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
  8.1-12.1.07, No. 149  
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Foreign Policy

Diplomacy 'key to resolve Iran nuclear issue'
2007-01-11 China Daily
China seeks diplomatic negotiations in resolving the Iran nuclear issue, and will continue to play a constructive role in achieving the goal, Premier Wen Jiabao told visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Beijing yesterday. Wen said China firmly supports the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and UN Resolution 1737 adopted by the Security Council reflects the grave concern over Iran's nuclear program by the international community. Olmert's three-day China trip is the final leg of his visit to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council aimed at assessing consequences of Iran's possible nuclear-weapon capability. Zhu Weilie, a researcher on the Middle East, said Olmert's biggest mission during the trip is to exchange views with the Chinese government on the issue. Five days earlier, Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani visited China and conveyed Iran's stance on the nuclear issue. During talks with Larijani, President Hu Jintao expressed the hope that Iran would make a "serious response" to Resolution 1737. China's efforts to kick-start the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and push forward the peace process in the Middle East is also high on the agenda. Wen said China supports the peaceful co-existence of Israel and Palestine and sees the Palestinian issue as the core of the Middle East issue. It hopes Israel, Syria and Lebanon take substantive measures to build mutual trust and create conditions for the restart of peace talks. "History and reality have proven that force cannot settle the Middle East issue but only increase estrangement and animosity," Wen said. "China is ready to contribute to the Middle East peace process and to dialogue between the Arab world and Israel," Wen said. Olmert said Israel is willing to resolve the Middle East issue through peaceful negotiations; and expressed appreciation for China's long-term efforts at promoting the Middle East peace process. [...]

Chinese FM meets ASEAN counterparts
2007-01-11 Xinhuanet
Cebu, the Philippines - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing met with his counterparts from 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cebu on Thursday. During the meeting, Li and his ASEAN counterparts highly evaluated the new development of Sino-ASEAN relations of friendship over the past one year. They said the China-ASEAN Summit for memorizing the establishment of dialogue partnership between the two sides, which was held in November last year in Nanning, China, consolidated and upgraded the strategic partnership between the two sides. The foreign ministers agreed to further cooperation between China and ASEAN and to implement the agreements and joint communique made in Nanning by the leaders of China and ASEAN countries, in order to strengthen political trust and deepen economic and trade relations, as well as open cooperation fields in non-conventional security cooperation, and push forward dialogue in the social and human fields. Li also reiterated China's support to the efforts of ASEAN countries to build a regional community and the integrity process of the latter. During a working lunch of foreign ministers of ASEAN countries, China, South Korea and Japan, Li said the cooperation between ASEAN countries and their partner countries of China, South Korea and Japan have taken in more meaning while the mechanism for carrying out such cooperation has become more comprehensive in system. Li said China appreciates the role ASEAN is playing in cooperation among East Asian countries and backs ASEAN's cooperation with China, South Korea and Japan as the main channel for pushing forward the cooperation of East Asian countries. Li also said China wishes ASEAN, China, South Korea and Japan can carry out more cooperation in the fields of political security, social development and personnel exchanges at the basic level of the society, in order to consolidate the base for such cooperation.

Israeli PM arrives in Beijing, visits farm, Olympic venues
2007-01-10 Xinhuanet
Beijing - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning for a three-day official visit to China. Olmert visited a China-Israel demonstration dairy farm in the eastern suburbs of Beijing two hours after his arrival. After unveiling a cornerstone of a cooperation center for modern dairy technology in the farm, Olmert tried to milk a cow with milking machines. The latest technologies of Israel are used in this 18-hectare farm. The average milk production of each cow topped 10 tons per year in 2005 from less than 8 tons when the farm was established in 2001. "I hope all the Chinese dairy farms could follow the system, "said Olmert with a smile. Olmert also visited the Beijing Olympic venue construction sites located in the northern part of the city. He showed great interests to the national stadium known as the "bird's nest" and the National Aquatic Center called the "water cube", which are due to be completed this year. The Prime Minister said it was really amazing to have such great sports venues, and there was enough time for Beijing to finish the preparations for the Games. "You are going to have the most spectacular Olympic Games ever. I wish you on behalf of the people of Israel, that the spirit of friendship and good competition will mark this event," Olmert wrote on the visitors' book. This has been Olmert's first visit to China since he took office last May. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet or hold talks with him respectively on China-Israel relations, regional and international issues of common concern, sources with the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. He is also expected to attend a series of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-Israel diplomatic ties, the sources added. Before his China visit, Olmert highlighted in an interview with Xinhua in Jerusalem that the development of the relations with China is "exciting" and "promising". He stressed that China is not only a big economic power, but an important country which plays a significant role in some regional and global issues. "Anything China can contribute to facilitate the political dialogue is something Israel will always welcome," Olmert said. As a son of a former Jewish resident in China, Olmert said he had a spiritual tie with the Asian country. [...]

China refutes Japan worry over lifting arms embargo
2007-01-11 China Daily
The Japanese concerns on the lifting of the European Union's arms embargo on China is unreasonable and ungrounded, said the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday. China's demand to end the ban aimed to get rid of the political discrimination, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao at a regular news conference, urging the EU to follow the historical trends and call an end to the arms sales ban. The Sino-Japanese ties are at a new starting point, according to the spokesman while calling on both sides to make efforts to improve bilateral ties. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday urged the EU to keep its embargo on arms sales to China, saying the purpose behind Beijing's growing defence spending was unclear. "We are concerned about the implications that a lifting of the arms embargo would have on the security of East Asia," the Reuters quoted Abe as saying in a joint conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel whose government holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU. On US President George W. Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, Liu expressed China's hope that Iraq can gain stability and the Iraqi people can lead a peaceful life at an early date. But the key to a peaceful Iraq lied in "Iraqis governing Iraq" and reconciliation, said the spokesman. Liu warned the United States not to meddle in China's trade relations with Iran after Washington expressed concern about a Chinese oil company's planned investment in an Iranian gas field, said an Associated Press report on Thursday. "We think this kind of cooperation and relationship is legitimate. Normal cooperation should not be interfered (with)," the report cited Liu as saying. Chinese oil company CNOOC Ltd was reported to plan an investment in Iran's Northern Pars gas field. The company's spokesman Liu Junshan said Thursday the company was still in talks with the Iranian side to develop the gas field and to help build liquefied natural gas facilities, according to the AP report. Liu said no agreement had yet been signed, and declined to estimate the project's value.

China positive about high-level visits with Japan
2007-01-10 China Daily
The Chinese government has a positive attitude about strengthening high-level visits between China and Japan, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in Beijing Thursday. In response to a question on when Chinese leaders will visit Japan, Liu said an agenda will be arranged through diplomatic channels. China and Japan agreed to resume high-level visits during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China last October. Liu said bilateral relations have improved since Abe's visit to China and the two sides are consulting on appropriate next steps. "This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties. We hope to take this opportunity to drive forward the friendship between the two countries and the development of China-Japan relations," he said. On the upgrading of the Japanese Defense Agency to a full ministry on Tuesday morning, the spokesman said China hopes Japan would continue to develop in the peaceful way. "We hope whatever changes that has taken place in the structure of the Japanese government could it continue to develop along the way of the peaceful development," he said. This is in conformity with the fundamental interest of Japan itself, and benefits regional peace and development, Liu added.

VP Zeng meets France Socialist Party head
2007-01-08 Xinhuanet
Beijing - Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong met here on Monday with Segolene Royal, head of the French Socialist Party. Zeng said China attaches great importance to the Sino-French relations. "China is willing to make joint efforts with people from all circles in France to maintain bilateral exchanges at all levels and continuously expand cooperation in the fields of economics and trade, science and technology and culture, to promote the all-round strategic partnership between the two countries," Zeng said. Noting that the relations between China and France have developed in depth and in an all-round way, Zeng said the two sides have enhanced mutual political trust and strategic cooperation and kept close contacts and coordination on major international issues. Zeng, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said the CPC is ready to strengthen dialogue and exchanges with the French Socialist Party on the basis of four principles regarding inter-party exchanges, to make new contribution to the overall development of China-France relations. Royal said China's rapid and harmonious development means an important opportunity for both France and Europe and also constitutes an important contribution to realizing a peaceful and harmonious world. "The French Socialist Party hopes to deepen exchanges with the CPC and strengthen exchanges between the youth of the two countries, to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between France and China," she said. Royal started her four-day China visit on Saturday.

China makes proposal to foster China-Uruguay ties
2007-01-09 Xinhuanet
Beijing - China made a three-point proposal here Tuesday to foster growing ties with Uruguay. "We should increase political mutual trust to consolidate the political foundation of bilateral relations, give full play to the economic advantages of each other's economy and boost non-official and cultural exchanges to expand the humanitarian basis for bilateral relations," Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong proposed in a meeting with Julio Cardozo, president of the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress of Uruguay. Welcoming Cardozo on the 19th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Uruguay, Zeng said that China would make concerted efforts with Uruguay to promote the long-term, stable development of friendly and cooperative relations. Zeng also briefed Cardozo on China's construction of a harmonious society. Cardozo called China a "sincere friend" and "reliable partner" of the Uruguayan government, parliament and people, pledging that Uruguay would continue to create favorable conditions to cement cooperation with China in trade, culture and tourism. Cardozo is on an official goodwill visit from Jan. 7 to 15 at the invitation of Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee.

China slams U.S.-based human rights report
2007-01-12 People's Daily Online
The Chinese government and a scholar on Thursday refuted Human Rights Watch's criticism on China's human rights conditions as biased and untrue. "China's human rights conditions are making progress, and the Human Rights Watch should view the progress with an unbiased and just attitude," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao. He said the organization has always stuck to a biased view about China and its report has always been harboring political purposes and not reflecting the true conditions. Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, released its annual report on Thursday which criticized a handful of countries -- including China -- for poor rights records. Dong Yunhu, secretary general of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, said the report is "completely groundless" and its authors have a "Cold War mentality." "This group always turns a blind eye to China's progress in human rights protection, no matter how remarkable it is," Dong said, saying that the group has a cold war mentality when it comes to China, which leads to serious bias in its reports. The New York-based group blasted China for rights abuse in a wide range of fields, including the country's management of the internet, press, and aid groups. "The report is politically inspired," Dong said. "In reality, China has made huge progress in human rights protection in the past year." "Human rights protection" has been included in the guidelines for the five-year national development plan (2006-2010) and "the development of individual political rights" has been placed at the top of the country's development goals for the next five years, Dong said. He said China has scrapped centuries-old agricultural taxes, promised to provide free nine-year education, and tightened control over the use of the death penalty. Dong also defended the government's supervision of the internet, saying the measure is aimed to facilitate citizens rights of expression, and not to suffocate freedom of speech. A domestic Internet survey report published Wednesday says that by the end of 2006, the number of bloggers in China had reached 20.8 million, of whom 3.15 million are active authors. Many public figures as well as ordinary people now use web blogs as a convenient way to express their thoughts. "Different country has different condition in human rights. China is willing to exchange views with other countries in this regard on the basis of mutual respect and equality," Liu Jianchao said.

 

Domestic Policy

Hand presidency to deputy, Hu is urged - Zeng Qinghong's allies say president should focus on party
2007-01-11 SCMP
Hu Jintao has been urged to cede the presidency to Vice-President Zeng Qinghong, a rival-turned-ally, and focus on extending Communist Party power as party general secretary, sources have said. Mr Zeng's allies had called for him to be promoted at the National People's Congress' annual session next year, sources with close ties to the top leadership said. It not certain whether the proposal will be adopted, but the debate is a sign that jockeying among leaders has started in earnest ahead of autumn's 17th Communist Party Congress. "There are voices in the party that it is no longer necessary for one person to hold all three positions," one source said, referring to the presidency and the top party and military positions - all held by Mr Hu. A second source said Mr Zeng's supporters were arguing for a return to the system of the late 1950s and early 1960s, when power was shared by four national leaders. At that time, Mao Zedong was party chairman, Liu Shaoqi was president, Zhou Enlai was premier and Zhu De was NPC chief. The practice continued under paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, with Hu Yaobang as party chief, Zhao Ziyang as premier and Li Xiannian as president. After Hu Yaobang's political demise, Zhao took the top party post and Li Peng the premiership. In a departure from that practice, Jiang Zemin was given the presidency and the top party and military posts to bolster his relatively weak position as he rose to power after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Mr Jiang ruled for 13 years until 2002, when he handed the party general secretary post to Hu Jintao, who replaced Mr Jiang as president in 2003 and as military chief the following year. Mr Hu, who reversed Mr Jiang's emphasis on embracing the growing ranks of rich capitalists, is expected to signal a fifth-generation heir and further consolidate power at the congress. While some analysts said handing the presidency to Mr Zeng could be perceived as a sign of weakness, other political sources said it could show Mr Hu's confidence in his grip on power. He would still hold the more influential posts of party and military chief and would have more time to focus on internal issues to strengthen the party's monopoly on power. "Domestically, Hu will be seen as magnanimous if he lets Zeng become president," a third source said. "It'll be a recognition of Zeng's work. But it's a difficult decision because Hu needs the presidency to break out into the world." While Mr Zeng is fifth in the party hierarchy, he wields more clout than his ranking suggests. He stepped into Mr Hu's vacant vice-president slot in 2003. Many analysts believe Mr Zeng, 67, is waiting in the wings should Mr Hu falter or his health fails. Mr Zeng has shed his unpopular image as Mr Jiang's "hatchet man" by working closely with Mr Hu. Despite their simmering political rivalry, the pair have jointly tackled a plethora of problems, including weathering the crisis in Hong Kong when 500,000 took to the streets in 2003 to demand more democracy. More recently, he went along with Mr Hu's politically sensitive decision to sack Chen Liangyu as party boss of Shanghai - Mr Jiang's political stronghold. But Joseph Fewsmith, a China-watcher at Boston University, was sceptical that Mr Zeng would get the job. "At a minimum, it expresses dissatisfaction with Hu," he said. "The implicit accusation is that Hu is too dictatorial - that he needs to be cut down to size."

Discipline watchdog to battle corruption
2007-01-11 China Daily
The Communist Party of China (CPC) has warned that cadres who gamble or are involved in illegal property deals would be the focus of an intensified crackdown on corruption. A communique released yesterday after a plenary session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) also warned against embezzlement and fraud in the management of State-owned enterprises. In the communiqu, Party members said they would intensify the fight against corruption and continue the building of a "clean" Party. The seventh plenary session of the CCDI, which ended yesterday, reviewed the work of the past year and outlined plans for anti-corruption and Party building work for this year. The communique said the CPC had made progress last year in building a clean Party and fighting against corruption, especially where it involved commercial bribery. The release also highlighted efforts to detect and punish corrupt officials. The communique said the Party should realize that the fight against corruption would be a long-term, complicated and arduous one. Members should take a more resolute attitude and pursue tougher measures to create a favorable political atmosphere for the convention of the 17th National Congress of the CPC this year, said the communique. Discipline inspection commissions at all levels have been told to step up their inspection and supervision in areas that have a direct bearing on people's interests, promote a truth-seeking and down-to-earth style of work and oppose bureaucratism and formalism among Party members. The communique urged Party members to be frugal and oppose extravagance and waste. The fight against corruption should be intensified so that leading cadres at all levels can improve their ability to lead people in the building of a harmonious socialist society, the communique said. Officials who use their influence to buy commercial housing at prices far below market costs, occupy and use borrowed houses and vehicles but fail to return them, take part in gambling or seek illicit money from activities like gambling, seek illegal profits by using agents to invest in the stock market, or seek other forms of illegal earnings for themselves and their relatives and friends will be seriously dealt with, the communique said. The Party said it would crack down on money-for-power favors, illegal loans and exemptions, illegal investments or authorizations of mining projects, the misuse of assets in State-run reorganizations, illegal earnings through the misuse of land and unauthorized changes in land planning, and cheating in government public tenders. Laws and regulations governing market competition should be improved, and a long-term mechanism against commercial bribery established, said the communique. The production of fake or inferior-quality food and drugs will be targeted, as will illegal price rises in agriculture-related products. Production safety will be a priority, as will the fight against illegal pollution discharges by factories, said the communique.

Government vows more anti-terror cooperation
2007-01-10 China Daily
China opposes all terrorist activities and will work closely with the international community to combat terrorism, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said yesterday. Ministry spokesman Wu Heping said this at a news briefing after police in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region reported on Monday that they had killed 18 terrorists and arrested 17 others during a Friday raid on a training camp of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The United Nations labelled the group a terrorist organization in 2002. One policeman was killed and another injured during the raid. Wu said China opposes "all forms of terrorism" and that its anti-terrorism effort includes prevention, offensive action and more international cooperation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday also confirmed that the ETIM had links with international terror forces. Clinching evidence "A large amount of evidence, including material that we got from this raid, shows that the ETIM is connected with international terrorist forces and was planning violent terrorist activities in China," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. He said China's crackdown on terrorism protects local people and safeguards the stability and security of Xinjiang and its neighbouring countries and regions. Police said the camp was located on the Pamir Plateau in Xinjiang, near the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is believed that more than 1,000 ETIM members have received training from Al-Qaida, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Official data also shows that the group plotted more than 200 violent incidents, including explosions, assassinations, arson, poisonings and assaults in Xinjiang and in other countries between 1990 and 2001, killing 162 people and injuring 440. [...] The United Nations (UN) and the United States listed the ETIM, which is pursuing an independent "Eastern Turkistan", as a terrorist group in 2002, and the Ministry of Public Security placed it on a list of "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations in 2003. Other identified "East Turkistan" terrorist organizations are the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), the World Uygur Youth Congress (WUYC) and the East Turkistan Information Centre (ETIC), according to the ministry. Wu said the Criminal Law; the State Security Law; the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism; 11 international conventions adopted by the UN and ratified by China; and a series of anti-terrorism agreements adopted by the UN Security Council provided the legal guidelines that the government used to identify terrorists and terrorist organizations. [...]

China to accelerate upgrading of national defense industry: Vice-Premier
2007-01-09 People's Daily Online
Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan on Monday urged defense engineers to strengthen technical innovation and speed up the upgrading of the country's national defense science and technology industry. "In the past year, you have stuck together fighting a hard war in this special battlefront, achieved excellent performance... made significant contributions to both national defense and economic development," Zeng told a work conference on the development of national defense science and technology industry. The meeting came only three days after the government announced it had become the fourth country in the world to develop its own advanced fighter aircraft, aero-engines and missiles. At the annual meeting summarizing the previous year's work and making plans for 2007, Zeng urged participants from military industrial enterprises and research and development institutions to carry forward the hardworking spirits of the old generation who developed the country's first atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb in the 1960s and the first man-made satellite in 1970. Zhang Yunchuan, Minister of the State Comission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, delivered a work report to more than 200 participants. At the meeting, 779 projects were awarded the 2006 National Defense Science and Technology Prizes. Major R&D and production projects for 2007 in national defense include manned aerospace flight, lunar probing, large-scale pressurized water reactor and high temperature gas-cooling reactor, large ships and large marine petroleum engineering equipment. The commission also urged military industrial groups in the nuclear, aviation, aerospace, shipping, vehicle, electronics and new material fields to vigorously develop civilian products and branch out into services by providing after-sales services for civil aircraft, ships and satellites. The military industry was expected to register an aggregate profit of more than 20 billion yuan in 2006, up at least 50 percent from a year ago, according to Zhang.

No pointers on funding of universal health care - Beijing has yet to work out the details, despite vow to usher in medical reforms
2007-01-11 SCMP
Beijing is still debating how to finance universal health-care coverage, even though it pledged to announce a long-awaited blueprint on overhauling China's notorious medical system this year. Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qunan said yesterday various ministries and departments were still debating what services the central government should finance, and whether Beijing should pay service providers or patients. "In terms of the directions and ways of [government] investment, we have to continuously explore where the investment should go, such as disease prevention, public health, basic health-care provision, different types of medical insurance systems, the basic medicine provision system and the growing Chinese medicine industry," he said. [...] At an earlier meeting, Minister of Health Gao Qiang shed light on the direction in which the government wants to steer the controversial reforms by outlining the main targets: providing free and cheap basic health care at the community level; building a variety of medical insurance systems both in cities and the countryside; stepping up government control over the production and procurement of basic medicines; and improving the management of public hospitals to try to make them less cash-hungry. Mr Mao said the central and local governments would share the financial burden for basic health-care services, but the total cost was hard to predict. [...] Mr Mao also rejected criticism that such reforms were hard to implement, saying the goals were realistic and attainable. He said previous reforms that established medical co-operatives in the countryside were progressing faster than expected and had boosted the authorities' confidence in carrying out further medical reforms.

Beijing has more weapons to reveal - Government has capabilities to build aircraft carrier: reports
2007-01-10 SCMP
Beijing is to unveil more advanced weaponry later this year after the showcasing of its latest J-10 fighter jet attracted intense media attention at home and abroad. Huang Qiang, the spokesman for the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, also revealed that China had acquired the necessary capabilities to build an aircraft carrier and was undertaking feasibility studies into the building of larger passenger aircraft, mainland media reported yesterday. Mr Huang's remarks are expected to fuel further speculation over what new weaponry Beijing could unveil and the purpose behind the sudden willingness to show off its latest armoury and discuss its plans to build an aircraft carrier. [...] Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, a senior analyst at the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei, said Beijing's moves were aimed at showing the air force was capable of stopping foreign interference in cross-strait affairs. "Beijing also wants to warn the United States and Japan not to intervene." But Mr Yang said Beijing would be loath to see any trouble in the Taiwan Strait before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "I think all the PLA has done is just take precautionary measures because the US is also unwilling to see any trouble take place in the Taiwan Strait while the Bush administration is dealing with the aftermath of the Iraq war," he said. Mr Chang said Beijing also wanted to send a warning to Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian not to make trouble ahead of the Games. [...]

Draft property, corporate income tax laws to be discussed before annual session
2007-01-08 Xinhuanet
Beijing - Nearly 3,000 deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) will discuss two draft laws - the protection of public and private property and unifying the tax rates of foreign and Chinese companies' - sometime before the annual session of the NPC in March. Wang Zhaoguo, vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the new move is designed to help deputies fully understand the importance of the two drafts and offer suggestions and views on improvement. The drafts of the two laws are expected to be debated and endorsed at the fifth full session of the Tenth NPC, which will commence on March 5. The draft property law provides protection for all kinds of ownership, while the draft corporate tax law is expected to set a unified income tax rate for both domestic and foreign companies at 25 percent. Sheng Huaren, also vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, urged all deputies to join in the discussion of the two drafts and work for their smooth endorsement.

China starts employment registry nationwide
2007-01-12 Xinhuanet
Beijing - China's Ministry of Labor and Social Security has required all employees, especially rural migrant workers, to register their employment contracts with labor and social security departments above county level starting from this year. It is estimated that 45 million rural laborers will migrate to urban districts from 2006 to 2010. Many are not guaranteed basic social insurance for unemployment, old age and health. The move is intended to prevent illegal employment and better protect the legitimate interests of employees. By the end of 2008, a registry system covering provinces, cities and counties would be established while a job database would be built to facilitate labor information exchange, said a statement from the ministry. The notice required employers to register all their employment contracts with local authorities. "The registration must be completed within 30 days from the date that labor contracts are signed or renewed. If contracts are terminated or removed, registration must be done within seven days," it said. Employers who fail to register or who file false information will face prosecution, the notice warned.

Courts told to help compensate crime victims - Top judge calls for state-funded system to help the weak
2007-01-09 SCMP
The Supreme People's Court will set wheels in motion this year to create a state-funded system for compensating victims of crime who cannot get redress through civil courts for their losses, a glaring fault in the mainland judicial process. At their annual planning session in Beijing on Sunday, the country's most senior judge also told courts to improve services in rural areas, where dissatisfaction with the judiciary has led to rioting. Supreme People's Court president Xiao Yang said that if there was no special system to ensure that impoverished people, in particular, were compensated for crimes, the court system would become an arena for combative parties where the weak would be unable to enjoy real justice. Cao Jianming, Vice-President of the Supreme People's Court, told local courts to start work this year on creating such a compensation system. Under mainland criminal law, victims of crime can demand civil compensation from their assailants, but in practice only about 20 per cent receive timely payouts, if at all, according to some estimates. In the rest of cases, criminals may not have the financial capacity to compensate the victim's losses, police may not solve the crime, or victims in urgent need of medical care may have to wait a long time to have their cases heard. In the case of recently executed Shaanxi serial killer Qiu Xinghua, families of Qiu's 11 murder victims were unable to get compensation because he did not leave an estate. The failure of many victims to get payouts has become a regular source of petitions and a serious headache for mainland authorities. Hainan University law associate professor Wang Lin praised the idea of a state-funded payout system, but suggested the government, rather than the courts, should be responsible for administering the payouts. "The court is the ruling authority, and it should be impartial to both victims and criminals. The government should work on social welfare, and the fund could come from the government's budget," Professor Wang said. Xinhua also reported that Mr Xiao ordered local courts to improve the processing and execution of cases brought by farmers, highlighting land disputes, illegal charges, fake agricultural products and interference in local elections as causes for particular attention. The frequency of rural riots is rising on the mainland as more non-urban residents become aware of their rights. In 2005, at least three farmers were shot dead in a riot over a land dispute in Shanwei, Guangdong. In the same year, there were riots in Guangdong's Taishi village, where villagers attempted to recall their corrupt headman. On the cases of "mass incidents", a euphemism for riots and protests, Mr Xiao said the courts should manage the relationship between local administrations and the public, "ensuring the administrations legally implement their powers and protect the legal rights of citizens, legal representatives and other organisations".

Dirty cities, power plants blacklisted
2007-01-11 China Daily
The top environmental watchdog took the unprecedented step of blacklisting four major power plants and four cities yesterday for performing poorly on their environmental impact assessments (EIAs). "All new projects launched by the four plants and in the four cities will be halted by the SEPA (State Environmental Protection Administration)," said Pan Yue, the spokesman for SEPA and a vice-minister. "This is the first time for SEPA to use such a strict measure to punish whole industries and some local administrations." The four power plants are Datang International Power Generation Co Ltd, China Huaneng Group, China Huadian Corporation and China Guodian Corporation. Of the country's top five power plants, only China Power Investment Corporation survived the blacklist. The four cities are Tangshan in Hebei Province, Luliang in Shanxi Province, Liupanshui in Guizhou Province and Laiwu in Shandong Province. "The cities do not have the environmental capacity to handle more pollutants," Pan said. "And yet they still develop industries that consume a lot of resources and produce a lot of pollution." Tangshan, for example, has reached its limit for pollution, but it still built 70 steel plants last year, 80 percent of which failed their EIAs. These plants represented only part of the problems uncovered by the SEPA's latest inspection of EIAs. Eighty-two projects representing an investment of more than 112 billion yuan ($14 billion) had been found to lack effective environmental protection measures. Most of them were in the steel, power, chemical and metallurgical industries. "China missed its goals of making a 4 percent cut in the amount of energy it consumes and a 2 percent cut in emissions of pollutants in 2006," Pan said.

Green goal missed by big margin
2007-01-10 China Daily
The nation flunked the first test in its goal of meeting ambitious energy-saving and environment-protection goals in the current five-year plan. The target set for last year was to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4 percent and pollutant emissions by 2 percent but only Beijing and five other provinces or municipalities, which were not named, reportedly passed the grade. It was not revealed how much off the target the overall performance was. "From a nationwide perspective, it is certain that last year's energy-consumption reduction goal could not be achieved," Han Wenke, director of the Energy Research Institute affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said yesterday. The goal set for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) was to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent as well as key pollutant discharge by 10 percent. But the report card for last year was dismal according to figures for the first half of 2006, energy consumption per unit of GDP actually rose 0.8 percent. Figures for the whole year are not yet available. Ma Kai, minister of the NDRC, admitted last December that "it is extremely hard to achieve this year's goal", citing a failure to optimize the industrial structure in a short time and a lack of supportive policies. Ma also warned of a possible failure this year with energy-guzzling and heavily-polluting industries continuing to be set up. The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) said there might have been a 2 percent increase in both chemical oxygen demand (COD) a key index of water quality and emissions of sulfur dioxide last year. But Zhou Dadi, former director of the Energy Research Institute, was optimistic. "Though the goal was not achieved, a good foundation has been laid with unprecedented attention paid to energy conservation." Zhou said that the "inertia" of an imbalanced economic growth pattern which relies excessively on high-energy-consuming and heavily-polluting industries to drive up the GDP as well as poor energy conservation technologies are behind the failure. All 31 provinces and municipalities have impressed upon local governments and key enterprises the need to meet the green targets, the NDRC said. Zhou suggested a holistic approach to energy conservation as well as using a carrot-and-stick approach like special funds or a resources tax.

Anhui farmer catches bird flu - Authorities confirm patient recovered, no sign of disease spreading
2007-01-10 SCMP
A Chinese farmer contracted the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu but had recovered and been released from a hospital, a government news agency reported on Wednesday. The 37-year-old farmer in the eastern province of Anhui fell ill in December but was "fully recovered" and left a hospital this week, the China News Service reported, citing the Health Ministry and China's Centre for Disease Control. People who had contact with Mr Li were put under medical observation but showed no signs of the disease, the report said. The report did not say whether Mr Li worked with poultry or whether infected birds were found. Human cases of bird flu have been traced to birds but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that can pass between people, triggering a pandemic. The report said authorities in Anhui took disease-control measures but did not give details. China reported its first human case of bird flu in 2005, while the virus was tearing through Vietnam and Thailand. The government disclosed last year that new tests on the body of a 24-year-old soldier who died in 2003 confirmed that he succumbed to the disease. China has suffered 13 human deaths from bird flu and dozens of cases in the country's vast poultry flocks. Millions of birds have been destroyed in order to contain outbreaks on farms. The H5N1 virus has been found in migratory birds in China. Concern about potential outbreaks increases in the winter, when wild birds fly south.

School for migrants fights to stay open
2007-01-10 SCMP
A day after Shanghai shut down a school for children of migrant workers, the school's founder has asked the Anhui provincial government to intervene to help stop 2,000 students being thrown on to the streets. "I'm talking to the provincial government about finding a solution," Jianying Hope School founder Yao Weijian said yesterday. About 80 per cent of the students attending the school are from Anhui, a main source of migrant labour for Shanghai. The school has also appealed to the Shanghai government, but officials have left the matter in the hands of Putuo district, where the school is located. Teachers met police yesterday with no result. The district government says the school is unsafe, but the school claims the district wants to develop the land. The city sent more than 100 police and other officials to shut the school by force on Monday. Construction workers have already moved into some classrooms. Authorities are holding the children temporarily in an unused building at a nearby elementary school, but the students are not being given classes. Parents have expressed concerns that other Shanghai schools won't accept their children or that fees at other schools will be too high. The Jianying Hope School charges about 1,700 yuan a term. The school's lease ran out in June, but administrators claim they had an oral agreement with the chemical plant that owns the land to extend the lease. The Putuo district government plans to demolish the nearby chemical plant and, eventually, the school building. Children of migrant workers in Shanghai are not usually allowed to enrol in local schools. The graduates of the Jianying Hope School typically go home to enrol in high school or stay in Shanghai to learn vocational skills.

Construction to continue, workers to stay during Games
2007-01-11 China Daily
The millions of migrant workers currently in Beijing will not be forced to return to their hometowns during the 16-day Games and the city's construction projects will continue, officials said Wednesday. Sui Zhenjiang, executive deputy director of Project Management for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said yesterday that construction projects in the capital "will not be stopped for the Olympics because every project has its own economic background and will be carried out naturally." "However, before the Olympics or during the process of the Olympics, we will conduct strict management on the air quality in Beijing," said Sui, without elaborating. It is estimated that there are more than one million migrant workers in the city and that that 300,000 figures involved in Olympic venue construction. To ease worker's concerns about welfare, the city's municipal government has also taken measures to ensure wages are paid on time by sub-contractors involved in venue construction, according to Sui. "Great importance has been attached to this issue, and construction projects have been inspected to check whether salaries have been paid or not," he said. Beijing's skyline is dotted with thousands of construction cranes, and Olympic construction is just a small slice of the city's makeover. Beijing plans to build or refurbish 31 venues in the city for the Games, which will take place from August 8-24, 2008.

30m men face bleak future as singles
2007-01-12 China Daily
By 2020, some 30 million Chinese men will find it well-nigh impossible to find a bride as a result of a rising gender imbalance, a report warned yesterday. For every 100 baby girls born in 2005, there were 118.58 baby boys, and the gap will continue to widen, said the report by the State Population and Family Planning Commission. In southern provinces such as Guangdong and Hainan, the picture is grimmer: There are 130 baby boys for every 100 baby girls. Since 2005, the number of men reaching marriage age has been much more than women. "The increasing difficulties men face finding wives may lead to social instability," said the report by more than 300 Chinese demographers after two years' research. This is because Chinese traditionally prefer boys, and with their financial status improved, those in the booming coastal areas can afford to find out the sex of the foetus. The picture will be starker in the countryside than in cities, said the report. To solve the problem, there must be a full-fledged social security system so that rural residents don't have to depend on their sons when they get old, said Wang Guangzhou, researcher at the Institute of Population and Labour Economics affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. According to the report, China's population will increase by 200 million in 30 years, which means the total population will hit 1.36 billion by 2010 and 1.45 billion by 2020 before peaking at 1.5 billion in 2033. The figures are calculated on the assumption that China's birth rate will be kept at the current 1.8 meaning one woman of childbearing age giving birth to 1.8 babies. The country must maintain the ratio if it wants to build itself into a well-off society reaching the goal of US$3,000 per capita of GDP in 30 years, said the report. The silver lining is that "for a long time to come, China will not be short of manpower", it said. There were 860 million Chinese of working age between 15 and 64 in 2000, and the number will reach 1.01 billion in 2016, which is "more than the total number of working age people in all the developed countries".

Flexible measures to attract overseas talented people
2007-01-09 People's Daily Online
Chinese Ministry of Personnel has vowed to work harder to provide better channels for overseas talented people to serve the motherland. According to MOP's 11th five year plan, China will implement three major measures to attract three types of talented people including leading persons in academic research, senior managerial personnel and special talents in need to help build a well-off society and independent innovation. First, the leading persons who master the core technology and are capable of independent innovation in academic field. [...] Second, senior management and operation personnel who are familiar with international practices and capable of international operation. [...] Third, special talented people who have special expertise for the economic and social development. According to the special introduction plan, China will take flexible and special methods to introduce top strategic talented people. [...] In the following five years, Ministry of Personnel will continue to cooperate with the local governments to establish special zones for returned overseas students and encourage them to help the latter apply for government supported projects in proper procedures, support the zones recruit advanced personnel home and abroad and find proper projects for them. A total of 10 thousand enterprises are expected to settle in 150 special entrepreneurs' zones. In order to encourage overseas talented people to come back, a series of favorable measures will be taken: supporting the transfer of patents, special know-how and scientific and technological achievements by allowing the returned overseas personnel to hold shares or establishing new enterprises, providing them with convenience in tax, co-financing and labor and personnel. A co-financing mechanism in high-tech transfer will be established and foundations for returned overseas students will be set up. [...] MOP encourages overseas talented people to take part in the construction of China in various forms. The plan proposes to make full use of those talented people surrounding the strategy of opening up. Overseas talented people can serve China in a broader extend and higher level through part-time work, cooperative research, giving lectures in China, conducting academic exchanges, visiting or providing intermediate services as long as it is conducive to promoting domestic reform and development. During the 11th five year plan period, MOP plans to attract a total of 200 thousand people to come back and work for the country in various ways. To facilitate the service channel, MOP is more open for new ways, for example, appointing someone to a certain position for certain term or contracting certain projects so that it is easier for more overseas talented people to serve China. [...] It proposes to complete policies and measures in attracting overseas talents to work for the motherland and providing convenience for their work, career and living conditions. [...] With a better work environment, harmonious relations among people, democratic academic environment, respect and understanding in society, MOP hopes to attract more overseas talented people to come back to China.

Cyber-rebels to launch safe website for activists
2007-01-12 SCMP
Chinese dissidents say they will launch a site designed with encryption software to let whistle-blowers worldwide post sensitive documents on the internet without being traced. "Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behaviour in their own governments and corporations," says the site WikiLeaks (wikileaks.org). A WikiLeaks staff member in Washington said it planned to go online from March. A cryptographer at WikiLeaks said the organisation was "an international collaboration" and some members were overseas Chinese. The site says it has received "over 1.1 million documents so far from dissident communities and anonymous sources". It maintains its software can protect whistle-blowers and journalists from being thrown into jail for e-mailing sensitive documents. Chinese journalist Shi Tao was jailed for 10 years in 2005 after publicising an e-mail from Chinese officials about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. E-mails or documents posted to a website can be traced back to the source because they are made up of data packets - and each data packet carries the address of the last internet service provider through which it passed. The British weekly New Scientist, in a report to be carried in tomorrow's issue, says WikiLeaks hides the data path by exploiting the existing internet protocol. But it cautioned that each security breach would lead to improvements to the protocol system and there would always be a risk for the users. WikiLeaks' website says the organisation was founded by "Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Our advisory board . . . includes representatives from expatriate Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers". WikiLeaks has no formal links to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

 

Taiwan

China protests to U.S. about Taiwan leader's possible transit
2007-01-08 People's Daily Online
China on Monday lodged stern representations with the United States about the reported stopover there of the Taiwan leader. "We made stern representations to the United States," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Monday. Liu's statement came in response to reports about the U.S. decision to allow Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to stop off in the United States on his way to Nicaragua to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new president. "We are seriously concerned about the reports," Liu said. "The Chinese government is firmly opposed to any official exchange between the United States and the Taiwan authorities," Liu said, stressing that China's stance is "clear and consistent." "The real intention behind Chen's stopover in the United States is to pursue activities that will separate China and destroy China-U.S. relations," the spokesman said. The spokesman urged the United States to observe the one-China policy, abide by the three China-U.S. joint communiques and honor its commitment to opposing "Taiwan independence." "The U.S. government should not allow Chen Shui-bian to conduct any activity in the United States in any name or for any excuse," Liu said. "Nor should the United States send any wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces," he said. "The United States should take practical actions to safeguard the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the overall China-U.S. relations," Liu said. The spokesman warned that activities on "Taiwan independence" will not win the public support nor succeed.

 

Economy

China National Petroleum surges to world's 7th largest
2007-01-12 Xinhuanet
Beijing - The China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) announced here on Thursday that it overtook U.S. giant Chevron and France's Total to become the world's seventh largest oil firm in 2005. The annual ranking was compiled by the U.S.-based Petroleum Intelligence Weekly on the basis of six indices including oil and gas reserves, oil and gas output and sales volume. The CNPC has been listed among the world's 10 largest for six straight years and retained its best place of No. 9 till 2004. It's also the only Chinese oil firm among the world's top 10. Sources with CNPC said that the company's rising position was mainly boosted by its growing oil and gas reserves abroad. In August 2005, the largest oil producer in China was approved to acquire Canada-based PetroKazakhstan Inc. (PK) for 4.18 billion U.S. dollars. The largest overseas takeover transaction ever made by a Chinese company was considered an important step for China to diversify its overseas oil business geologically by turning from traditional partners in the Middle East and Africa to Central Asia. In the latest ranking, Saudi Arabia Oil Company remained the world's largest followed by the Exxon Mobil headquartered in the United States. The National Iranian Oil Company replaced Petroleosde Venezuela SA to become the third biggest while British firm BP ranked fifth. Twenty-seven of the top 50 are state-owned oil firms whose aggregate crude oil and natural gas reserves account for 91 percent of those shared by the top 50. The top 50 possessed 85 percent of the world's crude oil reserves and produced 81 percent of the world's total. Their natural gas reserves took up 64 percent of the world's total and their output about 68 percent. The Petroleum Intelligence Weekly started the rankings 20 years ago.

China now second largest vehicle market
2007-01-12 China Daily
China surged past Japan to become the world's No. 2 vehicle market after the United States last year as car purchases by newly affluent drivers jumped 37 percent, the Chinese auto industry association said Thursday. The announcement highlighted China's lightning evolution from a "bicycle kingdom" into a major auto market where foreign producers are racing to open factories and target a growing urban middle class. Struggling US automakers General Motors and Ford have gotten a boost from double-digit sales growth in China and fledgling Chinese manufacturers are starting to export their own cars, trucks and SUVs. "There's money here and people spend that money on cars," said Michael J. Dunne, vice president for Asia-Pacific for auto research firm J.D. Power and Associates. "The Chinese government has made no secret of its intention to develop a car culture and a car industry. All of the forces are working together." China's overall vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, rose 25.1 percent to 7.2 million units last year, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. Passenger car sales rose to 3.8 million, it said. [...] The Chinese car boom is driven by economic growth that is estimated to have reached 10.5 percent last year. The car craze has taken a toll in smog and congestion. China has most of the world's 10 dirtiest cities, and air quality is worsening as car exhaust increases. Rush-hour traffic slows to a crawl in Beijing, Shanghai and other urban centers. China could overtake the United States as the top car market some time after 2015, Dunne said. "It could happen," he said. "China's annual income per person is just over $1,000, and they're buying 7 million vehicles. Imagine what happens when that goes to $2,000 or $3,000." Red-hot Chinese sales have brought relief to US automakers, which have seen weak demand at home. General Motors Corp. said Monday that its total sales in China last year rose 32 percent over 2005 to 876,747 vehicles. Ford Motor Co. said sales of its brands, including Ford, Lincoln, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, rose 87 percent to 166,722 units. European and Japanese automakers report similar surges. Luxury auto maker Rolls Royce, owned by Germany's BMW AG, says its 2006 sales were up 60 percent. The company is expanding its work force to meet Chinese demand for its $380,000 luxury Phantom. China's biggest-selling automaker last year was Shanghai General Motors Corp., a GM joint venture, with 365,400 vehicles sold, according to the Chinese industry group. The top-selling car was the Jetta, made by FAW-Volkswagen Co., one of Volkswagen AG's joint ventures. The biggest Chinese manufacturer was Chery Automobile Co., with 272,400 units sold. Chery and DaimlerChrysler AG announced a plan last month for the Chinese company to make small cars for sale worldwide under the Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep brands. China's automakers exported about 325,000 vehicles last year, about 80 percent of them low-priced trucks and buses bound for developing markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the government says. They also are eager to break into the US market, though analysts say they will have trouble meeting safety and environmental standards. [...]

China's yuan breaks key barrier
2007-01-12 China Daily
China's currency, the yuan, hit a record post-revaluation high, one day after Beijing announced a walloping rise in the country's full-year trade surplus. The breakthrough gain also came as China approved its mainland lenders to sell yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong, a move that one official called a key step for the Chinese currency in moving onto the international stage. In exchange-based trade, the yuan closed at 7.7935, dealers said, its highest value since China re-valued in July 2005. The yuan closed Wednesday at 7.8081 yuan. The central bank set the parity rate at 7.7977 yuan to one dollar, tipping the currency's value below 7.80 for the first time. Dealers attributed the appreciation to some US dollar weakness and China's galloping economic growth that has ramped up exports of everything from cheap plastics to more sophisticated electronics. "(Breaking) the 7.8 level was a surprise but also reasonable" said Jin Di, a dealer with Bank of China. "It's reasonable because the yuan appreciation is a long term trend. The rise was more or less affected by the trade surplus figure." China's trade surplus last year soared 74 percent to a record 177.47 billion dollars, Xinhua reported late Wednesday, citing customs bureau statistics yet to be released. In Hong Kong, the value of the yuan marched past the Hong Kong dollar for the first time in 13 years, hitting 0.99966 yuan as officials there applauded the decision to allow yuan-denominated bonds outside of the Chinese mainland. "This is the first step for the yuan moving towards the international stage; it's a very important step. And this happens in Hong Kong; I feel very encouraged by the move," said Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). The reaction elsewhere was equally positive, with Standard Chartered Bank calling it a significant move towards the ultimate goal of full yuan convertibility and integration of China's economy with the outside world. "(It) facilitates more efficient cross-border capital flows and demonstrates China's determination to integrate more fully with the global economy," the British-based emerging market specialist bank said. "If this new channel provides Chinese corporates, not just financial institutions, (the opportunity) to tap the bond market in the future, it could improve their funding structures and put pressure on domestic bond markets to further deregulate," it added. [...] The yuan was pegged to the US dollar until 2005 when Beijing decided to revalue and place the unit in a currency basket, allowing a greater but still tightly controlled margin of flexibility. The yuan gained 3.2 percent against the dollar last year, still considered slow by critics in Washington who say the yuan is undervalued by as much as 30 percent. [...] Meanwhile, China also announced Thursday a loosening of bond trading rules for financial institutions, a move aimed at improving the underused security as a financing channel. "The regulations will lower the barriers to entry and enhance policy support for market-makers," the central bank's Internet statement said.

Lenders can issue RMB bonds in HK
2007-01-11 China Daily
Hongkong - The central government yesterday gave the approval for mainland lenders to issue renminbi bonds in Hong Kong, marking a breakthrough in its currency polices and paving the way for a fully-convertible yuan. The mainland has thus opened up the capital account in an overseas center for the first time after it did so, on the current account a few years ago. The capital account tracks the movement of funds for investments and loans in an economy, while the current account tracks flows of transactions such as in goods, services and interest payments. At a press conference, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Henry Tang said the special administrative region (SAR) would discuss details next week with the People's Bank of China, the mainland's central bank. The central government is also studying whether to allow the use of the yuan to settle payments for mainland exports to Hong Kong, he said, adding no timetable has been set. Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang welcomed the move. "This new category of renminbi business is conducive to business opportunities for banks and enhancing financial flows between Hong Kong and the mainland," he said. Local economists forecast more openings and a greater role for Hong Kong in the reform of the country's foreign exchange regime. "The RMB bond issue is a significant opening of yuan-denominated services," said Frances Cheung, an economist with Standard Chartered Bank. "We foresee more openings in the future." Some even predict the central government may soon allow the yuan to be fully convertible in the city on a pilot basis. Hong Kong is seen as a test ground for the mainland to exercise greater flexibility in its foreign exchange regime and offshore yuan businesses. The SAR has become a proxy for foreign investors to bet on yuan appreciation. Four types of yuan businesses deposit, withdrawal, exchange and remittance have been allowed in the SAR from February 2004. By November, a total of 22.6 billion yuan ($2.89 billion) was held by 40 Hong Kong banks as deposit. The deregulation will definitely benefit mainland banks, which offers them a new fund-raising channel apart from listing and retail banking, economists said. Three policy banks China Development Bank, The Import-Export Bank of China and Agricultural Development Bank of China could be the first batch of financial houses to be allowed to conduct the business, said an analyst who declined to be named. "Mainland commercial banks have various ways to tap Hong Kong's equity market," he told China Daily. "It is policy banks that urgently need fund-raising channels," he added.

China's trade surplus reaches US$177.47 bln in 2006
2007-01-11 People's Daily Online
China's trade surplus reached 177.47 billion US dollars in 2006, the General Administration of Customs said Wednesday. Exports rose 27.2 percent from the previous year to 969.08 billion dollars, while imports were up 20 percent to 791.61 billion dollars. The December surplus stood at 21 billion US dollars, a slight decline from November's 22.9 billion dollars. Monthly imports for December were 73.1 billion US dollars, up 13.5 percent on the same month of 2005 while exports stood at 94.1 billion US dollars, up 24.8 percent. China's exports and imports in 2006 reached 1.76 trillion US dollars, 338.78 billion US dollars more than that in 2005, a year-on-year growth of 23.8 percent. Export growth was 1.2 percentage points down from 2005 while and imports were 2.4 percentage points up. The trade figures for 2006 are higher than the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) projection, which forecast the aggregate trade surplus would be 168 billion US dollars. Seven countries or regions had bilateral trade volume with China of over 100 billion US dollars in 2006, with China's top three trading partners, the European Union, the United States and Japan over 200 billion US dollars. Taiwan saw its trade with the Chinese mainland surpassing 100 billion US dollars for the first time, reaching 107.84 billion US dollars, with a trade surplus in favor of Taiwan of 66.38 billion US dollars. Electronic and machinery products remained the top export items in 2006, rising 28.8 percent to 549.44 billion US dollars Exports of clothing for the whole of 2006 reached 95.19 billion US dollars, up 28.9 percent year-on-year. Exports of textile products rose by 18.7 percent to 48.8 billion US dollars. China exported 43.01 million tons of steel in 2006, up 110 percent from the year before. China's imports of primary products rose 26.

Sufficient grain supply will curb rising price
2007-01-09 Xinhuanet
Beijing - China put another million tons of its wheat reserves up for auction last Friday in a further bid to halt the escalation of prices on the domestic market but this time only 660,000 tons were sold, according to reports from the Zhengzhou grain market. Previous auctions - in east China's Shandong Province and in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China's Henan Province - saw a higher level of sales. Nevertheless, the government has achieved its purposes because the prices of wheat and flour have declined markedly since the grain auctions began. The price of wheat has declined from a record high of 1,940 yuan (242.5 U.S. dollars) per ton last November to 1,620-1,660 yuan currently, and the price of flour has declined by 200 yuan per ton from its peak. "A softer level of sales shows that the previous auctions have had an effect, and grain shortages have been eased nationwide," said an expert. "The upcoming Spring Festival will boost demand for wheat and flour in the domestic market, which will impact the price of food," said the expert, "but the price of flour will not increase too much because of government control." China has auctioned 5 million tons of its grain reserves since last November in a bid to keep down rising prices on the domestic market.

 

Mongolia

96 Countries Invest in Mongolia
2007-01-11 UB Post
Light industry 5.6 percent, the banking sector 5.5 percent, the construction sector 3.5 percent, animal originated product processing industries 5.5 percent, and the remaining went to the trade and service sectors. The Prime Minister noted that the Government's primary preference was for foreign investment in developing infrastructure, and in the agriculture, mining and processing industries.

Scientists Urge Forest Protection
2007-01-11 UB Post
Scientists and researchers from various Mongolian organizations, such as The Botanical and Biological Institute of the Science Academy, The National Center of Communicable Diseases with Natural Foci and Infectious Disease Study, and Eco-Asia Institute exchanged views at a meeting of The National Network of Longtime Ecological Research on January 5 in the Mongolian National University auditorium. They discussed potential measures to protect the ecology of endangered areas and how to manage and preserve the delicate ecosystem of the Gobi desert. Also on the agenda was the protection of Mongolia's forests Forest protection is the most urgent issue in Mongolia, said Ts. Adiyasuren, director of Eco-Asia Institute. Forests are being destroyed by insects and pests on the one hand, and cut down and burnt by people on the other. The meeting urged all Mongolians to realize the importance of forest protection because it is the forest that provides a healthy environment, minimises soil erosion and air pollution and protects animal life.

Health Minister dismissed
2007-01-09 Mongol Messenger
He said that Gundalai was warned at the June cabinet meeting, but had not heeded the warning. L. Gundalai told the house that the accusations were false and even though he was ready to resign he could not admit to be dismissed because of false politicised accusations. The prime minister claimed that Gundalai had awarded a tender for pharmaceuticals to a single company, which was now selling medicines at 10 times the recommended price. He said that he had seen video evidence of Gundalai's unethical character. Gundalai denied that there had been any such tender since he had become minister. He claimed that the tender was awarded before the New Year. He added that he had not fought with the Environment Minister, and that the video should be made public. The DP council claimed, "The prime minister himself has proposed the dismissal of the minister. This proves that MPs were right when they proposed the dismissal of the government last autumn." "It is proper to demand ministerial responsibility from L. Gundalai. But there are other ministers who have behaved in a similar way. The DP parliamentary council retains the position that the government cannot continue to operate with these ministers. "They have misspent billions of taxpayers' money; stopped the scheme to provide herders with 50,000 solar units and bewildered the tender; used billions of Tg without tender; committed crimes; issued licences illegally; not worked properly; and broken the principle of cabinet solidarity. The government must be forced to resign." At the plenary meeting, MPs E. Bat-Uul, S. Oyun and Ts. Bataa said that not just L. Gundalai but other ministers who had made serious mistakes ought to be dismissed. Bat-Uul asked the prime minister, "Can we understand that the MPRP has violates the promise that none of the sides can rescind the agreement in its agreement with the People's Party to establish the government?" The prime minister answered, "He is being dismissed because of his character and behaviour, which is not under the agreement, so it does not rescind the agreement." The January 20, 2006, agreement states that the People's Party shall have cabinet representation. The prime minister said that the agreement was effective and that there would be representation by another person. After the vote to dismiss him, Gundalai thanked parliament, the prime minister and cabinet. The DP parliamentary council on January 5 submitted a motion to the speaker to dismiss Social Welfare and Labour Minister L. Odonchimed, claiming that he broke the budget law by transferring Tg 4.4 billion allocated to the child allowance to the newlyweds grant, so spending the money improperly. They based the claim on an article in the law that reads, "Those who have registered their new marriage since January 1, 2006, are to be allowed a grant," as unanimously approved at the July 20 plenary meeting. The motion read, "Minister L. Odonchimed has caused us to lose confidence that he is able to lead the sector properly; he must therefore take political and ethical responsibility and accept dismissal." The Civil Will Party has also written to the prime minister warning him that they consider that L. Odonchimed should be dismissed.

 

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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