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
  30.10-3.11.06, No. 139  
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Foreign Policy

FM spokesman: China willing to have FTA discussion with Japan
2006-11-02 People's Daily Online

China is willing to discuss with Japan the establishment of free trade area(FTA), said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao here on Thursday. Liuwas commenting on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks on theestablishment of an FTA with China. A Japanese reporter said Abe wasconsidering the issue, but had concerns about intellectual property rights(IPR) protection. Liu said free trade would be conducive to the long-termstable development of China-Japan economic and trade relations, and were inthe interests of both countries, as economic globalization and regionalintegration developed. It was also in the interests of China to protect IPR,and the government had taken a series of effective measures and madeimportant progress in this regard. The government would take moreadministrative and legislative measures to strengthen IPR protection, andwas willing to cooperate with other countries in this field.

China calls for effective antinuclear terror measures
2006-10-31 Xinhuanet

Rabat -- A senior Chinese arms control official on Monday here called foreffective measures to prevent and combat nuclear terrorism, which he saidhas become an urgent task for the international community. Addressing thefirst meeting of 12 initial member countries of a new anti-nuclear terrorinitiative, Zhang Yan, director-general of arms control department at theForeign Ministry, said China has consistently opposed any kind of terrorism,and fully supported international efforts against it. China, the UnitedSates, Russia and nine other countries held their first meeting in Rabat tobegin implementing the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Theinitiative was announced by U.S. President George W. Bush and his Russiancounterpart Vladimir Putin in July, at the G8 summit. It aims to provideguidelines for keeping track of nuclear substances, ensuring the safety ofnuclear facilities, and combating trafficking that could deliver nuclearmaterials into the hands of terrorists. While reiterating China's fullsupport to the principles and aims of the initiative, Zhang stressed thatall related exercises should be conducted under the basis of voluntaryparticipation and in accordance with international laws. Sticking to this isbeneficial to the effective implementation of the initiative, he added.Zhang also called for more caution while taking economic and financialmeasures, in case such measures could harm normal financial activities.Zhang said China welcomed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tojoin the initiative as an observer. The organization could offer powerfultechnical support for the implementation of the initiative with its richexperience and advanced technologies about the security of nuclearfacilities. [...]

EU, China agree on roadmap of co-op in regional policy
2006-11-02 Xinhuanet

Brussels -- Senior officials from China and the European Union (EU) onTuesday agreed an ambitious roadmap for cooperation in regional policybetween China and the 25-member bloc. On Tuesday, EU Regional PolicyCommissioner Danuta Hubner met in Brussels with Vice-Minister Du Ying fromthe National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China, aiming totake forward the EU-China Regional policy dialogue launched last May inBeijing. A press release issued by the European Commission (EC) said bothparties agreed on strengthening bilateral cooperation and on the exchange ofinformation on policies contributing to growth, competitiveness andemployment. According to EC spokeswoman Ana-Paula Laissy, three main actionswere agreed for further cooperation in 2007: a high level seminar inBrussels to associate most relevant Chinese and EU stakeholders in the fieldof regional policy; a comprehensive study on definition of Chinese regions,regional statistics and multi-level governance and partnership mechanismsand the promotion of exchange of officials. [...] Minister Du told Xinhuaafter the meeting that both sides agreed to take concrete actions toimplement the joint statement issued by Chinese and EU leaders on theregional policy cooperation. The move will further deepen the mechanismconstruction on the bilateral cooperation, he added. At the China-EU summitin The Hague of the Netherlands in December 2004, China and the EU launchedthe cooperation on regional policy. Both sides identified balanceddevelopment and regional policy as key areas on which both sides shouldshare information and experience. Accordingly, the Memorandum ofUnderstanding signed last 15th May in Beijing between the (NDRC) and the ECaims to promote mutual understanding and bilateral cooperation in the fieldof regional policy and to strengthen the exchange of information. [...]

Aid, trade package readied for Africa
2006-11-03 China Daily

China will announce a package of measures covering aid, investment, tradeand social development for African countries during the weekend BeijingSummit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). Vice-CommerceMinister Wei Jianguo made the remarks yesterday at the closing ceremony ofthe Senior Officials Meeting of FOCAC. The programme aims to "deepenmutually beneficial co-operation and realize common development," Wei said.Under the FOCAC framework, China has already taken a series measuresincluding debt relief, tariff exemptions and personnel training to pushChina-Africa partnership to a new level, according to Wei, alsosectary-general of the summit's organizing committee. From 2000 to 2005,trade between China and Africa saw a rise of 30 per cent each year whilekeeping to the objective of striking a balance. [...] The summit, which willopen tomorrow with the participation of heads of state or government from 48African countries, is expected to come up with two milestone documents adeclaration of the Beijing Summit and the Beijing Action Plan (2007-09). Thetwo-day meeting of senior officials endorsed the draft documents. "We havereviewed all aspects of our co-operation including infrastructure, health,education and trade. They can be easily adapted and presented to the leadersat the summit," Haile-Kiros Gessesse, a special envoy of Ethiopia, theco-chair country for FOCAC, told China Daily. "The Beijing Declaration willaim to establish a new type of strategic partnership between China andAfrica based on equality, mutual trust, economic win-win co-operation andcultural exchanges," said Gessesse. [...]

 

Domestic Policy

'No harmony in one-party rule'
2006-11-01 SCMP

The Communist Party must end one-party rule and stop persecuting civilrights campaigners to realise president and party chief Hu Jintao's promisesof a "harmonious society", the most senior official jailed over the 1989Tiananmen protests said. Bao Tong , once a top aide to then party chief ZhaoZiyang , has become a thorn in the central government's side and anoutspoken critic of the mainland's human rights abuses since he was freed in1996 after seven years in prison. "Abolish one-party autocracy and Chinawill in general be harmonious," Mr Bao wrote in an essay. He could not bereached for comment because he is under around-the-clock policesurveillance. Taking a swipe at Mr Hu's political campaign centred onbuilding a harmonious society and easing social inequality, Mr Bao saidthere could be harmony only if China had an independent media and market. Hesaid the party would get a new lease of life if it embraced change,including a separation of powers between the executive, legislature and thejudiciary. The Communist Party has monopolised power since 1949 but hasflirted with limited political reform in recent years in its search forviable checks and balances to curb corruption. Leaders have ruled outwestern-style democracy, but Mr Bao wrote sweeping political liberalisationwas the only way forward. "The earlier it is done the earlier it would beharmonious. If it is not done, there cannot be harmony." He was purged alongwith Zhao for opposing the sending in of troops and tanks to crushstudent-led protests on June 4, 1989. Zhao was ousted and replaced by MrHu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin , who retired in 2002. Zhao died in Januarylast year after more than 15 years under house arrest. Mr Bao, who turns 74this month, said it was time for the current leadership to face up to themisdeeds of local officials. He said one-party rule had spawned corruptionand become the main cause of disharmony in society. "How can the CommunistParty monopolise the power to fight corruption?" he asked.

Social security guidelines issued in Shanghai
2006-11-01 China Daily

Shanghai: Scholars and experts welcomed Tuesday a guideline on themanagement of the city's social security fund as an investigation into abusethat has implicated senior officials and business leaders continues. Theysaid Shanghai is one of the first cities to demand the fund be put into aspecial account, as required by top authorities. In recent weeks, a pensionfund scandal has gripped the city and led to the sacking of Shanghai Partychief Chen Liangyu and China's top statistician Qiu Xiaohua. Shanghaiauthorities are now investigating Yuan Yonglin, president and deputychairman of the board of the listed Shanghai Haixin Group. But an effectivesupervisory mechanism and transparent management are still needed toeradicate malfeasance and embezzlement, the scholars and experts said. Theguideline, issued during Monday's municipal government meeting, requires thefund to be deposited in an account specially opened for the money, and itsincome and expenditure should be independent. It also required the fund beused only for specific purposes. "The proper management and use of socialsecurity funds, in defending against all possible risks of abuse, is anextremely important and urgent task," said a statement from the meeting.China's social security funds have witnessed an average increase of 20 percent annually over the past years, posing new administrative challenges.Figures from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security show that by the endof 2005, the total size of the nation's five social insurance funds pension,medical care, work-related injuries, unemployment and pregnancy funds hadreached 696.8 billion yuan (US$87 billion). "Prior to the scandal, whichinvolves the misuse of more than 3 billion yuan (US$380 million) of thecity's social security funds, Shanghai had been a model city in terms ofmanagement of the fund," Feng Jin, a researcher at Fudan University saidyesterday. "Shanghai has taken some bold steps in the management of the fundtotalling roughly 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion), including the guidelineissued on Monday," she added. However, Wang Dewen, an analyst with ChineseAcademy of Social Sciences, said yesterday that a special financial accountcannot guarantee the money would not be misused. "They could make up a falserecord that shows the money still exists on the account but secretlyembezzle it," he said. "The way to fundamentally resolve the problem is toset up an effective monitoring mechanism and require transparent transactionprocedures." But he agreed that Shanghai is heading in the right directionand making positive changes. [...]

Money laundering law adopted
2006-11-01 China Daily

Landmark legislation on anti-money laundering and death sentences wasapproved by China's top legislature Tuesday and is scheduled to take effecton January 1. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congresswidened the definition of money laundering to include corruption and bribetaking, violating financial management regulations and financial fraud.Previously, the law identified only drug trafficking, organized or terroristcrime and smuggling as money laundering. Officials and analysts believed theambit was too narrow and called for stepped-up efforts to combat moneylaundering and stop corrupt officials fleeing abroad with large amounts ofillicit money. The law demands that financial and some non-financialinstitutions maintain customer and transaction records and report large andsuspect transactions. The People's Bank of China, the central bank, and itsprovincial branch offices are authorized to investigate suspect fundtransfers. According to the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring andAnalysis Centre, an office under the central bank set up in 2004, 683suspected money laundering cases had been reported to the police by the endof 2005. They involved 137.8 billion yuan (US$17.2 billion) and US$1billion. The law, made as required by the United Nations Convention AgainstCorruption, also pledges to step up co-ordination with other countries tocombat global money laundering and exchange information with overseasanti-money laundering organizations. [...]

Death penalty reform boosts human rights
2006-10-28 China Daily

In a major step to safeguard human rights, the Supreme People's Court isexpected to assume all powers to review and approve death sentences fromJanuary 1. Shen Deyong, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, madethe announcement on Friday at a session of the Standing Committee of theNational People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature. A draft ofan amendment to the Organic Law on the People's Courts was submitted onFriday to the NPC Standing Committee and will be discussed by legislators inpanels on Saturday. Voting on the proposed amendment will probably takeplace on Tuesday, the final day of the current session. The Organic Law onthe People's Courts authorizes high people's courts at provincial, municipaland autonomous region levels to review death sentences involving murder,rape, robbery, explosion and other serious violations of public security.But death sentences in other types of cases economic crimes, for examplemust still be approved by the Supreme People's Court. It is necessary torevise the stipulation in the death sentence approval system to ensure theconsistent administration of justice, Supreme People's Court President XiaoYang said. "Cases in which the death sentence has been issued should besubmitted to the Supreme People's Court for approval except in those casesin which the judgments were issued by the Supreme People's Court itself,"the proposed revision states. Normally, laws to be approved by the NPCStanding Committee require three rounds of discussions before a vote istaken. In fact, a revision to the Criminal Procedure Law in 1996 and theCriminal Law amendment in 1997 both had clear stipulations requiring deathsentences to be approved by the Supreme People's Court. But suchstipulations have not been officially implemented. A nationwide criminaltrial work conference is expected to be held by the end of this year toprepare for the reform. The Supreme People's Court and high courts at theprovincial, municipal and autonomous region levels have already taken stepsin preparation for the move. Starting in July, all appeals in death sentencecases were required to be heard in open session. In the past, provincial,municipal and autonomous region courts normally approved death sentencesthemselves after reviewing legal documents. The Supreme People's Court hasalso added three criminal tribunals to be in charge of death sentencereviews. Also on Friday, NPC Standing Committee members heard reports ondiscussions of a draft of the anti-money-laundering law, a draft revision tothe property law and draft changes of an amendment to the Law on theProtection of Minors. The draft property law will be heard for the sixthtime on Sunday during the ongoing session. It is expected to be reviewedagain at the NPC Standing Committee's session in December. If everythinggoes smoothly, it is expected that the basic civil law will be voted on atthe NPC's annual full session in March. The anti-money-laundering law willalso be voted on Tuesday after a third discussion by top legislators thisweekend.

China starts to build own satellite navigation system
2006-11-02 People's Daily Online

China has started to build its own Global Satellite Navigation System. Thesystem, which will provide highly accurate positioning and time references,will cover China and parts of neighbouring countries by 2008 before beingdeveloped into a global network. China plans to launch two Compassnavigation satellites at the beginning of next year. The system is expectedto cover China and parts of neighbouring countries by 2008 before beingdeveloped into a global constellation, according to the sources. The systemwill provide two navigation services. The Open Service is designed toprovide users with positioning accuracy within 10 meters, velocity accuracywith 0.2 meter per second and timing accuracy within 50 nanoseconds. TheAuthorized Service will offer "safer" positioning, velocity, timingcommunications for authorized users. China is willing to cooperate withother countries in developing its satellite navigation industry to allow theCompass system to operate with other global satellite positioning systems,the source said. China has sent three Compass navigation test satellitesinto orbit in Oct. and Dec. of 2000 and in May 25 of 2003. Aerospace expertssaid the existing three-satellite Compass navigation system has played animportant role in offering efficient navigation and positioning services forsectors including survey, telecommunications, transportation, meteorology,forest fire prevention, disaster forecast and public security.

Police prevent mass student protest - Colleges in an uproar as students fearthat qualifications will be downgraded
2006-10-30 SCMP

Hundreds of riot police were deployed at a private vocational college inJiangxi yesterday, preventing a planned mass protest by thousands ofstudents upset over a new rule that could undermine their academicqualifications. Students at the Jiangxi Ganjiang Institute of Technologywere barred from leaving the campus and internet and telephonecommunications were disrupted throughout the day, according to one of thestudents. About 5,000 riot police in Jiangxi were placed on alert afterprotests earlier this month at two private colleges in Nanchang and Ganzhou. The police action yesterday pre-empted a mass protest that could have beenattended by about 60,000 students from 10 private colleges in the province,according to a Hong Kong-based human rights group. The party's top law andorder official Luo Gan visited Nanchang last week to meet officials from theprovincial Department of Education to discuss how to resolve the dispute,said a student at the Ganjiang Institute. "It may take another two weeks forall the students in this province [affected by the new rule] to fullyunderstand what it means for their career prospects," he said. "Some of thestudents still do not accept the assurances given by our school." The unrestbegan in Jiangxi Ganjiang Institute of Technology and Jiangxi FashionCollege, both private colleges, earlier this month. According to the HongKong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, 8,000 studentswent on the rampage, smashing cars and setting fire to campus buildings tovent their anger over a new rule from the Ministry of Education. The newrule requires tighter scrutiny of qualifications awarded by private collegesand other institutes. Already, graduates from two private colleges inNanchang city are not rated on a par with university graduates. The riotsled to the arrest of at least five people. Residents in the city tookadvantage of the chaos to steal computers and sexually assault some femalestudents, according to students. Many of the students are from ethnicminorities. The Jiangxi Ganjiang student said that last week his school hadasked all students to sign a memorandum which stated that the graduationcertificate to be awarded by the school was recognised by the Ministry ofEducation. "But what is the point of the school making such promises? Whyisn't the ministry making the promises to us? I'm not sure signing thedocument would make any difference to my prospects," he said. Many privatecolleges in Jiangxi, have employed an independent recruitment system forhigh school students who could not gain admission to state universities.Students were assured that their qualifications would be considered nodifferently, but the student later learned this was not the case.

Nearly 74,000 killed on China's roads in 10 months
2006-11-02 Xinhuanet

Beijing -- The number of road traffic deaths in China reached 73,955 in thefirst ten months of the year, eight percent fewer than the same period lastyear. China's roads are among the world's most dangerous with more than1,000 traffic accidents on an average day, according to a report releasedThursday from the Ministry of Public Security. The report showed that roadaccident figures dropped to 317,476 in the first ten months, down 15.1percent, with 366,559 people injured, 26,564 fewer than last year. However,police warned drivers to stay vigilant on the roads. Records show Novemberis one of the most dangerous months for China's road travelers, a policespokesman said, usually caused by a boom in transported goods, an increasein foggy weather, and motorists' negligence in maintaining their vehicles inthe colder weather. Police also asked holiday travelers to be more careful.The October figures showed more people died on the roads on Sundays asvehicles were more likely to be overloaded with weekend travelers. Driverfatigue and speeding were also more likely on holiday. Nearly 120 peoplewere killed on the Sundays of October, 19.1 percent of the monthly deathtoll.

 

Economy

Reserves set to surpass US$1 trillion
2006-10-30 China Daily

China's foreign exchange reserves look set to hit the US$1 trillion mark atthe end of this month or beginning of November. But as the figure rises, sodoes the debate over how to best manage it. The reserves, already theworld's biggest, surged to US$987.9 billion at the end of September, largelydriven by a burgeoning foreign trade surplus and massive inflow of foreigndirect investment (FDI). In the first nine months of the year FDI stood atUS$42.59 billion, although this was a 1.52 per cent drop year-on-year.Reserves grew on average US$18.8 billion each month from January toSeptember, statistics from the central bank show. "How to manage such a hugereserve is a big challenge," said Yi Xianrong, a research fellow at theInstitute of Finance Research under the Chinese Academy of Social Science."The crux of the problem is that you have to keep the value stable orincreasing," Yi said. The ballooning foreign reserves, many economist say,is a major reason behind the loose money supply. This is because the centralbank has to issue additional money to mop up the excess US dollars in themarket, resulting in excessive liquidity in the banking system. And thefluctuating foreign exchange rate also poses a huge risk, economists say. Ina bid to minimize such risks, the central bank should diversify its existingUS dollar-dominated foreign reserves structure, and increase its holdings ofeuros or other major international currencies, said Li Yongsen, a financeprofessor at Renmin University of China. The central bank, he said, couldalso buy more state bonds issued by other major economies and decreaseholdings of US Treasury bills. "It's better to spread the risks, and not putall your eggs in one basket," Li said. [...] In the short term, increasingimports is an effective way to decelerate foreign reserves, economists said.This would also reduce trade frictions with some countries that have a hightrade deficit with China. Economists also said the country should furtherrelax controls on capital outflow, in order to create a better balance ofinternational payments. In a bid to ease foreign reserves and broadeninvestment channels, China has introduced a QDII (Qualified DomesticInstitutional Investors) scheme, allowing them to invest overseas. ByOctober 10, the foreign exchange regulator had granted quotas worth US$11.6billion to QDIIs. "This is the right approach for creating a two-way capitalcorridor," said Yi. "We used to put too much emphasis on attracting foreigninvestment and feared capital outflow." China is also shifting from along-held policy of stockpiling foreign reserves in State coffers, andinstead encouraging households and businesses to hold more foreign currency.Individuals, for example, are now allowed to buy up to US$20,000 in foreignexchange a year, up from the previous US$8,000. [...]

IMF urges China to revamp currency policy
2006-11-01 SCMP

The International Monetary Fund has cast doubt on the success of China'sefforts to slow its booming economy, and a report by the 184-nation fundurges Beijing to revamp its currency policy to avoid a protectionistbacklash. As its economy soars, China has sought to rein in a boom inconstruction and bank lending that it worries could ignite inflation or afinancial crisis. The government last month said growth slowed in the Julyto September quarter in response to curbs imposed to avert overheating.Steve Dunaway, deputy director of the IMF's Asia department, told reporterson Tuesday that he had "considerable doubts that they're winning the battle"to slow the economy. "To some extent the Chinese are working againstthemselves with respect to financial reform." American manufacturers havelong complained that China is keeping the value of its currency artificiallylow, making Chinese goods cheaper in the United States and American productsmore expensive in China. That, they say, contributes to the loss of USfactory jobs. Chinese leaders have said they plan eventually to let theircurrency trade freely on world markets but to do so immediately would causefinancial turmoil and damage the Chinese economy. Mr Dunaway said the pastfew months had seen a more rapid rate of appreciation for the Chinesecurrency than in the first part of the year. He urged the Chinese to domore. [...] The IMF was established in 1945 to help promote the health ofthe world economy. The fund works to foster economic and financialstability, avert crises and help financially distressed countries

Free trade goal by 2010 reaffirmed
2006-10-31 China Daily

China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) aredetermined to establish a Free Trade Area (FTA) by 2010 as scheduled,according to a joint statement issued yesterday. It was inked by China andASEAN countries following a summit commemorating the 15th anniversary of theestablishment of China-ASEAN dialogue. When the FTA is established, thetrading bloc will encompass a combined population of nearly 2 billion peopleand a gross domestic product of more than US$2 trillion. The FTA consists oftrade in goods liberalization by 2010 for China and six traditional ASEANmembers Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailandand by 2015 for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam, according to thestatement. China and ASEAN pledged to work expeditiously towards agreementsto liberalize trade in services covering various sectors; and both sidesplan to promote investment by creating a liberal, facilitative, transparentand competitive investment regime in China and ASEAN, it says. The two sideshave identified 10 priority areas for co-operation from 2005 to 2010,including agriculture, information industry, Mekong River Basin development,transport, energy, culture, tourism and public health. "We should pressahead with the construction of the Kunming-Singapore Railway and the Asiahighway network, launch energy co-operation and advance co-operation in the10 priority areas," said Premier Wen Jiabao at the summit. He also calledfor China and ASEAN to expand military dialogue and exchanges, conduct andinstitutionalize defence co-operation, continue to implement the"Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" and promotejoint development in the South China Sea. China will provide US$2 million toASEAN to support its integration and community building, Wen said. TheChinese Government will donate US$1 million to the ASEAN Development Fundand provide funding assistance of US$1 million for the projects under theInitiative for ASEAN Integration, which was launched in November 2000 tonarrow the divide within ASEAN and at enhancing ASEAN's competitiveness as aregion. China also offered to train 8,000 ASEAN professionals in the nextfive years and invited 1,000 young people from these countries to visit thecountry, said Wen at the Commemorative Summit Marking the 15th Anniversaryof ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. [...] "To consolidate and enhanceChina-ASEAN friendship and co-operation is our shared objective," said Wen,noting that China supports the association's leading role in regionalaffairs and co-operation. "We should also step up co-operation oncross-border issues concerning counter-terrorism, transnational crimes,maritime security, rescue operation and disaster relief," he added. Leadersalso expressed concern over the nuclear test conducted by the DemocraticPeople's Republic of Korea (DPRK) earlier this month. [...] Wen told a pressconference that the summit was unanimously in favour of making the KoreanPeninsula nuclear free and urged resumption of Six-Party Talks.

Tariffs to reduce energy consumption
2006-10-31 China Daily

Temporary tariffs on 110 export categories of products which areenergy-guzzling or resource-intensive have been hailed by experts as a majorstep towards optimizing the national energy structure. The regulation, whichwas issued over the weekend and takes effect on November 1, will also helpcurb the country's soaring trade surplus, the Ministry of Finance said.Among the goods which will attract the temporary export tax are: 5 per centon oil, coal, coke and crude oil. 10 per cent on non-ferrous metals, varioustypes of minerals such as apatite and rare earth minerals as well as ironalloy, raw iron, steel billets and 27 other iron and steel products. Woodenflooring, disposable chopsticks and 19 other goods will be taxed at the samerate. 15 per cent on copper, nickel and other metallurgical products. "It isa very positive move, which is designed to enhance energy efficiency,optimize the national energy structure and rationalize energy- andresource-intense sectors," Zhou Dadi, director of the Energy ResearchInstitute affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission, toldChina Daily. Meanwhile, import taxes on 58 categories of commodities will bereduced. Rates on 26 energy and resource products, such as oil, coal andalumina, will be cut from 3-6 per cent to 0-3 per cent. The policy isexpected to rein in exports which rely heavily on energy and resources,while encouraging their imports, Zhou said. He expects to see results withinthis year. "Rather than administrative and regulatory mandates, theauthorities used a market mechanism to restrain exports of certaincommodities of strategic importance and put a brake on the development ofenergy-intensive industries," Zhou said. Although some enterprises maysuffer from higher export costs, the policy will boost energy efficiency andkeep manufacturers away from energy-intensive sectors, Gong Jinshuang, asenior researcher with China National Petroleum Corp, noted. Someenterprises are already prepared. "We will certainly witness our exportsaffected by the new policy. We will adjust our business structure to cushionthe negative effect," a manager with Sinochem Guangzhou Import and ExportCorp said on condition of anonymity. China's trade surplus hit a new high ofUS$109.85 billion in the first three quarters of the year amid concern overdisputes with its major trade partners and over-exploitation of resources.Last month, the government cancelled or lowered export tax rebates onhundreds of products.

China National seals US$25b gas deal
2006-10-31 SCMP

China National Offshore Oil Corp, the parent firm of listed offshore oilproducer CNOOC, has agreed to buy liquefied natural gas from Malaysian stateoil company Petronas to supply its Shanghai terminal over 25 years, it wasconfirmed yesterday. The deal is worth US$25 billion, Petronas presidentHassan Marican was quoted as saying by Bernama, the Malaysiangovernment-owned news agency. That would make it the most expensivelong-term LNG import contract signed by a mainland buyer, both in terms ofcontract value and the per unit cost of gas. The price reflects the tightinternational market that has developed as demand growth outstrips newsupplies. Petronas officials could not be reached for comment. A spokesmanfor China National Offshore Oil declined to discuss the terms of theagreement. In a statement, Petronas said it signed an agreement on July 31with Shanghai LNG to supply up to 3.03 million tonnes annually from itsfacilities in Malaysia's Sarawak state on Borneo island beginning inmid-2009. The deal was officially unveiled only yesterday by Malaysian PrimeMinister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Premier Wen Jiabao during a bilateralmeeting in Nanning, Jiangxi province. [...]

 

North Korea

China hopes N. Korea talks to start soon
2006-11-03 China Daily

China hopes the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue willbe held soon, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. "It is our belief that itwould be better to hold the meeting as early as possible," spokesman LiuJianchao said at a regular news briefing, referring to the six-nation talks.On Tuesday's informal meeting in Beijing between chief delegates to theSix-Party Talks from China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)and the United States, which led to the announcement of talks resumption,Liu said: "We appreciate and welcome the positive attitude and flexibilitythey had shown." The meeting ended with an agreement to "restart the talksin the near future, at a time convenient to the six parties." The Six-PartyTalks aimed at making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free also involve theRepublic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan. The last round of the talks wassuspended in November last year when the DPRK refused to return to thenegotiation table citing financial sanctions imposed by the US against it.On Wednesday, Pyongyang said it decided to return to the talks "on thepremise that the issue of lifting financial sanctions will be discussed andsettled between the DPRK and the US within the framework of the Six-PartyTalks." US Ambassador to the ROK Alexander Vershbow said in Seoul yesterdaythat Washington has agreed to form a working group on the financialsanctions issue. Speaking of United Nations sanctions against the DPRK forits nuclear test on October 9, Liu said the resolution represented theconsensus of the international community. "Every country has the obligationto strictly and faithfully fulfil the resolution. China is no exception,"Liu said. On Japanese news reports that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wasconsidering establishing a free trade area (FTA) with China, Liu said Chinais willing to discuss the issue with Tokyo. He said free trade would beconducive to the long-term stable development of Sino-Japanese economic andtrade relations, and were in the interests of both countries.

China acts over illicit cash flows to N Korea
2006-11-02 SCMP

China says it has clamped down on possible illegal money flows to NorthKorea and is tightening controls on Chinese financial institutions after aUS-inspired crackdown last year on a Macau bank accused of laundering moneyfor Pyongyang. The disclosure came as North Korea said it had agreed toreturn to six-party talks to get access to its frozen overseas bankaccounts. China's central bank regulator Liu Lianke said Beijing wasco-operating with other countries to stem illicit bank transactions withNorth Korea, which is now under UN sanctions after it tested a nucleardevice on October 9. "China will require all Chinese financial institutionsto abide by international practices, especially those prescribed by theUnited Nations Security Council on anti-money-laundering, so that they donot become involved in similar Macau activity," said Mr Liu, who headsanti-money-laundering operations at the People's Bank of China. But hesignalled that Chinese authorities would not block all bank transactionswith North Korea, which is heavily dependent on Chinese economic support."As long as commercial banks operate within the framework of relevant lawsand regulations, the central bank, as a government agency, will notinterfere excessively." North Korea announced on Tuesday it was returning tosix-party nuclear disarmament talks because Washington had agreed to discussthe financial restrictions which Pyongyang says drove it from thenegotiating table to start with. "The DPRK [North Korea] decided to returnto the six-party talks on the premise that the issue of lifting financialsanctions will be discussed and settled between the DPRK and the US withinthe framework of the six-party talks," said a Foreign Ministry spokesmancited by the official KCNA news agency. Those talks, stalled for the pastyear, involve the two Koreas, China, the US, Japan and Russia. Washingtonsqueezed Pyongyang's access to the world financial system in November lastyear to punish it for alleged illicit activities such as counterfeitingmoney. Among other measures, it demanded Banco Delta Asia freeze US$24million in Pyongyang-linked accounts. [...]

Japan to keep up sanctions against N Korea
2006-11-01 SCMP

Japan will maintain sanctions against North Korea despite its willingness toreturn to six-party disarmament talks, Kyodo News agency quoted the foreignminister as saying on Wednesday. "Basically, they will continue," Kyodoquoted Foreign Minister Taro Aso as saying in parliament during a discussionof Japanese sanctions imposed on Pyongyang following its announcement of anuclear test on October 9. North Korea affirmed earlier on Wednesday itwould return to the disarmament talks to seek a resolution of a US campaignaimed at choking the communist nation's access to foreign banks. Japan,which is within reach of North Korean missiles, has taken a hard-lineagainst the reclusive regime since the nuclear test, banning all trade withPyongyang, barring North Korean ships from its ports and taking otherpunitive measures. Aso on Tuesday suggested that Japan would not welcomeNorth Korea back to the six-party talks unless it renounced nuclear weapons.On Wednesday, however, he suggested Tokyo now hoped to use the talks toachieve that goal. "We are continuing to seek through discussions for NorthKorea to abandon all of its nuclear weapons and existing plans to developthem," Kyodo quoted Mr Aso as saying.

Gloomy prospects for nuclear non-proliferation
2006-10-31 People's Daily Online

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a nuclear test onOct. 9. This move has produced an immense impact on peace and stability onthe Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asia region, on security orderworldwide and on the global nuclear non-proliferation system. As aresponsible nation, China, in a firm opposition to the test, is takingmeasures along with other members of the international community to striveto resolve the issue by peaceful means. The manufacture and development ofnuclear weapons have, to some extent, posed a threat to the existence of theentire humanity, and the eventual settlement of this issue lies in theprohibition and complete destruction of all nuclear weapons. The attainmentof this goal, nevertheless, is very difficult at a time when nations ofethnicities constitute the main body of the international community andpower politics remains a leading pattern of international behaviours andactions. At the same time, dangers for the destruction of the entirehumanity by nuclear weapons also prompt the international community torespond so as to lower the degree of risks from nuclear weaponry. And maincontents of the response indicate that all the nuclear-owned nations have toconstrain themselves and reduce the number of their nuclear weapons throughconsultations and set up an international non-nuclear proliferationmechanism. [...] The rise of a peril situation in the internationalmechanism for nuclear non-proliferation has two reasons. One reason concernsclashes between the mechanism and its environment. The stark global realitytoday is that different nations are confronted with different "securitydilemmas" with nuclear nations impulsively to retain their advantages andnon-nuclear nations desperately to acquire their nuclear-possession status.And the other reason is due to defects with the international nuclearnon-proliferation mechanism itself. [...] Since the humanity has becomehostages of nuclear weapon technology, whether it is able to steer andcontrol the technology it has created poses a severe test for its wisdom,ethics and moral conduct.

 

Mongolia

Baasan Fined, Freed
2006-11-02 UB Post

G.Baasan, leader of the Free Elders Union, whose arrest last Wednesday bythe Sukhbaatar District Police Department had led to widespread popularprotest the day after, was released on Friday. She was fined Tg 20,000(approx. US$17) for causing an administrative offence. Thursday'sprotesters, demanding Baasan's release, put up a ger on Peace Avenue infront of the Central Post Office, totally blocking all traffic. They alsoupturned a police platform at Zero Point of the national road network andset it on fire. Police said the road block stopped seven ambulances and twofire engines on their way and a woman gave birth to her baby at home.Representatives of the civil movements have claimed that the Governmentintends to disrupt the protest demonstration they propose to hold onNovember 6-8 at Sukhbaatar Square. They expect more than 50,000 people tojoin this Grand Assembly of All People. The police used force to dispersethe protesting crowd at midnight on Thursday-Friday. They arrested leadersof the movement and also media persons covering the incidents. The policeclaimed that the protest had been organized without the mandatory permissionfrom the legally empowered authority.

Movements Form Front for Grand Assembly
2006-11-02 UB Post

Several civil movements - Resolute Reform, Just Society and Civil Movement,My Mongolian Land, Dayar Mongol, and Free Elders Union have joined hands toform the National Front of Mongolia (NFM). The proposed Grand Assembly ofAll People on November 6-8 at Sukhbaatar Square will be held under thebanner of the NFM. The assembly will demand to know the truth about themineral law, demand action against the president and dissolution ofParliament, and call for a people's emergency assembly in its place. Leadersof the civil movements also apologized on Monday to the public for theinconvenience the road blocking activity had caused to them on Thursday.They have said they would try not to take up such manners of protest againbut they also put the blame on the authorities who roused popular passionsby their actions and misleading statements.

UN Adopts Mongolian Literacy Resolution
2006-11-02 UB Post

A resolution on United Nations Literacy Decade: Education For All, initiatedby Mongolia, was adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 20 withoutany vote. It calls on member States to develop and implement integratededucation policies and programs giving priority to literacy through formaland non-formal education. Mongolia's national program on literacy educationaims to eliminate illiteracy by 2008 and increase the basic educationenrolment to 99 per cent by 2012 under the National Millennium DevelopmentGoals. Mongolia is also operating a Literacy Through Distance EducationProgram to reach 2,300 illiterate people. The latest national statisticsindicate that most of the Millennium Development Goals, especially thoserelated to education, health and gender are well on track and can beachieved by 2015, stated O. Enkhtsetseg, Director of the MultilateralCooperation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the committeemeeting. She said that the huge number of youths and adults who lack basicliteracy at present raises serious questions about government's politicalcommitment. Literacy, including functional literacy and education, isrecognized as one of the most effective tools for poverty reduction.

 

Chung Vay-Luy
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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