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
  29.1-2.2.07, No. 152  
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Foreign Policy

China, Japan vow to tighten ties
2007-01-29 China Daily
China and Japan vowed to build "strategic, mutually beneficial" ties on Saturday at the conclusion of the seventh round of strategic talks between the two countries' in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province. Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yachi Shotaro led the two delegations at the meetings, which began in Beijing last Thursday. The two delegations consisted of about 20 Chinese and Japanese officials. Both Dai and Shotaro said they bore a "heavy responsibility" to promote ties. During the three-day series of meetings, the two sides discussed building "strategic, mutually beneficial" ties and had "frank" and "in-depth" exchanges of views on how to maintain momentum in improving and developing bilateral ties, according to a statement released by Chinese Foreign Ministry. "This provides an important opportunity for advancing bilateral ties, and both sides should work for the complete success of the visit and for the long-term, sound and stable progress of bilateral ties," Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told Shotaro on Thursday. Li urged Japan to observe the three China-Japan political documents and to properly resolve "sensitive" issues. "As participants in the dialogue, both of us are happy about the improvements in bilateral ties," Dai told Shotaro before their closed door meetings began. Echoing Dai's statements, Shotaro joked that it was the first time that he had smiled while talking with Chinese officials at a strategic dialogue. "The strategic dialogue played a role in removing political obstacles in bilateral relations and getting relations back on track," Dai said. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Premier Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to Japan in April. In his policy address to parliament on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to build mutually beneficial ties with China.

Sudan tops list of Hu's African challenges - During an eight-nation tour, the president is likely to urge a resolution of the crisis in Darfur
2007-01-29 SCMP
Twice in the past three years, President Hu Jintao has been greeted warmly in Africa as the leader of a growing economic and political power. But on his latest trip, he will face growing scepticism about the mainland's role in Africa. The itinerary for the eight-nation, 12-day tour which starts tomorrow demonstrates both the scope and the pitfalls of China's influence. Included along the way are stalwart allies such as South Africa and Zambia - but both are places where protests and criticisms about Chinese motives have emerged recently - to new friends such as Liberia, where China is hunting for oil and supplying peacekeepers. No stop illustrates the challenges as starkly as Sudan. In recent weeks, Mr Hu has come under pressure from the United States and new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to use China's leverage as a big customer for Sudanese oil to get Khartoum to resolve the crisis in the Darfur region, where civil strife has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million people, according to UN estimates. Beijing has raised expectations that it is heeding the message, calling on Sudan to co-operate with the UN in finding a solution. Chinese leaders were "going to have to make a decision about this", said Lawrence Rossin of the US-based Save Darfur Coalition. "Either their quiet diplomacy is working ... or they're going to have to realise that [Sudanese President Lieutenant-General Omar al-Beshir] is stiffing them, too. And I don't think a country like China should take no for an answer." [...] Trade between China and Africa has soared fourfold this decade, to US$40 billion in 2005. Beijing has become a major supplier of aid, last year announcing US$10 billion in assistance from 2006 to 2009. Mr Hu's trip also includes visits to Cameroon, Namibia, Mozambique and the Seychelles. His itinerary is a "mixed bag of countries small, medium and large", seemingly designed to de-emphasise China's thirst for oil and play up its wider interests, said Sanusha Naidu, a researcher in Chinese studies at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. But the gesture would garner goodwill with Africans, she added. "I can't remember the last time [US President George W.] Bush visited." China offers African countries a "countervailing force to US hegemony", offering aid with fewer strings attached, said Francis Kornegay, an analyst at the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. Yet Beijing's support does come with conditions, including a ban on formal ties with Taiwan and expectations that recipients vote with Beijing at the UN. Last month in South Africa, where trade unions have complained that Chinese textile imports were devastating domestic industry, President Thabo Mbeki pointedly told a student audience that Africa needed to guard against allowing relations with China to develop into a "colonial relationship". His reference was to the western colonial powers, who are accused of taking the continent's natural resources while doing little to improve Africans' lives. Though Mr Mbeki quickly added that he thought Beijing's leaders wanted to avoid the colonial pattern, his comments resonated with some. Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said last week that Beijing wanted its businesses in Africa to be more responsible. Mr Zhai said Mr Mbeki's comments were an "understandable" warning about a possible future scenario, not the current reality of Sino-African ties.

Visit strengthens ties with Cameroon
2007-02-01 China Daily
Yaounde: Visiting President Hu Jintao proposed yesterday that China and Cameroon intensify communication at all levels and support each other on core issues. He made the remarks in a meeting with his Cameroonian counterpart Paul Biya on the first leg of his African trip. Hu suggested more efforts be made on economic collaboration, in particular, agriculture, infrastructure, telecommunications and people-to-people exchanges. Biya said: "China is a great friend of Cameroon and Cameroon is a sincere friend of China." He said Cameroon has been making efforts to improve its investment environment and welcomes more Chinese enterprises to invest. The two heads of state also exchanged views on Africa's situation. "There cannot be progress in world peace and development without stability and prosperity in Africa," Hu said. Hu said he believed that the gradual fulfilling of commitments made by China at the Beijing summit of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation last November will usher in a new chapter in Sino-African ties. After the talks, Hu and Biya witnessed the signing of eight documents, covering economic and technological cooperation, health, education and telecommunications. Hu is on an eight-nation trip to Africa that will also take him to Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles.

Liberia, China issue joint communique, reaffirming mutual support
2007-02-02 Xinhuanet
Monrovia: Liberia and China on Thursday issued a joint communique, reaffirming full support to each other and pledging unswerving efforts for further bilateral cooperation. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf exchanged views on matters of mutual interest in a cordial and friendly atmosphere and reached broad agreement on building on the success of the Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), said the joint communique issued during Hu's one-day visit to Liberia. "Both sides agreed to increase friendly exchanges at various levels, enhance mutual trust and expand practical cooperation to further develop and accelerate China-Liberia friendship and cooperation," the document said. Liberia reiterated its firm commitment to the one-China policy and its support of China's concept of "One Country, Two Systems" and every effort by the Chinese government to achieve national unification, it said. "The Liberian side opposes any form of 'Taiwan independence', including 'de jure Taiwan independence', and opposes Taiwan to accede to any international or regional organization intended only for sovereign states," said the joint communique. China pledged to continue to support the Liberian government's efforts in consolidating peace and stability and promoting national reconstruction and development. "The Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Liberia," it said. The two sides agreed to broaden exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, health, agriculture, personnel training, strengthen cooperation in international affairs, promote South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue, and work for a harmonious world characterized by lasting peace and common prosperity for all peoples, said the document. The two countries also agreed to work together to advance the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa based on political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges. President Hu, who arrived here on Thursday morning from Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, is on an eight-nation Africa tour that will also take him to Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique and Seychelles.

Chinese president, UAE vice president meet on ties
2007-01-30 Xinhuanet
Dubai: Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Tuesday that China is willing to make concerted efforts together with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to strengthen cooperation in various fields. Hu, who stopped over in Dubai en route to the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde for an eight-nation Africa tour, made the remarks when meeting with UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also governor of Dubai. During the meeting, Hu said that in recent years, China and the UAE have witnessed closer cooperation in various fields and frequent high-level exchanges. The trade and economic relations between the two sides have maintained momentum of growth, he said, adding that the cooperation in energy, investment, aviation, education and other areas has made progress. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of China-UAE friendly relationship of cooperation, said Hu, who is on an eight-nation Africa tour. "China is willing to join hands with the UAE to enhance mutual political trust, increase high-level exchanges, deepen trade and economic cooperation to develop ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and strengthen cooperation in such fields as culture, education and health to boost mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples," he said. Hu also called for enhanced coordination and cooperation with the UAE in regional and global affairs so as to jointly promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East, the gulf region and the world at large. After expressing his agreement with Hu's comment, Sheikh Mohammed said the development of UAE-China friendly relations is in accordance with the two sides' common wish and demand, and is also conducive to safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East and the gulf region. The UAE, which attaches great importance to its ties with China, will adhere to the one-China policy, continue to enhance mutual trust with China, exploit potentials in trade and economic cooperation, and further the all-around growth of bilateral relations, he said.

China, Portugal seek closer ties amid spiraling trade
2007-02-01 People's Daily Online
China and Portugal on Wednesday pledged to further their trade ties and seek cooperation in more areas as Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates pays his first China visit since taking office. "Since the two countries established all-around strategic partnership in 2005, China and Portugal have deepened their political trust and witnessed rapid trade development," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao while hosting talks with Socrates. Wen proposed the two countries improve their trade structure and encourage mutual investment, and increase exchanges in culture, education and science and technology. Trade between China and Portugal surged to 1.7 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 39 percent year-on-year. In a visit to Portugal in 2005, Wen expressed the hope that bilateral trade volume could double in three years. He said on Wednesday the goal is expected to be achieved ahead of time. The two countries also signed eight agreements covering areas such as trade, jurisdiction, education and science and technology after the two leaders' one-hour talks. On relations between China and European Union, Wen said China will work closely with Portugal in order to finalize the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA), talks of which was officially launched on Jan. 17. Portugal will assume the rotating presidency of the EU in the second half of 2007. Wen said he hoped China and the EU "will enhance strategic dialog, properly handle each other's concern and expand pragmatic cooperation in various fields."

Diverse oil consumers en route to cooperation
2007-02-01 China Daily
Energy ministers from China, the United States, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), five of the world's primary gasoline consumers, got together in Beijing on December 16 to discuss energy security and sustainable development of the energy sector. The energy ministers agreed that the guarantee of a reliable and sufficient supply of reasonably priced energy resources and increased energy efficiency are what their countries are after. The meeting was not aimed at keeping down international oil prices and will not develop into a mechanism to counterbalance the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), despite media suggestions to the contrary. In recent years, international oil prices have fluctuated by large margins. This not only greatly impacts the world economy but leaves oil consuming countries continuously worried about energy security, with developing countries the hardest hit. On July 17, 2006, President Hu Jintao, attending the dialogue session between G8 and developing countries in St. Petersburg, Russia, suggested that a new energy-security approach be introduced. It would be based on global energy stability, sustainable development and mutual benefit. Against this background the Chinese government proposed convening the energy ministers' conference. The population of China, India, Japan, the ROK and the United States totals some 2.85 billion and the five countries consume 45.3 percent of the world's oil. So the five share major common concerns over energy. The ministerial meeting concentrated on five subjects: energy security and strategic oil reserves, diversification of energy structure and alternative energy forms, investment and the energy market, primary challenges to international energy cooperation, energy saving and enhancement of energy efficiency. Ma Kai, minister of the State Development and Reform Commission, put forward six proposals involving cooperation in energy saving, alternative energy resources, oil reserves, energy information exchange, research on advanced technologies and boosting energy supply. The joint statement issued by the conference urges that an energy resources market be introduced, based on transparency, efficiency and fair competition. This market, with an effective legal and supervisory framework, would encourage investment in oil and gas prospecting and exploration. The statement also pushes for the diversification of energy supply sources and the development of effective energy-saving technologies. In addition, it presses for increased strategic oil reserves to cope with possible energy crises. The joint statement also suggests that major energy facilities and oil-shipment sea routes be protected. The five-country energy ministers' meeting sends a signal to the international community that some of the world's primary oil consuming countries will strengthen dialogue and cooperation among themselves to promote energy saving, energy efficiency and the development of alternative energy resources to lessen consumers' excessive dependence on gasoline. The fact that the five oil consumers got together is in itself an important event. In 2005, the five countries consumed a total of 1.737 billion tons of oil, 45.3 percent of the world's total. Looking ahead, as the Chinese and Indian economies develop on the fast track, their consumption of oil will increase dramatically. In this scenario, it is feasible that the major oil consumers strengthen cooperation to avoid cutthroat competition among themselves. This helps stabilize the world oil market and encourages its orderly development. In addition, the sharp oil price hikes in the international market have already brought negative impacts on the world economy, which hits developing countries the hardest. The energy ministers' meeting is of great significance in promoting global energy security. [...] Energy cooperation among the five countries is geared to seeking common interests. Long-term strategic cooperation in the energy sector constitutes a top priority. [...]

 

Domestic Policy

Supreme People's Court details five ways to a harmonious society
2007-01-30 People's Daily Online
The Supreme People's Court of China issued a wide-ranging circular stressing the need to protect the rights of individuals including peasants, laborers, employees and creditors in order to build a more harmonious society. All courts in the country need to actively work toward a harmonious society by protecting people's interests and reducing instability in society, the circular said. It outlined five areas were the country's courts have to solve social issues in order to achieve a harmonious society. All courts need to better resolve cases involving family members and neighbors to promote harmony within communities. They need to properly protect the rights of peasants to guarantee the social order of the vast rural areas. The courts need to protect the legitimate rights of laborers to enhance the development of the work force. Courts need to also strictly supervise government departments and state institutions to protect their rights. All courts need to properly handle environmental cases to prevent pollution and build a harmonious relationship between humans and nature, read the circular. As well the circular also said judges who abuse their power and take bribes must be dismissed. It also urged the courts to be more transparent to people's congresses, procuratorates and the common people. It also urged courts to deal properly with cases relating to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan according to Chinese law, foreign law, international law and to equally protect both domestic and foreign litigants. The circular demands the courts strictly investigate the transfer of non-performing assets to prevent the loss of state assets. It demands courts resolve financial disputes to safeguard financial security. It also demanded courts properly try cases related to the reform of state owned enterprises to protect the rights of both creditors and employees. The circular stressed the protection of human rights needs to be strengthened during the trails of serious criminal cases, and both leniency and strict application of the law are needed to build a harmonious society By 2020, China's justice system will be greatly improved and the judiciary will be able to more effectively protect human rights and provide more transparent judicial procedures, the circular said.

New science policy welcomes business
2007-01-30 China Daily
Businesses are to be more involved in scientific research thanks to changes sweeping through national science policy. The changes will see science policy focus more on agriculture and public welfare, as well as paying more attention to basic research, a top science official said yesterday. "The macro-administrative reform which marked last year will continue," Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua told a national science and technology working conference. Agriculture, energy, the environment and health will take up 50 percent of the research and development (R&D) budget in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) 20 percent more than the previous plan, he said. Industry's share will decrease from 70 to 50 percent. Energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be the new beneficiaries of R&D funding, said the minister. The ministry will shortly publish technology guidelines for energy conservation, and for the development of mineral resources and gas and oil drilling, he added. This is the first time mineral resources have been included in national science plans, said Jiang Kaixi, vice-president of the Beijing General Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. The institute will be carrying out a national research project into the conservation and development of mineral resources over the next five years. In the health sector, the focus of R&D will be on modernizing traditional Chinese medicine. Basic research: Ten new national laboratories will be built to carry out research into fields China currently lacks the resources to investigate, said the minister. In 2006 the ministry approved funding for 70 basic research projects, including four key research projects on protein engineering, quantum manipulation, nanotechnology and reproductive studies. The four projects altogether are budgeted at 4 billion yuan ($512.8 million) although the amount could rise if further funds are required. In new branches of science such as molecular biology and nanotechnology, Chinese scientists are rapidly catching up with their foreign colleagues. Chinese scientists ranked second for the number of nanotechnology papers published in major international academic journals last year. Their number of biology papers ranked 6th. National research centers will be built in major enterprises and funded by both companies and the government, said minister Xu. Guo Qingcun, vice-president of home electronics producer Hisense Co Ltd, said the company already has a national research center for lightening equipment, with the government providing about one fourth of its funding.

PLA 'not involved in arms race', poses no threat
2007-02-02 China Daily
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will not engage in any arms race and its development poses no threat to any country. That was the firm reassurance from Lieutenant-General Zhang Qinsheng, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the PLA, who said the Chinese army is modernizing to increase its combat abilities in the information age. The PLA's modernization is open and based on cooperation, said Zhang in an interview with China Daily. "We do not conceal our intention to build a strong and modern national defense. But we also tell the world candidly that the Chinese defense policy is always defensive in nature'," said Zhang. The modernization of the Chinese armed forces aims to achieve the ability to defend national sovereignty, security and reunification of the country, according to Zhang, who is in charge of PLA's foreign affairs. "China has never joined any military alliance, never sought military expansion, nor built overseas military bases," he pointed out. The lieutenant-general said that a lack of understanding and communication has led to misunderstanding, which resulted in suspicions, concerns and even strong criticism of China's military development. Quoting an ancient Chinese saying "Seeing is believing", he welcomed more foreign friends to visit the Chinese armed forces themselves. Zhang said that the PLA has invited foreign military observers and military attaches in Beijing to observe live-ammunition war games. The Chinese army is taking "pro-active and pragmatic" measures to improve transparency of national defense, said Zhang, citing the release of five White Papers on national defense as an example. The documents painted a clearer picture of China's national defense policy as well as its military development. At the end of last year, China published the fifth White Paper China's National Defense in 2006 which for the first time put forward China's national security strategy, and also for the first time made public China's nuclear policy and the vision of development of the PLA services and arms. On foreign exchanges this year, Zhang said the PLA will hold joint military manoeuvers in Russia with members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and continue high-level exchange of visits between the Chinese and US armies.

China trains all county officials for building new countryside
2007-01-29 Xinhuanet
Beijing: China has wrapped up its massive program to train more than 5,000 county-level officials for the national campaign of building new countryside. On Sunday, some 180 county-level officials finished their training classes themed "building socialist new countryside" at the Party School of the Community Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in Beijing. Since last April, altogether 5,474 county magistrates or county Communist Party chiefs have participated in such seven-to-ten-day training classes in five official training schools. Fifty training classes were organized in the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, National School of Administration, and officials training institutes respectively in Pudong of Shanghai, Jinggangshan of Jiangxi Province and Yan'an of Shaanxi Province. It is rare in history that the CPC central committee organized such a unified and large-scale training with a specific topic, said an official with the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. "This shows the CPC Central Committee attaches great importance to building new socialist countryside and raising the competence of county officials in this sense," he stressed. To ensure the quality of training, the Organization Department of CPC Central Committee required that the five schools use unified teaching plan and method. For most of the county heads and party chiefs, it was the first time for them to study in a state-level official training school. Ma Zhanwen, secretary of the Communist Party Fengyang county committee, in Anhui Province, said the training made him better understand why and how to build new countryside. "The training plays an irreplaceable role in enhancing our understanding of the historical task," Ma said. Zeng Yesong, professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, citied a Chinese proverb as saying "as long as the counties are ruled, the country is stable." The training program is closely tied with the country's new round of elections of county-level heads and party chiefs.

Judiciary told to take note of reactions - Consider world opinion when handling sensitive cases, law commissioner says
2007-02-02 SCMP
China's top official in charge of law and order has called on judicial officials to pay more attention to international reactions in handling "sensitive cases and [social] contradictions" at home. Luo Gan, one of the nine members of the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee and head of the Central Commission of Political Science and Law, wrote in the latest issue of Qiu Shi, or Seeking Truth, that they must take into account overseas reactions in handling domestic cases. "In our drafting and enforcement of legislation, and handling of sensitive cases and [domestic social] conflicts, we need to pay attention to the possible effect they may create internationally," Mr Luo wrote in the party's mouthpiece. "As we open up to the world, we must on the one hand protect the lawful interests of foreign investors and safeguard the legitimate activities of non-governmental organisations; we also have to guard against infiltration aimed at sabotaging our national security." Mr Luo said China would step up co-operation with foreign law-enforcement agencies to "defuse as much as possible external factors which will destabilise China's national security and social stability. These principles also apply in handling issues concerning Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan". He acknowledged that "mass incidents" - Beijing's euphemism for mass protests and riots - did happen, but said some participants joined in only to "express their own personal grievances as they were personally not related". He added that police and judicial officials needed to win the public's trust, given the rise of awareness in rights. "The public has gained new awareness of democracy and the rule of law and they have higher expectations for judicial fairness and effectiveness," he said. Mass protests happen frequently as farmers protest against seized farmland and migrant workers marched to demand back wages. On Tuesday, a vice-minister of the Office of Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, Chen Xiwen, said disputes over seizures of farmland remained a main cause of rural unrest. Chinese leaders have admitted that a widening of the wealth gap is fuelling social unrest and have repeatedly urged grass-roots cadres to take active steps to deal with the problems at the early stage. Based on 2005 data, a report released by National Development and Reform Commission said the wealth gap had widened as the government had failed to distribute wealth effectively. An average urban resident earned 3.2 times the income of a rural resident. Urban dwellers, who accounted for roughly 30 per cent of the population, earned 70.9 per cent of the population's total income, the report said.

Largest-ever Asian Winter Games opens in Changchun, China
2007-01-29 People's Daily Online
The largest-ever Asian Winter Games raised its curtain here Sunday evening in Changchun, a northeast city in China. Chinese president Hu Jintao declared open of the sixth Asian Winter Games, which featured all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) for the first time in its 21-year-old history. Dignitaries at the opening ceremony included OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. DPR Korea and South Korea marched together under the flag with an image of the Korean peninsula for the second time in the Asian Winter Games, with the first in Aomori, Japan in 2003. The Games to be co-hosted by Changchun and nearby Jilin cities in China's northeast Jilin province, has been attracting a total of 816 athletes from 26 countries and regions, compared to 741 athletes from 20 members in 2003. [...] China fielded in the biggest delegation of 261, including 81 men and 79 women athletes who are going to compete in all the 47 events of five sports during the Jan. 28-Feb. 4 tournament. Japan dispatched the second largest delegation with over 110 athletes while South Korea as the third biggest. Next host Kazakhstan ranked fourth in the number of delegation members. However, Japan, who ranked first in the last Games in 2003, is anticipated to top the medals tally again. And China hopes to overtake South Korea from third to second in the tally, according to Chinese deputy chef de mission Cui Dalin. While the local organizers are setting out to host a full-house Asiad with all OCA members for the first time, China, host to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, has cherished a dream that goes far beyond Asia -- bringing the Winter Olympic Games to the most populous country of 1.3 billion people. Harbin, capital city of China's another northeast province of Heilongjiang, made the bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Despite its abrupt failure in the first round bidding process in 2002, Harbin is determined to make the 2009 Winter World University Games a success. "We need organizing experiences for an Olympics, and the World Universidad will be an important step stone for our eventual bid for the Winter Olympics," said Heilongjiang Provincial Sports Bureau director Zhao Yinggang.

 

Tibet

Tibetans tortured after arrest: witness - Refugees suffered cattle prods and hard labour over 48 days
2007-02-01 SCMP
Nearly three dozen Tibetans captured by Chinese troops as they tried to sneak out of China were tortured with cattle prods and forced to do hard labour, a teenager who identified himself as one of the former detainees said in the first reported account of the group's fate. Jamyang Samten, 15, said on Tuesday that he was one of 75 Tibetans making their way over the 5,800-metre-high Nanpa La crossing on September 30 when Chinese border guards opened fire on them, killing a 25-year-old Buddhist nun and another person. The incident was filmed by a Romanian television producer on a mountaineering expedition, sparking an international outcry. Forty-one of the refugees reached India after the shooting, but 32 others were caught and detained for at least 48 days. While Jamyang Samten said some of those detained had since been released, he was the only member of the group known to have fled again. The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that it was not aware of the details of Jamyang Samten's claims. In Dharamsala, the director of the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre, Loudhup Dorjee, said Jamyang Samten arrived on Monday after escaping from Tibet through Nepal following his release. Jamyang Samten said that his group of 32, all younger than 20, was travelling behind the first group when Chinese guards opened fire. Their guide told them to hide and wait while he investigated, he said. He never returned, Jamyang Samten said, and the group waited for three days until their food ran out and they tried the pass again. "As we went across, the Chinese guards started shooting near us to frighten us," he said. They surrendered, were arrested and thrown into a truck, he said. Jamyang Samten said his group was taken to a police station where they were questioned for three days and hit with an electric cattle prod.

 

Taiwan

Scholars renew secession warning
2007-01-30 China Daily
Mainland officials and scholars said yesterday that Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's stepped-up efforts to push for the island's formal "independence" would lead to cross-Straits tensions. They said this year would be a crucial year for curbing secessionist activities because Beijing is preparing to host the 2008 Olympic Games. "Cross-Straits ties face grave challenges because the Taiwan authorities are substantially pursuing de jure 'independence' through 'constitutional' change this year," said Xu Shiquan, vice-chairman of National Society of Taiwan Studies. Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also warned Chen against attempting to promote "Taiwan independence". "We should stay alert for any secessionist moves from Chen this year aimed at undermining cross-Straits ties," he said. The scholars made these remarks yesterday at a seminar to mark the 12th anniversary of former President Jiang Zemin's eight-point proposal for developing cross-Straits relations. Jiang's 1995 proposals drew a path to the ultimate goal of peaceful reunification across the Taiwan Straits, and promised that everything can be negotiated under a "one-China" premise. Zhou Tienong, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said Chen might make every effort to pursue "constitutional independence" before he leaves office next year. Such efforts appear to have begun already. Local media reported yesterday that Taiwan had revised its high-school history textbooks to suggest that the island is not part of China. The China Times said the island's "education ministry" had requested the phrase "national history" be changed to "China history" when referring to the mainland in a local high school textbook to be used in March. Phrases like "our country", "this country" and "the mainland" have been changed to "China", indicating that Taiwan considers itself to be independent from the mainland, the newspaper said. Meanwhile, a new draft of the revised "Taiwan constitution" was released over the weekend, stating the island is a "free and democratic country". Scholars said the basic policy of "peaceful reunification" should be adhered to, but the bottom line for the worst-case scenario was also consistent: The use of force could be the last resort in case of any foreign interference or plots for an "independent" Taiwan. Despite political tension across the Straits, bilateral economic and personnel exchanges have become stronger. Official figures show that the indirect cross-Straits trade volume last year posted a year-on-year increase of 18.2 percent to $107.8 billion. The number of people crossing the Straits reached 4.6 million, 7.7 percent more than the previous year.

 

Economy

China Exim: The bank that is banking on reform
2007-01-29 China Daily
The reform of China's three policy banks was on top of the National Financial Work Conference's agenda in Beijing last week. Earlier, these banks had been designated to help State-sector companies implement the central government's economic policies. It was a temporary arrangement in the country's transition from direct government allocation of funds during the planned era to regular loan financing in today's market economy. China Daily reporter Zhang Lu interviewed Li Ruogu, chairman and president of Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank), to learn the details of the bank's imminent reform and future business. Q: The National Financial Work Conference has decided to reform the three policy banks. As China Eximbank's top leader, how do you see that happening? A: The three policy banks have been around for 12 years. Now, all government departments have agreed that it's time these banks readjust their operations to suit the changing business environment, both at home and abroad. The three banks have to play an important role in the market economy. But the path they take should suit their respective specialities. Policy-based financial service is not likely to be phased out completely at this stage because it still plays a vital role in bridging the gap between urban and rural areas and in sheltering Chinese enterprises from the risks of the global market. Financing Chinese firms in their export and import operations will continue to be part of China Eximbank's business, and, hence, be tied to government policies because the country still needs this kind of service. It's not uncommon for a country to have an export and import bank to help its businesses. In fact, there are about 80 export-import banks or similar institutions in more than 70 countries. Even the United States has an export-import bank, which is a key player in formulating its foreign policies. But notwithstanding their policy-based roles, it's also important that policy financial institutions function and grow as businesses. It's true that China Eximbank is not in business to maximize its profits. But that should not mean we don't care about the returns. And most importantly, policy-based lending should not mean low-quality business. We can learn from our overseas counterparts' practices how to make a profit by separating the management of policy accounts from regular accounts. The other point that I'd like to make is that under no circumstances should there be a competition for business among the leading policy institutions. Q: Almost immediately after you took over the reins of the Eximbank in June 2005, you drew up an internal reform plan. How do you evaluate the progress you've made so far? A: The changes we have made are encouraging. First, we have got a new head office like other modern banks. The reorganization highlighted risk management and internal control, which in turn have borne better marketing and service results. Second, our staff is more aware of the importance of service and returns. Third, we managed to cut operation losses by a great margin last year. And fourth, we have increased our support for Chinese companies in their global expansion bids, which is a new area of focus. In the process, Chinese firms have helped the local economy of the places they are based in. But we still have a lot more to do. [...] Q: The central government is encouraging more imports to balance the enormous trade surplus. What role will China Eximbank play to achieve this? A: The central government began urging institutions to increase imports at the end of last year. But our bank had already started an import-credit pilot program by then at the beginning of last year, to be precise. In January 2006, we signed our first import-credit framework agreement for $1.5 billion to finance Shenzhen Airlines' purchase of aircraft and flight equipment. There have been many applicants for import credits. In just one year, we arranged for 18 billion Yuan ($2.31 billion). Our import-credit business is designed to help Chinese firms buy key technologies, equipment and resources. In due course, it will help improve the country's foreign trade balance and improve the overall level of our industrial. [...]

IPR development in national plan
2007-01-31 People's Daily Online
An intellectual property rights (IPR) development program has for the first time been incorporated into national planning. The 11th Five-Year Plan includes an IPR plan, highlighting IPR's role in promoting social and economic growth. The draft of the IPR development program for 2006-10 has been submitted to the State Council for approval, and will be made public soon, according to the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). SIPO spokesman Yin Xintian said the program puts more emphasis on the quality of China's intellectual properties, rather than their number, given that the numbers of patents and trademarks are already the top in the world. Statistics from SIPO show that the number of patent applications filed to the office, including invention, utility, model and design, reached 573,000 in 2006, jumping 20 percent year-on-year. The number of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications, or international applications, reached 3,826 in 2006, soaring 57 percent from that of 2005. It is expected that the number of patent applications in China will maintain their annual growth rate of 10 to 20 percent over the next four years, Yin told reports at a press conference yesterday in Beijing. Yin said that by the end of 2006, the accumulated number of patent applications topped 3.33 million, among which, 1.1 million were invention patents. "It took nearly 15 years for China to reach its first one million patent applications, following the introduction of the Patent Law in the mid-1980s," Yin said. "It then took about four years to reach the next 1 million, but it only took two more years to reach the three million mark." However, the spokesman pointed out that though the growth of patents is much faster than in the rest of world, the quality of domestic patents lags far behind the leading IPR countries. Yin said the national IPR strategy, which has been discussed by more than 20 ministries for nearly two years, will be finally agreed by June this year. China's Vice-Premier Wu Yi heads the team that oversees the strategy, assisted by senior officials from SIPO, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Copyright Administration and the Administration for Industry and Commerce. [...]

China tells yuan critics to back off
2007-01-29 China Daily
Davos, Switzerland: China wants the rest of the world to respect its gradual pace of economic reform, a senior Chinese central banker said here, telling critics to "clean your own house first." Wu Xiaoling, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, avoided naming names but handed out the advice only a few weeks after top US financial policy makers visited Beijing to press China to act faster on liberalizing the yuan. "There is a Chinese saying that you should put yourself in others' shoes; you need to respect others," she said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We respect other people's policies. The Chinese say, 'clean your own house first.' "We should be very careful how we proceed, and I compare it to walking on ice," she added. The US Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, after meeting the Chinese president, Hu Jintao and the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, last month, said the Chinese reluctance to let the yuan quickly appreciate remained a core bilateral issue. US lawmakers say the yuan, or renminbi, is unfairly undervalued, undermining the competitiveness of American companies and contributing to a soaring US trade deficit. But Wu said China had "more work to do, especially in the development of the financial system." "The renminbi will more and more reflect market forces, but we will not have dramatic change in the short term," Wu said. Beijing ended a direct peg between the dollar and the yuan in July 2005, and since then it has let the currency rise gradually against a basket of currencies. On Thursday the yuan was at its highest point since the revaluation. The Chinese economy, which grew at its fastest rate in more than a decade in 2006, has been a major issue at Davos. China has implemented a series of curbs to keep its economic expansion in check, but the world's fourth-largest economy has still achieved double-digit growth in each of the past four years. The United States says the yuan needs to rise faster to ease global economic imbalances - Asia runs a large current account surplus, and the United States absorbs roughly 70 percent of excess global savings - and to prevent a sudden and disorderly correction.

China tightens control over state asset sales
2007-01-29 Xinhuanet
Beijing: The Chinese government has just issued new regulations so as to enhance supervision over state-owned assets transactions. Most state asset deals should be made in the property right exchange, with over-the-counter transactions being strictly controlled, said a circular issued by the State-Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the Ministry of Finance. "The sale of state-owned assets should not violate the restrictive or prohibitive rules concerning the country's economic safety," the circular said. The state should retain its absolute control over companies in key industries after part of state-owned property right is sold, it said. The transaction concerning transfer of state assets to a foreign company should take place in the property right exchange, requiring approval from relevant governmental departments, according to the circular. The circular came amid rising public concerns that foreign control of key Chinese firms could threaten the country's economic security. Carlyle Group, a private equity firm from the United States, originally offered 370 million U.S. dollars for a 80 percent stake in Xugong, a leading Chinese construction machinery manufacturer. The deal was submitted to the Ministry of Commerce for approval, but was turned down. The parties signed a new deal then, in which Carlyle reduces its stake to 50 percent, at a cost of 1.8 billion yuan, or 225 million dollars roughly. The Carlyle controversy is drawing attention to other "questionable" deals, such as the proposed takeover of the Luoyang Bearing Corporation, a leading bearing producer in China, by German-based Schaeffler Group.

How to start with this year's macro-economic control?
2007-02-02 People's Daily Online
China's overall economic development is in a very good shape, with a double-digit growth attaining for consecutive years but it has encountered an over-speedy investment at times, excessive loans, and a bloated trade surplus. Then, how China beefs up and improves its macro-economic control and how its economy develops faster and better still. To answer these questions, People Daily reporters Li Fangfang and Zhang Lili had an interview with Han Yongwen, secretary general of the State Development and Planning Commission under the State Council, or the central government. The detailed account of the interview runs as follows: Q. What were problems existing in China's economic development last year? A. China's economic development in 2006 was not bad on the whole, but in the first quarter or first half of last year, there were an over-speedy investment, the release of excessive credit and a bloated trade surplus, which had been termed the "three excessivenesses". To cope with these problems in the country's economic performance, the central government resorted to some macro-control measures and scored marked results. Some protruding contradictions and problems, nevertheless, are still around, and those problems relevant to the "three excessivenesses" will possibly rebound. These are evident mainly in two aspects: First, a trend for extension of a trade surplus prevails and, second, pressures from the rebounding of fix-assets investment still exist. Preliminary forecasts show the investment of fix-assets investment from the entire society will increase by somewhat 24 percent in 2006, quit a distance from the anticipated target. Some renewed impetuosity will be shown owing to an excessive surplus in foreign trade and easier accesses to loans by localities and enterprises. The issue of overriding importance is how to carry out the relevant policies issued by central authorities. In the meantime, some changes that may crop up in economic performance should be monitored, tracked and followed, and policy measures adjusted and further improved timely. Q. What is the trend with the monetary policy this year? A. This year, China will go on implementing its stable, proactive monetary policies: First, cutting down on financial deficits; second, appropriately reducing the scale of the long-term construction bonds to be issued by the state and, third, optimizing the structure of the financial expenditure. To continue to implement the proactive monetary policy, it is imperative to further control the excessive extension of the credit so as to enable the credit size to increase rationally. Moreover, it imperative to further optimize the credit structure by providing more credit to those industries inspired by the state, small and medium-size enterprises, and new and high-tech firms. And reins will be imposed upon those industries with excessive energy consumption. Meanwhile, the process for interest-rate to be market-oriented will be speeded, a mechanism with respect to Renminbi (RMB) interest-rate changes further improved so that elasticity or flexibility of its exchange rate strengthened. Furthermore, stock market should be further standardized, direct financing expanded and more saving deposits of residents attracted and channelled directly to money market, so less funds scattered in society at large would enter into the banking systems and the pressure on them will thus be alleviated. Q. Expanding residents' consumption constitutes one of the top tasks defined by the Central Economic Work Conference for this year. How is the current situation with the consumption of residents, and what additional measures the Chinese government is expected to take for spurring consumption? A. China has had an average yearly increase of over 12 percent for three consecutive years in its consumption sector, and the increase speed is not slow. The principal problem in the current consumption growth is irrationality in its consumption structure. The main phenomena are as follows. First, rural villagers and low-income urbanites have a relatively-low consumption level with a resultant weak consumption capability. Second, the ratio of residents' service consumption is relatively low. Third, with a declining consumption ratio at present, the ratio of investment is relatively high, and the crux of matter is to lower the excessive-high investment ratio. Fourth, the factors negatively affecting the further growth of consumption are also ascribed to the restriction of other issues in the setup and mechanism of other spheres. To increase the consumption capability of residents and particularly to raise the income level of peasant farmers and urban low-income earners, represent one of the leading policy measures to spur consumption. Among other measures, the introduction of old-age pension and the providing of Medicare and Medicaid and other social security services should be stepped up, and more input added to the basic, cardinal education and public sanitary and health work. More affordable housing should be made available and problems with home buying should be resolved for low-income earners. And some new consumption "hot spots' should be nurtured and the consumption environment be further improved, and the construction of a circulation network between urban and rural areas and markets should be hastened. Q. Home buying is the top and no. one "headache" problem for ordinary people, and what are prevailing problems in real estate market and what regulation measures the state has prepared to take to tackle these problems? A. Initial successes have been scored in real state market, and there are still some thorny problems around. First, housing price is still somewhat higher with an apparent marked price increase range in some cities. Second, the housing guaranteeing system remains incomplete. Third, a market supply setup is also incomplete and the bulk status of lower-price housing and other ordinary apartments has yet to be established in China's commodity housing market. Fourth, the means of regulating the housing property market are also incomplete. Fifth, Property market order needs to be standardized. The government's stepped-up effort to regulate the property market is manifested in the ensuring four aspects. First, the existing regulating policies should be stabilized, the supplementary policies be improved and efforts beefed up for implementation. Second, Some benign changes have cropped up at the present property market, which still needs a process for these regulating policies for adaptation and adjustment. Third, accelerated efforts are required to deepen the housing reform both in towns and cities, improve housing guaranteeing system, define the government responsibility in this regard and increase the supply of housing funds. Four, the policy promotion should be beefed up to guide market consumption, and the supervision and guidance of media publicity over the real state market be reinforced. Q. On the issue of "Agriculture, farmers and rural areas", what new measures central authorities have worked out on the basis of benefiting farmers, and how can the "giving more and taking less" policy be ensured? This year, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council have again set forth an explicit demand for a new increased input in agriculture. First, the investment for agriculture, farmers and rural areas should be stepped up, and persistent efforts should be shifted to infrastructure facilities construction and social undertakings in rural areas. Second, the growth of modern agriculture should be boosted, all-out efforts made to improve farmland irrigation works, to set up bases for production of cereals, cotton and vegetable oil, and input more in the spheres of agro-sciences and basic researches in agriculture. Efforts will also be kept up to develop the epidemic control system of livestock, poultry and aquatics and leading firms relating to the agro-business. Third, Rural production and living conditions should keep improving, and more allocations granted to develop bio-gas production, upgrade existing road conditions and rural power grids, and support industrial and service (or tertiary) businesses and accelerate the transfer of surplus rural labor power. Fourth, efforts should be hastened to upgrade conditions for rural schools and promote the balanced growth of compulsory education in both urban and rural areas, enlarge the scope of the new-type rural cooperative medical service on a trial, experimental basis.

 

North Korea

Six-Party Talks to resume on February 8
2007-01-31 China Daily
The Six-Party Talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula will restart in Beijing on February 8, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The announcement came as the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) started talks in Beijing yesterday afternoon on financial sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by Washington. "There have been contacts between the various parties on how to move the talks forward and implement the joint statement of September 19, 2005," ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing, adding that these contacts have laid the foundation for the resumption of the talks. In the joint statement, Pyongyang agreed to give up its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid and security guarantees. Pyongyang had cited Washington's financial restrictions as a reason for boycotting the six-nation talks, but the latter insists the sanctions are for the former's alleged illicit financial activities and have nothing to do with the nuclear disarmament talks. The upcoming negotiations will be the third phase of the fifth round of the Six-Party Talks launched in 2003. The last phase recessed without a breakthrough in December after five days of negotiations. The announcement follows a flurry of diplomatic visits in the past week to Beijing by negotiators from the US, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea and Japan. Top US negotiator Christopher Hill and his DPRK counterpart Kim Kye-gwan met in Berlin in mid-January. Daniel Glaser, the top US delegate to the financial talks, told reporters yesterday he hoped to see "progress" from this week's talks with his DPRK counterpart O Kwang-chol, president of the country's Foreign Trade Bank. "We are prepared to go through with these talks for as long as it takes to get through our agenda," said Glaser, who is the Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes.

 

Mongolia

Admiration for Mongolia from President Bush
2007-02-01 UB Post
U.S. President GeorgeW. Bush sent a greeting message to the people of Mongolia on January 22 marking the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Americans and Mongolians have much in common. Both our nations share traditions of life on the rugged plains. Both our nations have built successful free societies. Both our nations know that our responsibilities to freedom's cause do not end at our own borders. This conviction has inspired the Mongolian people to share the hope of freedom with others who have not known it. The Mongolian Armed Forces have helped make free and democratic society possible for millions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United States Armed Forces are proud to serve beside such fearless warriors, said President Bush in his message. Mongolia has over a hundred peacekeepers serving in multi-national force in Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced in 2003. You have made the dramatic transition from communism to freedom, established a vibrant democracy, and opened up your economy to trade and prosperity. Your daily efforts are building a better life for your children and grandchildren and the Americas admire your patience and determination. Bush said Mongolia was an example of success for Asia and the entire world to undertake political and economic reforms and strengthen democracy. The American people appreciate your courage, value your friendship, and are proud to be thought of as your third neighbour. Bush, in a first-ever visit by a sitting US head of state, visited Mongolia in 2005. Mongolia and USA established diplomatic relations on January 27, 1987. Mongolia opened its Embassy in Washington DC in March 1989 and the United States of America opened its Embassy in Ulaanbaatar in June, 1988.

Dismissal of Odonchimed refused by Parliament
2007-02-01 UB Post
The Minister of Social Welfare and Labour, L. Odonchimed, remained in his position but he stated his resignation on Friday.s parliament session. He read his statement at the end of the discussion about his resignation and said .I am stepping down from my position of cabinet member and the post of Minister of Social Welfare and Labor by myself. I will submit my resignation letter to the Prime Minister today, he added. A total of 42 votes refused to dismiss him at the session and the name of E. Bat-Uul, DP member of the Parliament was included in the list even though he did not attend as a DP faction member. (..) The Democratic Party faction at Parliament claims that the minister violated the rules governing the use of money in the state budget, by withdrawing, in 2006, Tg4.4bn from the Children's Money Fund to meet the claims of newly-wed young couples. The number of beneficiaries of the social awards system applicable to such couples had gone beyond the government's projections, and had led to the budgeted amount for them being overspent, necessitating the transfer of funds. The government estimated 11,000 couples were newly-wed when the new law was approved. However, over 30,000 couples were registered as a newly-wed which was the reason why the budgeted amount was exceeded. [...] However, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party faction at the parliament considered that the minister has not violated laws and it is correct for him not to resign. The DP faction stated that non-dismissal of the minister violates several clauses of laws such as article no.38.2.1 of the Constitutional code. Government will provide execution of the Constitutional code and other laws through the country. [...] The fall parliament session will probably be concluded by the coming Friday as it was supposed to be completed on January 26th according to the schedule, said officials.

 

Mirjam Müller
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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