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
  1.1-5.1.07, No. 148  
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Foreign Policy

China calls for early nuke talks
2007-01-05 China Daily
China yesterday called for early resumption of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program in a bid to promote "comprehensive and peaceful" resolution of the issue. Given the current situation, it has become "more necessary and urgent" to reopen negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said yesterday during talks with Iran's secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, in Beijing. Larijani, who is also Iran's top nuclear negotiator, arrived in Beijing yesterday for two-day visit as a special envoy of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, carrying a message from the Iranian leader to Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu is expected to meet with him today. "China has been maintaining dialogue and consultations, and this is the best way to resolve the Iranian nuke issue," Tang said. "We hope related parties show flexibility and create favorable conditions for resumption of the talks as soon as possible to promote the comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the issue." Larijani's China trip comes amid Teheran's defiance over sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council for its nuclear program. The United States has led the drive to stop Iran from enriching uranium a process that they fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic program is entirely peaceful and it has every right to the nuclear fuel cycle. The UN Security Council voted unanimously on December 23 to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology. It was an attempt on the part of the UN to stop Iran from its uranium enrichment work that could produce material used in bombs. Tang said the UN resolution 1713 reflects the concerns of the international community over safeguarding the non-proliferation system. In response, Larijani said, under the current situation, his country is still ready to abide by the principle of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and continue its efforts to seek a just and rational solution to the issue through "equal consultations". He also appreciated China's efforts in pushing for the negotiations for peaceful resolution of the issue. Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday in a speech to a rally in the southern city of Ahvaz that Iran would not retreat from its right to nuclear technology and that the UN resolution was "invalid". However, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters in New York on Wednesday council members should not be discouraged by those comments. "Sometimes all sorts of statements are made. But we have to do our diplomatic and political thing, and we believe there is still hope." Iran's International Center for Strategic Research Deputy Director Hossein Musavian said on Wednesday it would be more in the interests of the international community if the 5+1 group the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany resumed talks with Iran as soon as possible. Musavian told a press conference that holding direct talks with the US at this stage will not yield positive outcomes for Iran because the problems between Teheran and Washington are more complicated than they seem. "Because our main partner is the 5+1 group. There is still room for talks with Russia and China and Non-Aligned Movement members as well," he said.

Busy schedule for Premier Wen
2007-01-05 China Daily
Premier Wen Jiabao will make an official visit to the Philippines from January 13 to 16, and attend a series of meetings in Cebu City, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday. 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, Liu told a regular press briefing. Wen will also chair the 7th annual meeting of leaders of China, Japan and the ROK. Wen's visit, initially scheduled for December 11-14, was postponed due to Typhoon Utor, which ripped through the island country causing devastation. On the issue of the South China Sea, Liu said that "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha, Nansha Islands and adjacent islands. And we have all historical and legal evidence needed to prove this." Liu was responding to accusations Vietnam had made on China infringing on its sovereignty by erecting structures marking the base points of China's territorial sea on the Xisha Islands. This is an issue within China's sovereignty, and other countries have no right to intervene, Liu said. He added that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese government publicized the base points on the Xisha Islands in 1996. Liu also revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will pay an official visit to China from January 9 to 11. A concert will be held to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Israel during Olmert's visit. Liu also said China had extended its condolences following the death of Paek Nam-sun, foreign minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing had already sent messages of condolence to the DPRK, according to Liu. He said Paek had worked hard on Sino-DPKR relations, and expressed his belief that his efforts would be sustained by the two sides. Paek, who died on Tuesday at the age of 78, was appointed foreign minister in 1998. He paid his last official visit to China in June last year.

US urged to honor one-China policy
2007-01-03 China Daily
China hopes the United States would strictly abide by its promise and not send any wrong signals to secessionists trying for "Taiwan's independence", China's top legislature said yesterday. The message emanated from a meeting between the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) and a nine-member delegation of the Armed Services Committee of the US House of Representatives. The US Congressional delegation, headed by congressman Roscoe Bartlett, was on a four-day goodwill visit to China, a news release from the Standing Committee of the NPC said. During their stay, the members of the delegation met a series of high-ranking officials, including Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan and Vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee Sheng Huaren. The Chinese side stressed that to curb "Taiwan independence" and maintain peace and stability across the Straits were of mutual benefit both to China and the United States, the news release said. The US delegation reiterated the United States would stick to its one-China policy and did not want to see any unrest or crisis across the Taiwan Straits and its surrounding regions, it said. The news release came a day after Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian reaffirmed his adherence to "independence" in his New Year's address on Monday. "Taiwan is a part of the world," he said, "It is not a part of China." The mainland has condemned Chen's remarks. On the same day, President Hu Jintao said in a New Year message that the Chinese mainland will actively promote exchanges and cooperation across the Taiwan Straits, safeguard peace and stability, and push ahead with peaceful reunification. He urged the Chinese people around the world to join hands to oppose "Taiwan's independence" and work for the ultimate reunification of the Chinese nation. Hu said the mainland would not change its Taiwan policy of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems". The president said the mainland would adhere to the one-China principle strictly, continue efforts to seek peaceful reunification, always place its hopes on the Taiwan people and never compromise in the struggle against "Taiwan independence".

Abe: Japan, China toward strategic relationship
2007-01-02 China Daily
Tokyo - Japan and China are moving toward a strategic relationship based on trust, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his New Year's statement Monday, promising to mend strained ties and reduce bitterness between the Asian giants. But Abe also called for changes to Japan's constitution, and hailed the impending upgrade of the country's Defense Agency to a full ministry - moves that have been criticized as shifting the country away from its postwar pacifism. "I have agreed with China to bolster already cordial ties into a mutually beneficial, strategic relationship," Abe said in a statement released January 1. "I plan to build forward-looking relations based on trust" with China, as well as with neighboring South Korea, he said, without elaborating. Japanese and Chinese leaders have recently spoken of a thaw in bilateral relations which had sharply deteriorated under former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He upset Beijing by repeatedly visiting a war shrine that honors Japan's war dead, including those involved in the invasion and colonization of China and much of Asia - among them convicted war criminals. Under Koizumi, Japan and China also squabbled over territorial disputes involving underwater oil and gas reserves, and as well as Japanese school textbooks which some say whitewash atrocities committed by the country's soldiers in Asia. But Abe has made mending ties with China a priority. He visited Beijing on a fence-mending visit less than two weeks after he took office in late September, meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao in the first summit between the countries in five years. A tentative thaw has followed. In December, Japanese and Chinese scholars held introductory sessions to a series of government-sponsored historical study groups in an attempt to narrow differences in interpretations of the neighboring countries' troubled pasts. Tokyo also agreed in December to speed up the removal of chemical weapons abandoned in China by Japan's Imperial Army at the end of World War II, while local media reported that the controversial Yasukuni war shrine would alter exhibits at its museum to address criticism that it presents lopsided historical views on Japan-China relations. Still, Abe has coupled diplomacy overseas with a bolstering of Japan's defense capabilities at home. In the New Year's statement, Abe said he hoped to amend Japan's U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution, which bars the country from using force to settle international conflicts. The LDP has proposed changes that would recognize Japan's right to a standing army and remove other pacifist restrictions. "The Constitution represents a country's ideals, its nature. It is time that we ourselves write a Constitution befitting for a new era," Abe said, vowing to pass legislation next year to allow a national referendum on constitutional reform. Abe also hailed the planned upgrade of the country's Defense Agency to a ministry under a bill approved by Parliament last month. The upgrade would boost the agency's status within the government and allow its troops greater leeway to handle possible threats abroad. "We will establish a Defense Ministry in January. I expect further efforts ... to fulfill its noble mission to protect livelihoods, property and national territory," Abe said. Elsewhere in the New Year's statement, Abe promised to work with other regional powers to reach a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea. "Japan will coordinate with the countries concerned ... to work toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution within the six-country framework," Abe said, referring to the stalled multinational talks that aim to dismantle the North's nuclear program. The statement was short on economic policy, which is expected to be a major concern leading up to elections for Parliament's upper house later this year. [...]

China's multilateral diplomacy consolidated in 2006, says Chinese FM
2007-01-01 People's Daily Online
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said in Beijing Sunday that China's multilateral diplomacy was consolidated in three major summits held in 2006. Li said the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Shanghai in June saw the signing of ten documents including the Declaration on the Fifth Anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The SCO member countries reached consensus on building long-term, friendly cooperation and vowed to deepen cooperation on the economy and trade, security and culture, said Li. A Commemorative Summit marking the 15th Anniversary of the Dialogue Relations between China and ASEAN opened in October was marked with a joint statement promising to cement their strategic partnership. The Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing in November saw a declaration on the establishment of a new strategic partnership between China and Africa.

Australia, China seal uranium deal
2007-01-05 SCMP
"The three summits succeeded in improving cooperation between China and its neighbors and with developing countries," Li said. Describing peace, development and cooperation as an inevitable trend, Li said new situations and contradictions would keep occurring, so all countries should maintain world peace and promote common development. Australian companies could begin exporting uranium to China starting early next month, after the two countries ratified key agreements on nuclear energy, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday. In a brief statement, Mr Downer said Australia and China had ratified two agreements - the Australia-China Nuclear Transfer Agreement and the Nuclear Co-operation Agreement - through an exchange of diplomatic notes in Beijing on Thursday. "The agreements will enter into force 30 days after ratification," he said. "Accordingly, the legal framework for Australian uranium producers to commence exports to China is expected to be in place early this year." Mr Downer said the timing and quantities of exports would be a matter for commercial negotiation.

 

Domestic Policy

Populist policies target reforms in key sectors
2007-01-03 SCMP
The central government has rolled out a series of initiatives for its populist policies in the new year, including protecting farmers' share of profits from grain price rises, banning arbitrary fees on students and accelerating the reduction of medical fees. Under the populist approach followed by the leadership of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the government has identified medical, education and rural reforms as its policy priorities. They come as the Communist Party struggles to maintain its legitimacy and assuage public grievances in a society divided between the haves and have nots. State media has been filled with government pledges to accelerate reforms to provide public services at more reasonable prices and promises to protect farmers' interests. On prime-time news on China Central Television yesterday, Mr Wen was shown talking to farmers and grain merchants during a visit to the north of Jiangsu province and asking if farmers had benefited from recent grain price rises. When he was told farmers earned about a fifth of a yuan when they sold half a kg of rice for 1 yuan, with the rest of the money going to the vendors, mills and transport operators, Mr Wen said farmers should have a bigger share in the profit. "Farmers work hard but earn little. Therefore, most of the profit from a rise in grain prices should go to farmers," he said. But he did not elaborate on how the government could help farmers become the main beneficiary of price rises. Another policy priority is health care. In a New Year speech posted on his ministry's website, Health Minister Gao Qiang said the government would speed up formulation of a medical reform blueprint this year. [...] The Ministry of Education said cutting arbitrary fees on students would top its agenda this year. A Xinhua report quoted a ministry official as saying the government would announce various standard fees for students and step up supervision of how schools used education funds. The report said schools and teachers were driven to charge students, using a range of different excuses, because many of them did not have enough funding to support their operating costs. The government announced earlier that it would scrap school fees for all rural students from this year and it is expected 150 million rural children will benefit from the policy. The parents of 50 million rural students in China's poorer western provinces have already been exempt from paying tuition under the first phase launched in spring.

Health minister promises reform of medicare system
2007-01-02 Xinhuanet
Beijing - In a New Year's message China's Minister of Health, Gao Qiang, promises to hammer out reform of the country's medical care system in 2007. The minister said the medical care reform scheme will feature increased government investment, stricter professional supervision and reduced medical costs for citizens. He said in 2007, the government will continue to extend its health care network in rural areas and in urban communities, to provide safe, efficient, convenient and reasonably priced public health services for citizens. He said relevant departments will tighten management on medical services, strengthen training and medical ethics to improve the quality of medical services, ensure medical security and form harmonious relations between doctors and patients. A national survey on medical services, conducted in 2006, showed 48.9 percent of Chinese didn't bother or couldn't afford to see a doctor when they were ill and 29.6 percent refused a doctor's advice to be hospitalized because the cost was too high. Health care reforms are in response to widespread public dissatisfaction with the current system. In October 2006, Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health (MOH), said the government would build a health care system with Chinese characteristics, rather than simply copy a "European model" or "American model".

New postal savings bank gets approval
2007-01-03 China Daily
China's banking regulator has formally approved the launch of the postal savings bank, setting a new stage in the development of the country's postal savings services. The launch of the bank is also an important achievement in China's reform of its banking sector, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a statement on Sunday. The CBRC said the bank would be wholly owned by the China Post Group, a $10 billion stand alone company, recently formed out of the State Post Bureau. The establishment of the bank is part of the government's efforts to develop the rural economy as most of the postal savings outlets are in the rural areas, industry experts said. "China Postal Savings Bank will focus on developing retail and intermediary businesses, to offer basic financial services for residents in urban and vast rural areas," the CBRC said. "It will form sound, complementary relations with other commercial banks to contribute to the development of the new countryside." According to the CBRC, the bank, after its opening, will set up a department especially for rural financial services, to further improve its network and services to farmers, and the agricultural sector. The bank will strengthen its co-operation with policy banks and the rural credit co-operatives to improve the coverage and quality of rural finance, the CBRC said. The banking regulator set up a new department in April last year to oversee the postal savings services and the country's three policy banks. The CBRC did not reveal financial details of the new bank in its statement China Post started its postal savings services in 1986 with the establishment of the China Post Savings and Remittance Bureau. But it could only accept deposits from the public and not offer loans. By the end of 2005, it had a deposit balance of 1.3 trillion yuan ($166 billion), accounting for nearly 10 percent of China's household savings and making it the fifth largest savings institution after the big four State-owned banks. In 2005, it had more than 36,000 outlets across the country. In preparation for the creation, China Post began to expand its services last year with the setting up of a pilot program in several provinces offering small-scale loans.

Foreign reporters hail media freedom
2007-01-02 China Daily
Beijing - The New Year's Day of 2007 saw only a few foreign journalists in Tiananmen Square, a place where many of them used to interview Chinese on wishes for the coming year. Some journalists chose to travel to other parts of China for more important news, thanks to China's new regulations granting foreign journalists more freedom that came into effect on Monday. Reuters datelined a story "HOHHOT" on Monday, becoming the first foreign media to report in other Chinese cities besides Beijing and Shanghai without application to authorities. The Reuters report said "foreign journalists had needed government permission to report outside their home base -- usually Beijing or Shanghai -- but under the new rules, which came into force on Monday, they need only the agreement of the person they are interviewing." To interview organizations or individuals in China, foreign journalists need only to obtain their consent, according to the "Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period." The new regulations also allow foreign journalists to hire Chinese citizens through organizations providing services to foreign nationals to assist them in their reporting activities, while relaxing other restrictions. Observers agree that foreign journalists now enjoy more freedom in reporting on China. Foreign media reacted instantly to the new regulations. The National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) of the United States decided to send journalists to China; The Associated Press planned to hire Chinese to enhance its China reports; The number of New York Times journalists in China rose to five, making its Chinese office the biggest one in Asia. Benjamin Lim with Reuters, who has been in China for ten years, told Xinhua that he interviewed a person on Monday without the application process as before, which he said was really a step forward. Lim had wanted to interview the person and applied in 2004. However, the interview was not conducted until Monday due to complicated application process. At the end of December 2006, there were 606 resident journalists from 319 foreign news organizations of 49 countries in China. They were usually based in Beijing and Shanghai, according to statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. About 3,000 to 5,000 foreign journalists came to China annually in recent years for short-term assignments. The effect of the new foreign media regulations are yet to be clear and some journalists are testing. Benjamin Lim said some of his friends chose to report on village democracy and other topics in three cities after the foreign media regulations became effective. He was not clear about the development of their job. However, one journalist was banned from an interview in an east China city by local officials who said, "Sorry we do not know about the regulations at the moment."

HK goes on avian flu alert after virus found in dead bird
2007-01-05 SCMP
Hong Kong went on bird flu alert yesterday, closing three aviaries and intensifying checks on chickens, after a dead bird found in a Causeway Bay shopping area tested positive for the H5 bird flu virus. WHO director-general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, who began her first day on the job yesterday, said the finding underscored the need for vigilance as the peak season for bird flu began. "Exactly how important the role played by migratory birds is [in the spread of bird flu] we do not have the answers yet," she said last night. "One important role that every country, the WHO and its sister agencies [must carry out] is to maintain our guard and be vigilant for early signs and symptoms in birds and humans." The bird that tested positive for H5 flu was one of six scaly-breasted munias found dead along the tramline near Chinachem Leighton Plaza, on Leighton Road, on Sunday. It will be another week before H5N1 flu can be confirmed in the dead bird. Retesting will be carried out on the five other munias. The discovery came 10 months after the last bird flu case in the city. From January 10 to March 22, 15 wild birds of different species, one backyard chicken and a smuggled chicken died from H5N1 bird flu. About 11,000 birds were tested for H5 last year and 80 birds have already been tested in the first four days of the new year. Assistant Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Thomas Sit Hon-chung, said winter was a worrying time for bird flu because it was the migratory season for wild birds. Testing of wild birds would be stepped up in Causeway Bay in the next 21 days, he said. Migratory birds usually fly from the northern Arctic region to the south during winter, infecting local birds and poultry in their path. Hong Kong Bird Watching Society chairman Cheung Ho-fai said there were several hundred wild munia in Hong Kong and it was rare to find them in urban areas. The birds were also kept as pets and Mr Cheung speculated that the munias found dead on Sunday might have been released alive by people seeking blessings. Mai Po Nature Reserve manager Lew Young said there was no evidence to suggest the sick munia had been infected by migratory birds. He agreed that there was a high possibility it had been bought and released by people. In response to the latest H5 infection, the aviaries in Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens and Kowloon Park have been closed temporarily. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department will step up patrols of villages to search for illegal backyard chickens. The government banned backyard poultry in February last year after the cases of infected wild birds. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department will increase inspections and testing at the border and wet markets, while the Centre for Health Protection will increase surveillance for possible cases of human infection. There have been no recent reports of bird flu outbreaks on the mainland. The Centre for Health Protection's principal medical officer, Cheung Shuk-kwan, said mainland authorities, when contacted yesterday, told them there had been no human cases of bird flu there.

China's new adoption rules to protect children, not deter foreign adopters
2007-01-04 People's Daily Online
China's new adoption rules are not meant to restrict the number of foreigners who can adopt Chinese children, but to ensure that kids receive the best possible family care, according to an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Lu Ying, director of the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) under the ministry, explained that China now has far fewer children available for adoption by foreign couples. "More domestic families have adopted children from our center in recent years and economic and social development has meant that fewer children have been abandoned or orphaned," Lu said. According to international conventions, preference is given to domestic families rather than foreign couples. The number of foreigners applying to adopt a child in China has increased, and they usually have to wait 14 to 15 months, Lu said. "The new rules will help shorten waiting time for qualified foreigners and speed up the process for children, especially the disabled, so that they can go to their new families, where they can get better education and medical treatment, more quickly," he said. The rules have been made in the interests of the children, to guarantee them optimal family conditions, he said. The new rules, to take effect on May 1, 2007, make it more difficult for overweight, single and economically precarious foreigners to adopt. They give priority to stable, well-off foreign couples aged between 30 and 50. Reports by foreign media said the new rules were aimed at curbing the number of foreigners who can adopt Chinese children. Xing Kaimin, a CCAA official, denied this, saying that the new criteria were meant to protect children's interests and not to show prejudice against less qualified applicants, who can still apply. Obese people, for example, are more likely to suffer from disease and might have a shorter life expectancy, which is not without consequence for the life of the adopted child, China Daily quoted Xing as saying. Other criteria state that the applicant couple must have been married for at least two years, and those who were divorced must have remarried at least five years previously. The current law allows single foreigners to adopt Chinese children, but requires the father to be at least 40 years older than the adopted girl. A new requirement states that adopters must have less than four children. The new rules will provide a reference for foreign adoption agencies, which can offer preferential arrangements for qualified families and improve efficiency, Lu said. More than 100 licensed adoption agencies in 16 countries have been informed of the revisions. But Lu said the priority criteria might be modified over time. More than 50,000 Chinese children are reported to have been adopted by foreigners in the past 10 years, with 80 percent of them going to U.S. families. About 8,000 Chinese children were adopted by U.S. families last year. The figure was 5,000 in 2001.

Former top health official under bribery investigation
2007-01-02 SCMP
The former head of China's State Food and Drug Administration is under investigation on suspicion of bribery, state media reported. Zheng Xiaoyu, who retired as the head of the administration 18 months ago, has been implicated in a graft investigation of Cao Wenzhuang, a former aide of his, the Caijing Magazine said in this week's edition. Cao, the head of the administration's medicine registration department, was removed about a year ago and has been under investigation since then, the report said. Hao Heping, another former aide of Zheng's and the head of the medical equipment department, was sentenced to jail for 15 years for taking 1 million yuan in bribes in November this year. Hao used his position as head of the administration's medical equipment department to demand cash and other bribes from medical companies seeking approval for their products, earlier state media reports said. Local media carry frequent reports of patients dying after taking drugs meant to cure. China banned the use of Xinfu, an antibiotic drug, in August last year after it killed at least six people. Several Chinese patients also died this year after taking a counterfeit drug meant to treat gallstones and gastritis. The State Food and Drug Administration was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Rising temperatures threaten China's food output
2007-01-04 People's Daily Online
Rising temperatures may pose a challenge to the long-term food security of China, the world's most populous country, according to an official report evaluating climate change. China's output of major crops, including rice, wheat and corn, could fall by up to 37 percent in the second half of this century if no effective measures are taken to curb greenhouse gases in the coming 20 to 50 years, according to the report. Global warming will negatively impact China's ecological, social and economic systems, especially farming, animal husbandry and water supply, and some damage will be irreversible, said the report. The average temperature in China has risen by 0.5 to 0.8 degree centigrade in the past century and is expected to go up another two to three degrees centigrade in the coming 50 to 80 years, it said. Most areas in China, especially northern areas, will get drier, even though annual rainfall may increase 7 to 10 percent, it said. The greater demand for water for agriculture will impact the cost of farm produce, it reasoned. This year, China's southwestern Chongqing Municipality and neighbouring province Sichuan were ravaged by the worst drought in more than 50 years. China's central and western regions will suffer an annual water shortage of about 20 billion cubic meters from 2010 to 2030, the report said. The report also predicted that more floods and droughts will hit the country as water evaporates more rapidly from rivers. The Yellow River, China's second longest, will see evaporation increase by 15 percent a year, it said. It also warned that coastal areas will be at a greater risk of flooding as China's sea level will climb 1 to 16 centimeters by 2030. The Chinese government will strive to realize zero or even negative growth of carbon dioxide emissions by the middle of this century, according to the report. It outlined China's overall plan for dealing with climate change. "China will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by moving away from a labor-intensive economy towards a technology-driven economy, making better use of energy resources, protecting the environment and developing advanced nuclear energy and other renewable energies," it said. In 2002, China's carbon dioxide emissions totaled 4.08 billion tons, the second highest in the world after the United States. The report was jointly released by six central departments and academic organizations, including the Ministry of Science and Technology, China Meteorological Administration and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Abortion drug outlawed amid boy boom
2007-01-03 SCMP
Over-the-counter abortion drugs had been banned in Henan, China's most populous province, as part of an effort to control a disproportionately high number of newborn boys, a state newspaper reported on Wednesday. Gender selection of babies is a serious problem in China, with strict population controls and traditional preferences for a son meaning some women abort their baby if an early term sonogram shows it to be a girl. China prohibits abortions performed after a scan for the baby's sex except for medical reasons, such as severe birth defects or when the mother's life is at risk. But the government said the practice remained widespread, especially in rural areas. The China Daily said Henan banned retail sales of abortion drugs from the beginning of this month "as part of the province's efforts to keep gender balance among newborns". The communist government has limited most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two since the 1970s in an effort to restrain the growth of China's population, now at more than 1.3 billion people, and conserve scarce resources. Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilisations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to the deep-rooted preference for male heirs. According to China's last census in 2000, there were more than 118 boys born in Henan for every 100 girls, much higher than the average for industrialised countries of between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls. The newspaper said those who violated the ban would be fined from 3,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan, and any woman who had her baby aborted illegally would be fined 2,000 yuan. "The move can be seen as a supportive measure for a set of regulations to ban foetal gender selection by abortion in the province, which took effect on January 1," the state Xinhua News Agency said.

Lung cancer cases could hit 1m
2007-01-04 China Daily
China will have the world's highest number of lung cancer patients 1 million a year by 2025 if smoking and pollution are not effectively curbed, experts have warned, citing World Health Organization (WHO) figures. According to the national tumor prevention and cure research office affiliated to the Ministry of Health, the country had 120,000 new lung cancer patients during the past five years. Lung cancer killed more people than any other disease one out of every four, sources said. A recent WHO report suggests that smoking is the single, largest avoidable cause of death in the world, currently claiming 4.9 million lives a year. "Smoking and pollution are two major causes of the high rate of lung cancer," Zhi Xiuyi, director of the lung cancer treatment center of the Beijing-based Capital Medical University, told China Daily. Chinese smokers have surpassed the 350-million mark and account for more than a third of the world's 1.3 billion smokers; and two of three Chinese men are smokers. It is estimated that the total output of the cigarette industry in 2006 was some 300 billion yuan ($37 billion). The deteriorating state of the environment is also contributing to the rising rate of lung cancer in China. Epidemiological investigations have found that the lung cancer rate in industrial and polluted regions is higher than in non-industrial regions. "Occurrence of lung cancer is closely related with motor vehicle exhausts," Sun Yan, a cancer expert and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Life Times. Zhi said that traffic policemen had a higher occurrence rate of lung cancer than people of other professions. Pollution caused by indoor furnishings can also be a factor; and experts advise people not to choose material containing harmful chemicals for indoor furnishings. As many as a third of lung cancer cases can be avoided through preventive efforts, Zhi said. Experts have called for stricter controls on smoking, especially in public places, and more anti-pollution measures to cut down the spread of lung cancer. The government has moved in that direction in the recent past, banning sales of cigarettes to minors and in vending machines as well as banning smoking in public places such as cinemas and hospitals.

China launches 2nd national agriculture census
2007-01-01 Xinhuanet
Beijing - China's second national agriculture census kicked off Monday, with more than seven million census takers beginning to visit rural families for registration. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said nationwide registration for over 200 million rural families in more than 30,000 townships will take about one month. The nationwide census will last from January to April 2007. Information will be collected mainly through site enquiries about farm production, employment, migration, environmental conditions, land use, fixed-asset investment and life quality in rural areas. China's first agricultural census was conducted in 1996. Since then, the government has adopted a series of policies to protect farmers' interests, including abolishing agricultural taxes, providing subsidies and setting minimum prices for grain and maximum prices for fertilizers. [...]

More than 89,000 killed on China's roads in 2006
2007-01-02 China Daily
Beijing - The number of road traffic deaths in China was 89,455 in 2006, 9.4 percent fewer than that in 2005, and the first time below the 90,000-benchmark since 2000, according to the Ministry of Public Security. "The country recorded 378,781 traffic accidents in 2006, down 15.9 percent year on year," said a ministry spokesman on Monday. The 38 major traffic accidents - accidents with more than ten fatalities each - resulted in 558 deaths, dropping 30.9 percent from 2005. It was the lowest number of major accidents since 1991, he said. According to an analytical report, about 130 million violations of traffic rules by drivers last year led to more than 76,000 deaths, down 16 percent, among which the death toll from speeding, fatigue and drunk driving went down 24 percent from the previous year.

 

Taiwan

Alarm at Japan-US strategy on a strait war
2007-01-05 SCMP
Beijing expressed concern yesterday over reports that Japan and the United States are considering contingency plans in response to potential armed conflict between the mainland and Taiwan. "The reports have come to our attention, and [we] express grave concern over them," Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday. "Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Japan and the US should strictly adhere to their one-China policy in whatever arrangements, discussions and considerations they make." Japan's media reported yesterday that Japanese and US foreign affairs and defence officials would start preparing an operational blueprint for their troops next month in the event of armed conflict in the region. The two countries were said to be drawing up contingency plans for scenarios involving a conflict across the Taiwan Strait. One of the scenarios was based on a Taiwanese declaration of independence, while another related to a mainland military attack on the island, Kyodo reported. The report said Japan would consider supplying logistical support to US troops should a cross-strait crisis emerge. It said the joint operation plan aimed to materialise the "common strategic objectives" drawn up by the two countries in February 2005. It would also sketch out a possible response to North Korean attacks on Japan. The reports followed an apparent upturn in Sino-Japanese relations, with Premier Wen Jiabao accepting Japan's invitation to visit later this year. The trip would be the first to Japan by a mainland leader in more than six years. Mainland academics were cautiously optimistic about the progress in Sino-Japanese ties and said the joint contingency plans would not derail the advances made. Jiang Yuechun , from the World Economic and Development Research Institute, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs think-tank, said Japan would not upset the mainland "too much" given that Tokyo had been working on warmer ties with Beijing. "Of course, this joint operation will generate discontent in China because we always consider Taiwan as an internal issue. But this won't be a very serious problem for Sino-Japanese relations on the whole," Mr Jiang said. Peking University history professor Wang Xinsheng said Taiwan had lost much of its value to the US as a bargaining chip because the island's influence in the region was declining.

Taiwan's leader 'trying to ruin ties'
2007-01-02 SCMP
The central government on Tuesday said Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian was trying to ruin bilateral ties, as it reacted angrily to his New Year message insisting the island was not part of China, state media reported. An unnamed spokesman from the Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office also reiterated that China would never allow the island, separated from the mainland by the narrow Taiwan Strait, to formally break away, the People's Daily reported. "Chen intends to unreasonably restrict cross-Strait exchanges and co-operation, worsen the atmosphere of cross-Strait relations, and ruin the peaceful and stable development of cross-Strait ties," he was quoted as saying. "We will be highly vigilant to any secessionist moves and never allow secessionists to separate Taiwan from the motherland in any name or by any way." China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory, to be reunified with the mainland by force if necessary. Taiwan's independence-leaning president insisted on Monday in a New Year's message that the island's sovereignty lay in its own hands. "Hereby we must stress that Taiwan is our country. Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to 23 million people. It definitely does not belong to the People's Republic of China," Mr Chen said after a national flag-hoisting ceremony. "Only the 23 million have the right to decide on the future of Taiwan. Taiwan is part of the world but not part of China." His remarks came after China issued a key defence paper arguing it needed a strong and credible military and citing security challenges it said it cannot ignore, such as Taiwan's independence drive.

Chinese President calls for fighting against Taiwan secessionists
2007-01-02 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao said in a New Year message on Monday that the Chinese mainland will actively promote exchanges and cooperation across the Taiwan Strait, safeguard peace and stability, and push ahead with peaceful reunification. He called on Chinese people around the world to join hands to oppose "Taiwan independence" and work for the ultimate reunification of the Chinese nation. Hu made the speech at a New Year tea party held by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a top political advisory body composed of various political parties and people from all walks of life. The tea party was also attended by top leaders of Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun, Luo Gan, and presided over by Jia Qinglin, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee. President Hu said that the mainland's Taiwan policy of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems" will not change. In reiterating his four guiding principles regarding cross-Strait relations, Hu said the mainland will strictly adhere to the one-China principle, continue efforts to seek peaceful reunification, always place its hopes on the Taiwan people, and never compromise in the struggle against "Taiwan independence". On Hong Kong and Macao, Hu said the central government will support the governments and chief executives of Hong Kong and Macao to administer by law and expand the exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and the two special administrative regions (SARs) of China. "We will adhere to the policies of one country, two systems, of Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong, and Macao people governing Macao with a high degree of autonomy," Hu said, adding the government will firmly safeguard the long-term prosperity and stability of the two SARs. [...] Hu also call on various Parties of the CPPCC to promote unity of different political forces, religions, ethnic groups, social strata and Chinese people at home and abroad, so as to achieve social harmony.

 

Economy

70% target for unions in foreign firms
2006-01-05 China Daily
The All-China Federation of Trade Unions has set an ambitious target of having trade unions set up in more than 70 per cent of foreign-funded enterprises this year. Wang Ying, an official with the federation's Grass-Root Organization and Capacity Building Department, said more than 60 per cent of foreign-funded firms had set up trade unions by the end of last year, a sharp increase from 2005. The establishment of unions in Wal-Mart has given a big impetus to many other foreign enterprises, Wang said. Employees in some multinationals such as Carrefour, McDonald's, Motorola and Nescafe soon followed suit. Between July and September, all the 64 Wal-Mart stores in 30 cities established trade unions with the help of the federation, recruiting more than 6,000 members. It is for the first time the US retail giant allowed its staff to form unions anywhere in the world. "China's Law of Trade Union gives workers the rights to set up or join trade unions," Wang said. "Foreign enterprises must abide by China's laws if they do business in China." According to the law, which was promulgated in 1992, trade unions are formed by employees on a voluntary basis. No organization or individual shall obstruct or restrict them from joining unions. Wang admitted the federation has met with resistance from some companies, which subtly obstruct workers from setting up unions. "Many of the foreign enterprises do not fully understand the role of China's trade unions," Wang said. They not only safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of workers but also contribute to the enterprises' development and fulfil their production tasks, he pointed out. "Trade unions can play a good role in building and ensuring harmony in enterprises," Wang said, saying some companies which were long opposed to unions have now changed their attitude. Wang said unions in foreign enterprises have performed their duties. For example, the Wal-Mart unions in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, succeeded in persuading the management to raise part-time workers' wages to 6 yuan (75 cents) per hour, above the lowest wage standard, 5.5 yuan (69 cents). The stores also agreed to abolish the probation period for part-time workers. The Wal-Mart union in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, successfully negotiated the right one day off a week. Dong Yuguo, a spokesman for Wal-Mart (China), said: "The management and the trade union have been getting along with each other very well," Dong said. "Our task is to raise workers' awareness and let them know that joining trade unions is the best way to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests," Wang said. At the end of 2005, China had 1.174 million grass-root trade unions, with 151 million members.

Yuan looks likely to overtake HK dollar
2007-01-04 China Daily
Hongkong - People in this most affluent of Chinese cities may be in for a psychological blow. If economists are to be believed, the Hong Kong dollar is likely to be overtaken by the once humble yuan "within days", bringing to an end more than 15 years of its superior existence. But the irony is that an appreciated yuan will do more good than harm to the people of Hong Kong. Though 100 yuan ($12.5) fetched HK$99.6 at the end of 2006, experts say the order could be reversed in a few weeks. After all, 100 yuan fetched only HK$94 before its latest appreciation in July 2005. In fact, money exchangers in Hong Kong and neighbouring Shenzhen are already charging retail customers more than one HK dollar for every yuan. The central government's think- tank, the State Information Centre, sees the yuan appreciating by 3 to 4 percent against the weakening US dollar this year, thanks to the Chinese mainland's booming economy. Some foreign banks have forecast as much as a 10 percent increase. It is just "a matter of time", says Sun Hung Kai Financial Group's strategist Castor Pang. A more valuable yuan could become a reality this month - one big reason for that being the HK dollar's peg to the greenback. [...] The greatest beneficiaries of an appreciated yuan would probably be Hong Kong's retail and tourism sectors. A larger number of mainlanders will head to the city because they can get greater value for the yuan. That means they would spend more, Credit Suisse (Hong Kong) senior economist Tao Dong says. [...] Allaying fears that a stronger yuan would accelerate inflation in the Chinese mainland's neighbouring markets, the economists say that Hong Kong residents' daily expenses would not increase much because of a possible rise in the prices of imported products. As a service-based economy with little agriculture or manufacturing units, Hong Kong imports many essential goods, including eggs, vegetables, meat and fish, from the Chinese mainland, hence the fear that a stronger yuan would make things costlier. But compared to the spiralling housing costs that account for 30 percent of the consumer price index (CPI) in one of the world's most expensive cities, the rise in prices of essentials and daily use products could at most be "mild", says Tang.

A new system for interbank lending
2007-01-04 China Daily
China formally unveiled a new set of market-oriented interest rates today, according to the central bank. The launch of the Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate, or Shibor, is the result of efforts to further liberalize interest rates and foster a benchmark interest rate system for China's money market, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement posted on its official website yesterday. "The move is good in that it will rely on a market-based mechanism to push interest rate liberalization," said Yang Fan, a professor at the Business School of the China University of Political Science and Law. According to the statement by the PBOC, the rates will be determined on the basis of the daily quotes for 16 maturities of interbank rates, ranging from overnight to one year, provided by 16 commercial banks that are major dealers or market makers in the money market. Eight of those quotes will be open to the public, while the rest will be kept for reference, according to a PBOC circular. The Shanghai-based National Interbank Funding Center is entitled to calculate and publish the rates, which will be released every day on the official Web site: www.shibor.org, according to the statement. The statement did not name the 16 banks, but according to the PBOC circular in September, they include three foreign banks: The Shanghai branches of Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. Analysts said the Shibor is expected to help develop derivatives products, such as interest rate swaps, which require support from benchmark rates of longer and more flexible terms. Currently there are only two major reference rates in the market: The seven-day weighted average interest rate for repurchasing treasury bonds and the rate for one-year central bank bills. The Shibor will also provide a sound market platform for the central bank's maneuvers in the money market, according to Fu Yong, a researcher at the China Center for Economic Studies, Fudan University. The new benchmarks will provide a sound "barometer" for judging the reasonability of liquidity in China's money market, Ha Jiming, chief economist of the China International Capital Corporation, was quoted by the China Securities Journal as saying. [...]

Tax revenue hits new high
2007-01-02 China Daily
Beijing - China's tax revenue hit a new high in 2006, with the total amount surging 21.9 percent year on year to 3.7636 trillion yuan (about 470.5 billion U.S. dollars), said the State Administration of Taxation on Monday. The figure does not include the income from tariffs, tax on arable land use and that paid by real estate buyers, the administration said on its website. The country's tax revenue exceeded three trillion yuan for the first time in 2005, with a total amount of 3.0866 trillion yuan, up 20 percent from 2004.

China plans stricter auto export rules
2007-01-02 China Daily
Beijing - China plans stricter export rules to ensure that only big and credible auto makers take part in the nation's push to become a major power in the global vehicle market, state media said. Beginning from March 1, the government will introduce a licensing system that will weed out auto makers that are too small to compete internationally, the official Xinhua news agency reported."There are too many exporters and the exporting business is in chaos, with problems such as cut-throat competition arising," Xinhua said. A statement posted on the website of the commerce ministry announced the new moves but gave no further details. Xinhua quoted unsourced statistics showing that some 1,025 Chinese enterprises were involved in vehicle exports in 2005. Out of these, more than 600 enterprises less than 10 vehicles in the course of the entire year, while another 160 exported just one automobile each. The announcement of the new measures came as the government released trade data showing Chinese vehicle exports almost doubled last year. China's auto industry exported a total of 340,000 vehicles in 2006, an increase of 96 percent from 173,000 the year before, Xinhua said, citing the commerce ministry. "China is aiming to lift the value of its vehicle and auto parts exports to ... 10 percent of the world's total vehicle trading volume in the next 10 years," said Vice Minister of Commerce Wei Jianguo, according to Xinhua. The goal compares with auto and auto part exports that currently account for just 0.7 percent of global trade in those product categories. Chinese autos are mainly sold to emerging markets in the Middle East, Latin America and Russia. However, many in the industry have ambitious plans for more developed markets as well. DaimlerChrysler's US arm said last week it was joining forces with China's Chery Automotive to build small cars in China that will then be sold in the United States and around the world. Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, one of the nation's top auto makers, announced in November that it planned to ship 158,000 cars to Europe over the next five years. It marked the biggest ever single export deal that any Chinese car manufacturer had carried out using its own brand, Brilliance China said. The urge to export is partly linked to the problem of overcapacity, resulting from years of expensive investment in new plants that has outpaced even China's booming demand for cars, the lifestyle symbol of an emerging middle class. China said late last month it would raise the threshold for investment in new auto projects in a bid to rein in capacity. Auto makers that wish to add new plants must prove that they have been able to sell at least 80 percent of their annual production capacity the previous year, according to earlier reports in the state media. The country's production capacity reached eight million units by July 1, 2005 while demand was only 71.5 percent of capacity last year, data from the National Development and Reform Commission showed.

 

Mongolia

President's New Year message
2007-01-03 Mongol Messenger
On December 29 the president called together leading foreign diplomats and heads of representative offices, telling them, "This year, clearly written in Mongolian history, is passing and the new year, with its enriched our cooperation, is here." "The 1206 unification of the Mongols teaches us about the value unity and gives us encouragement to step forward. The year was full of events. The Chinggis Khaan complex was built in front of Parliament House and our historic heritage has been enriched with the unique bejeweled classic edition of The Secret History of the Mongols, the state seal and 30 volumes of Mongolian history." "It has been a fruitful year of socio-economic development. Our GDP has risen about 8 percent, the foreign trade balance has improved and the state budget was in surplus." "We have better realised that the land inherited from our ancestors is rich and will nourish Mongolia's prosperity. But we need to use this wealth properly, improve education and develop sustainably." "It has been necessary to draw up and implement a national development strategy. New large projects will be an important goal next year." "Mongolia's multi-support and open foreign policy has been successful; 2006 was a year of great achievement in foreign policy and relations. The recent presidential visit to Russia and the prime ministerial visit to China have helped develop friendly relations and cooperation with our neighbours." "Our third neighbour policy has been uninterruptedly expanding this year, with visits from the presidents of South Korea and the Czech Republic, Japan's prime minister, princes of the Netherlands and the UK and officials from the USA, Turkey, India, Germany and France." "I believe that you are the basic channels linking Mongolia to other countries and a special club of Mongolian friends in Ulaanbaatar. I appreciate your contribution and efforts to celebrate the 800th anniversary." "In 2007, may the friendly relations, cooperation and mutual understanding strengthen and may the world be peaceful."

Why One-Stop-Shops?
2007-01-03 Mongol Messenger
L. Erdenechuluun, National Coordinator of SDC OSS project in Mongolia Public services in Mongolia are often hard to access and their delivery continues to be hampered by red tape and corruption. To get a permission or license, one has to visit a number of offices for various kinds of stamps, signatures, and approvals. These highly bureaucratic procedures cause a great deal of inconvenience to people, pushing many of them to resort to bribery as a means to receive a service. One way to improve the delivery of public services, as the experience of many countries has demonstrated, is to introduce One-Stop-Shops (OSS). The main idea underlying OSS is to provide different kinds of public services through a single service center or One-Stop-Shop. Doing so allows for the reduction of procedural steps involved in the delivery of services and changes the way they are offered - from "many doors for one service" to "one door for many services." The end result is an easy access to administrative services, the provision of which is fast, open, and transparent. Attempts to establish OSS in Mongolia were undertaken in the past. Thus in 2001, the State Ikh Khural enacted the Law on Special Licenses for Business Activities and the following year the Government passed Resolution No. 35, which specifically provided for the adoption of the principles of "one stop service centers" starting from 1 April 2002. Unfortunately, however, these regulations remain more on paper than being put into effect. The OSS that were established at the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency, General Customs Department, General Taxation Department, and tax bureaus of Ulaanbaatar districts, have so far failed to operate in accordance with the main principle of OSS and thus, customers still need to haunt several doorways in order to receive a service. Establishing OSS in Mongolia is an issue, which has drawn a lot of attention from donor countries, represented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). These organizations, the assistance of which is directed towards building Mongolia's development capacity, reduction of poverty, and improvement of the living standards of the population, are naturally concerned about the cumbersome nature and lack of transparency in the delivery of public services - it is ordinary citizens as well as small and medium size enterprises that are most disadvantaged by the current state of affairs. Lengthy and unclear procedures of acquiring licenses and permits seriously hamper the efforts of individuals and businesses to pursue their livelihood objectives. The introduction of OSS and the expected improvement in the delivery of public services is also consistent with Government goals of fostering good governance, enhancing businessfriendly environment, and raising the quality of life of the population. SDC is one of the agencies, which has assisted countries around the world in their efforts of establishing and running OSS. Along with other donors, it has, for instance, supported Vietnam's endeavor in this field. Today, after a decade's time, Vietnam is one of the ten leading countries to achieve notable success in adopting the practice. To study Vietnam's experience, a delegation comprised of the representatives of Mongolian public organizations visited the country at the end of October 2006. During their stay in Vietnam, the delegates met with relevant Government officials and had an opportunity to see with their own eyes the day-to-day functioning of OSS. Judging from the experience of this country, establishment of "one door" mechanism is a lengthy process and its success, first of all, depends on the degree of commitment, encouragement, and financial support by public organizations at all levels. Skills, motivation, and responsibility of OSS employees as well as strict monitoring of their performance are other components of the country's success. The experience of Vietnam offers a lot of insights for Mongolia's efforts to establish OSS. First of all, there is a need for genuine commitment and all kinds of support on the part of the Government. It may be appropriate to set up a national body in charge of the task, draft a policy document on principles and methods of introducing OSS, and develop a long-term Master Plan with a view to ensuring its sustainability. Creating a favorable legal environment is also crucial. As a result of preliminary research, which covered some 260 laws currently in effect in Mongolia, it was found that 94 of them contained provisions related to the issuance of 306 different kinds of licenses and permits. Successful introduction of OSS will hence necessitate the reduction in the number of these laws and their systematization. Some of the legislation, which has created excessive centralization of power, could even be annulled. At present, most of the authority to grant licenses and permits is being wielded by ministries and agencies, which seriously curtails the power of local bodies to provide services for their residents. Therefore, clear delineation of power and responsibilities across all levels of public institutions with an emphasis placed on vesting more authority in local bodies will go a long way to contributing to the successful operation of OSS. To sum it up, prompt introduction of OSS will provide for the accessibility and quality of public services as well as contribute to the fostering of good governance in Mongolia and speeding up of the country's economic development.

Anti-corruption boss named
2007-01-03 Mongol Messenger
The president's nomination of chief of the Anti-Corruption Organisation was appointed on December 28. He is State Supreme Court Study Centre director B. Dangaasuren. Among criteria were that he be over 55 with work experience in law organisations. Presidential Legal Policy Advisor D. Zumberellkham told MPs that B. Dangaasuren had not been found to have erred in decisions nor been found dishonest in his many years in several courts, especially the court supervisory council. Asked whether it would be difficult for the Anti-Corruption Organisation to implement the law, Dangaasuren said, "The work will start from zero. Currently I have no idea whether there will be any problems. We have no experience because this is first ever such organisation in Mongolia. It is difficult to keep such an organisation independent of influence." MPs warned him that he would have to work very hard, and that he should be careful to resist influence from movements, parties and officials, not act repressively, work fairly and assemble a good team with good qualifications. MP L. Gantomor told him that exposing and combating corruption were the essential basic tasks for the organisation. He said it was important to locate corruption and spread awareness. MP D. Odkhuu said, "Do not assume that the 76 MPs are all corrupt. The organisation can check on us. But firstly you need to target middle-level officials and workers." MP Z. Enkhbold said, "We will propose amendments to the budget to allocate a salary to organisation staff than is twice what civil servants get, to ensure independence of all staff of the anti-corruption body." MP B. Monkhtuya claimed that the age criterion that the chief must be older than 55 has limited the potential for a women appointee as 55 is the female retirement age. She stressed that a survey had revealed that women were the least likely to be corrupt, and suggested that a woman at least be appointed as deputy head. The plenary session voted 89.1 percent in favour of the appointment of B. Dangaasuren. He was born in Mankhan soum, Hovd Aimag, in 1951, and graduated from Irkutsk State University in 1975. He has been working in the courts ever since, including the Constitutional Court (1992-1993); State Supreme Court (1993-2002); the Court Disciplinary Committee (2002-2005); and the State Supreme Court Study Centre since 2005

Consular service
2007-01-03 Mongol Messenger
The Mongolian consular service gave its 2006 annual report, beginning by saying that 700,000 Mongolians travelled abroad, 500,000 to China, 400,000 to Ereenhot, Inner Mongolia. There are estimated to be about 110,000 Mongolian citizens in over 30 other countries' the number is approximate because not all Mongolians register with their embassy because it is voluntary, and the countries concerned claim that the number is private information. Our consular office is constantly trying to improve the regulations that protect citizen rights and respect human rights and freedom. For example, Mongolians abroad are entitled to vote in Mongolian elections under the 2006 revised electoral law. Mongolia has asked South Korea to observe the UN Convention on Migrant Workers as there are many Mongolians working in that country. Many citizens have appealed for an approval of dual citizenship, as is available to a number of other countries. This matter is being studied, and it may be that Mongolia will recognise dual citizenship in some cases. There are 34,000 Mongolians in Kazakhstan to whom dual citizenship is not available, and officials are working to coordinate the matter. In 2006, the Ulaanbaatar consular office rendered assistance to 624 citizens and Mongolian consuls abroad helped about 6,000 Mongolian citizens. The office is working with Korean officials to locate 17 missing Mongolians, and is also working actively to assist in the Malaysian case of the murdered Mongolian woman. Another ministry concern is the battle against human trafficking, especially of women and children. Consideration is given to cooperation with other countries and international organisations against human trafficking as a transnational organised crime. There is an urgent need for Mongolia to ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, to revise the relevant domestic legislation, and to cooperate with foreign countries, especially China, South Korea and Macao, against human trafficking. At present, Mongolians have been granted visa-free travel to Belarus, Hong Kong, Georgia, Israel, Cuba, China, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Moldavia, Singapore, North Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Philippine. Mongolians are able to obtain 2-10 year multiple-entry visas for the USA. Mongolians with diplomat passports are entitled to visa-free travel to Bulgaria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Romania, South Korea, Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, Czech, Chile and India. The Foreign Ministry is continuing to try to ease general visa conditions, and in 2006 held talks on this with Thailand, Russia, China, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Germany, and Hungary in 2006. There are 54 honorary Mongolian consulates in 31 countries, and there will soon be another in Macao. The ministry is testing a web page (www.consuls.net), by which Mongolians traveling abroad can register online and not need to attend the embassy. The principal difficulty for the consular service has been its inability to render give financial assistance in cases such as when a Mongolian citizen is injured or has died abroad. For example, one Mongolian who died in Korea was kept in the morgue for a year, while a Mongolian who could not afford an airfare was unable to leave South Africa for a year. The ministry has proposed to parliament that there be a fund to assist citizens abroad and in trouble, but the issue presently remains unresolved. The ministry has proposed that parliament allow 10 percent of the visa and consular service fees collected to be spent to assist those abroad who need assistance.

 

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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