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

Press review, if not selected: all SinOptic
  26.2-3.3.07, No. 155  
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Foreign Policy

China wants talks to resolve Iran issue
2007-03-02 People's Daily Online
China hopes Iran would address the international community's concern over its nuclear issue positively, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said yesterday. At his meeting with visiting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Li said: "China maintains its long-standing position to seek a diplomatic and peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue." On its part, the international community should continue its diplomatic efforts for an early resumption of the talks, he said. Officials of the five permanent UN Security Council members the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain and Germany, who met in London early this week, said they were committed to resolving the issue through negotiations. Araghchi told reporters at the Iranian Embassy in Beijing that Iran was ready for a fair and reasonable resolution to the issue through talks. Negotiation is the only way to end the standoff. "Nothing can be solved through military means There is almost no possibility that the US is going to attack Iran," Araghchi said. "But given the fact that the US has a history of repeating its mistakes, we have to be well prepared for a military attack," he said. But it would be a huge mistake if the US closes the door on negotiations and launches an attack. France is trying to find a common ground among the five Security Council permanent members, visiting French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told a new conference yesterday.

Pentagon plans new arms sale to Taiwan
2007-03-02 People's Daily Online
The Pentagon has notified the U. S. Congress that it plans a new arms sale to Taiwan which includes over 400 missiles with the total value of 421 million U.S. dollars. According to a press release issued by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Thursday, the arms sale package will include 218 AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to- Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), 235 Maverick missiles, as well as related support, maintenance, training and logistics service. The agency said the planned sale will "augment and complement the recipient's F-16 fleet." The prime contractor in this deal will be Raytheon Missile Systems Corporation, it said. According to U.S. law, the DSCA must notify the Congress about the arms sale and the Congress will decide whether to approve it within 30 days. The Chinese government firmly opposes U.S. arms sale to Taiwan.

Chinese FM spokesman refutes "China threat" theory
2007-03-01 People's Daily Online
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang Thursday has refuted the so-called "China threat" theory, saying anyone who can understand and recognize China's foreign policy would "never regard China as a threat". Qin told a routine press conference that China has always pursued peaceful development, never seeking hegemony, pursuing power politics or interfering in other countries' internal affairs. He said China advocates multilateralism and international cooperation, holding that international disputes should be solved through peaceful negotiation, avoiding recourse to arms wherever possible. In reply to criticism that China's defense expenditure is opaque, Qin retorted, "What's your response if your neighbour keeps peeking into your house through a crack in the door and yelling 'Open the door, let's see what's inside'? Will you call the police?" The purpose of China maintaining a certain amount of defence power is to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, not for overseas expansion, said Qin. "China adheres to peaceful development and advocates a harmonious society of lasting peace and common prosperity. That's what has allowed China to win trust, cooperation and friends in the world," Qin said. China's defense expenditure is low compared with some other countries, particularly major powers. According to the white paper on China's National Defense issued in December 2006, China's military expenditure in 2005 was 247 billion RMB (32 billion U.S. dollars), 67 percent of the Japanese figure but only six percent of the American figure.

China asked to join bid to fight disease
2007-03-01 China Daily
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy asked China yesterday to join a new global initiative to provide people in the developing world easier access to drugs to treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Initiated by France and Brazil, the innovative funding mechanism the International Drug Purchase Facility aims to suitably distribute more medicines to people in developing countries at cheaper rates. At an hour-long meeting with Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Beijing, Douste-Blazy said France was commitmed to the idea because it believed that at least a tiny part of the immense wealth generated by globalization should be set aside every year for the millions people suffering from infectious diseases. Douste-Blazy, who is on a two-day visit to China, held talks with Premier Wen Jiabao, too.

China, Sri Lanka ink eight deals for closer ties
2007-02-28 People's Daily Online
China and Sri Lanka on Tuesday signed a series of deals when Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse is visiting Beijing to mark the 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties. The eight agreements on economy, investment, movies, agriculture and eye corneas donation were signed after President Hu Jintao held one-hour talks with Rajapakse. China thanks Sri Lanka for its adherence to the one-China policy and will support the efforts Sri Lanka has made to safeguard sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity, Hu said.

China and Russia nurture courtship - Relationship built on two commodities that Beijing covets - energy and arms
2007-02-26 SCMP
Russia's Year of China, a series of high-level forums and festivals that underscores a growing relationship with strategic and economic implications from Beijing to Moscow to Washington, will be launched today by the Chinese ambassador to Russia, Liu Guchang . At the heart of the Sino-Russian relationship are two critical commodities that China needs from Russia: energy and arms. Embassy spokesman Wang Zhen has been tightly guarding the year's schedule. "I do not have the list of events," he said, later adding: "I cannot give you that list." However, Mr Wang did reveal that President Hu Jintao's and Premier Wen Jiabao's annual state visits would coincide with the opening and closing ceremonies next month and in November, and that 10 of 200 investment, trade and cultural promotions would be held at the state level. Beyond the Year of China, Beijing and Moscow would this year push ahead on oil pipeline and economic issues and further clarify their views on international affairs, said Zhang Feng, an analyst at the Foreign Policy Centre in London.

China to ratify treaty on national border with Vietnam, Laos
2007-02-26 Xinhua
China's top legislature on Monday started deliberating a treaty, which defines the point where the national borders of China, Vietnam and Laos meet. The treaty, which was signed last October by the foreign ministries of the three countries, is expected to be passed at the 26th session of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC). The three countries plan to erect a boundary stone at the tri-border junction, which lies on the Shiceng Dashan Mountain.

Chinese state councillor visits Myanmar
2007-02-26 People's Daily Online
Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan arrived at Myanmar's new administrative capital of Nay Pyi Taw Sunday on a three-day visit to the country. As guest of the First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council Lieutenant-General Thein Sein, Tang will exchange views with Myanmar's leaders on strengthening good- neighborly and friendly cooperation between the two countries, and on issues of common concern. After Myanmar visit, Tang will proceed to Thailand.

 

Domestic Policy

Judges jailed in Shenzhen corruption scandal
2007-03-02 SCMP
Three judges implicated in Shenzhen's biggest court corruption scandal have been jailed after a closed-door trial. But the investigation of a fourth - Pei Hongquan , the former vice-president of the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court and the man at the centre of the scandal - is not finished, a source said, with anti-graft officers finding more evidence of corruption linked to him. Two head judges and a retired judge were found guilty of taking and offering bribes in exchange for verdicts or promotions. They are former head judge Zhang Tinghua , who was in charge of bankruptcy cases, former head judge Cai Xiaoling , who was in charge of cases involving Hong Kong people and foreigners, and retired judge Liao Zhaohui . "Many people might feel they have been let off too easily," a source said. "Given the total amount of money involved and the consequences created, they were treated very leniently."

Former top drugs official expelled from party
2007-03-02 SCMP
Former top drugs official Zheng Xiaoyu was expelled from the Communist Party yesterday for alleged corruption, Xinhua reported, a step that usually precedes prosecution. Mr Zheng, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, was placed under investigation in December amid allegations he approved licences allowing medicines for public sale in exchange for bribes. He was sacked in 2005.

'One-child' policy violators to be put on shame list
2007-03-02 China Daily
The rich and famous who have ignored the country's family planning policy by having more than one child will have to pay a heavy price, according to a senior official with the National Population and Family Planning Commission. In addition to hefty fines, they will have their names recorded in an official "bad credit" file and be disqualified for any awards and honours from society, said Yu Xuejun, director of the commission's Department of Policies and Laws. Yu said the commission is drafting a regulation with "concrete measures" to punish the rich and famous for having more than one child, but he did not give details. While the family planning policy is popularly referred to as the "one child policy", it in fact limits only 35.9 percent of the population to having one child, according to the commission. In 19 provinces, farmers are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl. They account for more than half of the total population. Farmers in five provinces or autonomous regions Hainan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang are allowed to have two children.
They account for nearly 10 percent of the population. The policy does not apply to people from ethnic minorities.

Social ills get their turn in spotlight
2007-02-28 China Daily
Timetable for discussion: China's laws - Twenty draft laws and law amendments are to be discussed this year: February: Employment promotion law / March: Property law; corporate income tax law / April: Labor dispute arbitration law; town and country planning law / June: Labor contract law; amendment to the Energy Saving Law; amendment to the Lawyer Law; amendment to the Civil Procedure Law / August: Circular economy law; 7th amendment to the Criminal Law; amendment to the Law on Science and Technology Progress / October: Illegal acts corrective law; amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law / December: Social insurance law; amendment to the Food Safety Law / The draft emergency response law, administrative mandatory law, anti-drug law and anti-monopoly law will also be discussed this year, but no specific schedule is presently available.

Economy before democracy, says premier - Wen Jiabao makes it clear in a speech that the time is not right for broad and sweeping political reform
2007-02-27 SCMP
In the first official response to the rising wave of democratic pressure from party reformists and liberal intellectuals, Premier Wen Jiabao has made a rare speech on socialism and political reform, urging the country to be unwavering in its economic development. Xinhua published Mr Wen's speech in full yesterday without saying when or where it was made. In an address peppered with ideological phrases that harked back to the Deng Xiaoping era, the premier emphasised that China was still in the primary stage of socialism characterised by "underdeveloped productivity" and must therefore "unswervingly focus on economic construction". "We are still far away from advancing out of the primary stage of socialism," he said. "We must stick with the basic development guideline of that stage for 100 years." Analysts said it was the clearest sign from Beijing so far that the administration would continue to give priority to economic reform while embracing the policy of "gradual political reform" instead of deeper democratic transformation.

CPPCC set for annual session on March 3
2007-02-26 Xinhua
The Tenth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, will start its fifth annual plenary session on March 3. The date was agreed at the 16th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Tenth CPPCC National Committee, which was held in Beijing on Monday. The meeting also proposed an agenda for the upcoming annual session, which includes hearing and deliberating the work report of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee and a report on the handling of proposals from CPPCC members during the year. CPPCC members will also attend the fifth annual session of the tenth National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, as non-voting delegates. They will hear and discuss the work report of the central government, which is to be delivered at the NPC session. The CPPCC consists of representatives of the Chinese Communist Party and non-Communist parties, people without party affiliation and representatives of people's organizations, ethnic minorities and all social strata. It also represents people from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan, returned overseas Chinese and other specially invited people. Known as the government's "think tank", the CPPCC committees at all levels contain large numbers of activists and public figures from various walks of life, experts and scholars in various fields.

 

Human Rights

Doubts on labour camp law revamp - Rights groups are uncertain if it will help political and religious dissidents
2007-03-02 SCMP
China's move to reform the controversial re-education through labour, or laojiao, system this year will be good news for minor offenders, but rights groups doubt whether political and religious dissidents will benefit. Xinhua said the National People's Congress Standing Committee would discuss new legislation on the "Correction of Illegal Acts" in October. The law will replace the controversial laojiao system, which has been applied since 1955, in which police are empowered to put all kinds of minor offenders, or people believed to be a risk to social stability, into laojiao centres to serve a maximum term of four years of forced labour without going through judicial procedures. Under the proposed law, the maximum penalty is expected to be reduced to 18 months and a judicial review by a court can take place after the punishment is imposed. There are no official statistics on the mainland's laojiao population, but the China Labour Bulletin - a labour rights watchdog - estimates that there are more than 300,000 detainees at laojiao centres. Human rights activists have widely criticised the system, pointing out that it violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - a UN treaty China signed in 1998. Fu Hualing , a mainland criminal law specialist at the University of Hong Kong, said the new law would probably be passed this year and implemented quickly. "If the law is submitted to the NPC Standing Committee, it means the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice have reached an agreement," Professor Fu said. "The public security ministry had opposed [the changes] because it would lose the power it has enjoyed for so long." Kan Hung-cheung, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, said many of its members had been put in laojiao centres, but he did not believe the new law would help much. "Suppression of Falun Gong is a political decision. It doesn't need any judicial approval," he said. "It's impossible to expect Chinese officials to follow the rule of law." Bruce van Voorhis, the Asian Human Rights Commission's communications officer, said he also suspected the law might only apply to minor offenders. "But the re-education through labour system covers a lot of political prisoners," he said. "It remains to be seen how this [new rule] will be implemented.

New regulation seeks to guarantee fair death trials
2007-03-01 China Daily
The Supreme People's Court will send back cases to provincial courts for retrial if it evaluates that a death sentence has been passed without proper evidence or in violation of procedures. The Supreme People's Court (SPC), which has been reviewing all death sentences in the country since January 1, has made it clear it would not ratify the capital punishment order if it detects an error in the provincial court's judgment or considers the penalty to be too heavy. A regulation of the apex court that came into force yesterday said that though generally it would change the original order, it would urge the provincial courts to retry the case more carefully. "By ordering retrials, the new regulation will guarantee that death sentences are handed out with extreme caution and improve the efficiency of the SPC's reviews," the apex court said on its website. Any testimony extracted through illegal means will be declared invalid. If the case is very complicated or the facts in doubt then the judges can visit the spot of the crime to check details. "We must make sure the death penalty is handed down only to a small number of offenders, and every judgment must stand the test of time," SPC President Xiao Yang said. In 1983, the apex court granted the provincial courts the authority to pass death sentences for serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and the criminal use of explosives in a major crackdown on crime. But many people have criticized the practice in recent years, especially after some highly publicized miscarriage of justice.

Academic demoted for Bible study - Vice-principal at party school vows to fight decision
2007-03-02 SCMP
The vice-principal of a Communist Party training school says she has been demoted for organising a Bible study session - the latest case of Christians being punished for worshipping outside party parameters. Geng Sude, 55, a Protestant, was told a month ago that she was being stripped of her party membership and of her title of vice-principal of the party school in Baoding , in Hebei province . "I did not break the law. I did not say anything anti-government or anti-China," Professor Geng said. She vowed to appeal to provincial party authorities. She has retained her professorship in philosophy, but it is unclear whether she will teach. About 100 police stormed the 10th-floor auditorium of the school on January 1 and broke up the Bible study session. About 50 Christians present - including lawyers, professors, authors, journalists and artists - were detained and questioned and their belongings searched. She said the party was relatively more tolerant towards civil servants who were Buddhists. The mainland has about 40 million Christians, with their numbers evenly divided between state-run and underground churches.

Wife allowed to visit jailed blind activist
2007-03-02 SCMP
Yuan Weijing , wife of blind activist Chen Guangcheng , who was jailed after he documented cases of forced abortions, was reunited with him for a 10-minute visit. Ms Yuan said she saw Chen at a prison in Yilin, Shandong province . Chen's mother and the couple's two children accompanied Ms Yuan. Chen was taken away by police in March last year and convicted in August of instigating an attack on government offices in his home village of Dongshigu in Yinan county.

Migrant workers 'form urban underclass'
2007-03-02 SCMP
Migrant workers are becoming an "urban underclass" held down by economic exploitation and residency rules that deny them access to medical, housing and education benefits, Amnesty International said in a report released yesterday. Rural workers were often forced to work overtime and fined for infractions such as being late or not meeting production quotas, the London-based rights group said. Their pay was also routinely withheld to keep them from changing jobs, a practice that had helped keep wages down despite rising demand for workers and annual economic growth of more than 10 per cent, the report said. "China's so-called economic `miracle' comes at a terrible human cost - rural migrants living in the cities experience some of the worst abuse in the work place," Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's deputy Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement accompanying the 42-page report. Migrants usually performed the lowest-paid and most dangerous jobs, and the widespread lack of labour contracts left them with little legal recourse in disputes with employers, the report said. Amnesty International said migrants were victimised by residency restrictions that tied a person to their place of birth. While migrants were allowed to apply for temporary residency, they had to pay extra for schooling and rarely received insurance or access to subsidised housing, the report said.

NPC & CPPCC - Cat-and-mouse game begins for petitioners
2007-03-02 SCMP
Veteran petitioner Li Wei is accustomed to the annual cat-and-mouse chase with police ahead of the National People's Congress meeting. The 58-year-old moved three times last month with his 11-year-old son, but was again evicted this week after a policeman showed up at his squalid room and took away an axe he used to chop firewood. Yet somehow the seasoned petitioner - one of thousands of disgruntled individuals who shuffle between governmental departments in hopes that injustices will be redressed - still feels lucky. He could easily have ended up in a detention centre at a Beijing police station or have been sent to the notorious Majialou - a large facility used as a holding station for petitioners until they are sent back to their home provinces. The fate of repatriated petitioners varies. Some are released. Others are sent to labour camps for up to three years. "I stay away from the petition villages and I hope they won't find me," Mr Li said. Mr Li's story has made him a media celebrity: he lost a lawsuit filed by his daughter, whose mother he had divorced, for failing to pay her university fees, and his apartment was confiscated and sold by the court to pay the fees. The laid-off worker, whose son was three years old at the time, has petitioned government departments in Beijing for redress ever since. But despite attracting widespread sympathy from scholars and in the media, he has faced detention and harassment during the past eight years - like other petitioners - without seeing any progress on his complaint.

Tuition fees waived for rural students
2007-02-28 SCMP
Tuition fees will be waived for all rural primary and middle-school students from next semester in another break from the decade-long market-oriented push that has crippled the system. The initiative, which is part of central government's 11th Five-Year Programme overhaul of the rural education system, would cost central and local governments a total of 218.2 billion yuan by 2010, said Zhao Lu , a senior Ministry of Finance official. Mr Zhao yesterday said the scheme would benefit more than 150 million students in rural areas, with each child expected to save up to 180 yuan a year in tuition fees.

 

Taiwan

Graft case urged against DPP chiefs - KMT lawmakers react to media allegations of corruption
2007-03-02 SCMP
Kuomintang legislators have demanded a prosecutor charge three of Taiwan's ruling-party heavyweights with corruption, giving a new twist to the high-profile scandal plaguing the Democratic Progressive Party. "Now that we have the evidence, prosecutor Chen Jui-jen must indict them within a month or we will sue you for negligence in line with the criminal code," KMT legislator Chu Feng-tzu told a news conference held with party colleagues. Mr Chen was responsible for charging President Chen Shui-bian's wife, Wu Shu-chen, with embezzling NT$14.8 million (HK$3.5 million) in special state funds in an indictment that rocked the island late last year. Thousands of Taiwanese politicians and officials receive such special monthly allowances for public affairs spending. KMT lawmakers were responding to reports in the island's United Daily News and the Taiwanese edition of Hong Kong's Next Magazine that Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, Premier Su Tseng-chang and Presidential Secretary-General Chiou I-jen are alleged to have misused special allowances.

Island drops 'Republic of China' in new stamp issue
2007-03-01 SCMP - Taiwan yesterday issued the first stamp without the island's official "Republic of China" title. The NT$5 (HK$1.18) stamp is part of the government's so-called "name-rectification campaign" to assert the island's identity and mark the 60th anniversary of the bloody 228 Incident. Thousands of collectors and supporters of Taiwanese identity queued before dawn for the stamp at post offices all over the island. The stamp was issued by the government-run postal company, which also recently dropped its "Republic of China" title to become the "Taiwan Post Co". The stamp was issued at the suggestion of President Chen Shui-bian, who insists the island is a sovereign entity not related to the mainland.

 

Economy

'Go West' drive slowed by lack of funding - Poor regions have received only 3pc of nation's total foreign direct investment
2007-03-02 SCMP
The mainland's underdeveloped western regions have attracted only 3 per cent of the country's foreign direct investment and the lack of funds is hampering the government's ambitious plan to speed up their development. However, there had been some notable achievements in the past seven years of the "Go West" programme, officials said yesterday when unveiling the latest five-year plan to speed up the development of poorer regions. The government plan would help narrow the gap with affluent coastal regions by pledging more funds and offering more preferential policies to attract investment and lure talent, top planning officials said in Beijing. China has become a major destination for global investment, ranking third behind the US and Britain as a recipient of foreign direct investment in 2005. It received some US$69.5 billion last year, but most foreign funds have gone to coastal regions.

Deal inked on nuke plants
2007-03-02 China Daily
The State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation yesterday signed an agreement with the US-based Westinghouse Electric Co to build four civilian nuclear reactors in East China. According to the deal, China will use the AP1000 technology of Westinghouse for third-generation nuclear reactors, two in Sanmen, Zhejiang Province; and two in Haiyang, Shandong Province. "This is a milestone in the development of third-generation nuclear power technology in the world," said Zhang Guobao, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner. Last December the US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Ma Kai, minister of the NDRC, signed a MOU for the construction of third-generation nuclear power plants in China. It was initially decided that two would be built in Sanmen, and two in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province. Westinghouse outbid its competitors France's Areva and Russia's Atomstroiexport after two years of negotiations. The company was bought by Japan's Toshiba for $4.16 billion in October last year.

Law to unify income tax rate for all firms
2007-03-02 China Daily
Beijing - Foreign companies are expected to see their tax bill rise after Chinese lawmakers gather next week in Beijing. When the National People's Congress kicks off its annual series of meetings on Monday, one law expected to be passed will unify corporate income tax rates at 25 percent, ending special privileges for foreigners. "The current tax regimes are too complicated," Finance Minister Jin Renqing said recently. "A unified tax code will create a taxation environment that favours fair competition among all ventures registered in China." Or that is the theory at least. Foreigners are cautiously waiting to see what the reality will be. "The question is whether there will be all sorts of dispensations and cozy arrangements for Chinese enterprises," said a Western executive who asked not to be identified. The new 25 percent tax rate means foreign enterprises which so far have been subject to a 15 percent income tax will have to pay a combined 5.1 billion dollars extra every year, according to official calculations. Chinese companies, meanwhile, will pay 16.8 billion dollars less, since up until now they have been taxed at 33 percent. No wonder, then, that Chinese executives such as Lu Honghua, general manager of Changchun Huaxin Food, a candy maker in northeast China, sees the measure as justice finally reigning supreme. "When the differential tax treatment was introduced, it reflected a need for a policy of reform and of opening," said Wang Li, a senior finance ministry official. "We needed to attract the foreign capital, to accelerate the development of the economy." But China is no longer in desperate need of funds. It has more than half a million foreign enterprises, received more than 60 billion dollars in investment last year, and can start paying attention to other concerns as well. One group of people are greeting the new rules with undivided enthusiasm -- the nation's accountants, some of whom expect their tax consulting service to rise by 30 percent.

Investors buying equity, not assets
2007-03-02 China Daily
Facing pressure from new government measures, foreign institutional investors began to change their means of buying into China's booming real estate market in the second half of last year. "Equity investment has become more popular than asset investment, which dominated previously," said Tian Hui, director of the market research department of Regal Lloyds International's Beijing office. Measures adopted last July, which shut the door on property ownership for foreign investors not registered in China, are believed by experts to be the biggest reason for the change.

Stocks nosedive after record high close
2007-02-28 China Daily
China stocks took a roller coaster ride in the first two sessions after the Spring Festival, suffering a record daily tumble Tuesday after reaching an all-time high the previous day. The tumble set the tone for the stock trading in the Wall Street, according to the Associated Press. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 546.02, or 4.3 percent, to 12,086.06 before recovering some ground in the last hour of trading to close down 416.02, or 3.29 percent, at 12,216.24, the worst loss since Sept. 17, 2001, the first trading day after the terror attacks.The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks the bigger of China's stock exchanges, fell 268.81 points, or 8.84 per cent, to 2,771.79, the biggest fall in points since the index was launched. The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks the smaller of China's bourses, plummeted 66.3 points, or 8.54 per cent to 709.81. The Shanghai and Shenzhen 300 index of major companies in the two bourses, lost 250.18 points, or 9.24 per cent to 2,457.49. Led by big caps, more than 900 stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen fell the daily limit of 10 per cent. The decline came as some investors judged the Shanghai Composite Index's record closing high Monday to be excessive relative to earnings potential, according to Bloomberg News. "The market's very sensitive as it's been trading at record levels and some stocks are considered overvalued," Fan Dizhao, who helps manage about $1.8 billion with Guotai Asset Management Co. in Shanghai was quoted as saying. "Investors are nervous about recent rapid gains and aren't convinced further share-price increases can be sustained." Speculation about possible measures against illegal capital also dragged on the stocks, hexun.com reported. The government is to introduce a series of measures to push the illegal capital out of the equity market during the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body, the China Banking Regulatory Commission revealed Tuesday morning, according to speculations. Some analysts deemed the dive another round of natural correction as profit-taking pressure increased after the Shanghai index topped the psychologically important level of 3,000.

Consumption up 15% in festival
2007-02-25 China Daily
The domestic retail consumption rang up 220 billion yuan during the golden week for the Spring Festival holiday, up 15 percent from the same period last year. The data released by the Ministry of Commerce says the surge in home appliance sales was the biggest push for the golden week consumption. In addition to traditional clothes shopping and dining, reading, going to the gym and tea drinking have become popular leisure activities for Chinese. Rural consumption abilities have been raised as many preferential policies, such as free elementary and junior school education, are being carried out in rural areas.

 

Bird Flu

New human bird flu case reported in Fujian
2007-03-01 China Daily
A farmer in east China's Fujian Province has been infected with the H5N1 form of bird flu, the first human case in about about seven weeks. The 44-year-old woman surnamed Li from Jianou city is now receiving treatment at local hospital and is in severe condition. She was confirmed to have made contact with dead fowls. Local health authorities said they are closely monitoring those who had had close contact with the patient. So far, they showed no symptoms of the disease."Tests by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on the patient have confirmed that the patient has been infected with the bird flu virus strain H5N1," a Xinhua reprot said.

China's last confirmed human case was reported in January. The farmer, from eastern Anhui province, recovered. China has now reported a total of 23 human cases of bird flu, including 14 deaths, since 2003 and, with the largest poultry population and millions of backyard birds roaming free, it is seen as central to the fight against the virus.Fujian Province has taken a series of measures to prevent an outbreak of bird flu after it confirmed the human case of the disease, an official with the provincial government said Thursday. Zhang Changpin, vice governor of the Fujian province, has ordered compulsory inoculation on all fowls, and required local authorities to set up inoculation files and issue certificates to inoculated animals. Zhang required the health, stock-raising and forestry authorities at all levels to be on high alert and closely monitor it. He also asked local workers to quarantine and check the animals at every stage when they leave farm, enter slaughter houses and are put in the market. Those who failed should be punished accordingly. According to Fujian health authorities, China's Health Ministry has conveyed the information to WHO, health agencies in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and some other countries.

 

Beijing Olympics

Beijing to persevere with plan to evict beggars ahead of Olympics
2007-03-02 SCMP
Despite Beijing's repeated promises ahead of next year's Olympic Games to address human rights concerns, officials have signalled they will continue with plans to rid the city of beggars and other undesirables to ensure public order. Authorities are working with the city police on a plan to expand special holding centres for out-of-town beggars, vagrants and illegal hawkers, who will then be forcibly returned to their home provinces, the state media reported yesterday. "The plan is to guarantee smooth repatriation by working closely with home cities and provinces," said daily newspaper The First, quoting government officials who attended a city public security meeting. The city's Public Security Bureau and State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and local street inspection, tourism and traffic authorities, are working together to ensure that visitors gain a favourable impression of a safe and well-ordered city. The number of beggars on the streets of the capital, many of them rural residents from the nearby provinces of Henan and Shandong , has grown in recent years. The report said officials hope the cleanup, which would also target illegal taxi drivers and poster stickers, would be launched in the latter half of this year, but it did not provide details. In 2004, Athens' officials removed thousands of immigrants, beggars and the homeless from streets before its Olympics.

 

North Korea

North Korea vows to stop nuke program
2007-03-02 China Daily
Seoul, South Korea - North Korea's No. 2 leader reiterated Thursday his country's pledge to abandon its nuclear weapons, as the country sought a resumption of aid at its first high-level talks with South Korea since conducting an atomic test. Kim Yong Nam said "the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the dying wish" of the country's founding president, Kim Il Sung, the father of current leader Kim Jong Il. North Korea "will make efforts to realize it," he told South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung in Pyongyang. Lee pressed for North Korea to follow through on its breakthrough Feb. 13 agreement with the US and four other countries to shut down its sole operating nuclear reactor in 60 days, and to eventually dismantle all its atomic programs. "It is important to make efforts to ensure that South and North Korea cooperate and six countries each assume their responsibilities," Lee said. As talks resumed Friday, the two sides agreed to resume reunions of families split across their border. A South Korean official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the ongoing talks that reunions over a video link will be held this month, with face-to-face meetings set for May. The North had been expected to agree this week to restarting the reunions, which were put on hold last year after the missile tests. South Korea has been one of the North's main aid sources since the two nations held their first and only summit in 2000. This week's meetings are the 20th Cabinet-level talks since then. But South Korea halted rice and fertilizer shipments to the North after it test-fired a barrage of missiles last July, and relations worsened following North Korea's Oct. 9 underground nuclear test. South Korea has been hesitant at this week's talks, which run through Friday, to immediately restart aid without seeing the North take real steps to dismantle its nuclear program. The North wants to resume separate discussions this month on economic cooperation that would address aid, but South Korea prefers to wait until after April 14 -- the deadline for Pyongyang to switch off its nuclear reactor, pool reports from South Korean journalists at the talks said. However, the South may offer a limited amount of fertilizer if the North agrees to other conditions, the pool reports said. The sides may also agree on conducting trial runs of trains on restored rails across the border. Last month's six-nation nuclear agreement has raised hopes it will foster a relaxation of regional tensions, since the deal also provides for North Korea to hold talks to normalize ties with Japan and the United States, both of which are scheduled to begin next week. The nuclear pact also calls for negotiations to finally establish a peace agreement between the Koreas. South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun urged in a speech Thursday in Seoul that the agreement "be successfully implemented so that a peace regime can be firmly established on the Korean peninsula." Amid intense diplomacy to ensure the disarmament deal goes forward, the US State Department's No. 2 diplomat, John Negroponte, arrived in Japan Thursday on the first stop of an Asian trip expected to focus on the North Korea issue. He will also visit South Korea and China. Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon left Thursday for Washington for talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on North Korea. He is also set to travel to Moscow.

 

Mongolia

Enkhbayar Values the French Connection
2007-03-01 UB Post
N. Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia and Mrs. O. Tsolmon, First Lady, landed at Charles de Gaulle International Airport for a five-day state visit in Paris, France, at the invitation of Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, on February 21. The President of Mongolia and his delegation were welcomed on their arrival by the Minister forAgriculture and Fisheries, Dominique Bussere, deputy head of the Ceremonial Department of the Ministry of Foreign affairs of France and other officials, including R. Altangerel, theAmbassador of Mongolia to France. Enkhbayar then met with Senate Speaker Christian Poncelet, on February 21. A ruling towards Mongolia allowing it to appeal to member countries of the European Union to support its reforms was approved by the European Parliament in 1994. A proposal to amend the ruling was submitted to the European Parliament, in light of the big changes that have happened to Mongolia.s political and socio-economic status in the intervening years. Enkhbayar appealed to France to give support to the discussion of the ruling by the European Parliament. The French senate speaker pointed out that France has economic opportunities to develop agriculture and cooperate on nuclear power usage with Mongolia. According to the French daily, Le Monde, the Mongolian president said .He is looking into a potential deal with the French nuclear group Areva to develop uranium extraction in the country. The Mongolian president also outlined a proposal to implement cooperation in projects regarding uranium exploration, extraction and nuclear analysis and expressed his interest on further Mongolian-French archeological ventures. He requested that the number of scholarships issued from the French government that allow young Mongolians engaging in higher education to study in France to be increased. The President of Mongolia continues his working tour with a visit to Japan.

Program Management
2007-02-21 Onsite and Insights newletter of SDC Mongolia
In recognition of the outstanding contribution to championing change and development in rural Mongolia, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented Dr. Markus Dubach with the prestigious ‘Silk Road' award on Valentine's Day 2007. In his interview with a Mongolian TV station, the Country Director of SDC in Mongolia stressed that this award is a recognition of the work of the whole SDC team and their creative and tireless efforts to build a brighter future for Mongolian herders.

AWay Forward For the Nation
2007-03-01 UB Post
The working group to develop the National Development Complex policy, regarding the development of Mongolia, completed the integrating of the drafts. The working group held a meeting to introduce the latest version of the draft on Monday, February 26. According to the draft developers, they will submit the draft, which was based on the Millennium Development Goals, to parliament in the spring session. The draft has five chapters and the requirement for a common national development plan has been caused by such indicators as an increase in poverty levels in Mongolia, admiration of democracy has been taken for granted and human ethics are not seen as good. The draft developers said that there was a necessity for Mongolia to pursue one direction of development in order to sort out the government.s policy in directing the country.s development, since propitious circumstances in the socio-economic realm were established and the country had passed the difficulties of the transition period from communism. N. Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia proclaimed an order regarding the establishment of a working group to develop the National Development Complex Policy, based on the Millennium Development Goals, in January, 2006 after he held a meeting with the chairmen of the various political parties which have seats in parliament. The working group was led by M. Enkhbold, Prime Minister and the group consisted of the government, MPs, som e representatives of political parties which have seats in parliament and leading scientists from universities and scientific academies.

 

Gautier Chiarini
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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