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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
  11.9-15.9.06, No. 132  
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Foreign Policy

Chinese premier starts visit to Tajikistan
2006-09-15 People's Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Dushanbe on Thursday night, starting his two-day official visit to Tajikistan and to attend the fifth Meeting of Prime Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO). In a written statement delivered at the airport, the Chinese premier said that ties between China and Tajikistan have maintained healthy and smooth development since the two countries forged diplomatic relations 14 years ago. He said that the two countries have supported each other on major issues and cooperate with each other on international and regional affairs. The Chinese premier's visit to Tajikistan, the first of its kind in 14 years, will exert significant impact on the neighborly friendship between the two countries, said officials with the Chinese delegation. During the visit, Wen will hold talks with Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmonov and Prime Minister Akil Akilov on bilateral ties and issues of common concern. During the visit, a series of cooperation documents will be signed, Chinese official said. In Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, Wen will join leaders on Friday from other SCO member nations -- Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in the fifth prime minister's meeting of the regional group. The meeting will focus on carrying out the consensus reached by the heads of SCO members at the June summit in Shanghai.

China, Germany sign eight agreements for cooperation
2006-09-15 Xinhuanet
China and Germany on Thursday signed eight documents for further cooperation in economy, science and technology and culture fields. The documents were signed at a ceremony in the German chancellor's office building, witnessed by visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Under one agreement signed by Chinese Ambassador to Germany Ma Canrong and German State Secretary Gerd Hoofe for the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, 400 German young people will visit China next year. The two sides also signed a framework agreement to set up a Confucius Institute in the German city of Hannover. Wen, who paid a two-day visit to Germany, also held talks with German President Horst Koehler after he arrived here earlier on Thursday by train from Hamburg. A welcome ceremony was staged for the Chinese premier at a square outside the chancellor's office building.

Chinese premier meets with British PM
2006-09-15 Xinhuanet
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and British Prime Minister Tony Blair reached wide-ranging consensus on bilateral relations and major international issues on Wednesday in London. During their talks in London, Wen and Blair spoke highly of the current Sino-British relationship since the two countries established the comprehensive strategic partnership, and expressed satisfaction over the first round of strategic dialogue, economic and trade ties, and good communication and coordination on major international and regional issues. Both leaders agreed that China and Britain should consolidate the bilateral relationship from the long-term strategic perspective, and maintain the regular exchanges of high-level visits, so as to usher in a new era for the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership. They also agreed to further promote bilateral economic and trade cooperation, increase two-way investment, and give support to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises. Wen and Blair vowed to improve the mechanism of high-level dialogues on sustainable development, energy cooperation, climate change, and environmental protection. They also reached consensus on expanding cooperation in education, culture, youth exchanges and the Olympics. On international issues, Wen and Blair said that both China and Britain will continue making contributions to the settlement of the Middle East conflicts, that coordinated positions are needed to find the best solution to Iran's nuclear dispute, and that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula should be resolved peacefully through diplomatic negotiations. After the talks, the two leaders attended the signing ceremony for cooperation documents on the establishment of China-Britain task forces on energy and climate change. Blair reiterated that Britain adheres to the one-China policy. Also on Wednesday, Wen Jiabao met with British Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown.

Wen: No obstacles to free flow of information
2006-09-14 Xinhuanet
The Chinese Government encourages the free flow of information and respects the rights and freedoms of foreign media operations in China, visiting Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday. Beijing's policy towards foreign media remains unchanged despite the recent promulgation of new measures concerning international news agencies, he stressed. "I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about China's policy on foreign media and I would like to reiterate that the open policy adopted by the Chinese Government regarding foreign news media and financial information agencies remains unchanged," Wen said last night after meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Information in the areas of commerce, finance and the economy will flow freely without any obstructions, he said. For their part, international news agencies must observe Chinese laws and regulations, he said. The announcement was greeted with immediate misunderstanding and criticism in some quarters, forcing Wen to make the clarification twice during his 21-hour working visit to Britain. Earlier yesterday, he made a similar pledge to about 150 business people: that the country would continue to adhere to a policy of opening up to the outside world and protect the legitimate rights and interest of foreign media in China. ()

Premier Wen meets with Finnish president
2006-09-13 China Daily
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday in Helsinki met with Finnish President Tarja Halonen on bilateral relations. Finland was not only the first country in the Western world to establish diplomatic relations with China, but also the first Western nation to sign an inter-governmental trade agreement with China, Wen noted. Finland also gave positive support to China in the efforts to restore China's lawful seat in the United Nations in early 1970s. All these showed the friendly feelings of the Finnish people towards the Chinese people, he said. Over the past few decades, China and Finland have all along developed bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and great success has been achieved in bilateral cooperation in various fields, he said. "To deepen the Sino-Finnish friendship and cooperation is in line with our common aspirations and conforms to both sides' fundamental interests," Wen said. China attaches great importance to its relationship with Finland, and regards Finland as a trustworthy partner, he said, adding that China is ready to work together with Finland to raise the friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation to a higher level, he added. On China-EU relations, Wen said political dialogue and consultation between China and the European Union is deepening, and the two sides' cooperation in various sectors are becoming even closer. At the just-concluded ninth China-EU summit, which was a great success, China and the EU agreed to negotiate a new partnership cooperation agreement, which would usher in a new era of China-EU ties, Wen said. "We appreciate the efforts Finland has made to push forward the development of China-EU relations since it took over the rotating EU presidency on July 1. We hope Finland would continue to play its positive role in deepening the China-EU strategic cooperation partnership," he said. At the meeting, Halonen expressed satisfaction over the long-term friendship between the two countries. She hoped the bilateral relationship will be further promoted through regular exchanges of high-level visits. Wen and Halonen also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern. Both agreed that China and Finland should strengthen communication and coordination in their joint efforts to help resolve such thorny issues as the Middle East crisis.

China, S.Korea leaders have rare chat with Koizumi
2006-09-11 China Daily
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Sunday chatted with leaders of China and South Korea, who have refused one-on-one meetings with him because of his visits to a war shrine seen as a symbol of Japan's militaristic past. The rare encounters took place as leaders of 13 Asian countries mingled on the sidelines of a two-day Asia-Europe summit that opened in the Finnish capital on Sunday. Koizumi exchanged "simple greetings" with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said. The Japanese prime minister also greeted South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and alluded to ongoing bilateral discussions about a dispute over desolate islands claimed by both Tokyo and Seoul, the official said. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had no immediate comment on Wen's encounter with Koizumi. A South Korean official described the exchange between Roh and the Japanese leader as "perfunctory". The Chinese and South Korean leaders have refused to hold bilateral meetings with Koizumi, angered by his annual homages at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honours wartime criminals alongside 2.5 million war dead. Visits by Japanese leaders to the shrine stir bitter memories in China of Japan's 1931-1945 invasion and occupation of large parts of the country while resentment still lingers in South Korea over Japan's often-brutal domination of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. Last month, China accused Koizumi of "wrecking the political foundations of China-Japan relations" when he visited the shrine on the anniversary of Tokyo's World War Two surrender. Koizumi has said he goes to the shrine to pray for peace.

China supports direct DPRK-U.S. contact
2006-09-15 People's Daily
China supports direct contact between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States on disputes over economic sanctions in order to create conditions for the early resumption of nuclear talks, according to a foreign ministry spokesman. "China hopes both sides can adopt flexible and pragmatic attitudes, and seek appropriate solutions as quickly as possible," Qin Gang told a routine press conference. Qin said the dispute between the DPRK and the United States has caused a stalemate in the six-party talks. He urged both sides to focus on the whole situation and settle the dispute. The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, reached a deadlock last November when the DPRK criticized the United States for imposing economic sanctions. "China's stance on financial crimes is very clear and unyielding, but we also stress the need for facts and hard evidence," the spokesman said. Qin reiterated that talks and consultations are the only options with which to resolve the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue and the six-party talks are an effective and practical way. He also denied reports that China would amend the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance signed between China and the DPRK in 1961. "We have no plans to amend the treaty," said Qin, adding China's wish to develop good and friendly relations with the DPRK remains unchanged. "The treaty plays an important and positive role in promoting friendly and good neighborly relations with the DPRK," he said. China's intention was to enhance its ties with Pyongyang in order to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Qin added.

China favors talks to solve Iran issue
2006-09-13 Xinhuanet
The Iranian nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully through diplomatic negotiations, a Chinese representative said here on Wednesday. It was the wish of the international community that the Iranian nuclear issue be resolved this way, Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Vienna Tang Guoqiang told the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "We should continue our joint efforts to this end, and avoid the easy option of abandonment of such efforts," Tang said. He said that should the Iranian nuclear issue be properly addressed, it would contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East, defend the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and ensure the right of some countries to peaceful use of nuclear energy on the premise of the full implementation of the NPT obligations. It would also help strengthen the agency's authority, he said. He said the Iranian nuclear issue faced both opportunities and challenges. On one hand, Iran had responded to the incentives package aimed at resolving the issue and diplomatic negotiation efforts were continuing. On the other hand, the relevant parties remain concerned about how Iran would meet the requirement of the resolution of the Board of Governors and Resolution 1696 of the UN Security Council. The Iranian nuclear programme still contained issues that needed to be clarified, he said. Tang said the priority for the time being was to maintain dialogue and contact among the concerned parties, promote mutual understanding of each other's concerns and clarify ambiguities. Meanwhile, diplomatic wisdom and creative thinking should also be allowed to play their parts in seeking solutions to the issue. The Chinese representative indicated that China hoped Iran would implement the relevant resolutions and decisions of the U.N. Security Council and the Board of the Agency, continue to cooperate fully with the Agency, clarify the outstanding problems, adopt a constructive approach, demonstrate flexibility on issues of concern from the international community and establish the conditions for resuming the negotiations. Other related parties, Tang said, should continue to keep calm and exercise restraint, stick to the direction of peaceful resolution, display flexibility and make joint efforts to create a favourable atmosphere for the resumption of negotiations. China welcomed all efforts made by the relevant parties for a peaceful resolution through diplomatic means, he said. Tang said China supported the IAEA to continue playing an important role in seeking a resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. The Security Council should aim at strengthening the authority of the Agency and be in favour of the efforts by the international community to promote negotiation, he said. Tang reiterated that China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue was consistent.

Italy to increase economic cooperation with China, says PM Prodi
2006-09-015 Xinhuanet
Italian companies will contribute actively to China's economic progress, and achieve win-win results with Chinese counterparts in economic and trade cooperation, said visiting Prime Minister Romano Prodi Thursday in Nanjing. Prodi, who arrived here Wednesday on a six-day official visit to China at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao, made the remarks when addressing an Italy-Jiangsu province economy and trade forum. Prodi gave high praise to China's achievements in political and economic development, saying that China has achieved "unbelievable" economic progress, and achieved an enormous amount both economically and politically. "Given China's remarkable achievements, I came here only four months after taking office as Italian Prime Minister," Prodi said, adding that his China tour aimed to lift all-round Italy-China economic ties to a new level. Prodi said Italian companies had a unique opportunity to grasp the possibilities presented by China's rapid development and explore the Chinese market. Prodi said Italy was open to Chinese consumer goods companies and investment companies. Prodi expressed great confidence in successful cooperation between Italy and China. Citing the big investments made by Italian auto giant Fiat in the east China province, Prodi told Jiangsu governor Liang Baohua on Wednesday evening that Jiangsu could be regarded as the cradle of economic cooperation between Italy and China. "Italy and Jiangsu should increase their economic links," Prodi said. Liang said in recent years Jiangsu and Italy had cooperated successfully in economy and trade, and he hoped that more Italian companies would invest in Jiangsu. Prodi is scheduled to leave here Thursday for Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

Xinhua's news watchdog status 'temporary'
2006-09-15 SCMP
Xinhua's appointment to censor and regulate foreign news agencies on the mainland is only a transitional arrangement and a government department will eventually take over the responsibility, a senior official said yesterday. The comment by General Administration of Press and Publication vice-minister Liu Binjie follows criticism from the US and European governments over Sunday's circular stating the news content of all foreign news agencies serving mainland subscribers must be approved by Xinhua. "It is a transitional period in which Xinhua will be given the authority by the government to manage [foreign news agencies in China]," Mr Liu said after a press conference during which he was repeatedly challenged by foreign reporters about how China could ensure a level playing field after appointing Xinhua to censor and issue licences to its competitors. "In future, they will come under the supervision of a government department. As we improve the law and regulation, this problem will be resolved." He did not specify the duration of the "transitional period". Xinhua is the mainland's largest government-run news agency and a flagship of China's propaganda apparatus. When a foreign reporter claimed China was appointing a player to act as a referee, Mr Liu only reiterated the circular was an affirmation of a regulation first released 10 years ago. He said Beijing's policies towards foreign news agencies were unchanged and foreign agencies' reporting in China would not be affected. "Xinhua News Agency acting as the regulator of China-based foreign news agencies is a long-established practice. "The Chinese government's policy to open up to foreign media has not changed and the Chinese government will guarantee the rights and freedom of foreign media to report in China according to the law." When questioned about the insertion of a list of banned content in the new regulations, Mr Liu replied: "[Xinhua] is just going to regulate inappropriate content according to Chinese laws and regulations. Other areas are not restricted." The regulations give Xinhua the exclusive right to distribute and censor the content foreign news agencies sell to mainland subscribers, as well as the power to revoke a foreign agency's licence to operate on the mainland. But Mr Liu denied the new rule would give Xinhua an unfair advantage over foreign agencies in the lucrative financial news market and violate China's World Trade Organisation commitments. "The regulations also impose many restrictions on Xinhua and there will be no such problem of excluding competition from the market," he said. ()

 

Domestic Policy

250 kids hospitalized in Gansu after lead poisoning
2006-09-14 Xinhuanet
Two hundred and fifty children and a number of adults from Gansu Province remain in hospital with excessive amounts of lead in their blood and a number of them are suffering from severe lead poisoning, confirmed officials from the province in northwest China. Residents of Xinsi and Mouba villages were poisoned by a lead smelting plant that continued to operate this summer after being told to cease production but has now been demolished. Of those being treated in hospital four of them are suffering from severe lead poisoning which is indicated by blood-lead levels above 450 milligrams of lead per litre of blood.At least one child has been tested with lead levels of 619 milligrams. One hundred and fifty-five villagers were treated in hospital suffering from mild lead poisoning which is reached when blood readings exceed 200 milligrams. Eleven children had readings of 350 milligrams. The 88 other hospitalized villagers, including eight adults, have blood-lead levels that are considered excessive or above 100 milligrams. Adults usually recover from mildly elevated lead levels but children can suffer permanent impairment of their intelligence. People who survive severe toxic lead levels are likely to suffer some permanent brain damage. The number of people reported hospitalized has risen by 79 since Monday, said Bao Fuzhen, head of the occupational disease section of the Gansu provincial disease prevention and control center. Bao said the 250 hospitalized children, all of whom are under the age of 14, are being treated at both the Xijing Hospital in the neighboring Shaanxi Province and at a local county hospital. Regular examinations and clinical observation showed that most of the patients are now in stable condition after being treated with vitamin supplements. The local hospital was unable to conduct blood tests to indicate lead toxicity but has been urged to purchase the required medical devices. A panel of experts from the Ministry of Health and the Gansu provincial health department on Wednesday have established a plan to provide more accessible blood tests for villagers in the county. Earlier figures provided by the Huixian county government show that 877 people from the villages have tested positive with at least excessive amounts of lead in their blood. Their tests had tobe conducted at the Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, 300 kilometers away from Huixian County.Not all of those with elevated lead levels have been hospitalized. The government of the county has said it will provide subsidies to the villagers who had to travel to Xi'an for tests. The Huixian County Non-Ferrous Metal Smelting Co. Ltd. is being blamed for causing the public health crisis and polluting the environment. The soil within a radius of 400 meters around the smelting plant has been polluted and the provincial environmental protection bureau has ordered the smelter to be be dismantled. The former state-run plant was privatized in 1996 and produced about 5,000 tons of lead a year. It failed to go through an environmental assessment after its upgrade in 2004, and its waste disposal equipment did not meet national standards. The factory continued to operate secretly after being told to cease production earlier this year. This serious lead poisoning incident was the second severe environmental problem that happened in the past week. Two plants located on the Xinqiang River, which flows into Dongting Lake, a major drinking water source for central China's Hunan Province, was accused of discharging waste water directly into the tributary for a long time. The arsenide content of the waste water was more than 1,000 times higher than the national limit. The two companies had not passed any environmental assessments and had no pollution treatment facilities. The plants were shut down after the discharges of poisonous arsenide were detected on Friday, Pan added. The discharges forced the local government to suspend the supply of drinking water to 80,000 people and the supply had not been resumed until Tuesday, when the toxic substance was cleared up. The two severe pollution cases aroused great attentions from the State Council and its subordinate State Environmental Protection Administration, which sent experts panels to investigate the incidents. The pollution also triggered a wide questioning in society on the "environmental ethics" of China's enterprises.

Beijing faces drought again
2006-09-14 China Daily
Beijing is again facing drought despite two months of rainfall, and the situation is expected to get worse, Beijing Meteorological Bureau said yesterday. After a survey of the latest satellite photos, the bureau said drought had returned to 44 percent of the municipality, and the meteorologists say south-eastern Fangshan District and part of Daxing District are already experiencing serious drought. "The parched capital had largely escaped the worst drought in 50 years that has hit some areas," meteorologist Tang Guang said. "However, it returned immediately to drought conditions as rainfall over the past month is down by 80 percent from the same period last year. "Artificial rainfall facilities have been fully prepared and once there is natural rainfall, artificial rainfall will also be induced to generate extra water for the capital." By mid-May, 70 percent of Beijing municipality was suffering from moderate drought, bureau figures showed, and six pecent were hit by severe drought. But frequent rainfall from June to August totaled 362.9 millimeters, about the same as for the corresponding period for the last 10 years. "The rainfall brought relief to 96 percent of Beijing, leaving 3 percent with light drought. The remaining even had too much water and became waterlogged," Tang said. Merely 50 to 90 millimeters of rain is forecast from September to November, less than the previous year, the bureau said.

Nation to regulate organ donations and transplants
2006-09-12 Xinhuanet
China's Ministry of Health is drafting new rules to make organ donation easier for the public. The regulation will standardize the organ donation procedures and encourage people to become donors. "Many more donors are needed, but they often meet difficulties when they apply, so the ministry must standardize the application process and technology of transplants, which is complicated and risky," said ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an. Mao was responding to questions about reports of would-be donors having their wishes unrealized because of confusion over the procedures or which agency to apply to. The regulation would specify the whole application process and stipulate the requirements for medical institutions conducting transplants. "Only the medical institutions that meet the technological requirements can undertake transplant surgery," said Mao. It is estimated that two million Chinese need transplants each year, but only 20,000 operations are conducted because of a shortage of organs. Foreign media have reported that organs are taken from executed criminals, but the Ministry of Health denied this in April, saying most organs in China had been voluntarily donated by ordinary citizens on their deaths and a small number from executed criminals who voluntarily signed donation approvals.

Press quiet on changes to reporting court cases - Privately, reporters see move as fresh bid for media control
2006-09-14 SCMP
Mainland media were muted yesterday in their coverage of the Supreme People's Court's decision to appoint official judicial spokesmen, but some in the media and legal communities fear the move will remove public oversight of the system and further limit press freedom. Court president Xiao Yang announced on Tuesday that spokesmen had been appointed by the Supreme People's Court and all provincial higher people's courts to release information on open trials and court activities. However, the decision also restricts court staff from talking to the media without approval from the courts' propaganda arm. Supreme People's Court vice-president Cao Jianming also specified "forbidden zones" of information that could not be released to the media, including information related to state secrets, issues of commercial confidence, teenagers' criminal records, closed trials and internal court documents, and "any information court officials did not want released". The unauthorised release of general data on criminal case loads would also be off-limits. The mainland's main media outlets published no reaction to the new rule except a Xinhua article explaining the new system. But privately, reporters and lawyers expressed concern about the ban, criticising the regulation as "rule by man rather than rule by law". One reporter said the system was another attempt by authorities to tighten their grip on the media. "It's an information control system rather than a spokesman system. It will act as a way of avoiding releasing anything," the reporter said. A senior editor said the restrictions would sacrifice the media's supervisory role, exercised in the interests of the public, especially in sensitive cases concerning state-owned enterprise reform, wage disputes, housing demolitions and property disputes. "I think the new system, by its nature, is designed to block the release of news on the courts' handling of these issues," he said. "The rule could be used to help maintain judicial independence and avoid media intervention in trials, but this function cannot be realised in today's China considering the widespread corruption and injustice in the court system. "In a place where media freedom is narrow and the judicial system is relatively corrupt and opaque, legal reporting acts mainly as a monitor of the courts' work. It also reflects public concern about important trials, and functions in the public interest to prevent interference in the judicial system by administrative and external forces. "In my decades of experience covering legal and court stories, now is the darkest time." Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said the rule would have a negative impact on the media and strip the public of its right to know if local courts extended it to other areas which deserved public attention. "The item that restricts court staff from releasing information which court officials don't want released is totally unreasonable and illegal, because the court officials' preferences cannot represent the law," Mr Pu said. In the future, court staff would refuse to disclose any information even if it was related to the unfairness of a trial or court corruption. "What if the courts act inappropriately and court officials are corrupt and need public supervision?" Just last month, the head of the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court, Zhou Wenxuan , was detained by police for allegedly taking bribes. And in April, three former chairmen of Anhui's Fuyang Intermediate People's Court were arrested for taking bribes during their time on the bench.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan to drop 'Republic of China' label and try applying to UN again as 'Taiwan'
2006-09-14 SCMP
Taiwan's president said on Wednesday that after being rejected for UN membership for 14 years in a row as the "Republic of China," the island nation will bow to the obvious and apply next time as "Taiwan." But the tactic was unlikely to work for the same reason that its other attempts have failed, President Chen Shui-bian acknowledged. "It is clear that Taiwan's wish to join the United Nations under the name 'Taiwan' will be sabotaged by China," Mr Chen said, speaking from the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, by videoconference to a group of academics, supporters, and reporters meeting at hotel across the street from the United Nations. His comments came after the UN General Assembly's General Committee on Tuesday again rejected Taiwan's bid for UN membership. The issue must still go before the 192-member General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, but the committee's decision is virtually certain to be approved and it is unlikely that Taiwan could submit another application before next year. Applying to the UN as a new member under the name "Taiwan," as the island nation is commonly known, rather than continuing to submit doomed applications as the "Republic of China" would avoid bogging down the issue over the "one China" policy observed by most of the world, Mr Chen said. Mr Chen said this would make clear that Taiwan does not challenge Beijing's rule over mainland China. The communist government that has ruled mainland China since 1949 regards Taiwan as a renegade province, where Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party army fled when they were defeated by Mao Zedong's Red Army in a civil war. Taiwan occupied China's seat in the United Nations, holding the veto on the Security Council, until 1971, when the General Assembly voted to oust the Nationalists from the world body and give their place to mainland China. Beijing has used its influence since then to make sure that Taiwan is barred from the United Nations and most other international organisations. But its influence has also extended to also curtailing support by other nations for the island country. The key UN committee also recommended against a proposal by Taiwan's allies to include a debate on the UN's role in maintaining peace and security in East Asia. On the issue of membership, Taiwan has also been steadily losing ground. Fourteen years ago, it was able to attract 39 committee votes; now that support has eroded to just 24 votes. The "Republic-of-China-to-Taiwan" label switch is just the latest variation in Taiwan's effort to gain international acceptance. The UN's World Health Organisation has also blocked it from membership as the Republic of China. It competes in the Olympics as "Chinese Taipei," and did win admission to the World Trade Organisation - as the "Taiwan Penghu Kinmen Matsu customs territory."

 

Mongolia

Scholarship competitions
2006-09-14 UB Post
The Zorig Foundation and SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) are offering 150 scholarships covering up to 80 percent of the tuition fees for Mongolian university students who have financial difficulty. There are 120 scholarships for students in Ulaanbaatar, 24 for students in Khovd universities and 6 for students in Gobi-Altai universities.

Convention to discuss new mineral laws
2006-09-14 UB Post
The fourth International Investors. Forum, .Discover Mongolia began yesterday and was concluded today. The forum, which was attended by 670 representatives from 13 countries, provided an opportunity for mining investors and the government to the newly introduced mineral laws. The Oyu Tolgoi project and windfall tax investment agreement between government and Oyu Tolgoi project and windfall tax in the fourth International Investors Forum .Discover Mongolia. The most prominent investors attended the meeting .Government Hour. where the Minister of Trade and Industry answered investor's questions about the new mineral law and the changes it will bring to the mining sector. B.Jargalsaikhan, the Minister of Trade and Industry said that according to the new law government will be able to intervene and oversee the running of strategic projects to fulfill a gate keeping role. This will promote favorable environment for the minors and investors alike. The new law also allows investors to participate in any decision making by presenting their proposal. The involvement of government will stabilize the project by lowering any risks that may face a project, such as the issue of the infrastructure, power, and water supplying permission. However, it would not control the projects, only prevent exploitation and provide a stable business environment. Under the new law government will be able to invest up to 50 percent of the state found strategic mineral deposits and up to 34 percent of privately founded deposits. In regards to the Oyu Tolgoi project, Jargalsaikhan replied that it is too early to begin discussing questions about the investment as it requires a considerable amount of money and water supplies are short. The deposit does not yet to clearly determine the final amount and type of resources. During the second day of meetings the two largest political parties made their positions clear, when D. Idevkhten, MPRP.s member expressed that he did not believe the windfall tax would be long lived. Similarly, the Democratic Party stated that the law should be reconsidered. L. Bold, Chief of the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority said that the 1997 Mineral law will be valid until the amendments to new mineral law, which was introduced in July and will be effective in January, when the legal environment and relations and regulations shall be amended accordingly. Effectively, this will mean that the windfall tax law would have to be changed in the new legal environment. Thus, for reasons mentioned, L. Bold does not personally support this law.

Speculations about debt relief
2006-09-14 UB Post
The big news that the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) announced just before the 2004 parliament election was that Mongolia's debt to the former Soviet Union was declared void. This news proved to be very influential to the outcome of the election. Yet, there was a common .feeling. that someone very important purloined a big sum of money from it. However, this feeling subsided and was eventually put to rest following an official examination of the case by the Great Khural, which dismissed these feeling as unfounded. But soon another feeling about this issue raised its head. One employee working at the State Property Committee spilled the beans about the Great debt story. There is an unofficial piece of information indicating that the Russian government sent a note to the Mongolian State Property Committee, pointing out that the percentage owned by Mongolia of the Russo-Mongolian joint venture company. Mongol rosttsvetment must be transferred over to Russia. Or else, the debt agreement signed by both Russian and Mongolian sides would be cancelled. However, this remains unofficial.

 

North Korea

Alert on China border sparks Kim talk: report
2006-09-14 SCMP
Security authorities have been put on alert in China's northeastern city of Dandong, sparking speculation of an imminent visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to Beijing, a news report said on Thursday. South Korea's independent Hankyoreh daily quoted a source in Dandong as saying that a security alert has been issued in the city for three days between Wednesday and Friday. Dandong, linked by a river bridge to North Korea's border town of Shinuiju, is the normal point of entry when Mr Kim visits China by rail. He is known to shun flights. "Chinese security authorities there were put on alert for three days from Wednesday through to Friday," the source said. "This might be a signal that Kim Jong-Il's visit to China might be imminent," the source was quoted as saying. South Korean officials declined to comment on the news report. "We are not in a position to comment," a spokesman for the Unification Ministry said. Speculation about a possible visit has been brewing since mid-August, amid efforts to revive six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programme involving China, the two Koreas, the United States, Russia and Japan. But China said last week it had not made any arrangements for a visit by the reclusive leader. If confirmed, it would be his first visit to China since January. Mr Kim is known to have visited China four times since 2000. Each time, neither nation acknowledged the trip until after he returned home. North Korea sparked regional concern and international condemnation in July for test-firing seven missiles. There have also been media reports that it is considering a nuclear weapons test. The United States has stepped up pressure on China to take stronger action over the missiles and to urge North Korea to return to the six-nation talks. Pyongyang says it will not return to the forum unless US financial sanctions against it are removed, warning it would take "all necessary counter-measures."

 

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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