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
  27.11-1.12.06, No. 143  
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Foreign Policy

FM: Hu's visit a diplomatic milestone
2006-11-27 China Daily
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Sunday hailed President Hu Jintao's Asian tour as a new milestone in efforts to foster friendly relations with neighboring countries, saying remarkable successes had been achieved during the visit. President Hu's four-nation tour has deepened the friendship with these countries, enhanced their mutual trust, expanded mutually beneficial cooperation and helped chart the course for further development of the relationships between them, Li told Chinese reporters accompanying Hu on his way back home from the 12-day trip. During the tour, the Chinese president attended the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, and then paid state visits to Vietnam, Laos, India and Pakistan. On the sidelines of the APEC meeting and during his state visits, President Hu conducted in-depth, substantial and friendly talks with foreign leaders, exchanging views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of common concern and expounding on China's policies on Asia-Pacific cooperation, the Chinese top diplomat said. The tour also witnessed the signing of 54 documents on cooperation between China and other countries in various fields and the publication of five joint statements and declarations, the minister said. At APEC's meeting, Hu put forward a blueprint for building a harmonious Asia-Pacific region and realizing common prosperity, Li said. The president stressed APEC should focus its efforts on promoting economic cooperation while supporting the development of the multi-bilateral trading system, Li said. In making new endeavors to promote economic and technological cooperation, Hu said, APEC should strive to realize the Bogor goals, which were adopted by APEC leaders at their 1994 meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, with an aim to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2010 for industrialized economies and 2020 for developing ones, according to the minister. During the APEC meeting, Hu also reached common ground with leaders of the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Chile on ways to further develop bilateral ties, Li said. On the nuclear issues of the Korean Peninsula and Iran, Hu made clear China's stance on peacefully resolving the issues through diplomatic means. All the four nations President Hu visited are China's important neighbors, Li said. To consolidate and advance good-neighborly and friendly relations with them is of great significance to China's efforts to create a good surrounding environment, conduct cooperation of mutual benefit and achieve common development. It is also of great importance to safeguard and promote peace and development in Asia as a whole, the minister added. [...] Noting economic and trade cooperation is a key component of China's relationships with the four countries, Li said President Hu had discussed the issue with the leaders and several relevant agreements were signed during his visits. - China and Vietnam signed a number of cooperation documents during the visit, marking out the framework of bilateral economic cooperation in the next 5 to 10 years. The two sides agreed to promote cooperation in big projects, expand bilateral trade and work together to push forward the trade and investment negotiations between China and the ASEAN free trade zone. - China and Laos pledged to expand bilateral trade and enhance cooperation in the fields of investment, communications, transportation, infrastructure, energy and mining. - China and India signed a pact on investment promotion and protection, agreeing to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of information and communication technology, energy, infrastructure, science and technology and agriculture. The two sides also set a target of raising the annual volume of their bilateral trade to 40 billion U.S. dollars by 2010. - China and Pakistan signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that is projected to triple their current bilateral trade to 15 billion dollars within five years and to promote bilateral cooperation in agriculture, transportation, energy, finance and information industry. [...] President Hu's four-nation Asian tour marks a new milestone on the road of good-neighborliness between China and these countries, he said.

China, U.S. to hold first strategic economic dialogue on Dec. 14-15
2006-11-30 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China and the United States will hold their first strategic economic dialogue on Dec. 14 and 15 in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced on Thursday. Vice Premier Wu Yi and US Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, both special representatives of the two heads of states, will co-chair the dialogue, Jiang said. The ministers and senior officials concerned from the two countries will also attend the dialogue, she added. Jiang said Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao are expected to meet with the U.S. delegation. The dialogue mechanism was established according to a consensus between the two presidents. "The dialogue will further promote economic and trade cooperation between China and the U.S., and will be conducive to the development and stability of the global economy," she said. The dialogue was announced in September during a trip to Beijing by Paulson.

7th Sino-Japan defense talks held in Tokyo
2006-11-29 Xinhuanet
TOKYO: The 7th Sino-Japan defense and security talks were held in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon between Chinese People's Liberation Army Assistant to the Chief of General Staff Zhang Qinsheng and Japanese Defense Agency Vice Minister Takemasa Moriya. The two sides exchanged ideas on the international and regional security situations, national defense policies and troops build-up, the Sino-Japanese ties and the relations between the two military forces and other issues of both concern. The two sides pledged to strengthen talks and exchanges in the security field in accordance with the common stand reached by leaders from the two countries, and further promote the development of bilateral defense communications, including exchange of high-level visits. The Chinese side reiterated its principle stand on big issues like the Taiwan issue, and expressed its willingness to see Japan continue its peace track. The talks was held in the backdrop that a summit meeting has been realized and the Sino-Japanese relations enjoy a new prospect. The talks will play a positive role in promoting understanding and mutual trust between the two sides in security field and in further developing the ties between the defense organs of the two countries. [...]

Chinese Premier to visit the Philippines
2006-11-30 People's Daily Online
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend a series of summits in the Philippines and pay an official visit there from Dec. 11 to 14, announced Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu Thursday. The meetings will include the 10th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) summit, the 10th China-ASEAN summit, and an east Asian regional summit, Jiang said at a regular press conference of the Ministry. Premier Wen will also chair the 7th annual meeting of leaders of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, Jiang added. She said the 10th China-ASEAN summit will mainly discuss practical cooperation between the two sides. "China will discuss with ASEAN on the practical cooperation for next year and put forward a series of concrete proposals, to further consolidate and raise the level of bilateral strategic partnership," said Jiang. She said the relations between China and ASEAN have entered a new historic period, marked by a China-ASEAN joint statement that have strategically planned future cooperation, adopted at the summit commemorating the 15th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between China and the ASEAN held at the end of October in Nanning, capital of China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. On the 7th China, Japan, ROK leaders' meeting, Jiang said the meeting will be held on Dec. 11 in Cebu City, and China at present holds the position of coordinating trilateral cooperation and will also chair the meeting. "China looks forward to deeply exchanging views with Japan and the ROK on trilateral cooperation and international and regional issues of common concern," said Jiang. [...]

China, UK to promote dialogue on trade, IPR protection
2006-11-27 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China and the United Kingdom on Monday vowed to promote cooperation in trade and investment, and enhance dialogue on trade protectionism, resumption of the Doha talks and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. At the sixth conference of the Sino-British Trade and Investment Joint Committee here, Chinese Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai and Alistair Darling, Britain's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, agreed on the necessity that the Doha round talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) be pushed forward through constructive multilateral organizations. Both sides welcomed an early resumption of the Doha round negotiations on world trade. The Doha talks, which remain inconclusive after almost five years, were indefinitely suspended in July due to bitter differences among major WTO members, particularly on agricultural issues. The two sides also discussed solutions to increasing trade protectionism, calling for joint efforts to tackle the problem. The European Union (EU) is China's largest trading partner and biggest source of high technology, Bo said. However, frequent anti-dumping complaints and trade investigations by the EU would harm the harmonious atmosphere between China and the EU as well as bilateral trade and investment expansion. Bo also called on the British side to play a constructive role in an early EU decision on China's market economy status. The two sides agreed to strengthen dialogue and coordination in trade and to enhance research on IPR protection. The Chinese government regards IPR protection as a national strategy and will maintain its fight against infringements, Bo said. In 2005, public security departments arrested 2,119 people involved in piracy, up 56 percent over the previous year, and the total sum involved was 1.28 billion yuan, up 366 percent, Bo said. "We recognize the efforts made by the Chinese government to protect intellectual property rights," Darling said, adding that the UK hoped to seek more opportunities to work together in IPR protection. [...] Darling, leading a 15-member delegation, arrived in Beijing on Sunday. He will also visit Shanghai and Hong Kong. He said over the weekend before departure that Sino-British trade ties would be strengthened through mutual investment, not only trade. The first conference of the Sino-British joint committee was held in 1996.

Sino-Arab Friendship Conference ends
2006-11-30 Xinhuanet
Khartoum: The Conference of Sino-Arab Friendship concluded here on Wednesday with a decision of holding regular meetings on the Chinese-Arab relations every two years, the final communique of the conference said. The communique also announced the establishment of the permanent secretariat of the Sino-Arab Friendship Conference in Khartoum under the sponsorship of the Arab League. Ahammed Abdul Rahman, Secretary General of the Sudanese Association of World Peoples' Friendship, hailed the conference's decision of selecting Khartoum as the location of its permanent secretariat, describing the decision as "the pride of Sudan". This year's conference also called for exchanging visits, holding exhibitions, conducting dialogue between China and the Arab countries and establishing sister twinship between the Chinese and Arab cities, universities and regions. The next Sino-Arab Friendship Conference will be held in Syria, according to the communique.

China reaffirms efforts to continue push for Middle East peace
2006-11-30 Xinhuanet
Beijing: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has reiterated his country's readiness to join international efforts to push for peace and stability in the Middle East region. In a message to the Conference in Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People held at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, Wen extended warm congratulations on the occasion of its convocation on behalf of the Chinese government. In the message, Wen stressed the Palestinian issue is at the core of the Middle East conflict. "China supports restart of the Middle East peace process and resumption of political negotiations as soon as possible, so as to establish an independent state of Palestine that co-exists peacefully with Israel, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions and the 'land for peace' principle," he said. The settlement of the Palestinian issue calls for political will and courage of the Palestinians and Israel as well, and needs support and assistance from the international community, Wen said. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China would continue its support for a larger UN role in the Middle East issue, he said. "China is ready to make unswerving efforts with the international community for a fair and overall solution to the Palestinian issue and an early realization of peace and stability in the Middle East region," the Chinese premier said. The United Nations set Nov. 29 as the Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

China, Chile to start new FTA talks
2006-11-30 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China and Chile will start negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) covering service trade and investment next January, the countries said yesterday. "The talks are expected to be wrapped up by the end of 2008, or earlier than that, maybe the middle of 2008," said Fernando Reyes Matta, Chile's Ambassador to China. Though the talks have been on the table since late September, they probably won't "enter into a substantive stage until January 2007," said Zhang Bing, an official of the department of international trade and economic affairs with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). When asked about expected challenges for the coming talks, both were upbeat about the prospects. "The agreement on service trade and investment, if signed, will further promote bilateral trade thanks to the bigger role of the service trade in contributing to China's trade volume," Zhang said. Matta agreed, saying: "The agreement is good for both China and Chile." For Zhu Hong, deputy director of the department of international trade and economic affairs under the MOFCOM, the success of the talks depends on the compromises the countries are willing to make. The new round of talks come at a time when a previous China-Chile FTA came into effect on Oct. 1. In 2005, the two countries signed a deal covering trade in commodities. [...] Matta compared the situation to China's ongoing FTA talks with Australia, which includes all sectors. The countries have yet to agree on issues related to opening services, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors. The China-Chile FTA that has gone into effect stipulates tariffs on 97 percent of products from the two nations will be removed in 10 years, starting from Nov. 1. From 2001 to 2005, China-Chile trade volume has grown rapidly. In 2000, bi-lateral trade was 2 billion U.S. dollars, but that figure jumped to more than 7 billion dollars. China has become Chile's second-largest trade partner and Chile is China's third-largest trade partner in Latin America. By the end of this June, investment from China into Chile was 28 million dollars, and China has attracted foreign direct investment worth 53 million dollars from Chile.

China to step up military exchanges with Sweden
2006-11-28 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China is ready to strengthen military exchanges and cooperation with Sweden, said Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan Tuesday. Cao, also vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and a state councilor, made the remarks when meeting Chief of Staff of the Swedish Airforce Jan Andersson. China-Sweden relations had developed smoothly since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 56 years ago, he said. The two sides had strengthened political trust and maintained close high-level contacts, he said. Bilateral military ties had developed rapidly in recent years, Cao said, adding that both sides maintained frequent visits of senior military officials and close technical exchanges. "China is willing to make joint efforts with Sweden to promote even greater progress in bilateral military ties," the defense minister said. In response, Andersson said the Swedish armed forces valued their exchanges with the Chinese armed forces. He hoped his China visit could further promote mutual understanding, and facilitate cooperation between the two armed forces, and especially, the two air forces.

 

Domestic Policy

Coal mine bosses get jail terms
2006-11-30 China Daily
Xi'an: Seven mine bosses responsible for two fatal coal mine gas explosions that killed 249 miners in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were sentenced to prison Wednesday. The court rulings coincided with another coal mine gas blast in Northwest China's Gansu Province that claimed at least 11 lives. More than 100 miners have been killed in accidents in various parts of China during the past five days, according to reports. Liu Shuangming, former director of the Chenjiashan Coal Mine in Tongchuan, Shaanxi, was sentenced to five years and six months and Wang Youjun, former deputy director and chief engineer of the mine, received five years over a gas explosion in 2004 with 166 deaths. Yaozhou District People's Court of Tongchuan heard that Liu and Wang had asked the miners to work despite being aware of the risks to their lives. The tragedy happened on November 28, 2004 at Chenjiashan Coal Mine in Tongchuan. A total of 293 miners were working underground when the deadly blast occurred. Only 127 miners who were working near the entrance were rescued, including 45 who were injured. The accident caused losses of nearly 42 million yuan (US$5.2 million). Liu and Wang were blamed for the accident and arrested on December 9, 2005 in Tongchuan by the Tongchuan Municipal Public Security Bureau. The Chenjiashan Coal Mine is a State-owned company with 3,400 employees and a capacity for producing 2.6 million tons of coal a year. Also yesterday, a local court in Xinjiang sentenced Jiang Jinpeng, former board chairman of the Shenlong Coal Mine Limited Company to six years in prison and four others to prison terms ranging from three years to five years. The five were found responsible for a fatal gas explosion that occurred on July 11, 2005 in Shenlong Coal Mine of Fukang County, 62 kilometres away from Urumqi, the regional capital, when 87 people were working in the shaft. Only four of them survived. The blast could have been avoided, provided the mine management had taken effective measures to withdraw miners and cut electricity underground right after detecting high gas density, according to local officials. Chinese coal mines suffer frequent explosions, flooding and cave-ins, claiming about 6,000 lives a year. Unsafe small coal mines account for two-thirds of the total fatalities in mine accidents, government figures show. The State Administration of Work Safety said earlier China will seal off 2,652 small mines each with an annual output of less than 30,000 tons this year and another 2,209 next year. Amid efforts to avoid huge fatalities, China will allow no more than 100 miners to work underground per shift in State-owned coal mines, said Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety. He said this is feasible for all 176 mines owned by 13 State-owned enterprises.

Nation to continue with family planning policy
2006-12-01 China Daily
China will continue to adhere to the family planning policy in the long run, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said at a conference in Beijing Thursday. The conference, presided by General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao, described family planning as a key factor in economic and social development. The meeting urged continued research on population development strategies, improvement of population quality based on a low birthrate, better technological and service levels in family planning and reining in a rising gender imbalance. The focus of population and family planning efforts must shift from purely controlling the numbers to stabilizing the low birthrate, it said. China would now have had 400 million more people if the policy decreeing most couples to have only one child had not been put in place, official statistics show. The country's population officially reached 1.3 billion in January last year. Formulated in the early 1970s, the family planning policy encourages late marriages and childbearing. Yesterday's meeting also decided to convene the annual Central Working Conference on the Economy in the near future. Although remarkable achievements have been made in the economic realm this year, some deep-rooted problems including an imbalanced economic structure and an inefficient growth pattern have not been effectively addressed, the meeting said. The government should continue to improve its economic macro-control policies next year, further boost reform and opening-up, step up conservation of resources and better protect the environment, the meeting said. It called for further efforts to push forward economic growth in a fast and sound manner so as to create a good environment for the 17th CPC National Congress scheduled for the latter half of next year.

Pension fund woes could mean rise in retirement age
2006-11-28 China Daily
The government is studying the feasibility of raising the mandatory retirement age to plug the huge deficit in the pension fund, the China Economic Weekly reports. The social security fund was 800 billion yuan (US$102 billion) in the red at the end of last year, compared to 36 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion) in 2000, the Chinese-language magazine said, citing a Ministry of Labour and Social Security document. The magazine quoted unidentified ministry officials as saying that they would put forward a proposal on raising the retirement age to the higher authorities within a month. Guo Yue, a researcher with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions Research Centre, attributed the shortfall to the fact that many employees retire in their 40s or 50s, much earlier than the requisite age - 60 for men and 55 for women, or in some cases, 50. Raising the legal retirement age will delay the payment of pension, according to experts. Official statistics showed that in 2000, the average retirement age was 51.2. Zhang Hongmei, a bank employee who retired at 45 in 2003, said she is happy with the 1,200 yuan (US$153) monthly pension. Before retirement, she was paid 1,400 yuan (US$178) a month. Zhang and many others contributed less to the pension fund than they would have if they had retired at the prescribed age; but enjoy full pension benefits. The policy allowing earlier retirement was implemented in the mid-1990s, when State-owned enterprises were reformed. Early retirement can alleviate some unemployment pressure in the short term, but over time, it will negatively affect social security and economic development in an aging society, according to the magazine. According to the United Nations, China meets all the criteria of an aging society, the population over 65 has exceeded 100 million, accounting for 7.7 per cent of the total; and the population over 60 accounts for 10.5 per cent of the total. Shanghai is already considering allowing senior technicians and engineers to continue working for five to 10 more years after they reach their retirement age, Shanghai Morning Post reported last week. However, a central government official is reported to have told China Economic Weekly that raising the retirement age too fast would exacerbate the unemployment situation. The ministry estimates that at least 24 million urban residents need jobs each year, but there are only 11 million openings. In addition, there are also 100 million surplus labourers in the rural areas. "We need to balance pension fund needs and unemployment," said the official. Making matters worse is that about 7.1 billion yuan (US$905 million) of the 2-trillion-yuan (US$255 billion) social security fund has been misappropriated, according to the National Audit Office. [...]

Shanghai unveils financial blueprint
2006-11-28 China Daily
Shanghai has laid down ambitious plans to strengthen its position as an international financial centre. According to a blueprint unveiled yesterday for the 11th Five Year Plan period (2006-10), the city will capture at least 25 per cent of the nation's funding business, including stocks and bonds. The plan highlights four main elements in the development framework, the first of which involves establishing a world-renowned financial market system in which both domestic and foreign investors can participate. By the end of 2010, Shanghai's monetary market is expected to have a trading volume of 80 trillion yuan. At the end of October this year the figure was 46 trillion yuan, and last year the figure was 34 trillion. According to the blueprint, authorities also hope to build Shanghai Futures Exchange Market into one of the world's top 10.The second task is creating a diversified banking system in which both domestic and foreign financial institutions with international competitiveness can grow together. [...] According to the plan, Shanghai will greatly encourage financial reform such as Internet banking and securities. [...] Experts agree that Shanghai needs to take steps to develop its financial markets. "The percentage of funds raised directly in the capital market is small compared to bank borrowings," said Gao Yuan, a stock analyst at Guangda Securities. [...]

Draft of first energy law taking shape
2006-11-29 China Daily
The draft of China's first energy law, which will shape the country's energy policies, will be completed by the end of the year, sources with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said Tuesday. The law will paint broad brush strokes and not delve into details of each sector in the industry, according to experts. A team led by the NDRC and comprising 15 ministry-level departments was set up at the beginning of this year to frame the law. It will override current industry laws such as the Electricity Law and the Coal Law, and serve as a guideline for the legislation of any future laws on a certain energy sector, said Zhou Dadi, a researcher with the Energy Research Institute affiliated to the NDRC. "It will be like a 'constitution' for the energy industry," Zhou said, adding that the preliminary draft will be completed by the end of next month. Though the details of the draft are unknown, media reports have said that it would be a comprehensive law covering resource exploitation, production and transportation, consumption, and conservation. At a recent discussion, energy experts called for the law, which may take up to two years to be passed, to define regulations for foreign acquisitions and set up an umbrella body to approve all energy projects, Xinhua News Agency reported. Energy security will be an important component, experts said. Chen Shouhai, a professor at China University of Petroleum, said the law will underscore the necessity of strategic reserves of important energy sources such as oil. [...] China now has four energy laws, covering the coal, electric power, energy conservation and renewable energy sectors.

Chan positive on China's public health efforts
2006-11-29 China Daily
The director-general elect of the World Health Organization (WHO) has praised China's efforts to improve its public health systems. "China has made great progress in building a public disease surveillance and prevention system and has made a huge investment in the field of public health since the 2003 SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak," Margaret Chan told China Daily Tuesday. "I've noticed that the Chinese Government has made unremitting efforts to improve medical services, especially for the rural population and disadvantaged urban groups," Chan said. "They have chosen a very good work priority," she added. Chan was speaking after a meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao. "I was reminded by Premier Wen that my duty as director-general of the WHO is to serve all members of the WHO," Chan said. During the meeting, Wen pledged to further strengthen co-operation with the world health body. Wen said China will work with the WHO in disease prevention and control, information sharing and construction of public health systems. He stated that China had established sound co-operative relations with the WHO, and would continue to support and maintain close ties with the organization. "The Chinese Government has attached great importance to public health, and has set promoting the overall level of Chinese people's health as a priority," Wen told Chan. He noted that China has set up a nationwide disease prevention and control system and medical treatment system for public health emergencies in recent years. Now the country can release epidemic information in a prompt, open, and transparent way and can effectively curb the spread of infectious diseases. [...] Wen congratulated Chan for her success in the election for WHO director-general, which made her the first Chinese national to head a United Nations agency. [...] Appointed by the World Health Assembly on November 9, 2006, Chan will take office on January 4. According to her 2007-12 mandate, Chan will focus on Africa as well as women's health. Chan was previously WHO assistant director-general for communicable diseases and representative of the director-general for Pandemic Influenza. Prior to joining the WHO, she was director of health in Hong Kong. During her nine-year tenure Chan confronted the first human outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza in 1997, and successfully defeated SARS in Hong Kong in 2003.

New panel to oversee donations of organs
2006-11-28 SCMP
Beijing will set up a new government body to oversee the registration and allocation of donated organs for transplants amid widespread controversy in the field, Xinhua reported yesterday. New regulations on human organ transplants would be issued "soon", mandating the establishment of the new body, Xinhua reported, citing comments by Wang Jianrong, vice-director of the Ministry of Health. On July 1, Beijing issued regulations on the purchase and sale of human organs for transplant after widespread accusations it tolerated a black market trade in organs harvested from executed prisoners or taken from dead patients without their prior consent. "Currently, China has no clear laws on human organ transplants," Xinhua said. "This has resulted in transplants being carried out by unqualified doctors with substandard medical equipment, leading to the death of some patients. It is also widely claimed that hospitals are preoccupied with the quantity of organ transplants rather than the quality." The article also criticised the practice of giving foreign patients priority in transplant operations due to the higher fees hospitals could charge them. But it was unclear if the new regulations would address this issue. The mainland performed 34,726 organ transplants from 2000 to 2004, the report said, citing ministry data. By the end of 2004, 599 medical institutions were performing liver, kidney, heart and lung transplants. "About 1.5 million people in China need transplants each year, but only about 10,000 operations can be carried out due to organ shortages," it said. Families were traditionally opposed to donating the organs of deceased relatives due to long-standing beliefs on keeping the body intact, Xinhua said.

Entrepreneurs, professionals make key part of CPC's united front in new era
2006-11-29 People's Daily Online
Private entrepreneurs and professionals in new social sectors have constituted a crucial part of the united front work of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the new century. Such a principle is enshrined in a document recently issued by the CPC Central Committee, which is entitled Opinions on Consolidating and Expanding United Front in New Century and New Stage. In the document, business people in private sectors and freelance professionals are recognized along with workers, farmers and intellectuals as builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics. With profound economic and social changes in the wake of China's state-planned economy, new social forces including private entrepreneurs and freelance professionals have emerged, the document said. They have made significant contribution to the construction of a well-off society featuring common prosperity and socialist harmony, according to the document. Under such circumstances, the CPC should strive to mobilize and unify their enthusiasm, make full play of their function to pool new strength for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The document stressed that the united front has always been an important part of the CPC's general policy, and a major "magic weapon" of the CPC as a ruling party in governing the country. Every possible positive factor will be brought into play under the leadership of the CPC to consolidate the patriotic united front to the utmost, the document said.

China issues regulations on foreign journalists' reporting of 2008 Beijing Olympics
2006-12-01 People's Daily Online
In a decree signed by Premier Wen Jiabao, China on Friday issued a set of regulations on reporting activities in China by foreign journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the preparatory period. The following are the full text of the regulations:

REGULATIONS ON REPORTING ACTIVITIES IN CHINA BY FOREIGN JOURNALISTS DURING THE BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES AND THE PREPARATORY PERIOD
Article 1: These Regulations are formulated to facilitate reporting activities carried out in accordance with the laws of the People's Republic of China by foreign journalists in China to advance and promote the Olympic Spirit during the Beijing Olympic Games and the preparatory period. Article 2: These Regulations apply to reporting activities carried out by foreign journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games and related matters in China during the Beijing Olympic Games and the preparatory period. The Beijing Olympic Games mentioned in the Regulations refer to the 29th Olympic Games and the 13th Paralympic Games. Article 3: Foreign journalists who intend to come to China for reporting should apply for visas at Chinese embassies, consulates or other visa-issuing institutions authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. Foreign journalists who hold valid Olympic Identity and Accreditation Cards and Paralympic Identity and Accreditation Cards are entitled to multiple entries into the territory of the People's Republic of China with visa exemption by presenting Olympic Identity and Accreditation Cards, together with valid passports or other travel documents. Article 4: Foreign journalists may bring a reasonable quantity of reporting equipments into China duty free for their own use. The aforementioned equipments should be shipped out of China's territory at the end of their reporting activities. To bring into China reporting equipment duty free for their own use, foreign journalists should apply for the Equipment Confirmation Letter at Chinese embassies or consulates and present the Equipment Confirmation Letter together with a J-2 visa when going through customs inspection. Foreign journalists who hold Olympic Identity and Accreditation Cards and Paralympic Identity and Accreditation Cards may present the Equipment Confirmation Letter issued by the Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games when going through customs inspection. Article 5: For reporting needs, foreign journalists may, on a temporary basis, bring in, install and use radio communication equipment after completing the required application and approval procedures. Article 6: To interview organizations or individuals in China, foreign journalists need only to obtain their prior consent. Article 7: Foreign journalists may, through organizations providing services to foreign nationals, hire Chinese citizens to assist them in their reporting activities. Article 8: The media guide for foreign journalists of the Beijing Olympic Games shall be formulated by the Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games in accordance with these Regulations. Article 9: These Regulations shall come into force as of 1 January 2007 and expire on 17 October 2008.

Senior official calls for cultural development
2006-11-25 Xinhuanet
Beijing: A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has called for faster cultural development in the economically sleeping southwestern region. After a four-day tour of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, urged officials to improve facilities for popularizing cultural activities in the underdeveloped region and the countryside. TV signals access and community recreation facilities should be placed on priority, Li said, noting that officials should try their best to provide easier access to books, films, and traditional operas for the farmers. He acknowledged that the cultural resources in Guangxi are rich and the masses have huge demands for good cultural activities, though the region falls behind in terms of economic development. Li said it is important to make the combination of cultures and tourism as a new source of economic boom. He suggested a publicity campaign be launched to let people know the significance of building a harmonious society, which should be based on the core value system of socialism.

East Asia Cooperation Forum kicks off in Beijing
2006-11-25 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China's Renmin University kicked off the two-day "East Asia Cooperation Forum 2006" in Beijing on Saturday. The theme of the forum is "Constructing a harmonious East Asia: responsibility and action for China, Japan and the Republic of Korea". More than 100 governmental officials and experts from China, Japan and the ROK attended the Forum. Yuan Wei, vice-president of Renmin University, Wu Jianmin, president of China Foreign Affairs University, together with ROK and Japanese officials made speeches at the opening ceremony, insisting on the need for "communication and interaction among China, Japan and the ROK" in order to create a harmonious society. Speakers said that "intellectual support from academics is also necessary. The political and public bases for East Asian cooperation must be expanded." Hosted by the School of International Studies, the forum will focus on security mechanisms for the East Asia Cooperation Scheme and the development of an East Asian Community. Henceforth an annual event, the Forum is touted as a high-level communication platform for experts and scholars to discuss peace, development and cooperation in East Asia.

Hebei theft suspect dies in police custody
2006-11-28 SCMP
A Hebei farmer accused of theft died in custody on Friday, two days after a police interrogation. He Yujiang, 48, was summoned to the Xiaowangzhuang police station in Cangzhou on Wednesday and after being questioned was kept at the station where he was found dead on Friday, according to the China News Service. Under mainland law, suspects can be held for only up to 12 hours for questioning and must be released if there is no evidence of guilt. Zhang Changjun, deputy director of the Cangzhou Public Security Bureau's propaganda office, confirmed the death of the suspect but said an autopsy report had not been released. "The municipal party committee, the municipal politics and law party committee and the municipal propaganda party committee are investigating the matter, and the provincial Public Security Bureau is also engaged with the investigation," Mr Zhang said. He's brother-in-law, Wang Jinming, said He's corpse was bruised and bloodied and he suspected local police of using violence against his relative. "Parts of his legs were dark, his mouth was bloody and there were wounds to his stomach," Mr Wang said. He's brother, He Yushu, said he had asked police to explain the injuries. "The dead cannot be revived, but we want a clear explanation of why he died and how he died," He Yushu said. He Yushu said his brother's wife had been so shocked to hear of her husband's death that she had to be admitted to hospital. A staff member at the Cangzhou People's Hospital's emergency centre said doctors found the man dead when they arrived at the police station, but would not disclose the cause of death. In July, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said police would face criminal prosecution if they used torture to extract confessions, and listed eight criteria for the crime of torture, including beating, binding, freezing, starving and exposing suspects to severe weather. Wang Zhenchuan, a deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, admitted this month that nearly every wrongful verdict in recent years was related to illegal interrogation, and again called on mainland police to stop using torture to extract confessions.

Verdict in journalist's fraud case appeal due
2006-11-30 SCMP
A Beijing court will issue its verdict tomorrow in the case of a journalist for The New York Times who has appealed against a three-year prison sentence imposed for fraud, his lawyer said. "The court told us there will be a verdict on Friday," Zhao Yan's lawyer, Guan Anping, said yesterday. The Beijing No2 Intermediate People's Court convicted Zhao of fraud in a closed-door trial on August 25, but acquitted him of a more serious charge of leaking state secrets in a case that has received international attention. He was originally arrested on the state secrets charge in September 2004, shortly after The New York Times correctly reported that former president Jiang Zemin would step down as military chief. Human rights groups have said the authorities were not targeting Zhao to seek justice for alleged fraud or leaking of secrets, but rather as part of an ongoing campaign to intimidate and silence journalists. On the fraud charge, the court ruled that while Zhao was working in 2001 as a reporter for the Legal Daily's Baixing Xinbao supplement, he had failed to use his connections to help rescind a labour re-education penalty given to a village party boss after receiving 20,000 yuan from the official. Zhao has denied taking the money. Mr Guan reiterated yesterday that his client was innocent. "We believe that the prosecution charges against Zhao Yan are not based on established evidence," Mr Guan said. "But how the court reaches its verdict is difficult to say."

Jailed journalist awarded press freedom prize
2006-11-29 SCMP
Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year jail sentence for leaking state secrets, has been awarded a press freedom prize, the World Association of Newspapers said yesterday. The association awarded its annual Golden Pen of Freedom honour to Shi, a former writer for the financial publication Contemporary Business News, who was last year sentenced to 10 years in prison under state secrecy laws for allegedly providing state secrets to foreigners. His conviction stemmed from an e-mail he sent containing his notes on a government circular that spelled out media restrictions ahead of the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. It later emerged that internet giant Yahoo had turned over e-mails from Shi's account to prosecutors, which helped them trace the journalist and aided in his conviction. "The jailing of Mr Shi is an outrage. It is also a sad example of a western company aiding and abetting repression in the belief that to refuse would harm its activities in the country," said the Paris-based association, which announced the prize after meeting in Kiev. Shi's younger brother, Shi Hua, said his brother would be happy about the award, but added that guards at the Chishan Prison in Hunan province were strict. "They won't let us talk about anything but family matters when we visit," Shi Hua said from his home in Ningxia . "When we have brought up anything else, including Yahoo, they have immediately cut the connection on the visitor's phone." Letters between Shi, 38, and his family were also screened, he said. Shi Hua last visited his brother in October and his mother visits about once a month. He was suffering from a skin condition but otherwise in good health, he said. Press freedom groups say China is the world's leading jailer of journalists, with at least 42 behind bars.

 

Tibet

Chinese gov't continues favorable policy in Tibet
2006-11-27 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China's State Council has recently decided to continue favorable and supportive policies during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010) to promote the economic and social development in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Chinese central government always attaches great importance to the work in Tibet, having held four working conferences on Tibet since the start of reform and opening-up policy at the end of 1970s, and formulated a series of favorable and supportive policies to accelerate the economic development there and maintain stability. Despite the great improvement of Tibetan people's life, Tibet is still a less developed region of China due to special geographic environment and historical factors. The State Council, therefore, decided to continue the favorable policy already formulated in the fourth working conference on Tibet and enhanced support to Tibet in the area of agriculture, infrastructure, human resources, education, science, public health, culture and social welfare. The government will take further action to improve the production and life conditions of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen, and regard their income increase as a priority task in Tibetan economic and social development. The central government will add investment to Tibet, and by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan period, almost all the Tibetan farmers and herdsmen will find the problems solved involving drinking water and using electricity. The government will continue to enhance infrastructure construction in Tibet, extending the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, reconstructing the main roads connecting Tibet and surrounding regions, accelerating the construction of airports, as well as improving the energy, postal, and telephone services during the next five years. [...]

 

Economy

Job shortage to affect huge number of graduates
2006-11-29 China Daily
China's university graduates are braced for gloomier employment prospects next year as the number of graduates will reach a record high of 4.95 million, the Ministry of Education said Tuesday. Spokesman Wang Xuming said next year's number of university graduates will represent a rise of 820,000 over this year. "Given the already grave employment situation in the country the employment pressure on university graduates will be obvious," he told a regular press conference. Based on the average employment rate of 70 per cent for university graduates upon graduation, more than 1.49 million of them may become jobless next year. To address the problem, the ministry has asked universities to give top priority to better employment services for graduates in 2007, the spokesman said. "The employment rate will be one of the crucial criteria to evaluate a university, and any cheating in the figure will be severely punished," he said. He added that the employment rate will be considered in next year's recruiting plan, which is being drafted by the ministry. But he also noted that the present 5-10 per cent growth in university enrolment is a "normal rate" for the development of the educational industry. Liu Yuebo, director of the Employment Service Office of Nankai University, a key national university in Tianjin, said the increasingly competitive job market has prompted his university to make greater efforts to help its students find jobs in recent years. Every year starting from the summer, the office makes countless phone calls to major companies and institutions across the country, enquiring about job information or inviting them to come and recruit students on campus. [...]

RMB breaks 7.85 mark against U.S. dollar
2006-11-27 People's Daily Online
The value of the Renminbi (RMB) against the U.S. dollar hit a new high on Monday, with the central parity rate at 7.8402 yuan to one dollar, breaking the 7.85 mark. This signifies that RMB value has risen by 5.31 percent since July 21, 2005, when the Chinese government launched the reform of the exchange rate system to allow the yuan to float against the U.S. dollar within a daily 0.3 percent band from the official central parity rate. The appreciation followed previous records on Nov. 9 when the central parity rate hit 7.8697, breaking the 7.87 mark, and Nov. 23 when it was 7.8596, breaking the 7.86 mark. The exchange rate was set at about 8.27 yuan per U.S. dollar before the reform. The yuan's appreciation is attributed to the continuous slump of the U.S. dollar and expectation for an interest rate drop in the United States, said analysts. China's soaring foreign exchange reserves and the rocketing trade surplus are also considered important factors that pushed the yuan's value to new highs. China's foreign exchange reserves are expected to reach one trillion U.S. dollars after climbing to 987.9 billion U.S. dollars by the end of September, with a monthly average increase of 18.7 billion U.S. dollars for the first nine months. U.S. critics have argued that China's currency is undervalued by as much as 40 percent, giving Chinese goods price advantages and resulting in a mounting trade deficit for the United States, which has exacerbated the pressure to appreciate the yuan. However, Tang Xu, director general of the research department of China's central bank, said the current floating band of the yuan's exchange rate is wide enough.

China's GDP to grow by 10 to 10.7 pct this year: expert
2006-11-28 People's Daily Online
China's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise by 10 percent to 10.7 percent this year over the previous year, said Yao Jingyuan, chief economist of the National Bureau of Statistics. Yao told a conference on steel industry that the country's economy has maintained a "fast, steady and high quality growth" this year. In the first nine months the national economy experienced rapid growth, with the GDP up 10.7 percent, the industrial sector up 13 percent, retail sales up 13.5 percent and the foreign trade volume up 24.3 percent over the same period last year. Yao said the economic growth was of "high quality" because the country's fiscal revenues, profits of enterprises and incomes of urban and rural residents all went up in the first nine months. The consumer price index (CPI) rose a moderate 1.3 percent, 0.7 of a percentage point lower than the rise of the same period last year, which Yao believed indicated stable economic conditions. China's macro-economic control policies had taken effect, successfully slowing the GDP growth, fixed assets investment and supplies of money and bank loans, said Yao. But efforts needed to be strengthened as bank loans were still expanding at a rapid pace, fixed assets investment remained high and the trade imbalance lingered, he said.

Concerns as new dam to displace thousands - Third-biggest project to uproot cultures, put 200 fish types at risk, experts say
2006-11-27 SCMP
Construction of the country's third-largest dam started yesterday amid concerns over its environmental impact and the relocation of tens of thousands of people. The Xiangjiaba hydroelectric power plant, which will have a 6,000MW generating capacity, will be located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. It will cost an estimated 43.4 billion yuan and is scheduled for completion by 2015, according to state media. The dam is one of a cluster of hydropower stations emerging in the southwest of the country. Last December, work began in the same area on the Xiluodu power plant which, combined with Xiangjiaba, will have a capacity exceeding that of the country's biggest station at the Three Gorges. Plans to build another two dams in the same area are still being discussed. Xinhua quoted Li Yongan, general manager of the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Corporation, the dam's developer, as saying the project aimed to meet the energy demands of the eastern, central and southern regions, as well as Sichuan and Yunnan. But the Xiangjiaba project will lead to the relocation of about 88,000 people, and six counties will be submerged, including Yibin in Sichuan and Shuifu in Yunnan, according to official media. Outside observers, however, put the number of people facing relocation at between 100,000 and 150,000. Xinhua said 15.2 billion yuan of the total outlay would be used for relocation and 1.5 billion for environmental preservation. Like most projects across the mainland, the Xiangjiaba dam has encountered strong opposition from ecologists and residents. Sichuan geologist Fan Xiao said the dam would damage the spawning sites of rare fish. "There are about 200 types of rare fish on the construction site along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Preserving this biological diversity is crucial," Professor Fan said. He also said the dam was being built in a seismically active area and an earthquake measuring seven on the Richter scale had once occurred near the construction site. "The building of the huge dam will probably trigger an earthquake in the future," he said. Mr Fan said the residents facing eviction were mostly farmers, and the compensation they would receive - 600 yuan a year - was inadequate. Beijing environmentalist Wang Yongchen called for more consideration in dealing with relocated farmers as many did not have the skills to adapt to new locations. But opposition has paid off in the form of garnered international pressure. Yunnan intends to scrap a project along the Nu River, a few months after Unesco threatened to take one of the province's attractions off its World Heritage list.

Female migrants suffering at work
2006-11-30 China Daily
More than half of female migrant workers work without contracts or social welfare guarantees, according to a recent survey. The All-China Women's Federation survey found that only about 40 per cent of female migrant workers have signed contracts with their employers. The survey also found that only 23.8 per cent surveyed have medical insurance, 19.1 per cent work injury insurance, 8.1 per cent unemployment insurance and just 6.7 per cent maternity insurance. Only 36.4 per cent of female migrant workers are permitted to take maternity leave, and 64.5 per cent receive no pay during this period. The survey was carried out between July and August this year, with 6,596 questionnaires in 416 villages in eight provinces, as well as 53 migrant worker residences in four major cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Most female migrant workers are engaged in labour intensive jobs, which often means low pay and poor working conditions. The survey said the average monthly salary was 859 yuan (US$107), 20 per cent lower than male migrant workers, who earned on average 1,033 yuan (US$129). [...] The survey also showed rural women wanted women's federations to help in better safeguarding their rights, and to offer advice on improving living standards and poverty alleviation. Mo Wenxiu, vice-chairwoman of the federation and vice-director of the survey group, said there were positives from the survey: "We found rural women's legal awareness had increased, as 81.1 per cent of respondents knew about the Law on Women's Rights Protection." Some 77 per cent rural women and 68.7 per cent of female migrant workers said they knew of or had accepted legal aid or judicial assistance. Despite the improvement in legal awareness, China's rural women worry most about their child's education. The survey showed 35.8 per cent of respondents worried about education, 34.5 per cent about making a living and 14 per cent about health.

Affordable tickets offered for Beijing Olympic Games
2006-11-30 People's Daily Online
Ticket prices for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be much lower than at previous Games and affordable for most people, organizers said yesterday while releasing a "people-oriented" plan. Affordability was a key factor in setting prices, according to officials of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG). There will be 7 million tickets for sale and Chinese spectators will have access to at least half of them, a ratio higher than in recent Games. According to the plan, 58 per cent of the tickets will be priced at or below 100 yuan (US$12.76), with some even 10 yuan (US$1.27) or lower for students. Tickets for the opening ceremony will cost 200 to 5,000 yuan (US$25.5-638), and for the closing ceremony, 150 to 3,000 yuan (US$19-382). About 60,000 tickets will be available for the opening ceremony for ordinary spectators. For competitions, the prices for preliminary sessions will range from 30 to 300 yuan (US$3.8-38), rising to 60 to 1,000 yuan (US$7.6-127) for the finals. As part of the Olympic Education Programme, BOCOG has allocated 14 per cent of all tickets at special prices to encourage attendance from Chinese youth. Student tickets will be 5 yuan (US$0.64) for preliminaries and 10 yuan for finals. Tickets will be available in the country during the first half of next year; and more details of the ticketing programme will be released then, said a statement on BOCOG website. Beijing Gehua Ticketmaster Ticketing Co Ltd, a Sino-US consortium of ticketing agencies, was selected as an exclusive service provider for BOCOG in October. The most expensive ticket for the 2008 opening ceremony costs half of what it was in Athens, and the lowest, only 20 per cent. The prices for sporting events are 30 per cent of what they were at previous Games. Although the prices are low, BOCOG officials said they are confident that it won't affect income. "There are 1.3 billion people in China and we hope to let as many people as possible enjoy the Games," said BOCOG President Liu Qi earlier. "Since the marketing programme is going well, making a profit is not the key concern when we made the ticket policy." [...]

 

North Korea

Beijing urges all sides to come back to Six-Party Talks
2006-12-01 China Daily
Beijing will continue to work with all parties to set a date for the next round of Six-Party Talks, following two days of meetings with Washington and Pyongyang. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said through multiple rounds of trilateral and bilateral talks, the three sides exchanged views on pushing forward the talks in a frank and in-depth manner. "The meetings are conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and sharing concerns," Jiang said yesterday at a press briefing. She again urged all parties to take the opportunity to adopt active measures to achieve progress in pushing for an early resumption of the stalled talks. Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and their counterpart from Pyongyang Kim Kye-gwan held informal discussions starting Tuesday, their first meeting since the end of October. Talking to reporters during a brief stopover at Tokyo airport after meetings in Beijing yesterday, Hill had a warning for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"They must get out of the nuclear business and into the NPT," he said, referring to the Non-Proliferation Treaty which Pyongyang quit in 2003. However, Pyongyang is adamant that it will not give up the country's nuclear programme. It is reported Pyongyang wants sanctions dropped and Washington to unfreeze its overseas bank accounts as preconditions for ending its nuclear programme. According to Jiang, the inaugural meeting of the China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue will be held from December 14th to 15th in Beijing, and will be co-chaired by Vice-Premier Wu Yi and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The dialogue was launched by President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart George W. Bush in September as an overarching forum for discussing ways the two countries can work together to ensure their people benefit fairly from the growing bilateral economic relationship. [...]

 

Mongolia

PM Talks Trade in China US$300m for Power Station Pledged
2006-11-30 UB Post
Economic and trade relations were the main focus of the talks Prime Minister M. Enkhbold held in China during his six-day official visit there between November 22 and 27 at the invitation of his counterpart Wen Jiabao. Several assistance agreements were signed, including one in which China pledged to give Mongolia US$ 300 million as a soft loan to build a hydroelectric power station in the Eg river, in central Mongolia. Apart from the Chinese Prime Minister, M.Enkhbold met with National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Wu Banggua, and the Chinese People.s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin. The formal statement issued after the talks between the two Prime Ministers said they had agreed on continuing to work for five principal goals. These were: 1. Increasing mutual visits and exchanges to strengthen understanding and trust and consolidating and developing the bilateral partnership; 2. The promotion of cooperation in the key areas of infrastructure and energy exploration, particularly on the construction of power stations, roads and railways in Mongolia, and the formulation of medium- and long-term plans for economic and trade relations; 3. The expansion of collaboration on natural resources, disaster prevention and relief, and the prevention and control of contagious diseases; 4. Fostering cultural and humanitarian exchanges and cooperation, raising the number of student exchanges; 5. Intensifying communication and coordination within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), strengthening the consultation mechanism among Mongolia, China and Russia about adopting joint measures to safeguard regional stability and to promote regional cooperation and to combat drugs trafficking. After the talks, M.Enkhbold and Wen Jiabao signed several agreements ranging from economic and technological cooperation, agriculture, infrastructure and finance to oil and mining cooperation. M.Enkhbold said the two nations had forged c o m p r e h e n s i v e cooperation in political, economic and trade, education and public health fields, adding that the development of long- term and stable ties with China was the avowed policy of the Mongolian Government. The Chinese Prime Minister responded by saying that China- Mongolia relations are .at a new stage of stable development. The agreements under the umbrella of Mongolia- China economic and technical cooperation provide for China building a sports complex in Ulaanbaatar, donating 2,000 tons of wheat to tide over an impending world-wide shortage, sending a working group to establish a research station in Mongolia to study the use of pastureland, establishing a joint supervision mechanism to ease bilateral trade movement, producing a joint working plan for the two foreign ministries in 2007 and 2008, preparing a map of the two countries borders, continuing cooperation between the Mongolian Minerals and Oil Authority and the Chinese Geology Center. The Mongolian Prime Minister also attended the meeting of the Mongolia-China trade forum in Beijing. Companies from the two countries represented there signed cooperation agreements with a total value of about US$100 million in fields such as real estate and mechanical equipment. Chinese companies are also likely to invest in the Tsagaan Nuur free trade area. In 2005, Mongolia-China trade reached about US$860 million, an increase of more than 24 percent from the previous year. In the first nine months of 2006, this figure has become US$1.13 billion, 88.8 percent more than the corresponding figure last year. The Mongolian Finance Minister, who had accompanied the Prime Minister, told the media that China had agreed to give US$ 6 million next year as non-repayable assistance to Mongolia, in place of the US$3.6 million this year. Besides Beijing, M. Enkhbold also visited Urumqi, capital of northwest China.s Xinjiang UygurAutonomous Region, and Xi.an, capital of northwest China.s Shaanxi Province.

Formalized Corruption, Say Civil Activists
2006-11-30 UB Post
After expressing their anger at a press conference on November 28 over the support expressed in parliament for a proposal to provide Tg250 million to every electoral district of parliament, activists of the Just Society Civil Movement joined those from other civil service movements in a march on Government House. The activists wrote .Stop 250 million in spray paint on the walls of the building and a serviceman from Government House trying to remove the paint on the wall. FOCUS-MN/B.Byamba-Ochir put stickers on the vehicles of parliament members in the car park. The protesters clashed a number of times with guards, but no police were involved. .This is formalized corruption, said J.Batzandan, a leader of the Just Society Civil Movement, to reporters at the press conference on Tuesday. He said the members of parliament, except for the head of the CivilWillParty, S. Oyun, have not yet explained to voters how they had spent the Tg100 million provided to them previously. .This is totally unjust and unacceptable. The Constitution divides Mongolia into administrative units, not parliamentary electoral districts. Members are treating parliament as a place from which to take, distribute, and spend money, he said. To a reporter.s question about how they would identify the cars on which to put stickers, Batzandan responded, .First, parliament members have special ÓÁÇ license plates. Second, they all drive Land Cruisers, vehicles worth more than Tg40 million, which ordinary people cannot possibly afford. The Democratic Party has also expressed its formal position that it stands against the Tg250 million proposal. Its executive council asked its MPS to strongly oppose the move during its next discussion. .This was not projected in the state budget. It was a sudden proposal and thus took many members by surprise. This is a totally wrong move, said Ts.Elbegdorj, head of the Democratic Party, at the press conference on Tuesday. The Democratic Party said that government should have used this fund to support small and medium sized businesses instead.

Reason for the train crash
2006-11-30 Mongol Messenger
Three men were killed on November 20 at a place near Khangai junction, about 107km away from Ulaanbaatar city when a freight train collided with a locomotive. The freight train (#3141) carrying 48 wagons of coal from Choir station to Ulaanbaatar arrived in Khangai Junction at 8am where another locamotive was added to allow the train to travel through Khoolt mountain pass. However the train was stopped at a place called Bosgo tolgoi due to a minor problem in rear locomotive. The machinist called Khangai station to ask help. The main reason for the accident was because the junction dispatcher relayed an incorrect position to the rescue team. Poor visibility was another likely factor. The Khangai station railway chief A. Sukhbaatar, machinist and assistant who were in the locomotive coming to help, were killed in the collision. The rescue team extricated the bodies of the station chief and assistant at 2pm and spent three further hours extricating the body of the machinist D. Byambadorj from where it was stuck between two engines. Another cause for the accident was that the machinist and assistant of the stalled train did not place a warning sign or noise signal on the track and the assistant failed to hold a red flag at a regulation distances from the train. The coming train would have slowed down and stopped had it passed over and through the warning signals. Railway police are investigating the matter as a crime. Railway police lieutenant colonel A. Dogmid told daily press on November 20, "The crash, that claimed three was due to the irresponsibility of railway workers. Police officers are investigating the case to clarify the cause. Because we have just started questioning, it is too early to say anything to the press." O November 23, the Trade Union of Ulaanbaatar Railway organized a press conference about the train crash in Bagakhangai junction. According to them, on November 22, the Railway Authority organized an immediate meeting and resolved to impose responsibility for the accidenton 20 employees. At the press conference, Yu Iderchuluun, chief of Ulaanbaatar locomotive depot said, "Some decisions of yesterday's meeting were unfair. My labor agreement was annulled and I agree with it. But I do not agree with the decision that the crash was due to the Locomotive depot department. Of course, we have made a mistake but Ulaanbaatar Railway Traffic department is also at fault for the accident. The main reason for the accident was that the Khangai station dispatcher sent the wrong order. The dispatcher should have said "495-1", but she said "496- 5". So the irresponsibility of the dispatcher caused the crash, killing three men. That is why; I think that the Locomotive depot department should not bear all responsibility for the accident. In addition the crash happened because the Railway Authority did not resolve the supply of a warning device or railway noise detonator. According to regulations, if the train has to stop due to any problem, the train machinist must put warning sign or detonator at the distance of 300 meters from the train for the locomotive coming to help. However, there has been no supply of such signaling objects for the last ten years." "I have never seen such big accident in the 40 year period I have worked for the Mongolian Railway. This is the third since 1982, but this one was a serious one. When we arrived at the site of the accident, the assistant of crashed locomotive was alive. But we failed to save his life because his legs and arms were stuck between the engines, and impossible to retrieve", he said.

 

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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