SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

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
  07.8-11.8.06, No. 127  
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Foreign Policy

China opposes Japan leader's war shrine visit
2006-08-11 China Daily
China warned Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday against visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine for the war dead, repeating its opposition to the visits as speculation mounts he will go again. Yasukuni is seen by many in Asia as a symbol of Japan's past militarism. The issue of Japan's wartime invasion and atrocities fuelled angry protests in China last year, and Beijing regards Koizumi's visits as blocking improvement of the two countries' sour relations. China has always opposed Japanese leaders' visits to the shrine, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a faxed statement. "This position is clear and consistent. We hope that Japan's leaders can be highly responsible towards history, the people and the future and change their erroneous ways," the statement said. Opinion is growing that Koizumi will revisit the shrine, possibly on the symbolic August 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two. Fourteen wartime leaders convicted by an Allied tribunal as "Class A" war criminals are honoured there alongside 2.5 million war dead. Koizumi has visited the shrine each year and so far has avoided the anniversary in an apparent effort to moderate Asian outrage.

China, U.S. agree to enhance co-op on global issues
2006-08-10 Xinhuanet
China and the United States Thursday agreed that as major stakeholders and constructive partners, the two nations can and should work together on many issues at global, regional and bilateral levels. During the two-day second session of the China-U.S. Global Issues Forum in Beijing, Chinese and U.S. officials discussed the two nations' activities around the world and the potential to cooperate globally on the following issues: energy security and clean energy, public health, humanitarian assistance, trafficking in persons, environmental conservation and sustainable development, and aid program and international development cooperation. The two sides agreed that China and the United States can and should work together on the above issues and other issues on the basis of seeking common ground while recognizing and reducing differences and promoting cooperation. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky led interagency delegations to attend the meeting, with the participation of relevant bureaus and offices of Chinese Foreign Ministry and U.S. Department of State, as well as other Chinese and U.S. agencies. In the area of energy security and clean energy, the two sides expressed their concern on the negative impact of soaring oil price on the world economy. To address this problem, they discussed a range of global issues such as international clean energy cooperation and initiatives relating to cleaner and more efficient use of existingfuels; development of new energy technology; and collaborating to improve access to cleaner and modern energy in poorer regions of the world. In the session dealing with environmental protection and natural resource conservation, the discussion focused on ways to work together to pursue sustainable development by stemming the illegal trade in wildlife and timber, combating climate change and air pollution through the development of advanced technology and clean energy, and pursuing solutions to water pollution. The discussion also explored ways to cooperate in the Commission on Sustainable Development, and also discussed the newly-formed Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking. The humanitarian assistance and international development segments concentrated on tools, resources, challenges, experiences in dealing with humanitarian crisis, UN reform and aid financing mechanisms, aid effectiveness, managing results, the governance structure for international development cooperation, as well as possible areas for collaboration. ()

No disruptions in flights from China to London
2006-08-11 Xinhuanet
Flights from China's three major international airports Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong have not been disrupted following reports of the foiled terror plot in the United Kingdom. While British Airways' flights from Beijing and Shanghai departed before the news broke, Frank Yan, the airline's passenger sales manager in China said yesterday evening: "So far I haven't received any notice from headquarters saying we have to cancel flights from Beijing or Shanghai to London tomorrow."As many short-range flights to and from London have been cancelled, our passengers will be affected if they are going to transfer at Heathrow Airport to other cities in the UK. " BA operates daily flights from Beijing to London, and five flights a week from Shanghai. In Shanghai, Yang Huifeng, spokesman for Virgin Atlantic which operates daily flights to London, said: "We have not heard of any terrorist threat in London but if there is such a threat, Virgin will co-operate closely with the Shanghai security officials."So far, we haven't received any notice from our company to change security check-in procedures." At the city's Pudong International Airport, an official at the Safety Inspection Office who gave only his surname, Xin, said: "As far as I know, there are no delays in any flights to Britain. We haven't received any instructions to tighten security." Flights from Hong Kong to London were on schedule last night but passengers were not allowed to carry hand luggage. Many checked in earlier than usual fearing increased security checks. A spokesman for the Hong Kong Security Bureau cautioned residents travelling to the UK to keep abreast with developments there and pay close attention to personal safety.

DPRK missile test negative - FM spokesman
2006-08-08 China Daily
"North Korea's missile launches have led to a disagreement between China and North Korea," Chinese foreign ministry spoksman Liu Jianchao said in comments posted on the Web site of the South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo late on Monday in Chinese and Korean. China voted for a U.N. resolution last month that criticised Pyongyang for test-firing missiles in early July, with many regional powers saying the launch posed a threat to regional security. Liu said the tests have had a negative impact on the politics on the Korean peninsula as well as North Korea. North Korea defied international warnings and fired seven missiles on July 5, including its long-range Taepodong-2 missile. The interview was conducted when Liu was in South Korea earlier this month. During his stay in South Korea, Liu called on the North to return to stalled six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons programme and for flexibility in the negotiations.

Chad cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan
2006-08-06 China Daily
The central African country of Chad has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and switch its recognition and open official ties with Beijing.And Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and his Chadian counterpart Ahmad Allam-mi signed a joint communique Sunday night to resume diplomatic ties between the two countries. "Under Beijing's influence, Chad has decided to restore diplomatic ties with China," Taiwan's "foreign ministry" spokesman Michel Lu told a press conference Saturday night "To safeguard our dignity, Taiwan government has decided to cut off diplomatic ties with Chad and immediately suspended all of the aid projects to the country," Lu said. Taiwan's ambassador to Chad was called into the foreign ministry in N'Djamena Saturday and informed that the government had decided to switch recognition "in the interest of the state," a Chadian foreign ministry official said. China and Chad have agreed to resend ambassadors to each other's countries and provide convenience for the establishment and work of each other's embassies on an equal footing, it says. According to the communique, the Chinese government supports the efforts made by the Chadian government to safeguard state sovereignty and develop economy. "The Chadian government recognizes that there is only one China in the world and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory," it says. The Chinese government expresses appreciation for the above stance the Chadian government pursues, the communique says. Following Taiwan's 1971 expulsion from the United Nations, successive Taiwanese regimes have spent millions of dollars in economic aid to persuade countries, mostly in Africa and Latin America, to support its battle against Beijing for international recognition. As Beijing's global political and economic clout has grown, Taiwan has found it increasingly on the losing side of the diplomatic battle. Chad is the seventh country to switch recognition to Beijing since Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian took office in 2000, following Senegal, Liberia, Macedonia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Vanuatu and Grenada. This latest setback for Taiwan means the island is now recognized by just 24 countries, mostly small states in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific. Chad's move came only days before Taiwan "Premier" Su Tseng-chang was due to attend the inauguration of Idriss Deby for a third term as president. The trip has now been cancelled.

Official blames communication gap for delayed confirmation of bird flu case
2006-08-10 Xinhuanet
Chinese government officials have blamed a lack of communication between researchers and health officials for the delay in confirming the mainland's first human case of bird flu. "This incident exposes problems in our scientific research institutes," Vice Health Minister Jiang Zuojun said on Thursday. Research institutes were omitted from legal requirements to report infectious diseases until December 2004, when the law on prevention and control of infectious diseases was revised to include bird flu as a disease that must by law be reported, he said. Jiang also pointed out that it took time for researchers to identify the disease in 2003 during the SARS outbreak when diagnosis methods for emerging diseases were poor. They had to be cautious in the DNA sequencing and epidemiological and genetic studies of the virus, he said. As Jiang admitted, a spokesman of the World Health Organization believed the revelation of the 2003 case showed a lack of internal communication in the government structure. The Ministry of Health was not informed about the positive test results when military researchers found out the man was in fact an H5N1 case, according Roy Wadia in WHO's Beijing office. "The Ministry has acknowledged that communication and reporting mechanisms need to be strengthened to ensure that an incident like this does not occur in the future," Wadia said. Jiang also said, "In future, scientific research institutes must improve communication and contact with our disease prevention organizations." Meanwhile, Jiang gave assurances that it was the only case that failed to fit the symptoms of SARS, adding they had no evidence of other cases before 2003. The Ministry of Health confirmed Tuesday that the country's first human case of H5N1 bird flu occurred in November 2003, two years earlier than previously thought. A letter published by eight Chinese scientists on June 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine said the virus had been isolated in a 24-year-old man who died in Beijing in 2003. The man, surnamed Shi, became ill with pneumonia and a respiratory illness and died four days after being hospitalized. China was then in the aftermath of the SARS, and the case was initially thought to be a SARS case. However, laboratory tests for SARS proved negative. Parallel laboratory tests, carried out in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), later confirmed it was a human case of bird flu. This is the first human infection confirmed in the world in the current H5N1 virus cycle, according to Wadia. The newly-confirmed case brought China's human infections of bird flu to 20 and the death toll to 13. The first human cases of H5N1 bird flu occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. Eighteen cases including six deaths were reported at that time. The current cycle of the virus began in late 2003 and felledits first victim in Vietnam in January 2004. Globally, there have so far been 236 confirmed human cases of bird flu. By Aug. 9, 138 of the people had died, according to WHO figures.

 

Domestic Policy

Storm kills at least 111 in China
2006-08-11 China Daily
The most powerful typhoon to hit China in five decades raged across the southeastern coast Thursday, claiming at least 111 lives as it capsized ships, destroyed buildings and forced 1.5 million people from their homes. Typhoon Saomai, with winds up to 135 mph, made landfall at the town of Mazhan in coastal Zhejiang province, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing weather officials. The death toll was put at two Thursday as the storm raged, but it quickly rose Friday with recovery efforts under way and had reached 111 by midday, according to Xinhua. Most of the deaths occurred in Zhejiang province, where the bodies of 43 people, including eight children, were discovered in Cangnan county amid the debris of collapsed houses, Xinhua said. Eighty-one people were killed in the southeastern Zhejiang city of Wenzhou, Xinhua said. It did not give any details, but the bodies of 43 people, including eight children, were discovered in Wenzhou amid the debris of collapsed houses. Another 28 people were killed and 11 missing in other parts of Zhejiang. In neighboring Fujian province, two people were killed. Officials said at least 80 people were injured across the region. The typhoon was also blamed for at least two deaths in the Philippines earlier. Torrential rains were forecast in the next three days as the typhoon churned inland across crowded areas where Tropical Storm Bilis killed more than 600 people last month. Eight sailors from were missing after two ships capsized in a harbor in Fujian, while four from the mainland were missing after their ship struck a reef, the agency reported. Seven others were reported missing in the Philippines after giant waves and heavy rains generated by the typhoon battered coastal villages, officials said. Saomai, dubbed a "super typhoon" by Chinese forecasters due to its huge size and high wind speeds, was the eighth major storm of this year's unusually violent typhoon season. Saomai was the most powerful typhoon to hit China since 1949, Xinhua said, citing the Zhejiang provincial weather bureau. Before the storm's arrival, 990,000 people were evacuated from flood-prone areas of Zhejiang and 569,000 from the neighboring coastal province of Fujian, Xinhua said. It said a total of 70,000 ships had returned to port in the two provinces. The area is about 950 miles south of Beijing, the Chinese capital, which was not affected by the storm. In the Philippines, more than 200 houses built on stilts were destroyed and a child was killed and another was reported missing as waves up to 10 feet tall ravaged the coast of Bongao, the capital of southern Tawi-Tawi province, before dawn Wednesday, provincial Gov. Sadikul Sahali said. "There is floating debris everywhere," Sahali said. At least six members of a family also were reported missing after their house was buried in a landslide on Sarangani island, part of southern Davao del Sur province, the Office of Civil Defense said. Elsewhere, a man was killed as big waves washed away about 200 shanties in seaside villages in Talisay city on central Cebu island early Wednesday, the civil defense office said. Saomai, named for the Vietnamese word for the planet Venus, passed across Japan's Okinawa island group on Wednesday with winds up to 89 mph, prompting airlines to cancel 141 flights and affecting 24,000 passengers. China's weather bureau had forecast unusually heavy typhoon action this summer, saying warmer than normal Pacific currents and weather patterns over Tibet would create bigger storms and draw them farther inland. Bilis triggered flooding and landslides as far inland as Hunan province, hundreds of miles from the coast. Most of the deaths happened in areas away from coastal communities that have elaborate dike networks and a long history of evacuating flood-prone areas. Typhoon Prapiroon lashed China's southern coast last week, killing at least 80 people in floods and landslides in Guangdong province and neighboring Guangxi. Even as Saomai stormed ashore, Chinese forecasters were already closely watching Tropical Storm Bopha, which trailed behind it farther out in the Pacific. Bopha was about 110 miles southeast of Guangdong late Thursday and moving west with winds of 29 mph, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

HK government appoints two senior officials
2006-08-09 Xinhuanet
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced on Tuesday that Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Anissa Wong will take up the post of Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (Environment) and Director of Environmental Protection on Sept. 13. She will be replaced by Deputy Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (Transport) Thomas Chow, said a government press release. Hong Kong Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue said 49-year-old Wong and 46-year-old Chow are experienced administrative officers with rich experience in public administration and proven leadership and management abilities. "I am confident they will continue to serve the community with professionalism and dedication in their new capacities, and ably lead their departments to meet the challenges ahead," she said.

Queues reported as Jiang Zemin's works launched across China
2006-08-10 China Daily
Queues were reported in bookstores around China as The Selected Works of Jiang Zemin, former Chinese president, went on sale on Thursday. Branches of the government-run Xinhua Bookstore chain have trucked in tens of thousands of copies to fill their shelves on the first day of its publication. In Lhasa, capital of Tibet, prospective readers lined up for Jiang's book as soon as the local Xinhua bookstore opened. Sales assistants, dressed in local costume, were busy helping readers pack their copies. Nearly half of the 500 copies put on sale were sold in less than an hour, said Qian Hongyong, manager of the Tibet branch of Xinhua Bookstore, the country's largest book selling chain. Qian said bookstores in the most remote areas of Tibet had started selling the book on Thursday. In Beijing, subscription for Jiang's works hiked to 67,000 copies by 10 a.m. on Thursday morning in Xidan Bookstore, the capital's largest bookstore, located in downtown Beijing, a source with the local publication distributing group said. And subscription in Zhongguancun Bookstore, located in Haidian district which is densely peppered with China's top universities, also reached 5,000, said Lu Jiemin, deputy director of the Beijing Distribution Group. He said his company had sent a dozen of trucks carrying full-load of Jiang's works to several central government departments from late Wednesday to Thursday morning. Meanwhile, in southwestern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 75,072 copies of the three-volume books had arrived at 98 branches of the Xinhua Bookstore by Thursday morning, said a senior manager of the book chain in Guangxi. "Special counters have been set up in every shop, and red banners hung to hail the publication of Jiang's works," said Fen Baoxin, acting director of Guangxi Xinhua Bookstore. ()

Video of executed Taiwan spy shown as a warning
2006-08-08 SCMP
A central government official has been executed for spying for Taiwan, and thousands of civil servants have been shown an "educational" video of the case as a warning, government sources said yesterday.Tong Daning, who was in his mid-50s and held a rank equivalent to one just below assistant minister in the National Development and Reform Commission, was executed in April, the sources said. "He was one of the most senior government officials to be executed in recent years," one source said. Tong sold classified documents for about US$250,000 over 15 years, the source added. The commission, a planning body, does not deal directly with Taiwanese issues. Thousands of civil servants were required to watch a half-hour video, entitled The Espionage Case of Tong Daning Stealing Secrets, which showed the defendant standing trial, the sources said. The video showed Tong getting into a police car and on his way to the execution ground, but did not show the execution. The mainland's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office and Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council had no immediate comment. Several official websites - such as those of the Henan Daily, the Hunan weather bureau, Guangxi University and the state-owned China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corp - said civil servants had watched the "educational" video but did not give details of Tong's case or the video's content. The mainland rarely publicises espionage scandals but Tong's was not an isolated case. The number of espionage scandals has risen in recent years as economic reforms have spawned corruption. In 1999, a mainland major-general and a senior colonel were executed for selling state secrets to Taiwan for US$1.6 million in the biggest espionage scandal of the communist era. Last year, Major-General Liu Guangzhi, who was targeted by Taiwan for recruitment as a spy, was jailed for 13 years for accepting bribes from subordinates seeking promotion or transfers. This year, Chen Hui , who had access to state secrets when he was with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was jailed for 13 years for selling state secrets to Japan, two of his former colleagues said.

Hazardous injection linked to 6 deaths
2006-08-09 China Daily
The alleged death toll of a hazardous antibiotic injection rose to six yesterday, after two elderly people in Hunan and Sichuan provinces were identified as victims of the drug. Chen Dexiang, 74, a teacher in Zhangjiajie, Hunan, went to hospital because of a cold on August 2, reported local newspaper the Xiaoxiang Morning Post. The hospital prescribed five drugs including an injection of clindamycin phosphate glucose produced by the Anhui Huayuan Worldbest Biology Pharmacy Co, which was the only treatment Chen received on the day. Chen began to tremble and his temperature rose drastically as he received the injection. He was rushed to the People's Hospital of Zhangjiajie where he died three hours later. Chen's relatives became convinced his death was caused by the injection after they heard about its other possible victims through media reports. Meanwhile, relatives of senior citizen Hu Qingxiu, of Anyue County in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, said she died after being treated with two bottles of the drug after breaking a bone. The relatives said Hu suffered chest and abdominal pains after the injection on July 20 and later died. More deaths and cases of adverse reactions linked to the injection have emerged as an investigation continues into the drug. The injection was banned by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) on August 4 and a nationwide recall is in progress. The previous four deaths were in Heilongjiang, Hebei, Hubei and Shaanxi provinces. SFDA spokesman Zhang Jixiang yesterday refuted media reports about a possible cover-up by the Anhui Provincial Food and Drug Administration. Zhang said the Anhui authorities' announcement of the recall of the hazardous drug was timely and there is a strict procedure to follow in dealing with reports of adverse reactions. The Anhui company has stopped production, though no direct charges have been levelled at the firm for now. The company said it has sold 3.18 million units of the injection to 26 provinces, autonomous region and municipalities, of which only 1.4 million have been recalled so far. On Monday the Ministry of Health released guidance notes which describe the possible symptoms of an adverse reaction to the injection and how to cope with the reaction.

Drink water shortage affects 2m
2006-08-07 China Daily
China's southwest provinces are experiencing a serious drought, with 2.39 million people facing a shortage of drinking water, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The dry spell has descended over Sichuan province, which is located only a few hundred kilometers (miles) from Guizhou region which is currently soaked in torrential rains. Xinhua news agency said 53 counties were hit by drought in spring, followed by 113 counties during the summer months, affecting not just large numbers of people but also more than three million head of livestock. By the end of last month, over 60 percent of small-scale irrigation systems in the drought-stricken areas had dried up, resulting in total crop failure on 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) of farmland, Xinhua said.

China debates killings of dogs
2006-08-11 Xinhuanet
After two local governments ordered mass killings of dogs following a rabies outbreak, a heated debate has emerged about that method of rabies control. The local government of Mouding County, in southwest China's Yunnan Province, killed 54,429 dogs from July 25 to 30 after discovering 357 locals had been bitten by dogs so far this year and that three people had died of rabies. The local government of Jining City, in east China's Shandong Province, did the same, after the city's 9 counties and districts and 14 townships reported several outbreaks of rabies that have claimed several lives. Dog lovers consider the local governments' actions horrific. "If these dogs weren't vaccinated, that's people's fault and dogs should not be made to pay for human negligence," said Tang Bing, a tourism official. "The mass slaughter of dogs is cold-blooded. Governments should detect dogs with rabies and put them down in a humane manner," said Stone Chen, a 22-year-old journalist and dog owner. Fourteen animal protection associations from all over the country wrote a letter to protest the two governments' mass slaughter policy. They said rabies had broken out in other parts of the country in the past, but local governments had curbed the spread of the contagious disease by strengthening vaccination work and killing vagrant dogs. Other citizens believe the mass slaughter of dogs in the event of a rabies outbreak is necessary. An Internet user left a message on Xinhuanet.com saying that thousands of unvaccinated dogs in a county would pose a huge threat to the public. Ding Zhengrong, a local epidemic prevention official in Yunnan Province, said if advance measures could be taken to prevent an outbreak of rabies, there would be no mass killing of dogs. "Compulsory vaccination of all dogs is a solution," Ding said. He added some urban families failed to register and vaccinate their dogs because of the expensive fees. In Jining City, in Shandong Province, it costs a family 4,500 yuan (US$565) to register and vaccinate a dog. The high cost reduces registrations and increases the risk of rabies outbreaks, Ding said. In vast rural areas, there is no clear-cut dog registration and vaccination system.

Group attacks Net firms on censorship - Human Rights Watch demands global law to end complicity in 'Great Firewall'
2006-08-11 SCMP
A leading human rights group has called for international legislation and a strong industry code to end western internet companies' "complicity" in political censorship on the mainland. New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had documented the way "extensive corporate and private sector co-operation - including by some of the world's major internet companies - enables this system of censorship". "Western internet companies are complicit in actively censoring political material without telling users what is happening and why," said Rebecca MacKinnon, a consultant to the group. "We believe that companies could act more ethically and still operate in China. It's time for internet companies to decide whether they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution." Human Rights Watch said China's system of internet censorship and surveillance, known as "the Great Firewall", involved tens of thousands of people employed by the government and was the most advanced in the world. The group's 149-page report focuses on the internet operations of Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Skype, which it said were "complicit in the Chinese government's censorship", but added they were not the only companies doing this. The report sharply criticised the decision by Yahoo to release the names of private users to mainland authorities, arguing that the company had assisted in the imprisonment - with heavy sentences - of four critics of the central government: Shi Tao , Li Zhi, Jiang Lijun , and Wang Xiaoning . Human Rights Watch argued that Microsoft had censored searches and blog titles to avoid sensitive political topics, and deleted or blocked whole blogs that the group said were "expressing peaceful political views". The report said Skype's Chinese software was configured to censor sensitive words in text chats without informing users. In a letter to Human Rights Watch, Yahoo vice-president Michael Samway argued that in the case of Shi, which resulted in a 10-year prison sentence, Yahoo China was required to provide information, just as it would have if such a request had been made in the US. The human rights organisation, however, said there were serious shortcomings in the Chinese criminal justice system, and the right to a fair trail and presumption of innocence had not yet become fully integrated. The organisation called on the US, the EU and other jurisdictions to pass legislation prohibiting companies from storing personal user data on servers in China. It said the purpose of the proposed legislation was not to stop foreign companies from operating in China, but rather that these companies "not take part in or help censorship or the arrest of people involved in peaceful expression". Yahoo, Microsoft and Google had argued that China's Web users had benefited from the greater access to the internet the companies provided, and that it was better for them to be on the mainland with limits than not at all.

Convenient, clean Beijing promised for Games
2006-08-07 China Daily
Beijing's Olympics will not be shrouded in smog or choked by traffic jams, the city's top Games official promised yesterday. With the two-year countdown to the 2008 Games beginning tomorrow, Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG), said he was confident that air pollution and traffic jams would be tackled in time for the opening ceremony. "The problems that exist in Beijing, such as traffic jams and environmental pollution, are things we have to solve, whether we are hosting the Olympics or not," said Liu, who is also secretary of the Party's Beijing municipal committee. "Preparing for the Games should allow us to bring solutions to these problems ahead of schedule." Beijing has made great steps in improving the air quality in recent years and the situation is getting better and better, said Liu. Statistics show the number of "blue sky" days last year days when the air quality reached Grade II or better accounted for 64 per cent of the year. This year's goal is 65 per cent, or 238 days. In April the city was battered by frequent sand storms, leading to doubt the target number of "blue sky" days would be reached. But despite the harsh spring, Liu remains confident. "Due to the sand storms, we were 10 days down on last year's total number of "blue sky" days," he said. "But almost every day in July qualified so we've regained seven days." After the sand storms, all the more than 9,000 construction sites in Beijing improved their management, and today all construction site's sand mounds are covered to avoid dust getting caught by the wind, according to Liu. "With these measures, I'm confident of reaching our goal of 238 'blue sky' days this year," he said. Liu also revealed other measures being taken to reduce pollution in the city. For example, besides moving the Beijing Shougang Company's steel works out of the city in February, the Beijing Coking Plant, which was founded in the southeastern part of Beijing in 1958, also stopped production last month. According to Liu, the city's industrial structure has been readjusted, with industrial production now only accounting for around 20 per cent of the capital's economy. "In addition, we have taken great steps in improving the energy sources structure using clean energy sources like electricity and natural gas," he said. As for automobile emissions, Beijing has adopted emission standards equivalent to the European III Emission Standard, and will even use the European IV standard in the future, Liu said. "Although we have a large amount of vehicles, the emission standards could reach international levels," he added.

 

Tibet

Dalai Lama unworthy of religious leader: Tibet official
2006-08-09 Xinhuanet
The party chief of China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Tuesday accused the Dalai Lama of engaging in activities unrelated to religion, saying he is an unworthy religious leader. "The Dalai Lama used to be an acknowledged religious leader, which is an undoubted fact, but what he has done makes him unworthy of the title," said Zhang Qingli in an interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel. The Dalai Lama staged a failed armed rebellion against the Chinese government in the late 1950's and stirred social unrest in Lhasa in the late 1980's, said Zhang. By the end of the first half of this year he had paid 312 "official visits" to other countries, averaging six visits a year, while last year he made 12 overseas journeys, said Zhang. "The goal of his 'official visits' are to ally himself with 'anti-China' forces and publicize his separatist beliefs, which deviate from the practice of religion," said Zhang. Earlier, the chairman of the Tibetan government Champa Phuntsok described the Dalai Lama as "a politician in Buddhist robes and Italian shoes", quoting media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Zhang said only a few people in the world know the real Dalai Lama, whose supporters are either devoted believers, hostile to China or people ignorant of the whole story. "I still can't figure out how he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize," said Zhang, "What peace has he brought to the world?" The party chief also labeled the Dalai Lama as a double dealer, saying his so-called "middle way" was in fact thinly disguised independence. In the Dalai Lama's "middle way" he seeks a "greater Tibet" which would enjoy more autonomy than Hong Kong and Macao, said Zhang. So soon as the Dalai Lama abandons his separatist ideas, the door to talks is always open, said Zhang.

 

Economy

China-India crossborder trade 'not ideal'
2006-08-11 06 Xinhuanet
China and India last month reopened crossborder trade through the Himalayan Nathu La Pass, but trade is running at a "low level" and was "not ideal," a Chinese official said Thursday. "India has unilaterally imposed restrictions on trade through Nathu La," said Hao Peng, vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, when meeting with a visiting Indian media delegation in the regional capital of Lhasa. Hao said that India authorizes the export of only 29 items from India to China, and a mere 15 items permitted to enter the Indian market from China. When China opened a trade mart at Renqinggang, some 16 kilometers from the Nathu La Pass, India opened the Changgu mart in neighbouring Sikkim. However, while Indian business people can stay at China's Renqinggang mart, Chinese traders cannot spend the night at the Indian mart, Hao said. China and India reopened border trade through the Nathu La Pass on July 6, 44 years after a border conflict closed down the ancient "Silk Road". The Nathu La Pass sits 4,545 meters above sea level and is wedged between Yadong County in Tibet's Xigaze Prefecture and India's Sikkim State. Previously, more than 90 percent of trade between China and India transited by sea, and via Tianjin -- a port city some 120 kilometers from Beijing but nearly 4,400 kilometers from Lhasa. With the reopening of the Nathu La Pass, it is only 1,200 kilometers by land from Lhasa to Calcutta, a major Indian coastal city. Analysts consider the reopening of the trade route to be an important development in Sino-Indian relations and expect the two sides to develop political trust as well as trade and economic relations. The pass will help shape a major land trade route linking China with South Asia and reduce transportation costs, according to Liu Jiangyong, an international studies specialist with Qinghua University in Beijing. "Trade at the Renqinggang mart is currently less than 100,000 yuan (12,500 U.S. dollars) per week, far less than we had expected," Hao said. China does not impose any restrictions on crossborder trade except for illegal items, and hostels have been built to accommodate Indian traders, he said. "I hope the Indian government will adopt a more egalitarian approach to crossborder trade with China," he said. The Indian delegation head, Ranjan Roy, editor of The Times of India, a major Indian newspaper, said that India might have some concerns about low-price Chinese products flooding the Indian market. He suggested the two governments communicate more with each other on this issue and work out common solutions. "I can sense China's enthusiasm to promote border trade with India. Given the remarkable potential, the two sides should deepen their cooperation on the issue," he said. Trade through the Nathu La Pass accounted for 80 percent of total crossborder trade between China and India in the early 1900s. But after their border conflict in 1962, the two countries closed their customs points at the former border markets and the trade route became a tightly guarded frontier with barbed wire. In the final years of the 20th century, Sino-Indian relations began to thaw, and in 2003 the two countries agreed to reopen markets at the Nathu La Pass. China approved plans to build a border market in Yadong last year. During Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India last year, the two countries vowed to establish a strategic partnership in the interest of peace and prosperity. China and India recorded 18.73 billion U.S. dollars of trade last year,up 37.5 percent year-on-year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The figure is expected to exceed 20 billion U.S. dollars this year. The year 2006 has been designated the year of Sino-Indian friendship.

RMB now below 7.97 against greenback
2006-08-08 China Daily
The yuan yesterday advanced to less than 7.97 against the US dollar, showing signs of quickening appreciation. The daily benchmark, or the central parity rate for the US dollar, was set at 7.9699 yesterday, the strongest reference rate for daily trading since the revaluation in July last year, according to the Shanghai-based China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The yuan could move 0.3 per cent per day either way of the reference rate. The currency slipped to a low of 7.9671 per US dollar but closed at 7.9689 at 5:30 pm yesterday. The yuan has so far gained an accumulated 3.7 per cent against the greenback since revaluation. "Clearly, the yuan's appreciation pace is accelerating, which is in line with the market situation as pressure from both the foreign exchange reserves and trade surplus is mounting," said Yi Xianrong, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The currency appreciated to 7.9982 against the US dollar on May 15, the first time it had fallen below 8 yuan in 12 years. And since then, the appreciation has quickened. It took 49 trading days for the yuan to strengthen below 7.99 against the US dollar, while it only took five trading days to see it below 7.98. It took six days before the yuan advanced to 7.97. The central bank said last week that "it will take a basket of comprehensive measures, which include spurring consumption and imports, and expanding the foreign exchange rate flexibility, to improve the international balance of payments," an announcement interpreted by some as implying the bank is seriously considering expanding the exchange rate band. But some experts say the currency appreciation is not a fundamental way to resolve the trade imbalance. "Only by changing the current export-led economic growth model into one that is driven by domestic consumption can the current excessive trade surplus growth and trade imbalance be resolved," Cao Honghui, an economist at CASS, said. Fuelled by the swelling trade surplus and foreign investment inflow, China's foreign exchange reserve surged to US$941.1 billion by the end of June. The mounting foreign exchange reserves, which are already the world's largest, are also driving a growth in money supply and credit.

 

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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