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
  6.11-10.11.06, No. 140  
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Foreign Policy

China pledges to cement relations with Japan
2006-11-08 Xinhuanet
Beijing, The Chinese government on Wednesday pledged to cement friendly relations with Japan. "This benefits the two peoples, and is conducive to peace and stability in Asia and the world," said Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong. When meeting with a delegation from the Japan-China Friendship Association, Zeng said the Chinese government attaches importance to relations with Japan, and would like to further the good-neighborly relations by learning from history and looking to the future. Zeng expressed appreciation for the contribution of the Japan-China Friendship Association to promote Sino-Japanese relations. He hailed the visit to China by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in early October, saying it "created conditions for the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations". Zeng said that China and Japan were important neighbors and bilateral ties had progressed since the two countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1972. Hiromu Nonaka, honorary advisor of the Japan-China Friendship Association, said Japan-China relations had endured an ongoing "winter season" for the past five years, and Abe's visit had set a foundation for the improvement of bilateral ties. Ikuo Hirayama, chairman of the Japan-China Friendship Association, vowed to promote cooperation between Japan and China.

Hu's Vietnam visit to boost bilateral ties
2006-11-08 Xinhuanet
Beijing, Chinese top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Wednesday hailed smooth development of China-Vietnam relations, saying President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit will take bilateral relations to a new height. President Hu will pay successive state visits to Vietnam, Laos, India and Pakistan from Nov. 15 to 26, and attend the 14th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting to be held in Hanoi from Nov. 17 to 19. While meeting with Pham the Duyet, chairman of the presidium of central committee of Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF), Jia said bilateral relations have made new progress as the two countries enhanced political trust, expanded trade cooperation and solved land border issue. New progress has also been made in terms of joint development of South China Sea, said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body. Jia spoke highly of Vietnam's firm adherence to one-China policy. Jia also urged the CPPCC and VFF to further exchanges and cooperation to make joint efforts for better bilateral relations. Pham the Duyet said Vietnam highly values relations with China, saying the VFF will enhance exchanges with CPPCC to facilitate Vietnam-China ties. Pham the Duyet, at the invitation of Jia, started his China visit on Nov. 5.

Sino-US strategic dialogue 'fruitful'
2006-11-09 China Daily
Senior foreign policy officials from China and the United States yesterday had "fruitful" exchanges during the third round of bilateral strategic talks. The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was discussed by Vice-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and visiting US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, who co-chaired the one-day closed-door meeting, according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry. "We had a very very productive session this morning," Burns told Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who he met after the dialogue. "The United States and China should be partners and try to secure stability and peace in the world." At a meeting with Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo a member of the Chinese delegation sent to Pyongyang last month after its nuclear test Burns said "we will see what we can do with" the Korean nuclear issue. The Foreign Ministry statement added: "China and the United States agreed to step up co-operation on a wide range of bilateral issues, and work for closer communication and consultation on major international and regional issues." Burns arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and it was the first time he has led the US side in the strategic dialogue with China. Two rounds of the dialogue were held in August and December last year. Burns, along with Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for international security, is scheduled to call on top Chinese leaders in Beijing, a prelude to President Hu Jintao's planned meeting with US President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum in Hanoi next week. The semi-annual strategic dialogue, agreed to by Hu and Bush at the 2004 APEC Meeting, was inaugurated in 2005 by Dai and former US Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick in Beijing. [...]

President Hu: wide-ranging consensus reached
2006-11-05 Xinhuanet
Beijing, Chinese and African leaders have exchanged views on China-Africa relations and important international and regional issues during the two-day summit, having reached many important consensus, said Chinese President Hu Jintao here Sunday. Hu made the remark when summarizing the two-session roundtable of Chinese and African leaders attending the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. The roundtable meeting passed a declaration and an action plan for 2007-2009. "We unanimously agree to build new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa on the basis of political equality, mutual trust, economic cooperation, win-win, and cultural exchanges," Hu said. The two sides expressed their stance over important international and regional issues, and decided to support each other and closely coordinate in international affairs to jointly safeguard the legitimate interests of developing countries, he said. China-Africa cooperation brings real benefits to the two peoples, and enjoys bright prospects, he said. The Beijing Summit laid a solid foundation for the China-Africa new-type strategic partnership, and the two sides should take advantage of this summit so as to expand cooperation areas, he said. China is one of the developing countries, so enhancing the unity and cooperation with other developing countries is the foundation of China's diplomacy, he said. China will always stand on the same side of all the developing countries including African countries, he said. [...] As a sincere friend of Africa, China will continue to provide political, economic, and diplomatic help for peace and stability in Africa, support a larger role of the United Nations and the African Union, and take an active part in UN peacekeeping action in Africa, he said. China will gradually expand its market opening, investment, assistance, technology transfer and personnel training, firmly supporting Africa to enhance the capacity of self-development, he said. [...]

Chinese, Russian PMs pledge to facilitate energy cooperation
2006-11-10 People's Daily Online
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov pledged to further promote bilateral oil, gas and nuclear energy cooperation on Thursday in Beijing. During the 11th regular meeting between the two prime ministers, Wen hailed fresh progress made in bilateral cooperation since their last regular meeting in 2005. The political trust between the two sides has been strengthened, Wen said, adding bilateral results-oriented cooperation and mutual investment have witnessed rapid growth. "The two countries firmly support each other's core interests and have cooperated closely on global affairs to properly settle sensitive and complicated international issues," he said. Wen told Fradkov that the deepening strategic partnership not only serves the development of the two countries but also helps maintain world peace and development. "China is ready to join hands with Russia to push forward the sustained development of bilateral ties," Wen said. In response, Fradkov said Russia will continue to take active measures to promote relations with China to a higher level. Fradkov commended the progress made in bilateral cooperation, adding that enhanced strategic coordination is of great importance to both sides and to regional and world peace, stability and development. The two prime ministers also drew up a blueprint for future cooperation. They agreed to maintain close contact between leaders, exchange views and offer guiding opinions on major international issues. Both of them are committed to facilitating bilateral gas, oil and nuclear energy cooperation. [...] After their meeting, Wen and Fradkov witnessed the signing of a series of cooperative documents including an agreement on promoting and protecting mutual investment, a memorandum of understanding on peaceful utilization of nuclear energy as well as an agreement on education cooperation.

President Hu Jintao set for first Indian visit
2006-11-08 China Daily
President Hu Jintao will kick off his maiden trip to India later this month amid reports that Beijing is considering talks with New Delhi on a free trade area (FTA). Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular briefing yesterday that Hu will make a state visit to India from November 20 to 23 following official visits to Viet Nam and Laos. He will then visit Pakistan for another four days. Hu will also attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit in Hanoi, the capital of Viet Nam, next week. The FTA issue is widely expected to be discussed during Hu's visit to India; and Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai yesterday hoped for successful negotiations. China is currently holding FTA talks with Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently expressed interest in a similar arrangement. "Trade and economic co-operation between China and India serve the interests of both countries," Cui said, noting that bilateral trade volume is expected to exceed US$20 billion this year. He said China is India's second-largest trading partner and the two sides co-operate closely in energy, agriculture, technology and education. Earlier reports quoted Fu Ziying, assistant minister of commerce, as saying that China is considering FTA talks with India; and observers said fruition would only be a matter of time.

1st round of China-Germany vice ministerial strategic dialogue held in Beijing
2006-11-10 People's Daily Online
The first round of China-Germany strategic dialogue, co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Ministry Zhang Yesui and State Secretary of the German Federal Foreign Office Silberberg, was held in Beijing Thursday. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with Silberberg before the strategic talks, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry. Both sides exchanged views on China's relations with Germany and Europe as well as major international and regional issues of common concern. They also agreed to develop bilateral ties from strategic and long-term perspective and enrich the China-Germany partnership with global responsibility. Hailing the first round of talks as fruitful, the two sides agreed to continue the mechanism of strategic talks. The China-Germany strategic dialogue mechanism was set up when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China this May. The talks aim to step up strategic consultation, political mutual trust between the two countries so as to push forward the development of bilateral ties.

China, Egypt agree on nuke co-operation
2006-11-08 People's Online Daily
China and Egypt agreed to strengthen co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to a joint communiqu released yesterday in Beijing. The document does not give any details, but earlier reports said that Cairo in late September announced it was relaunching its civil nuclear programme after a suspension of 20 years following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit reportedly said that Egypt talked about the possible help China would give to Egypt over its civilian nuclear programme. Increased co-operation in agriculture, science and technology, finance, tourism, environment, medical treatment, energy, aerospace technology, information and telecommunications were also highlighted in the document. President Hu Jintao held a welcoming ceremony for visiting Eyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Great Hall of the People and then the two held a closed-door meeting. Mubarak, who has visited China nine times, is described by Hu as a "close friend of China," and the two leaders agreed to consolidate political ties, expand economic and trade relations and increase exchanges in the cultural sector. Egypt was the first country in Africa and the Arab world to recognize China and the two countries this year celebrate their 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Mubarak visited China to take part in the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. The next ministerial-level forum will be held in Egypt. The two countries signed four agreements yesterday, covering economic, technological, public health and investment fields. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao visited Egypt in January 2004 and in June 2006 respectively. Bilateral trade hit US$2.145 billion last year, up 36.1 per cent over the previous year. In the joint communique, Egypt reiterates its one-China policy and opposes "Taiwan independence" in any form. On the issues in the Middle East, the two countries agreed that they should strive for peace on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations resolutions, the "land-for-peace" principle and the Arab peace initiative. The two sides condemned all forms of terrorism and are dedicated to enhancing existing co-operation in anti-terrorism. [...]

Rice says US unfazed by China growth
2006-11-10 China Daily
Washington - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice played down concerns over the rising influence of China, saying it was better for China to have friends in the world than enemies. "I don't see any of this as zero sum," Rice told the Singapore Straits Times newspaper in an interview, a transcript of which was released by the US State Department on Thursday. Rice was responding to a question on China's growing power and relations with nations from Asia to Africa, notably following a summit of 48 African leaders in Beijing last week that highlighted the China's deepening economic and political ties with the continent. "I'd like to have China have friends in the world, it's better than having China have enemies in the world," said Rice. "There have been times when we worried about the opposite -- that China would be a destabilizing factor in the world," she said. "So I would rather see a China that is trying to reach out, that's trying to have friendships around the world." Rice visited Beijing two weeks ago and praised the Chinese for their leading role in bringing North Korea back to multilateral negotiations aimed at getting Pyongyang to give up its newly proven nuclear arsenal. "We have excellent relations with China," she said. However, 10 days ahead of an Asian summit at which US President George W. Bush will meet his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, Rice also mentioned that Washington still harbored concerns about China's role. "China has to be responsible in its engagement with the world because it is a big power, it's not just a developing country," she said.

Chan first Chinese to lead UN agency
2006-11-09 China Daily
Margaret Chan, who was yesterday elected the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in Geneva that she would work "tirelessly" for global health. "You can be sure that I will work tirelessly and keep my ears open to all voices," the bird-flu expert told the 34 members of the WHO Executive Board, which nominated her as the new WHO director-general. Chan's nomination has to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the decision-making World Health Assembly, which will meet today with the participation of all 193 WHO members. The assembly has never rejected the board's candidate. Chan, who will become the first Chinese to head a major UN agency, had long been the front runner in the race against four other candidates to replace South Korea's Lee Jong-wook who died suddenly last May three years into his five-year term as director-general. In the final round of voting, she easily defeated Mexico's health minister, Julio Frenk, by a vote of 24-10. [...] Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang, a veteran Geneva-based diplomat, smiled broadly after the vote and said he was pleased. "Absolutely. One hundred per cent," he told The Associated Press. Chan was Hong Kong's health director during the SARS outbreak in 2003. She joined the WHO later that year, and took over as the agency's influenza pandemic chief in 2005. As an assistant director-general, she has led the WHO's efforts to fight communicable diseases; and to prepare for a possible pandemic should the bird flu virus mutate into a strain easily transmitted among humans. [...]

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese leaders vote in local elections
2006-11-09 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- President Hu Jintao cast his ballot at a polling booth in the Zhongnanhai, in central Beijing, on Wednesday, to elect new deputies for the local people's congress in his district. Former President Jiang Zemin also voted at the same polling station which is in the compound housing the headquarters of the central government and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Other leaders casting their votes at their own polling stations included Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun, and Luo Gan. Huang Ju, who was out of the town on business, asked his assistant staff to vote for him in Beijing. Over 8 million voters in this national capital voted at over 12,000 polling booths, to elect 4,403 legislators at district level, and 9,983 at the township level.

China extends police presence in countryside
2006-11-07 Xinhuanet
Beijing -- China is sending more policemen to its rural regions following a government call to build a peaceful countryside, a senior police officer said here Monday. More than 30,000 police stations have been built in rural regions as the government streamlines its larger police stations and redeploys more police officers to "frontier grass roots" rural regions, said Public Security Vice-Minister Liu Jinguo. Police have been researching the public security situation in villages, safeguarding social order and taking preventive measures against possible security incidents, he said at a meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security. The Ministry of Public Security claimed that 17,900 incidents involving mass participation were handled nationwide in the first nine months of the year, down 22.1 percent from the same period last year. The Chinese government has been promoting a campaign to build a harmonious society and trying to transform its vast rural regions into new socialist countryside that features sound social order. "It's overall stable in terms of public security in the rural areas", he said, though he warned China's fast urbanization poses public security concerns in areas bordering urban and rural regions and in relatively developed countryside. [...]

Shanghai land-use official detained - Director alleged to have taken payoffs from developers
2006-11-10 SCMP
A senior Shanghai property official has been detained on suspicion of accepting bribes in return for land approvals, a mainland newspaper reported yesterday amid a crackdown on corruption in the wake of the city's pension fund scandal. Zhu Wenjin , director of the Shanghai Housing and Land Administration's land use management section, was detained last Friday night, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. Mr Zhu, 57, held power over land-use rights, leasing and other transactions. He had income he could not account for, suspected to be payoffs from property developers in return for land approvals, a government source was quoted as saying. Property industry officials said the detention was the first of several expected in the real estate sector as part of the fallout from the pension fund scandal. The city government and the administration declined to comment on the report. Shanghai authorities have ordered the local media not to report on the scandal, suspended regular news conferences and recently barred foreign media from an event attended by the city's mayor, Han Zheng . [...] The latest detention proves wrong speculation that the crackdown on corruption in Shanghai is winding down. The campaign is widely seen as an attempt by President Hu Jintao to strengthen his grip over the city, a rival power centre. [...] Questions over Shanghai's land sales emerged in 2003, when residents accused local officials of corruption in relation to a project by now-disgraced developer Chau Ching-ngai. But no officials were removed at the time and the lawyer who advised them in a lawsuit was jailed for contacting a human rights group.

Half China to live in cities by 2010
2006-11-07 China Daily
Shanghai -- Urbanization is speeding up throughout China, with half the 1.3 billion Chinese or one tenth of the world's population expected to live in cities in 2010. Every year, about 13 million rural people flood into China's cities, equivalent to the current population of Beijing, Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing told the Fudan University International Urban Forum over the weekend. To accommodate this new urban population, the country needs a huge amount of resources, currently accounting for 40 per cent of the world's total annual cement consumption and 30 per cent of the annual steel consumption. In addition, current construction projects account for around 30 per cent of the global total, said the vice-minister. He estimated that it would be another 30 years before the initial phase of China's urbanization is completed. "Besides resource consumption, urbanization brings a lot of problems such as the widening wealth gap between urban and rural areas, environmental damage, the lack of social security for unemployed migrant workers and heavy pressure on transport networks," said Shan Wenhui, director of the Centre for Urban Studies at Fudan University. Shi Nan, secretary-general of the Urban Planning Society of China, pointed out that it would be possible for the country to accommodate 50 per cent of its population in cities in 2010, since currently about 40 per cent of the population already lived in urban areas. He said the government needed to seek solutions for swelling urban populations and shrinking resources, with developing employment the key to accommodating migrating rural people in the country's some 600 cities and 20,000 towns in a balanced way. [...] Economic growth is the force driving this rapid urbanization. But other factors also attract farmers to the cities, pointing to the development of transport networks and educational opportunities. The country cannot afford to make any mistakes in its urbanization policy. It has to make very prudent decisions, based on learning Western countries' lessons and experiences.

Chinese experts refute new bird flu strain claim
2006-11-06 People's Daily Online
The nation's leading bird flu experts yesterday refuted a report that a new strain of bird flu had emerged in southern China, published by a foreign publication and widely cited by foreign media recently. Scientists in Hong Kong and the United States said in a report released last week that a new strain of bird flu called the "Fujian-like virus," first isolated in the southern Chinese province of Fujian last year, had become prevalent in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand. Chen Hualan, director of the National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, rebuked the report, published in the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, saying its claims "lack scientific proof." "The so-called 'Fujian-like virus' is not a new variant of the virus," she said "Gene sequence analysis of the virus shows that it shares high conformity with the H5N1 virus that was isolated in Hunan when bird flu broke out in early 2004." Samples from every domestic bird flu outbreak are sent for isolation and gene sequence analysis at Chen's lab. Chen said that in 2005 and 2006, the lab had isolated some viruses in waterfowl in southern China which was reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). "These viruses all remain steady in gene type and there is no marked change in their biological characteristics," she said. [...] Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture showed that more than 95 per cent of domestic poultry had been vaccinated between January and October. Shu Yuelong, director of the National Influenza Centre at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, also refuted the report's allegation that five people in southern China were actually infected by the new "Fujian-like virus." Shu said that altogether 16 variants of bird flu viruses have been found in the 20 confirmed cases of human infections on the Chinese mainland since October 2005 seven in 2005 and 13 in 2006. "Fifteen out of the 16 variants were isolated from cases in southern China and they belong to the same gene type," Shu said. "There is no proof that five of them were infected by a new mutated virus."

Courts to ease up on death penalties - But top judge says Beijing is not ready to abolish executions
2006-11-10 SCMP
Chinese courts will exercise greater caution when handing down death sentences, but will continue to apply "heavy punishments" for serious crimes, Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang said yesterday. "Strike Hard" - a measure that has been enforced since the early 1980s to deal with serious crimes such as murder, rape and robbery - would be a long-term policy to safeguard the country's social stability, Mr Xiao said at the Fifth National Criminal Trial Working Conference. The Supreme Court president said that crimes endangering national security, terrorism, organised crime, as well as crimes that seriously threatened social security - such as bombings, homicide, robbery, kidnapping and drug trafficking - were listed as targets for strict punishment. Serious economic crimes would also be harshly punished according to the law, Mr Xiao told judges from the mainland's provinces and main cities. These included embezzlement and bribery. The country's top judge emphasised that China would retain capital punishment, although it would be "under strict control and exercised with great caution" under the new death penalty policy. "China hasn't yet reached the sufficient social and cultural conditions to abolish the death penalty," Mr Xiao was quoted as saying by Xinhua. He said capital punishment was still a necessary evil that ensured national security, the public interests and social safety. In a significant reform described by Mr Xiao as "an important procedural step in preventing wrongful convictions", the Supreme People's Court recently reclaimed its right to review and approve all death penalty verdicts. This comes 23 years after the powers were passed to lower courts. The death penalty was reserved for an "extremely small number of extremely serious criminal offenders", Mr Xiao said. The chief justice advised the judges to use the "death penalty with a reprieve", touting it as "a Chinese innovation" that could both punish criminals and reduce the number of executions. Criminals given a suspended death sentence are not executed immediately and can often see their sentence cut to a life sentence or even 10 to 15 years in jail. Mr Xiao suggested several situations where such a punishment could be handed down, for instance in cases where the offender surrendered to authorities and assisted police in their investigations. Other crimes where the death penalty should be cautiously applied included cases stemming from family conflicts and between neighbours, cases where the victim was to blame, and cases where defendants showed "sincere repentance" and offered compensation for losses they caused. "In cases where the judge has the legal leeway to decide whether to order death, he should always choose not to do so," Mr Xiao said. Yet he reiterated that only strict punishment would prevent crime.

Eviction protesters 'beaten in jail'
2006-11-09 SCMP
Several Shanghai residents who were arrested after challenging forced evictions and demolition of their homes have been beaten and abused in custody, the New York-based group Human Rights in China reported. The watchdog said three of the detainees - Du Yangming , Wang Shuizhen and Tian Baocheng - were due to appear in Zhabei District Court today and tomorrow on charges of causing a disturbance. Du had suffered "serious physical abuse" while in detention, while Tian had been badly beaten, losing several teeth and suffering from other injuries, the group said.

First free Aids clinic opens
2006-11-10 SCMP
The mainland's first free clinic for Aids sufferers has opened in Beijing in a sign of increasing official willingness to openly address the growing problem. The clinic in western Beijing would provide free check-ups and treatment to sufferers of Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, the China Daily said yesterday. Patients' anonymity would be protected to encourage more people to visit the centre, which opened on Wednesday. "We hope this programme will underline the common medical rights enjoyed by gays," said Xiao Dong, head of the non-governmental Chaoyang Chinese Aids Volunteer Group, in the paper.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's opposition urges ruling party lawmakers to ditch president, join recall campaign
2006-11-07 SCMP
Taiwan's opposition on Tuesday planned to take its campaign to oust the president to the legislature for the third time, but the bid to recall the corruption-tainted leader will likely be blocked by the ruling party. The new attempt to topple the president threatened to prolong the political squabbling and uncertainty that have gripped one of Asia's youngest democracies for the past six months. A vote on the recall motion was expected later this month. The opposition has been urging ruling party lawmakers to ditch President Chen Shui-bian, whose wife has been indicted for allegedly skimming 14.8 million New Taiwan dollars (HK$3.49 million) from a special fund for diplomacy. When the indictment was announced late last week, prosecutors said they have enough evidence to also indict the president. But Mr Chen, who insists he and his wife are innocent, enjoys immunity from such charges while in office. His second four-year term ends in 18 months. So far, only a few lawmakers with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party have shown signs of wanting to break ranks and vote for the recall measure. The opposition needs the support of two-thirds of the Legislature to pass the motion. Tsai Huang-liang, a high-ranking DPP official, said the party leadership would meet soon to discuss how to punish lawmakers who vote for the recall measure. "We hope in the future that all of the lawmakers will unite and vote together. This is the best way for the DPP to get through this challenge." On Tuesday, the Legislature's scheduling committee was expected to agree to put the recall motion on the docket so that lawmakers could begin debating the motion. A vote was expected on November 24, and if it passes, the issue would go to the voters in an island-wide referendum. The president tried to rally his supporters on Sunday with a televised address saying that he and his wife were innocent. He said any irregularities in his spending or expenses were due to the confusing and often conflicting regulations for the diplomacy fund. Mr Chen also pledged to resign if his wife was convicted, and he promised not to appeal any decision. [...]

 

Economy

Chinese President to make proposals on Asia-Pacific cooperation on APEC meeting
2006-11-08 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao will make proposals on deepening cooperation of the Asia-Pacific region at the 14th APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Economic Leaders' Informal Meeting to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam from Nov. 17 to 19. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai made the remark Tuesday at a news briefing on Hu's coming state visits to Vietnam, Laos, India and Pakistan from Nov. 15 to 26 during which Hu will also attend the APEC meeting from Nov. 17 to 19. Cui said Hu will layout China's policies on deepening regional cooperation and the key points and prospects of Asia Pacific economic cooperation, and make proposals on further promoting economic and technological cooperation within APEC. Hu will also brief foreign leaders on China's scientific development and tell them that China's development will bring opportunities to regional and world development, said Cui. According to Cui, Hu will hold side bar meetings with a number of leaders attending the meeting, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President George W. Bush. Cui said China hopes the APEC meeting will help support the healthy development of multilateral trade systems and promote the implementation of the "Bogor goals" of free and open trade and investment in Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing economies. [...] According to Cui, the 14th APEC Economic Leaders' Informal meeting will focus on supporting the Doha Round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization, realizing the Bogor goals, regional trade arrangements, economic and trade cooperation, anti-terrorism, energy, health, anti-corruption and the reform of the APEC. Since its inception in 1989, APEC has worked to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region and to create efficient domestic economies and dramatically increasing exports. APEC has 21 member economies, including China, the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia, which account for more than a third of the world's population, over 50 percent of world's GDP and in excess of 41 percent of world trade.

China's new policy stresses quality of foreign investment
2006-11-09 People's Daily Online
China on Thursday published its 11th five-year-plan (2006-2010) for utilizing foreign investment, which says the priority of policy will be given to the quality rather than quantity of such investments. The National Development and Reform Commission published the document on its website, the first time such a document has been published. "This is an important measure taken by China in creating a stable and transparent foreign investment management system as well as a fair and predictable policy environment," the NDRC said. According to the document, China utilized 383 billion U.S. dollars of overseas investment during the 10th five-year-plan period (2001-2005), including 286 billion dollars in overseas direct investment, 38 billion dollars in stock issuances and 46 billion dollars in foreign loans. It criticizes some local governments for their blind seeking of foreign investments, some of which are apparently against the central government's industrial policy. The document notes that emerging monopolies by foreign businesses in certain industries are posing a potential threat to China's economic security. It also criticizes foreign businesses for abusing intellectual property right protection laws, adding that this has adversely affected Chinese enterprises' capacity for independent innovations. The document says China will push for further shifting of policy priority from the quantity to the quality of foreign investment during the next five years. [...] It also calls for more foreign investment in China's remote west and the northeast rust belt, which are currently lagging far behind the coastal regions in the amount of foreign investment. [...] According to the document, China will continue to encourage foreign investment in agriculture, electronics and information, petrochemicals, chemicals, automobiles and infrastructure. [...] In the service sector, the document says China will fulfil its duties under the World Trade Organization and open its banking, insurance, securities and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment in a positive and prudent manner. In response to the rising concern over foreign acquisitions of leading Chinese firms in critical sectors, the document says China will speed up legislation and step up the supervision of sensitive acquisitions and takeovers to ensure critical industries and enterprises remain under Chinese control.

Jobless urbanites to hit 10m by 2010
2006-11-10 China Daily
About 10 million urban residents will have difficulty finding jobs by 2010 due to pressure from the growing labour force, according to a new report. In a 2006-10 development outline published late Wednesday, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security said China, as the world's most populous country, will continue to be troubled by unemployment in future years. China's labour supply is expected to top 830 million by 2010. In urban areas, an additional 50 million city residents will join the labour force by 2010, but only 40 million jobs will be created during this period. The ministry will try to keep the country's registered urban unemployment rate below 5 per cent between 2006 and 2010 by creating job opportunities for an additional 45 million people, the report said. The jobless rate was 4.2 per cent at the end of 2005. Millions of other jobs will also have to be created to accommodate an additional 45 million rural migrant workers who have been encouraged to leave rural areas to reduce the labour surplus in the countryside, the outline said. The current number of migrant workers is estimated at 150 million, or 11.5 per cent of the population, nearly double that of 10 years ago. The ministry announced late last month that 9.32 million urban Chinese had found jobs in the first nine months of the year, exceeding the target of 9 million for the entire year. Most of the employment pressure comes from laid-off workers from State or collectively-owned businesses, an increasing number of university graduates, rural labour transfer and farmers who lost their land due to industrial development or urbanization. [...] The government will also strive to expand social security coverage over the next four years. In urban regions, 223 million people will be covered by pension schemes, 300 million will be able to buy medical insurance and 120 million will be provided with unemployment insurance. These figures represent an increase in people covered by pensions plans of 45 million from 2005. [...] Meanwhile, efforts will be made to ensure the social security of migrant workers and farmers who lose their land as a result of urbanization. China's elderly population has now surpassed 143 million, the report says. The development outline also highlighted the need to improve labour and social security-related laws and regulations to increase employment and promote protection of workers' rights and interests.

China's forex reserves exceed US$1 trillion
2006-11-06 China Daily
SHANGHAI, China has said that its forex reserves had shot past one trillion dollars, state television made the announcement in a brief statement quoting the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The unprecedented financial high came as no surprise to economists and traders, who had widely estimated that Beijing's foreign reserves holdings already hit US$1 trillion dollars late last month. The nation's forex holdings reached US$987.9 billion at the end of September and have been expanding at a rate of US$18.8 billion a month this year. At the end of 2000, China's forex reserves stood at US$165.6 billion. At current levels, China accounts for nearly 20 percent of the world's foreign exchange with about 70 percent of its holdings in dollars, according to the latest note to clients from Brad Setser, head of research at Roubini Global Economics in New York. Like being a multi-millionaire, or in the case of China's central bank, a trillionaire, hoarding such huge amounts of money has benefits but also side-effects. Among the positives are it provides security in times of economic trouble and also helps defend against financial speculators, as many Asian countries learned the hard way during the financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. But a fast rise in forex can also over-stimulate the economy, experts warn. [...] China's economy, the world's fourth-largest, is growing at a formidable rate. [...] Mainland banks are swimming in cash because of the huge foreign direct investment flows entering China, while its factories are earning dollars for exports on everything from plastics to electronics. The problem is the accumulation puts massive upward pressure on the yuan. When the People's Bank of China purchases the forex inflows it must do so with yuan, inadvertently pumping cash or liquidity back into the financial system which then gets loaned out by the banks. Too many loans lead to indiscriminate investment, which potentially gives way to overproduction and eventually a deflationary crisis develops resulting in financial meltdown. [...]

Monthly trade surplus hits record high
2006-11-09 People's Daily Online
China's trade surplus surged to a record US$23.8 billion in October as imports slowed and exports further accelerated, putting more pressure on the yuan's appreciation and ballooning foreign exchange reserves. The gap widened from September's US$15.3 billion, beating most economists' forecasts. Exports jumped 29.6 per cent and imports rose 14.7 per cent, statistics from the customs office showed yesterday. China's trade surplus reached US$133.6 billion during the first 10 months, almost a third higher than last year's total. According to Stephen Green, senior economist with Standard Chartered Bank, the government's measures to slow down domestic fixed-assets investment is the underlying reason for the slackening of imports which grew at the slowest pace since July 2005. "On a first look, a stronger renminbi should favour importers by making their purchases cheaper, but this seems not to have happened yet or is being disguised by other effects," Green said. "Import growth may have slumped because of the government's restraint on investment, which caused economic expansion to slow in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year." Green believes the more regulators control investment the lower imports of investment goods will be. And that will further exacerbate the external imbalance. For instance, oil imports kept rising at 14 per cent year-on-year despite lower global prices. Wang Qing, head of Greater China research at Bank of America Corp, said the slowdown in import growth is responsible for the huge surplus and it shows the impact of the government's macroeconomic tightening measures, which slowed investment growth. [...] The swelling trade surplus, however, weighs more on pressure for further yuan appreciation. The yuan has risen 3.1 per cent against the US dollar since China ended a currency peg to the US dollar in July 2005 and allowed it to trade 0.3 per cent on either side of the dollar on a daily basis. China's foreign exchange reserves, fuelled by a burgeoning foreign trade surplus and massive inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), overtook Japan's to become the world's largest in February and has exceeded US$1 trillion thus far. [...]

China share prices reach five-year high
2006-11-06 China Daily
BEIJING, The share prices on China's Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges reached a five-year high on Monday, driven by steel and metallurgical stocks. A man looks at an electronic billboard showing the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong November 6, 2006. Hong Kong blue chips gained 1 percent to their fourth straight record close on Monday, as investors chased property shares and other laggards while China Mobile set fresh six-year peaks. [...] "The market seems to be oblivious to the announcement of the central bank last Friday to raise the deposit reserve ratio for commercial banks by 0.5 percent," said Wan Bing, an analyst with Guangfa Securities. This is the third time the central bank has raised the deposit reserve ratio since the beginning of the year in its bid to rein in overheating investment. The bullish market is also in defiance of the intensive flotation of new stocks, including heavyweights like the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the nation's biggest lender, said Wan. "Such a crazy trend can not be sustained," he said, adding that investors must remain prudent.

Top earners to report tax directly
2006-11-09 China Daily
Employees earning more than 120,000 yuan (US$15,000) annually need to report their income directly to the tax authorities from next year, it was announced Monday. It is the first time that the State Administration of Taxation requires high-income earners to report their earnings themselves, but their taxes will be paid by employers as happens now. For those who earn less than 120,000 yuan a year, employers will continue to deduct tax at source and report to the authorities. Observers told China Daily that they believe the move signifies the government's resolve to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, and to increase national revenues. The taxation administration said in a statement on its website that anyone including foreigners working in China who meets any of the following criteria needs to report their incomes to the taxation authorities. People with an annual income of more than 120,000 yuan, with income from more than one organization, with income from overseas, whose employer does not pay tax or as stipulated by the State Council, the cabinet. "If this policy is executed effectively, it will play a part in redressing the income discrepancy between the high-income group and ordinary wage-earners," said Peng Longyun, a senior economist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Beijing. [...] People above the 120,000-yuan threshold who fail to report their earnings within three months of the end of the taxation year can be fined up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,270), while filing false reports can attract fines of up to 50,000 yuan (US$6,350) in addition to a maximum of five times the tax amount due.

China to overtake US in gas emissions by 2009
2006-11-08 SCMP
China will surpass the United States as the biggest emitter of the main gas linked to global warming in 2009, nearly a decade ahead of previous predictions, the International Energy Agency says in a report released yesterday. China's rise, fuelled heavily by coal, is particularly troubling to climate scientists because as a developing country, it is exempt from the Kyoto Protocol's requirements for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Unregulated emissions from China, India and other developing countries are likely to account for most of the global increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the next 25 years. The agency's prediction highlights the unexpected speed with which China is emerging as the biggest contributor to global warming. Still, Beijing has resisted calls to limit emissions by developing countries. When contacted yesterday to comment on the IEA's report, Xu Huaqing , a climate change expert from the National Development and Reform Commission's energy research institute, said the IEA's prediction was earlier than had been suggested by Chinese studies. "But it is not surprising, given China's growing reliance on coal consumption, driven by rapid economic growth over the past years," Professor Xu said. China predicted four years ago that its carbon dioxide emissions would not reach US levels until 2020. "But China's emissions have risen quite fast and our carbon dioxide emissions per capita are expected to reach the world's average in the next two years," Professor Xu said. Per capita energy consumption on the mainland stood at about 90 per cent of the world average last year. Professor Xu noted there were some uncertainties behind the IEA's eye-catching predictions, such as whether emissions from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan had been calculated as part of China's discharge of global warming gases. "The report's finding will stand only if China's heavy reliance on coal cannot be changed by 2009 and emissions from the US remain unchanged from 2004 levels," he said. Noting the rifts between developed and developing countries on how to tackle climate change, Professor Xu said: "The IEA report is partly aimed at calling on developing countries to shoulder more responsibility." Like other developing countries exempted from emissions caps under the Kyoto Protocol, China has shrugged off criticism that it has not done enough to help control global warming and stressed that developed countries should do more. [...] Environmental officials from around the world began meeting on Monday in Nairobi to discuss a new agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol. The talks are aimed partly at bringing the larger developing countries such as China, India and Brazil under emission controls. IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said global coal consumption had risen as much in the past three years as it had in the previous 23. China accounted for 90 per cent of the rise.

Pension funds to be invested in railway
2006-11-08 China Daily
The national social security fund is likely to invest in the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail link and other railway projects. The fund and the Ministry of Railways are currently in negotiations about the investment, an anonymous source was quoted as saying in the China Financial News yesterday. The potential investment by the fund follows the huge investments promised by insurers falling short of ministry estimates. A total of 40 billion yuan (US$5 billion) from insurance companies has been approved for investment in the project, said Zhou Yanli, deputy chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission. But the amount is only half what the ministry expected, since the ministry and the commission agreed two months ago that it needed 80 billion yuan (US$10 billion) from the insurance business for the project. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway project is estimated to cost at least 130 billion yuan (US$16.25 billion) according to the initial plan. "The initial budget was made according to past experience that building 1 kilometre of high-speed track usually costs 100 million yuan (US$12 million)," said Liang Chenggu, news officer with the Ministry of Railways. "But the investment may increase along with the growing price of real estate and resettlement costs," he said. The China Financial News quoted an insider saying that the Beijing-Shanghai railway will cost at least 170 billion yuan (US$21.25 billion). If three related projects are included in the final bill, the total cost could exceed 200 billion yuan (US$25 billion), the newspaper said. At present, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is studying a feasibility report on the Beijing-Shanghai railway project, which includes details like the total investment needed. The commission approved the ministry's proposal to build the high-speed railway in March 2006, after more than a decade of debate on what technology the railway should use. The 1,320-kilometre line is expected to be completed and go into operation in 2010, when Shanghai hosts the World Expo. By then, with a designed speed of 300 kilometres per hour and a maximum speed of 350 kilometres, the railway will shorten travel time between the two cites from 13 hours to less than 5. [...]

 

North Korea

DPRK not nuke country, US, Japan, ROK reaffirm
2006-11-08 China Daily
Japan has joined the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in agreeing not to recognize the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a nuclear weapons state, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Monday. Tokyo's position was agreed to during a brief evening phone conversation between Foreign Minister Taro Aso and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The two diplomats said they would also consult with China, Russia and the ROK on the DPRK nuclear standoff on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this month in Viet Nam. The announcement comes hours after the United States and South Korea said they would refuse to treat the DPRK as a nuclear state, indicating a difficulty that lies ahead when disarmament talks resume with Pyongyang. Seoul and Washington also agreed during high-level talks on the need for "full and effective" implementation of a UN sanctions resolution against Pyongyang for conducing a nuclear test. But they made no mention of a US initiative primarily aimed at the North that seeks to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by stopping ships suspected of trafficking. The US has said it wants the South to increase its participation in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative and UN sanctions banning the country's weapons trade, but so far Seoul has only sent observers to exercises under the programme. The talks yesterday included Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, and Robert Joseph, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. "Both parties shared the view that North Korea's (DPRK's) nuclear test is a grave threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and beyond," the US and the ROK said in a statement after the talks. "Both parties reaffirmed the position that North Korea will not be recognized as a nuclear weapon state." Meanwhile, there were signs of disagreements between Seoul and Washington on how hard to press the North. Seoul has been struggling to strike a delicate balance between its obligations to punish the North under the UN sanctions resolution, and concerns that aggravating its volatile neighbour could destabilize the region. [...]

Japan, U.S. against lifting DPRK sanctions
2006-11-06 Xinhuanet
TOKYO, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and visiting senior U.S. diplomats agreed on Monday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) should abandon all nuclear programs in line with U.N. resolutions and that U.N. and Japanese sanctions would remain in place even after the meeting started. The agreement was reached at a meeting between Nicholas Burns, who is U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Robert Joseph, the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, and Aso. Japan and the United States are in agreement that Security Council Resolution 1718 "must be fully and effectively implemented" until the DPRK "meets all of the demands of the Security Council," Joseph was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. Aso said the two nations agreed that they would not accept the DPRK as "a nuclear state" and that sanctions in line with the resolution as well as Japan's own sanctions "would not be relaxed" just because the six-party talks were being held. The foreign minister said he would propose holding five-nation talks with his counterparts from the United States, South Korea, China and Russia to discuss the DPRK's nuclear program on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vietnam's Hanoi next week. The DPRK nuclear test early last month sparked U.N. condemnations and sanctions. Japan had imposed its own sweeping sanctions before the nuclear test. Pyongyang agreed on Nov. 1 to return the negotiation table on the premise that the issue of lifting U.S. financial sanctions against the DPRK would be discussed and settled within the framework of the six-party talks. Joseph and Burns also met with Japanese Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma. Joseph was also quoted as saying during the meeting that trilateral cooperation between Australia, Japan, the United States is necessary in operational and intelligence matters.

 

Mongolia

Peaceful Peoples' Ikh Khuraldai
2006-11-08 Mongol Messenger
The Mongolian National Front' Alliance' opened the 'Grand Meeting of All Mongolians' on November 6 in Sukhbaatar Square. Information about the organization of the meeting had been delivered earlier and the alliance stated that people in power had attempted to scupper the meeting, by distributing firewood and coal to families in ger areas in return for their promise not to participate in the grand meeting.

Privatisation of Savings Bank
2006-11-08 Mongol Messenger
The last state-owned bank-Savings Bank is to be privatized by a consortium of Chinggis Khaan Bank, the Russian Bratski People's Bank and Mongol Daatgal Company at $20.1 million /Tg23.4 billion/.
After unsealing the financial proposals on Savings Bank privatization and announcing the result on November 1, State Property Committee chairman D. Sugar expressed his satisfaction that such an amount of money would be given for the bank privatization the highest ever amount for bank privatisation.

New central bank governor
2006-11-08 Mongol Messenger
As the official term of Mongol Bank Governor O. Chuluunbat expired, Parliament appointed the first deputy governor of the bank A. Batsukh as the new Governor on November 2.

MCA agreement in spring
2006-11-08 Mongol Messenger
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said early this week that the Mongolian Government would sign a compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Account in the spring of 2007. The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has written to the Mongolian Minister for Foreign Affairs, N.Enkhbold, expressing the desire of the United States to speed up the process of formalizing the agreement.

 

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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