. dollars by 2010 and imports alone would be valued at 1 trillion dollars; China needs 300 billion dollars in investment for energy-saving and environmental protection program alone in the next five years. But the minister warned the strained political relations are exerting a subtle influence on the minds of many business people despite the convenience that the two countries are geographically close to each other.

 

Mongolia

Swiss VIP in Mongolia
2006-05-24
SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) director Walter Fust was in Mongolia May 15-17 to sign an agreement on humanitarian assistance and technical cooperation. He said that his country has almost finalised the SDC 2007-12 Strategy, focusing on more sustainable resource use, environmental rehabilitation, and support for ecology-biased development. He said that SDC was interested in land tenure, disaster mitigation, income generation and good governance. Fust met Prime Minister M. Enkhbold and cabinet members, to whom he commended efforts for a development strategy in the national interests, but warned of the need to be aware of all risks before taking far-reaching decisions. SDC has been working with the UNDP to help repair damage from natural disasters in 1999-2002. Fust said, "SDC plans to focus on support for small and medium enterprises in rural areas, expansion of rural infrastructure, and...social services...such as schools and hospitals." "SDC hopes to carry out a One -Stop-Shop concept with the government," he told the prime minister. Fust also explained the One-Stop-Shop government services concept to Finance Minister N. Bayartsaikhan, which he said had been successful in Vietnam. He said he hoped it would improve efficiency, and reduce corruption and transaction costs, claiming, "In Vietnam, 99%...register a business or obtain a marriage certificate...in less than 10 days." Foreign Minister N. Enkbold thanked Fust for Swiss support, singling out the Green-Gold project to improve pasture management and the project for better strains of potato seed. With Mongolian-Swiss Parliamentary Group and Civil Will Party leader and MP S. Oyun he talked about the mining sector. "Potential always has risk and it is important that the risks are assessed carefully in the light of national interests, which include political, economic, environmental and social aspects," he advised. Fust also met R. Tsogtbaatar, governor of Gobi-Altai, which has benefited most from SDC help, saying he was impressed with the Ashvai barley cookie. He said that this summer a delegation from Canton Jura would visit Gobi-Altai to discuss a partnership

Another party meets
2006-05-24
The newly-established Undesnii Shine Nam (New National Party, NNP) held an inaugural meeting on May 19 to approved a platform and elect a leader. The party council comprises ex- DP members MP and Deputy Prime Minister M. Enkhsaikhan, Deputy Foreign Minister Ts. Tsolmon, and MPs J. Narantsatsralt and J. Batkhuyag, and they decided to give them each a year as leader, starting with Enkhsaikhan. The initial party membership totalled 33, but over 2,000 had signed.

 

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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