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
  26.3-30.3.07, No. 159  
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Foreign Policy

Premier Wen to visit ROK, Japan in April
2007-03-27 Xinhuanet
At the invitation of President of the Republic of Korea Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to the two countries from April 10 to 13.[…] Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Wen will visit ROK from April 10 to 11 and Japan from April 11 to 13. The detailed agenda of Wen's two-nation tour is still under consultation. This will be the first visit in seven years paid by Chinese Premier to Japan. China-Japan relations had been frozen for long due to former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's continued visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese class-A war criminals in the Second World War were enshrined. China and Japan overcame political obstacles last October when Chinese President Hu Jintao and Abe met in Beijing. The two reached agreements on facilitating healthier development of bilateral relations, which brought bilateral ties back on track for improvement.

China, Russia reach common ground on major international issues
2007-03-27 People's Daily Online
China and Russia have reached common ground on major international issues as Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met on Monday in Moscow. After their talks, the two leaders signed a joint statement, outlining the two countries' concerted attitudes to and stances on some major international issues. On Iran's nuclear issue, China and Russia reiterated that a peaceful settlement through negotiation was the only way out of the current nuclear impasse, the statement said. Acknowledging Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology within the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the two countries called on Tehran to take on its obligations and implement related UN resolutions, the statement said. […] On the Korean peninsula's nuclear issue, China and Russia reiterated their support for denuclearizing the peninsula, which was vital to peace, security and stability of the Asian-Pacific region, the statement said. Both sides agreed to honor their commitment within the framework of the six-party talks and to make continued efforts to settle the issue through diplomacy after taking into consideration the rights and concerns of all parties, it said. On Iraq's situation, China and Russia supported strengthening of international coordination to help Iraq realize stability and safeguard its unification and territorial integrity, the statement said. […] On the Arab-Israel conflict, China and Russia agreed that negotiation based on UN resolutions and related international documents was the only way to solve the conflict in a just, comprehensive and reliable way, the statement said. […]The two countries noted that broadly representative and well-prepared international conferences would be one of the most effective ways to achieve the above goals, it added. […]

Hu visits oil-rich Russian province as deals are questioned
2007-03-29 SCMP
President Hu Jintao toured Russia's oil-rich Tatarstan region yesterday, a day after signing trade deals worth US$4 billion in a visit focused on securing energy sources. Mr Hu arrived in Kazan, capital of the mainly Muslim province, on Tuesday night. He was to meet university students and attend an equestrian event before talks with Tatarstan's leader, Mintimir Shaimiyev. Mr Hu hailed plans by Chinese car maker Great Wall to begin production this year at a plant in Tatarstan, expected to turn out 50,000 cars annually for the Russian and European markets. "Together with the Tatar president... we have looked over this investment plan and hope that Great Wall will soon start producing cars in the town of Elabuga", Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying. Mr Hu began his three-day trip to Russia on Monday, securing an agreement for increased deliveries of Russian oil by rail. The Russian press reported yesterday there were unresolved questions about how the accord would be implemented. There also has been no firm Russian commitment on a request to build an extension to China on a pipeline from Siberia to Russia's east coast. China received 15 million tonnes of Russian oil last year, of which 11 million arrived by rail. On Tuesday, Mr Hu and Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the signing of US$4 billion worth of trade deals and the agreement on a joint mission to Mars. Twenty-one trade contracts were signed, including an agreement by Russian state oil company Rosneft to supply jet fuel to China and long-term export contracts for Russian steel products. […]

China, Norway to outline framework on environmental protection
2007-03-26 Xinhuanet
China and Norway Monday agreed to set a cooperation framework on environmental protection to better scheme long-term collaboration between the two countries. The agreement was reached by Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg during their talks. Stoltenberg said the environmental problems in today's world were largely caused by the industrialization of developed countries which have obligation to fund developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Norway would like to help China achieve this goal by increasing investment and technique transfer, he said. Wen said China supports the Kyoto Protocol, though it does not set gas emission reduction targets for developing countries.[…] Stoltenberg arrived here on Sunday for a four-day official visit to China at the invitation of Wen. Norway recognized China as a full market economy Monday, becoming the 69th country to grant such status to the world's largest developing country. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in which Norway formally recognized China's full market economy status after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg held talks in Beijing on Monday. Fourteen countries recognized China as a full market economy in 2006, bringing the total number of countries to sixty-six, said the Ministry of Commerce here on Sunday. The countries -- almost all African -- include Egypt, Kenya, Algeria, Sudan, Liberia, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, Mali, Gabon, Niger and Micronesia, said the ministry

Cuba, China pledge to build on growing trade
2007-03-28 China Daily
Havana - Cuba and China pledged to build on their rapidly growing trade on Tuesday, ending two days of meetings with a vow to do more in industries like oil, pharmaceuticals, nickel, medical services and tourism. Chinese Deputy Trade Minister Wei JianGuo and Cuban Government Minister Ricardo Cabrisas said in Havana that they had set up a commission to work on joint investments in various sectors. Bilateral trade between the two countries doubled in 2006 to nearly $1.8 billion, according to the Chinese customs office. More than two thirds of the trade consisted of Chinese exports of machinery, transportation equipment, consumer and other goods financed by Chinese credits, while Cuba exported nickel, sugar, cigars, rum and services to China. Chinese appliances now adorn most Cuban kitchens, Chinese buses and locomotives ply the highways and railways and Chinese cranes work the Caribbean island's ports. […]According to the statement, the two countries renewed an agreement under which Cuba exports 400,000 tonnes of raw sugar annually to China and ratified Cuban plans to supply the Asian giant with nickel. China pledged to continue financing exports of energy, transportation, telecommunications and other equipment and to expand imports of Cuban goods and services. Cuba has two joint venture pharmaceutical companies in China and a third company providing low-cost eye surgery, with others planned. "Both parties agree to continue encouraging Chinese companies to participate in the petroleum sector of Cuba," the statement said. Chinese oil and gas company Sinopec Corp. is in a joint venture to extract oil in Cuba's western Pinar del Rio province, and other companies are considering offshore drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters. […]

China, Venezuela to beef up energy cooperation
2007-03-26 China Daily
Caracas - China focuses on achieving mutual benefits when carrying out economic cooperation with Venezuela, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) said Sunday. Li Changchun, who arrived here for a goodwill visit to Venezuela Sunday afternoon, paid a visit to the office of CNPC America Ltd. in Venezuela immediately after his arrival in Caracas. After listening to a briefing about the company's operation in Venezuela and in other parts of the world, Li said Chinese companies should precede from the win-win principle of mutual benefits to carry out economic cooperation outside China. He called for the Chinese companies to help their host countries develop resources, promote employment and develop social welfare. Li especially asked CNPC to elevate the level of cooperation by introducing advanced technology and equipment to Venezuela. He emphasized that the company should pay special attention to environmental protection as it carries out resources development projects in the country. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won the contract of tapping oil potential in two separate locations in Venezuela in 1997. Since then, the company has developed close partnership of cooperation with Venezuela, which is estimated to have the second largest oil deposit in the world. CNPC America Ltd. is an overseas branch that CNPC set up to run its operations in Latin America. Li, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, is the highest ranking Chinese official who visited Venezuela since the last visit by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong in 2005. Sources with the Chinese Embassy said China and Venezuela are to sign several deals on energy and resources development when Li meets with President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias on Monday.

Chinese, Jordanian air force chiefs vow to facilitate military exchanges
2007-03-26 Xinhuanet
Chinese and Jordanian air force chiefs held official talks in Beijing Monday, vowing to make joint efforts to facilitate cooperation between the two air forces. Qiao Qingchen, commander of the Air Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), told Hussein Ahmad Shodash, commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, that the Chinese air force is ready to join hands with the Jordanian side to expand bilateral exchanges and cooperation. Hussein said he believes his current China tour will further cement mutual understanding and trust between the two air forces. Hussein, who started his eight-day China visit on Saturday, also conferred earlier Monday with Liang Guanglie, chief of the PLA General Staff. Liang said the Chinese armed forces attaches great importance to its relations with the Jordanian army, and is willing to promote bilateral military cooperation to a new stage. Hussein told Liang the Jordanian air force expects to conduct cooperation with the Chinese side in even more areas.

China, Ukraine pledge to boost bilateral ties
2007-03-29 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Thursday that China will enhance pragmatic cooperation with Ukraine to lift bilateral relations to a new level. […]China respects the development path Ukraine has taken in accordance with its own situations and policies it followed, Hu said while meeting with Ukraine's Parliament Speaker Oleksander Moroz. Hu expressed his appreciation for Ukraine's adherence to one-China policy and spoke highly of the contribution made by the Ukraine parliament to developing bilateral relations. Moroz, who is making his first China visit beginning on Wednesday, said Ukraine attaches great importance to relations with China and is ready to boost cooperation between the two countries on such areas as trade, culture, high-technology, energy and transportation. […]

Call for Olympic boycott over Sudan 'totally wrong'
2007-03-30 SCMP
International calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics over China's support for Sudan's government were totally wrong, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday. The Khartoum government is accused of involvement in genocide in Sudan's Darfur region. "People who try to connect the Olympics with Darfur in an attempt to win ballots or increase their prestige are totally wrong," Mr Qin said. French presidential candidate Francois Bayrou last week called for a boycott of the Games, and US actress and Unicef goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow said they would become known as the "Genocide Olympics".

 

Domestic Policy

Man dies in skirmish with enraged villagers
2007-03-29 SCMP
At least one man died and four were seriously injured in a clash over a land dispute at a village in Hunan province on Saturday, villagers said. Hundreds of policemen stormed and blocked off Ganyi village in Jiangyong county, Yongzhou, and several villagers were detained after fighting between villagers and local officials who were accused of seizing public property. One villager said the clash occurred at a meeting when residents condemned the village party secretary who they believed had illegally sold a large area of land which was the public property of the whole village. The villager said two brothers of the party secretary had attacked local representatives at the meeting and then been beaten by angry villagers. One of the brothers had died in the clash and the other was badly injured and taken to a local hospital. He said the villagers had been unaware that their village director had sold trees and land to lumber companies until last year. "Our village has a tradition that each villager can climb the hill and cut down two trees for his coffin," he said. "But since last year, we have been stopped from cutting trees on the hill and told that both the trees and land now belong to lumber companies." He said the Ganyi village government wanted to pay five trees to each villager as compensation. "We won't accept this offer because it's unbelievably low," he said. The village was still cordoned off by police. A Jiangyong county government official said they knew little about the conflict and refused to offer further details. The dispute comes two weeks after the National People's Congress passed a Property Law that pledges to better protect villagers' land rights. Earlier this month, another "mass incident" happened in Yongzhou when farmers protested because of rising public transport fees over the Lunar New Year. The confrontations later escalated into a bloody crackdown involving more than 20,000 farmers and local police. At least one junior high student was killed in the melee and several dozen people were injured. Zhou Qiang , Hunan's newly appointed governor described the incident as a very simple civil dispute between a bus company and the public, adding that police had not opened fire on the protesters.

More reshuffles in the provinces
2007-03-27 SCMP
China's local party leadership reshuffle continued yesterday with two more provincial party chiefs installed in a further sign that President Hu Jintao is consolidating his grip on power ahead of October's 17th party congress. In the latest round of personnel changes, Li Jianguo was officially named party secretary of the eastern province of Shandong and Qiang Wei was appointed party secretary of the northwestern province of Qinghai, according to a statement from the party's central committee released by Xinhua yesterday. Mr Qiang, 54, replaces Zhao Leji, who took the job of party boss for Shaanxi province. Mr Qiang once worked as the Beijing city party chief of the Communist Youth League, Mr Hu's key power base. He has spent most of his political career overseeing the capital city's legal and public security affairs. Before being promoted to the position of Qinghai party chief, he was deputy party secretary of Beijing, in charge of the judiciary, and he also spent a short spell as the city's public security chief. The Xinhua report did not say who would fill Mr Qiang's vacancy in Beijing. Mr Li, 61, replaced Zhang Gaoli, who was named on Sunday to the top party job in the booming northern port city of Tianjin. The reshuffles are meant to lay the ground for when Mr Hu, who is also the Communist Party general secretary, is expected to cement his power by installing his supporters in key positions in the powerful Politburo during the party congress in October. The Communist Party has been conducting provincial reshuffles since July. Saturday and Sunday saw a raft of changes in party leadership in the main cities and provinces, with Zhao Hongzhu, a former personnel official, being promoted to become party secretary of the affluent east coast province of Zhejiang . Zhao Hongzhu filled the vacancy left by Xi Jinping, a rising political star, who was named party secretary of Shanghai in the most high-profile of the recent appointments. Mr Xi succeeded Chen Liangyu , who was ousted in September last year in a politically charged corruption scandal linked to abuse of the city's pension fund. The removal of Mr Chen, an ally of former president Jiang Zemin , was considered to be a significant victory for Mr Hu. Mr Xi's appointment to the top position in Shanghai was first reported in the South China Morning Post on Saturday

Vice-president played key role in reshuffle - Changes bolster leadership alliance; Jiang Zemin backs Shanghai shake-up
2007-03-28 SCMP
Vice-President Zeng Qinghong orchestrated the latest high-level provincial leadership reshuffle, including the appointment of Xi Jinping, a political rising star, as the Shanghai party boss, according to sources. Mr Zeng had the full support of President Hu Jintao over the reshuffle, another strong indication of an alliance between the two leaders in determining the new leadership line-up to be unveiled at a crucial party congress scheduled for the autumn, sources said. Former president Jiang Zemin had also given his blessing to Mr Xi's appointment as the party chief of Shanghai, Mr Jiang's power base. […]. Although Mr Zeng has the largely honorary title of vice-president and is fifth in the party hierarchy, he wields considerable influence over major party and government decisions. He is reportedly heading the day-to-day preparations for the 17th party congress, and one of his most important tasks is to make high-level personnel recommendations. Sources said Mr Hu and Mr Zeng had worked closely despite the perceived rivalry between the two. […]

Better conditions vowed for minorities - Blueprint promises improved living standards for 100 million people
2007-03-30 SCMP
The central government has issued its 11th five-year development programme for 100 million ethnic minority people, promising better living standards in areas that lag far behind in a period of strong economic growth and rising political tensions. This is the first time the government has issued a plan for its 55 minorities separately from the nation's overall five-year plan, and suggests it is keen to address poverty and possible social unrest threatening its governance in regions occupied by half of the nation's poor. The programme sets goals to improve infrastructure and the environment, support the development of specialised economies, relieve poverty, create better welfare conditions and make ethnic relations "more harmonious". An ethnic relations monitoring system will be in place by 2010 along with a response system for conflicts in an attempt to better crack down on separatist activities and maintain social stability and national security. Central Institute of Socialism professor Shen Guiping said: "The gap between the autonomous regions and the rest of China has been widening in recent years. The low development speed has been a big problem, which has been reflected in the emotional response of minority people." China has said it is threatened by terrorism in Xinjiang , home to more than 8 million Uygurs, a largely Islamic people who share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia. It also is on high alert over what it says are the Dalai Lama's attempts to split Tibet from the country. In Yunnan , ethnic disputes have centred on controversial dam construction. And even in central and eastern areas, where Han people form the bulk of the population, local governments are reviewing their policies regarding control over ethnic minorities, with increased migration having led to a rise in conflicts. Danzhu Angben, a deputy director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, said an additional 70 million yuan would be earmarked each year for the 22 small minorities with populations below 100,000, until 2010. After the increase, the minorities, with a total population of 630,000, would receive 112 million yuan from the Ministry of Finance every year to relieve poverty. Per capita disposable incomes of urban and rural residents in autonomous regions are targeted to be 1 percentage point higher than the national average by 2010. In 2003, the disposable income of urban residents in autonomous regions rose 7.8 per cent to 7,053 yuan, lower than the national increase of 9 per cent. That of farmers rose 7 per cent, higher than the national increase of 4.3 per cent. The programme also wants to see more than 95 per cent of people covered by the nine-year compulsory education programme by 2010, and newborn death rates fall 0.5 per cent from 2005. "The goals are achievable," Professor Shen said.

State breaks monopoly in oil trade
2007-03-26 China Daily
China has issued new guidelines on private companies' entrance into crude and processed oil wholesale business, further breaking the State monopoly in the market. The guidelines in the form of two documents, released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) over the weekend, gives details of how domestic and overseas companies can apply to enter the crude and processed oil market. Domestic private companies' applications would need 40 working days to be processed, while those of overseas ones would need four months. The rules offer a level playing field to overseas and overseas-funded companies in the country's wholesale oil sector. Also, the market access threshold for domestic companies has been largely lowered. The earlier restriction on the number of gas stations a private company could own has been lifted. The guidelines are based on two regulations issued by MOC last year, which was aimed at breaking the monopoly of State-owed enterprises in the oil market, Xinhua News Agency has reported. The regulations were in accordance with China's commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and opened up the oil market to overseas and domestic private players from December 11, 2006. Before that, the government used to control the wholesale crude market through the country's two biggest oil firms, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec).

Mainland's first commercial jet begins to take shape in Shanghai
2007-03-30 SCMP - Work on assembling the mainland's first home-developed commercial jet begins today, a step intended to reduce reliance on foreign companies and showcase its technological development. The regional jet, called the ARJ-21, will seat 70 to 100 people. The government approved funding for the project more than five years ago, but China has aspired to build its own commercial jet for a lot longer. The plane's components have been produced by the state-owned China Aviation Industry Corp I (Avic I) at plants nationwide and taken to the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory for final assembly. The first test flight of the prototype plane will be next March. […] Although the plane has been billed as the first using China's own intellectual property, 19 foreign companies are participating, according to reports. State media claims 60 per cent of the aircraft's content is locally produced. Aviation experts say the question is whether China can make the project viable on a commercial basis. The initial investment was 5 billion yuan, but the government has not released an updated figure. Domestic airlines have placed orders for more than 70 of the planes, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported. China has been keen to develop its own technology and standards across several industries, not just aviation. The regional jet is seen as a stepping stone to building larger "jumbo" jets, which the government hopes will rival foreign manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus.

Chinese satellite to orbit Mars in 2009
2007-03-28 China Daily
A Chinese satellite is expected to orbit Mars in 2009, thanks to an agreement the country signed with Russia on Monday. During President Hu Jintao's current visit to Moscow, the two countries agreed to stage a joint unmanned mission to the red planet and one of its moons in two years, the China National Space Administration said Tuesday in Beijing. The agreement represents a "milestone" in the history of space cooperation between the two neighbors, the agency said in a statement. […]According to the agreement, a micro-satellite developed by China will be launched along with "Phobos Explorer", the Russia spacecraft, atop a Russian rocket in 2009. A timetable was not mentioned, but earlier Russian reports said the launch window for the 10-11 month voyage to Phobos, a Martian moon, will be October 2009. […] China has started a three-stage moon exploration project, including sending a lunar orbiter some time this year, followed by a soft landing in 2012 and the return of lunar samples in another five years.

 

Avian Influenza

Student dies of bird flu in Anhui
2007-03-29 China Daily
Hefei - China's Ministry of Health has confirmed a 16-year-old boy had died from the bird flu in eastern Anhui Province, bringing the number of people who have been killed by the virus to 15. The student, surnamed Wu from Bengbu City of Anhui, died on Tuesday in hospital after being treated there for ten days, a spokesman for the Anhui provincial health department said. The boy developed symptoms of pneumonia, fever and muscle aches on March 17. He was admitted to hospital on March 18, the spokesman said. Tests by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday confirmed that he had been infected with the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. Local health authorities said they are monitoring those who had close contact with the patient. So far they have not shown symptoms of the disease, and there has been no reported outbreak of the disease among local fowl. The local authority has not provided information on how the young student may have contracted the disease. Last December, a 37-year-old farmer in the province was confirmed to have contracted the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The patient surnamed Li was discharged from hospital on January 6 after a full recovery. According to Anhui health authorities, the Health Ministry has informed the World Health Organization, health agencies in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and some other countries. China has reported a total of 24 human cases of bird flu since 2003. On February 28, a 44-year-old woman in southeast China's Fujian Province was confirmed by the health ministry to have contracted the bird flu virus. The patient, surnamed Li who is still being treated in hospital, had eaten chicken together with her family, but neither her husband nor son have fallen ill. The bird flu virus has killed at least 167 people worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. Indonesia, worst-hit by the virus, has reported 70 human deaths of the bird flu, the country's health ministry said on Thursday.

WHO urges tighter vigil over bird flu
2007-03-30 SCMP
China needed an effective surveillance system to monitor H5N1 after a vaccination campaign among poultry made it difficult to track the bird flu-causing virus, the World Health Organisation's representative in the country said yesterday. Henk Bekedam made the comment the day after it was confirmed that a 16-year-old secondary school student, identified only by his surname Wu, died in Bengbu, Anhui of bird flu on Tuesday. Dr Bekedam said poultry that looked healthy might still be carrying the H5N1 virus during its entire lifetime, partly because of the effects of their vaccination. "When the virus is circulating and only a small portion of birds fall ill because they are protected by the vaccine it's more difficult to track the virus," he said. "I think China can continue with the vaccination programme, but they really should establish a highly effective surveillance system to know what's really happening, especially for the backyard [farms] where there is no constant monitoring like on big poultry farms," Dr Bekedam said. […] Dr Bekedam said the WHO had been alerted about Wu's case on Monday and that it had later received confirmation. But the agency was still unclear about how Wu had contracted the disease. "We don't have clear details about the case ... It's government health departments who are doing the investigation," Dr Bekedam said. "We need to know whether he has a travel history or visited any poultry farm. I can't confirm on this case but most of the previous cases have some link to visiting a market or poultry farm." China has reported 24 cases of human infections of bird flu. The previous victim was a 62-year-old farmer in Xinjiang province , who fell ill in June and died in July, according to Xinhua. In February, a 44-year-old woman in Fujian contracted the bird flu virus. She is still being treated in hospital. In December, a 37-year-old farmer, also from Anhui province, was confirmed transmitted with the H5N1 virus, but was discharged after a full recovery in January.

 

Tibet

Gov't to invest US12b in Tibet
2007-03-27 China Daily
China's central government will invest more than 100 billion yuan (US12.9b) in 180 projects in Tibet by 2010, the regional government announced on Monday. Though it had reported GDP growth of more than 12 percent in five consecutive years of, Tibet remained one of China's most underdeveloped regions due to its harsh natural conditions and a weak economy, and it relied heavily on investment, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of autonomous region. The projects, covering infrastructure construction, education, social security and environmental conservation, would promote economic and social development, showing the central government's support for the region. Approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, in January, the projects would see 80 percent of Tibet's villages connected by road, safe drinking water for all its 2.76 million people and free education up to high school for all children, said Hao Peng, the region's vice chairman. The funding would help pay for power plants and telecommunications facilities in remote villages and to protect natural forests. The construction of the region's fourth airport in the northern Ngari Prefecture was also included, said Hao, but he did not elaborate. […]The central government launched an aid program in Tibet in 1994, under which cadres from other parts of China are selected and sent to Tibet to work, and large sums are also invested in the region. […] "We have set a target to raise the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen to the national average by 2010," said Puncog.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan unveils improved home-built fighter jet
2007-03-28 SCMP
Taiwan yesterday unveiled an upgraded version of the locally made defence fighter plane to help bolster the island's air defences in the wake of a rapid military build-up by the mainland. A twin-seat Hsiung Yin, or Brave Hawk, produced by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, was inaugurated at an airbase on the outskirts of Taichung.[…] The defence ministry has budgeted NT$7 billion (HK$1.65 billion) for a mid-life upgrade of the 130 Ching Kuo defence fighters, which include both single and twin seats. The ministry says the upgraded version is fitted with extra fuel tanks to allow it to stay in the air much longer.

 

Economy

US bill may force action over yuan
2007-03-29 SCMP
Two leading US critics of China's currency policy yesterday said they expected Congress to pass a "veto-proof" bill forcing Beijing to raise the value of the yuan. Senator Charles Schumer said the bill would be carefully crafted to abide by World Trade Organisation rules while forcing "the Chinese to do something they won't do on their own". He and Senator Lindsey Graham testified before the Senate Finance Committee on what they saw as the need for legislation to force China to allow a greater appreciation of the yuan. Senator Schumer said it was clear that Congress could not rely on the Bush administration to get China to move. "Well-crafted legislation - WTO compliant and strong and effective - is likely to pass with a veto-proof margin during this Congress," Senator Schumer told the finance panel. "That's the message I hope the Chinese and the Bush administration take away from this hearing." The two senators advocated legislation in the past two years threatening a 27.5 per cent tariff on imports from China unless it took steps to significantly raise the value of the yuan. Senator Graham said the pair were working with the Bush administration to get it to be more aggressive, but answered "no" when asked if he thought US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's strategic economic dialogue with China was yielding results on currency reform. "The goal ... is to get the administration off the sidelines, to quit playing referee, and become an advocate" for fairer trade, he said.

China to more effectively protect IPR
2007-03-28 China Daily
The Chinese government will continue to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) with more effective measures, Vice Premier Wu Yi said Tuesday. Wu made the remark in a congratulatory message to the two-day Global Forum on Intellectual Property Rights Protection and Innovation which opened in Beijing on Tuesday. The Chinese government will further improve the IPR protection system and strengthen law enforcement, and enhance cooperation with the international society in this regard, Wu said. China's national strategy on IPR protection will come out in the first half of this year. It is composed of 20 topics and one guideline, covering system building, law enforcement, talents training and public awareness regarding the IPR protection. Last year, the procuratorial organs approved the arrest of 3,729 people suspected of IPR violations and prosecuted 3,634, an increase of 16.7 percent and 12.6 percent respectively over the previous year. […]Themed encouraging innovation, IPR protection and promoting fortune making, the forum is hosted jointly by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More than 500 high-level government officials and senior corporate experts from China, the United States, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and other countries and regions attended the forum. State Councilor Chen Zhili also attended the opening ceremony and delivered a keynote speech. She said IPR protection is in the long-term interests of China and is also the country's persistent policy. China will seriously implement its international obligations and actively work with other countries and international organizations. Chen also stressed that IPR protection is a global issue, which needs cooperation, understanding and joint efforts from various sides.

Ministry of Commerce publishes guidelines on foreign investment for 2007
2007-03-26 Xinhuanet
China will encourage foreigners to invest more in service sector and high-tech companies this year while strictly restricting overseas investment in real estate projects, according to guidelines on foreign investment recently issued by the Ministry of Commerce for 2007. The administrative rules for the current year say local governments and related departments should pay more attention to the quality of use of foreign investment. According to the guidelines, foreign investment should be channeled into high-tech, modern service and high-end manufacturing sectors and into research and development, energy-efficient and environmental-friendly projects. This year China will continue to channel foreign investment into technical upgrading projects for traditional industries and encourage transnational companies to establish regional headquarters and launch procurement, distribution, operation and training centers on the Chinese mainland. The guidelines require that overseas resources should be utilized to expand domestic capital markets and foreigners' strategic investment in Chinese listed companies should be regulated. Foreign investors' cooperation with peers from China's non-state sector will be facilitated. Meanwhile, the guidelines stress that foreign investment should be strictly restricted in real estate sector and low-standard projects with high energy consumption and serious pollution. The guidelines also say that healthy development of mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors should be promoted, and that monopoly-targeted and malicious takeovers be prevented so as to maintain the nation's control over strategic sectors and ensure national economic security. […]

Door opens for foreign exporters
2007-03-27 People's Daily Online
[…] Behind China's yawning trade surplus, which has frequently been raised since 2005, only a few have realized the huge consumer potential for imported goods in China. Instead of complaining about "Made in China" products flooding their markets and causing job losses, foreign companies should turn their attention to tapping the Chinese market with their products. There is strong demand in China for energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies, products and equipment. But big breakthroughs in this sector may be difficult to achieve given that some of these products and technologies are subject to export control policies from trade partners like the United States. Meanwhile, there is also demand from Chinese consumers for a wide range of top-quality foreign products. Foreign goods exporters are sometimes too cautious in the Chinese market, compared with aggressive foreign banks and other service providers who demand larger market access from the government. Although top luxury brands are striving to expand in metropolises in the country and many supermarkets are using imported goods to attract customers, imported goods still make up only a small part of China's consumer market. But from this spring, foreign exporters will have a new platform for the first time they will have their own booths at China's largest expo, the Canton Fair. The move will see foreign exporters get less than 1 percent of the expo space allotted to domestic exporters at the fair. While it may not have much overall impact, it's a good start.

Telecom, railway services sector to open wider
2007-03-29 China Daily
The growth of the services sector should be accelerated and opened wider to private and foreign investors, the State Council has said. Market access for such sectors as telecommunications, railways and civil aviation - by far largely State-owned - will be increased and more competition encouraged to diversify investment, the Cabinet said in a document released yesterday. The country will establish an "open, fair and rule-based" market access system, according to the document, which urged local governments and departments to encourage foreign investment and improve the legal framework in the sector. Private investors are encouraged to "raise the proportion of non-State output in the national services industry". No domain should be off-limits as long as the law does not forbid the entry of non-State investors, the document said. The State Council said the services trade should be encouraged to change the foreign trade growth pattern, which comprises mainly exports of low-end manufactured goods. Some local governments were criticized for tilting toward heavy industries and ignoring the services sector, which made up 40.2 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) last year. It generally accounts for about 70 percent in developed economies.The sector is important for China as it makes efforts to change its economic growth pattern, reduce consumption of energy and resources and create jobs, the document said. […] As one of the steps, the State Council urged more input into sectors oriented toward people's livelihood, such as real estate, non-State nursing homes for the aged and culture. The cabinet put special emphasis on the services industry in rural areas, urging an increase in farmers' incomes and a relaxation of the urban household registration system.

 

Mongolia

ACO commences its work
2007-03- 28 Mongol Messenger
The Anti-Corruption Office established three months ago has started activities to prevent corruption and to educate the public, in spite of no office and only one third of its staff recruited. ACO leaders met journalists on March 21 for the first time and discussed ways to cooperate. Parliament legislated the ACO to recruit 90 staff, but the budget for the first half of the year was approved to recruit 40. It is planned to increase the salary fund through budget clarification and functions to reach the full quota from 2008. ACO chief, B. Dangaasuren reiterated that recruitment would target new people: “People, who have worked in the police and investigation office will not be recruited. I don't think people, who failed to reveal corruption cases, can justify working in the new office”. New staff has been selected from those who have passed the criteria of the state three top officials and MPs. The ACO has designed university and institute curricula including combating and preventing corruption to be delivered on the University Politics Academy and Law School. In the short term since the ACO's establishment, Parliament resolved to receive income declarations from state officials until June 15 for this year, even though the original date was February 15. Parliament also approved renewal of the income declarations and officials will complete statements with a wide range of questions including income: fixed property; securities and loans of family members and other assets. The ACO has organised a seminar March 22-23 for relevant ministry employees; agencies and governor's offices, responsible for registering and maintaining official's income declarations to make sure the process is standardized and implemented transparently. The ACO estimated there are about 39,000 officials required to declare income in Mongolia; about 5,000 of them should present declarations to the ACO. […] the ACO considers it necessary to have a special regulation to protect privacy. To date, they have not pursued corruption cases because Parliament is still to authorize this activity as a law. B. Dangaasuren said, “Eight kinds of crimes such as abuse of position and illegal expenditure of state money are corruption cases, but parliament will approve what they define as corrupt practices that the ACO should investigate through this law. Before the law is passed, the office has no right to conduct investigations.” […]

Illegal resident amnesty successful
2007-03-28 Mongol Messenger
The Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens announced an ‘amnesty month' for foreigners, who live illegally in Mongolia from February 5. A total of 132 citizens from nine countries applied for amnesty; 112 from China, six Russians, five Vietnamese, four Koreans, five Armenians, USA, Czech, Kazakhstan and Malaysians. 81 foreigners or 61.3 percent exceeded their term by one year; 23.5 percent 1-2 years; 9.1 percent 2- 3 years; 3.8 percent 3-4 years and 2.3 percent over 4 years. People, who exceeded the visa term for the longest term, were Russians (6 year and 7 months); then Chinese (6 years and 2 months) and Malaysian (4 years and 6 months). 90.1 percent of the foreigners exceeded the visa term, while 9.9 percent violated their residence regulations. Senior investigator at the office, N. Bayanmonkh said, “Amnesty month was announced based on concrete requirement and conditions. It was announced through mass media and embassies in Mongolia. Following examples from other countries, Mongolia will announce an amnesty month once every three to four years to enable illegal foreigners to exit the country. For us, it was the first time, but successful.”

‘Water Day' initiatives raise water awareness
2007-03-28 Mongol Messenger
Water Authority Chairman, Ts. Badrakh revealed Mongolia's water crisis during the ‘World Water Day' media conference. He said 38.5 percent of 335 soums residents and those in urban locations in Mongolia suffer disease because of dirty water. “Mongolia is one of the countries with scarce water reserves. Pure water in Mongolia is different and water scarcity is described regionally. For example, the Gobi aimags have no surface water and cannot dig to access subterranean water; it is necessary to increase pastureland irrigation and provide water to rural area residents and those in urban locations. Water consumption of 4.8-10 litres in some Ulaanbaatar ger area households is considered below standards. It was emphasized that renewal of water standards suitable for health and clean water supply were a priority. The Netherlands Embassy and the Environment Ministry signed an agreement on December 24, 2006, for a project to be implemented from January 1, 2007. The project would determine levels of Mongolian water scarcity and Mongolian water specialists would receive long and short-term training in the Netherlands. The professional organisation will research 14 strategies and draw up a document to follow to 2030. This year's ‘Water Day' theme is ‘Coping with Water Scarcity'. To follow the theme, a monthly campaign has been organised from March 10 to April 10 and the Water Authority is carrying out water inspections along the railroad and collecting data on drinking water quality. On March 16, officials of Sukhbaatar, Chingeltei and Bayanzurkh districts discussed taking the garbage-filled Selbe River under special protection. Two conferences to discuss water resource management were held last week. On March 20, a scientific conference was held to address improving construction for water and floodwalls, while a consultative meeting held March 21 and involving over 100 corporate units discussed water management. A third meeting on March 22 discussed Mongolian surface and subterranean water reserves. Water and Environment and new management strategies were discussed in the Environment Ministry March 24 and a scientific conference for students with the theme: ‘Water is the key to development' was organised. An essay writing competition on water protection was announced among students on March 30 and a painting contest: ‘If we have no water', will conclude.

 

Mirjam Mueller
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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