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
  10.4-13.4.07, No. 161  
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Foreign Policy

Switzerland wants free trade deal with China
2007-04-09 Xinhuanet
Switzerland is aiming to start talks to clinch a free trade agreement with China, Swiss Economics Minister Doris Leuthard said on Sunday. Leuthard told local media that she would lead a large business delegation to China in June, and try to give support so that China opened negotiations with Switzerland, Swiss Radio International (SRI) reported. China is already in free trade talks with Iceland and will start talks with Norway, Leuthard said. Both countries are members of the four-state European Free Trade Association (Efta), along with Switzerland and Liechtenstein. "Such deals are important for Switzerland, given that we are not a member of the European Union, the North-American free trade zone or the Asian community of nations," she said. Switzerland has closed or is in talks over a score of trade deals, mostly through the Efta. It has a small number of deals outside Efta, most notably one with the European Union, and is also working on a bilateral deal with Japan. China is one of four emerging countries -- the others are Brazil, Russia and India -- in the so-called BRIC group, SRI said. In 2003 Goldmann Sachs, an investment bank, argued that the BRIC economies were rapidly developing and would account for half of the world's industrial production over the next 40 years. The Swiss government decided to make this group a priority in 2007. In February Leuthard, who had just returned from Brazil on her first economic mission, said she laid great importance on trade relations with new economies.

China, ROK leaders vow to strive for FTA
2007-04-11 China Daily
Seoul - China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) yesterday agreed to expand their comprehensive partnership with the signing of four pacts after talks between visiting Premier Wen Jiabao and ROK President Roh Moo-hyun. The agreements cover exchanges among young people, labor exports, migratory bird protection and marine search and rescue. They also vowed to continue efforts to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear free and safeguard peace and stability in Northeast Asia.Wen, who arrived yesterday in Seoul on a two-day official visit, the first by a Chinese premier in seven years, made a five-point proposal to strengthen bilateral relations. They are: maintain high-level exchanges between government departments, legislative bodies and political parties - deepen economic and trade cooperation. Emphasis should be laid on environmental protection, energy saving and telecommunications - promote exchanges of personnel and cultural activities - strengthen bilateral coordination and cooperation on regional and global affairs - handle issues of each other's concerns. The two sides should work out a win-win plan for a China-ROK free trade area (FTA) at the earliest date," Wen said. Responding to Wen, Roh said he expects the two governments will sign an investment protection treaty soon, and study the possibility of establishing an FTA as well as clearing barriers blocking Chinese goods from entering the ROK market. […]China is keen to work together with the ROK and other parties concerned to realize long-term peace and stability in Northeast Asia, he added. Roh appreciated China's constructive role in trying to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, and said the ROK and China have enjoyed close cooperation in the Six-Party Talks, which not only strengthened their bilateral ties and enhanced mutual trust but also helped set an example for resolving other issues in Northeast Asia. […]

Diplomacy, defense top future Sino-Japan agenda
2007-04-12 China Daily
Tokyo - China and Japan Wednesday pledged to intensify efforts to have more diplomatic dialogue and defensive cooperation apart from high-level economic talks and mutual support for peaceful development. China has lifted the ban on rice imports from Japan, and the two countries will continue to work on the trade in agriculture products. These are parts of the strategic and mutually beneficial relationship detailed in a joint press statement the two countries released yesterday after Premier Wen Jiabao met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This is the second joint press statement by China and Japan in six months. The document, carrying more weight than the one issued in October during Abe's ice-breaking visit to Beijing, covers a wider range of issues in a bid to take the bilateral ties to a new stage. The two sides agreed to have navy-fleet exchanges at an early date and enhance the communication mechanism between the defense authorities of the two countries. Also, Japan has invited the Chinese defense minister to visit Japan in autumn. The two countries are committed to peace and stability not only between them, but also in the rest of Asia and the world. The two foreign ministries will continue the close cooperation in regional and global issues of common concern by enhancing the bilateral strategic, security and economic partnership negotiations. Since Japan is thinking of cooperating with China in helping African countries, the two neighbors have decided to strengthen negotiation on the subject. On Japan's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, China expressed its consistent position, saying it is willing to see Japan play a bigger constructive role in international affairs. The two sides said they will enhance negotiations on the world body's reform to look for common ground. They reaffirmed their commitment to carry out the February landmark agreement on Pyongyang's nuclear issue. China sympathized with Japan over the kidnapping issue, saying it is willing to offer all necessary help. Sectors of mutual collaboration of the neighbors range from energy, the environment, agriculture, medical research and protection of intellectual property to finance, the judiciary and criminal justice and communication technology. They agreed to begin work on cleaning the Bohai Bay and Yangtze River areas to prevent air and sea pollution, acid rain and sandstorms. They will increase their cooperation on model projects to promote energy efficiency and businesses that are environmentally friendly. The two sides announced that they will work out a consensus to start negotiations over a treaty for mutual legal help before the end of the year and push for consultations over extradition and transfer of convicts. Also, the neighbors will enhance collaboration and cooperation in the supervision of their financial sectors. The two sides expect to increase people-to-people exchanges, too. To mark the 35th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Tokyo will send about 20,000 Japanese on a tour of 19 Chinese cities this year.

China, Japan reach agreement on ways to properly handle East China Sea issue
2007-04-12 Xinhuanet
China and Japan have reached consensus on properly handling the East China Sea issue, a joint press communique said here on Wednesday. In the press communique issued after talks between visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the two sides said they are committed to efforts to make the East China Sea a "sea of peace, cooperation and friendship." The two sides will conduct joint development in accordance with the principle of mutual benefit as a temporary arrangement pending the completion of demarcation of sea borders, it said. They will hold higher-level dialogues on the East China Sea issue if need arises, the communique said. The two sides also agreed to conduct joint development in a "relatively wide area that is acceptable to both sides," it said. The two countries will accelerate the process of consultations so that they could report to the two countries' leaders this fall about specific plans for joint development, according to the communique. The communique also said Japan would introduce mobile processing equipment to speed up work to dispose of abandoned chemical weapons in China.

CNOOC producing gas over Japan's protest
2007-04-12 SCMP
China's CNOOC Ltd confirmed for the first time yesterday that it had begun producing gas at a field in the East China Sea despite Japan's objections to development, which Tokyo fears might drain off its resources. The state-controlled company said in its 2006 annual report it was pumping oil and gas at the Tianwaitian field. It is also ready to begin producing from the nearby and larger Chunxiao field as soon as Beijing gives it the go-ahead, an industry source familiar with the development said. The news emerged as Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aimed at setting aside rancour over the past and focusing on ways to tame the rivalry over energy and regional influence. After meeting, the two leaders said their countries would continue talks over development of oil and gas fields in disputed waters in the East China Sea. "We will speed up the process of discussions and seek to report specific measures for joint development to the leaders of the two countries by autumn," they said in a statement. They also said they would conduct joint development in "relatively wide waters that are acceptable to the two parties". A Japanese government official quoted Mr Wen as proposing that high-level talks about the dispute could be held next month. Japan and China disagree over the boundary between their exclusive marine economic zones, and Japan objects to Chinese development of gas fields near the border.

Vietnam warned against sea pipeline
2007-04-11 China Daily
Chinese government said on Tuesday Vietnam had caused concern by agreeing with BP, a British oil company, to build a gas pipeline in the South China Sea. "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and neighboring areas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing."Vietnam's new actions infringing on China's sovereignty, sovereign power and administrative rights in the Nansha Islands (in the South China Sea) go against the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries on this maritime issue," he emphasized. "It is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea area. China is paying close attention, and we have already made serious representations to the Vietnamese side," the spokesman said. "With everyone's hard work, the situation in the South China Sea has been stable."

China had role in UN deal for Darfur
2007-04-12 SCMP
China played a key role in brokering an agreement between the UN and the Sudanese government to send UN troops to the troubled region of Darfur, China's special envoy to Sudan said yesterday. Returning to Beijing after a three-day trip to Sudan, assistant foreign minister Zhai Jun praised China's positive diplomatic contribution and drew a line between China's significant infrastructure investments in the country and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. "China has played a determining and essential role, and that's why the Sudanese government has adopted a flexible attitude," Mr Zhai said in reaction to Tuesday's news that Sudan had finally agreed to accept a UN heavy support package after months of political standoff. The UN support package will include more than 3,000 troops and police, who will operate alongside the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in the region, as well as aviation and logistical equipment. Mr Zhai said he asked Sudan's president, Lieutenant-General Omar al-Beshir, to "show flexibility and accept this plan", but added that discussions between Sudan and the international community must be held "on an equal footing". "If you send a letter to the Sudanese government telling it what to do, it is difficult for a proud country to accept that," he said, reiterating China's opposition to US calls for sanctions. Despite recent reports of renewed fighting and a possible outbreak of war with Chad, Mr Zhai said, "Darfur region enjoys basic stability, and local governments are functioning."

Chinese vice premier meets Dutch FM
2007-04-10 Xinhuanet
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu met Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen in the Hague Tuesday, where the two agreed that the two countries should strengthen relations in political, economic and other areas. […] During the meeting, Verhagen reiterated the Dutch government's stance of adhering to the one-China policy. Hui arrived in the Hague Sunday afternoon for a three-day official visit, during which he is scheduled to meet Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and other senior officials, and to witness the signing of several cooperation agreements in agriculture and water management. […] The Netherlands is the first leg of Hui's four-nation European tour, which will also take him to Ukraine, Romania and Serbia.

China hopes for enhanced co-op with France
2007-04-10 Xinhuanet
China hopes to further expand cooperation with France in trade and investment as well as the training of managing personnel of enterprises, said Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan on Tuesday. Zeng made the remarks at the 13th China-France Economic Seminar opened in Beijing Tuesday morning. […] Bilateral cooperation projects have witnessed rapid progress, including the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant and the Airbus 320 assembly line, Zeng said. […] The two-day seminar focuses on the subject of "Chinese enterprise managers of the 21st century", during which French entrepreneurs will share experience with their Chinese counterparts on management of companies and human resources. […] Former French President Velery Giscard D'estaing also attended the opening ceremony of the seminar. […] The seminar, co-hosted by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and French France-China Committee, has been held annually since 1995.

Beijing urged to loosen grip on media beyond Olympics
2007-04-13 SCMP
China should loosen its grip on the media beyond the Olympic Games and not just for foreign reporters, the European Union's media commissioner said in Beijing. "We appreciate that there is some kind of opening with the Olympic Games," Viviane Reding said on the second day of her visit. "I hope that this opening will continue after the Olympic Games." She also said the EU would not join a World Trade Organisation complaint lodged by the US against China for alleged copyright abuse.

 

Domestic Policy

China to develop five more oceanic satellites
2007-04-11Xinhuanet
China will develop five more oceanic satellites in the near future, China's top ocean research official said here on Wednesday. Sun Zhihui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, made the remarks after the successful launching of self-developed "Haiyang-1B" oceanic satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launching Center on Wednesday. China plans to have a system consisting of ocean color remote sensing satellites, ocean dynamic environment satellites and ocean surveillance satellites. Haiyang-1B is an ocean color remote sensing satellite. China will launch the Haiyang-2 satellite, or ocean dynamic environment satellites, in 2009 and is currently analyzing customer demand for the Haiyang-3 satellite, or ocean surveillance satellite, Sun said. […] There are more than 30 oceanic satellites in orbit around the planet. Sun said oceanic satellites are urgently needed in China to develop the country's marine economy, providing marine disaster early warning and safeguarding the nation's legitimate marine rights. […] The State Oceanic Administration plans to establish oceanic satellite ground stations in Mudanjiang City, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, and in Beijing, to enlarge the Sanya oceanic satellite ground station and to build national satellite data receiving stations in the Antarctica and the Arctic.

Confucius Institute Headquarters unveiled
2007-04-10 Xinhuanet
China on Monday unveiled the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing to better promote Sino-foreign language and cultural exchanges. Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili, who is also chairperson of the council of the headquarters, said at the unveiling ceremony that the headquarters is the top management body for Confucius institutes worldwide. It will make relevant rules, evaluate the achievements of the institutes, approve new institutes and the institutes' annual programs and budgets, and provide managing and teaching personnel, according to Chen. She said Confucius institutes serve as important platforms for foreigners to learn the Chinese language and culture. […] According to the Ministry of Education, about 30 million foreigners are learning Chinese, and the figure will hit 100 million by 2010. In China alone, the number of foreigners studying Mandarin has grown from 36,000 ten years ago to 110,000 this year. Currently, there are more than 140 Confucius institutes in more than 50 countries and regions.

Senior official stresses China's need for developing "soft power"
2007-04-08 Xinhuanet
A senior official on Sunday called for boosting China's cultural "soft power" to provide a strong driving force for the nation's rise. Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the appeal during a visit to central China's Henan Province from April 6 to 8. "The first two decades of this century is a critical strategical period for China's cultural development, and we should seize this opportunity to greatly improve the country's cultural 'soft power'," said Liu, who is also a member of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee. To improve cultural "soft power", he said, China should maintain its cultural liveliness by promoting innovation, drawing useful foreign experience, while preserving traditional cultural heritage as well.

Police sent in as thugs target city's hospitals - Officers posted to protect medical staff
2007-04-13 SCMP
A city in Fujian has stationed police at its 14 hospitals to maintain security amid medical staff complaints that hired thugs are staging frequent unrest. One officer has been deployed as a "deputy chief" to each hospital in Wuyishan to prevent "professional medical protesters", who are usually hired to stage disruptions until they are compensated, the Southeast Express reported yesterday. "Apart from maintaining order and cracking down on theft, another major role of the police is to resolve medical disputes and prevent disorder," the report quoted police as saying. A city health bureau employee confirmed that the policy, which took effect on Tuesday, was introduced after the provincial public security bureau and the health administration detailed the plans in a document earlier this year. Chen Jie from the public security bureau said the policy was to improve security in hospitals. But he denied it was put in place because the facilities had been unsafe. He said other provincial cities were on the verge of introducing similar arrangements. Medical scandals which have led to protests, and sometimes riots, staged by victims and their families have plagued the mainland's medical services. The disputes are one of the country's major sources of unrest. Police have also been stationed at hospitals in other parts of the country in response to an upsurge in such conflicts. A similar scheme was introduced in Dalian, the Dalian Evening News reported last month. There have been complaints of families or friends of patients hiring thugs to cause disruptions even when no mishap had occurred. A nurse at Wuyishan City Hospital said the frequent protests disrupted its day-to-day operations. "Almost every death, except those caused by terminal cancer, will lead to protests," she said. "When someone dies, we expect people to stir up chaos in the hospital, even if he dies in a car crash at the scene. „People have smashed our equipment, burned papers and candles, and left the body of the deceased in a public space in the hospital for days." The hospital could have to pay hundreds of thousands of yuan to settle the disputes, she added. The nurse said the hospital's outpatient unit was shut down for a time last year after a group of people protested by leaving a corpse in the unit for days.

Police block HIV/Aids protest, activists say
2007-04-12 SCMP
About 350 people infected with HIV/Aids were blocked by police in Henan province from protesting over drug treatments they are receiving from the government, a leading activist said. Two protest leaders, Zhu Ruiyi and Li Xia, were detained after trying to take the protesters into Zhengzhou, said Wan Yanhai, director of the Aids Action Project. The protesters came from Zhecheng county and most were infected with the HIV virus after they donated blood in government-backed blood drives in the 1990s, Mr Wan said. "On the way to Zhengzhou, they were stopped by hundreds of police," he said. "They wanted to organise a petition campaign to express concerns over drug treatment." Police in Zhecheng refused to comment.

Couple face eviction after fiery threat
2007-04-10 SCMP
A couple in Qingdao have been detained after trying to set fire to themselves to save their home from bulldozers. They were among 87 households in Qingdao's Hexi village who refused to make way for a redevelopment project. The residents now face forced evictions after disputing the government's compensation offer. Zheng Fangwu, 44, and his wife, Yuan Xinyu, 40, poured a mixture of petrol and water over themselves in an emotional standoff with 600 police and local officials, said Sui Jing, a relative. Authorities wanted to tear down the three-room home the couple shared with their 13-year-old daughter and the girl's 85-year-old grandmother. The authorities offered no compensation, said Ms Sui, and the couple were overpowered with high-pressure water guns. "They were both jobless and have no money," Ms Sui said. "How were they supposed to settle the elderly mother and the daughter? They were forced to take extreme measures because they didn't know what to do." Local authorities said they did not give the family compensation because the couple had no certificate of ownership. But the couple said they had been going through the procedures of getting the certificate since 2001 and had paid all the relevant fees and taxes over the years. Villager Yu Peizhu said her family owned their house for generations. She did not sign the compensation deal because the 200,000 yuan offer was well below the 600,000 yuan market value. The house was torn down last Monday while she was in Beijing trying to file a complaint with the Ministry of Construction. A spokesman for Qingdao's Sifang district, which governs the village, said evictions only occurred when occupants did not have an ownership certificate.

Ministries launch bid to purify online content
2007-04-13 SCMP
Ten central government ministries are jointly cracking down on the internet to "purify" the online environment, state media reported yesterday. The ministries - which included Public Security, Information Industry and Culture - are launching a six-month campaign to clean up the online environment of "materials harmful to young people". The Communist Party is due to hold a crucial party congress in October, and Chinese leaders have promised to take all necessary measures to ensure social stability ahead of the congress. According to reports by CCTV and national radio, the latest campaign will target pornography, online gambling and websites, chatrooms and other content that it says spread "rumours and malicious messages". The crackdown would also cover online forums and blogs as well as electronic magazines. The report blamed the spread of such "harmful materials" on foreign infiltration. "The fact that many of these problems exist is because a large quantity of pornographic messages from overseas are spreading to our country," it added. "Another reason is because our regulation of the Internet is not systematic and lagging." The report said many websites allowed surfers to download pornographic images or take part in gambling activities. "The existence of these problems ... not only poisons the healthy growth of our young children, but also pollutes our social environment and disturbs the social order. "[We must] adopt resolute measures to rectify the situations," it added.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's main opposition party swears in new leader
2007-04-11 Xinhuanet
Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party on Wednesday swore in a new leader, who promised to "do his best" in leading the party to victory in the 2008 Taiwan elections. Wu Poh-hsiung, elected as leader on Saturday after former KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou resigned in the wake of an indictment on corruption charges, formally took the post in the party's headquarters in Taipei. […] Wu, born in 1939, graduated from Taiwan-based Cheng-kung University, and was secretary-general of the KMT central committee, head of Taoyuan County and mayor of Taipei before he was elected KMT vice-chairman in 2000. Ma Ying-jeou submitted his resignation on Feb. 13 after he was indicted on charges of corruption. Taiwan prosecutors said Ma diverted 11 million New Taiwan dollars (333,000 U.S. dollars) from Taipei's special allowance funds to his private account during his tenure as mayor.

New cross-strait head likely to stir up Beijing's anger
2007-04-10 SCMP
Taiwan has named an independence-leaning professor as the head of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) in an appointment that looks set to anger Beijing. Chen Ming-tong, 41, former MAC vice-chairman and dean of the Institute of National Development under the prestigious Taiwan University, will succeed Joseph Wu Jau-shieh as the head of the island's top mainland policy planning body. "[Dr Chen] is expected to assume his new post later this week as soon as he completes the necessary paperwork for his transferal from the institute to the MAC," said cabinet deputy secretary-general Chen Mei-ling. Dr Wu was recently made the island's top envoy to the US, a post that will require him to use his expertise in cross-strait affairs to increase the island's communication with Washington, which has several times been irked by pro-independence rhetoric from President Chen Shui-bian. A member of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Dr Chen drafted the "China Policy White Paper" for Mr Chen in his 2000 presidential campaign. He was later made vice-chairman of the MAC after Mr Chen became president. Known as a "green" or "pro-independence" scholar, Dr Chen, who returned to his academic post in 2004, has been drafting a "Second Republic Constitution" to aid a plan by President Chen to institute a new constitution for the island. Beijing views the new constitution plan as an attempt to split the island from the mainland. Meanwhile, Kuan Chung, a vice-chairman of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said the newly elected KMT chairman, Wu Poh-hsiung, would visit the mainland this month. […]

Taipei renews bid for full WHO membership
2007-04-13 SCMP
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has asked WHO chief Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun to admit the island in the name of "Taiwan". In a recent letter to Hong Kong's former director of health, Mr Chen stressed the need of the island to join the World Health Organisation. "On behalf of [Taiwan's] 23 million people", Mr Chen wrote to Dr Chan on Wednesday, the island wanted to join the WHO as a full member "in the name of Taiwan", Foreign Minister James Huang Chih-fang said yesterday. According to Mr Huang, Mr Chen told Dr Chan, who in January became the first Chinese person to head a United Nations agency, that Taiwan had every right to join the health organisation as a full member and not just an observer "based on the WHO's spirit of protecting the health of all people in the world and the concept that there are no borders in health". With the support of the US and Japan, Taiwan since 1997 has been seeking to join the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO's decision-making body, as an observer. But little progress has been made because of persistent objections from the mainland.Observers say this attempt will more than likely also be in vain. Chiou I-jen, secretary-general of the Presidential Office, said a survey last month showed that 95 per cent of Taiwanese respondents supported the island's use of the name Taiwan to join the WHO. Beijing has opposed the island's applications to the WHO, on the grounds that Taiwan is not a sovereign body and that it can provide the information and aid the island needs to safeguard the residents' health.

 

Economy

China expresses regret, dissatisfaction over U.S. complaints at WTO
2007-04-11 People's Daily Online
China expressed on Tuesday great regret and strong dissatisfaction at the decision of the United States to file WTO cases against China over the issues concerning intellectual property rights (IPR) and accession to China's publication market. "The decision runs contrary to the consensus between the leaders of the two nations about strengthening bilateral trade ties and properly solving trade disputes," said Wang Xinpei, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce. "It will seriously undermine the cooperative relations the two nations have established in the field and will adversely affect bilateral trade," he added. "The Chinese government has always been firm in protecting IPR and has attained well-known achievements," said Wang, adding that the two nations have been "in good communication and consultation with each other over access to the Chinese publication market." The Chinese government has not yet received a request for consultations from the United States, but will deliberate upon and actively respond to a formal request, said Wang. Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, if the parties to a trade dispute fail to iron out their differences within a 60-day consultation period, the complaining party may refer the matter to a WTO dispute settlement panel. "The U.S. government, influenced by the interest groups, only wants to press China to further open its related markets," said Zhang Junsheng,professor with the WTO research institute at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. During 2000 and 2004, China imported 4,332 films, 40 to 50 percent of which were made in the United States. Of the 88 foreign movies China enjoyed, 70 of were from the United States, statistics from the Ministry of Culture showed. The imports of original books have been on the rise every year, said Li Hong with the China National Publications Import and Export Corporation, the largest one engaged in publication import and export fields in the country. For example, Beijing Book Building, the capital's major bookstore selling original books, sales of imported books grew 17 percent annually. U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced on Monday that the U.S. government would file two WTO cases against China over copyright piracy and restrictions on the sale of American books, music, videos and movies.

Trade surplus falls sharply
2007-04-11 China Daily
China's trade surplus in March narrowed drastically by 38 percent year-on-year following government measures to curb the imbalance. It stood at $6.87 billion, the first time in 13 months that the monthly figure dropped below $10 billion, according to the China General Administration of Customs. Exports gained 6.9 percent to $83.4 billion in March while imports climbed 14.5 percent to $76.6 billion. The figures indicate that the central government's measures to stop the trade gap from widening are beginning to pay off, said Xue Hua, an analyst with Shenzhen-based China Merchants Securities. Beijing has lowered or scrapped export tax rebates on a number of resource-intensive and highly-polluting products and banned processing trade of some categories in a bid to slow down export growth. Xue noted the sharp increase in the trade surplus for February was because exporters rushed to sell products overseas in the first two months of this year before the export-control policies took effect. The surplus for the first two months of the year totaled $39.7 billion, triple the amount for the same period last year. Vice-Minister of Commerce Wei Jianguo said earlier this week that China is ready to take more measures to boost imports of machinery and hi-tech products to redress the imbalance. He said the government will unveil more policies to increase imports of advanced equipment, increase imports from countries that have a large deficit with China and simplify import procedures. "The key to easing concerns about the trade surplus is to restructure China's foreign trade rather than simply squeeze exports," he added. […]

Energy plan: Reliance on coal and oil to be eased
2007-04-11 China Daily
China aims to reduce reliance on coal and oil despite soaring demand for the commodities, the country's top economic planner has revealed in an energy sector plan for the five years up to 2010. The change was charted because of the high environmental and human cost of coal mining as well as soaring oil prices, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a report published yesterday. […] Soaring demand for coal has resulted in loose safety controls and illegal mining, leading to many fatal accidents in recent years. Coal mining has also contaminated water resources in many places. […] At the same time, the country has increasingly felt the pinch of surging international oil prices. […] In addition to reducing dependence on coal and oil, China has also announced a conservation plan to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent during the five years. The energy pricing system should also be reformed to encourage conservation, economists say, arguing that prices are low. But policy makers have been cautious about raising prices for fears of inflation and a high financial burden on low-income earners. […]

Marine sector produces 10 pct of China's GDP
2007-04-09 China Daily
China's seas contributed 2.09 trillion yuan (US$272 billion), or 10.01 percent, of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) last year, according to a report on China's marine economy in 2006. The report, issued by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), said last year's output value of marine industries, including fishing, transport, oil and gas exploitation, tourism and ship building, rose 13.97 percent year on year, and its growth rate was 3.3 percentage points higher than that of the country's economy. The sector grew steadily, with the output value of ship building, oil and natural gas exploitation and coastal tourism increasing by more than 17 percent, the report said. […]China has more than four million square kilometers of sea areas, with more than 1,400 harbors and 210,000 cargo ships.

Local firms losing time to foreign watchmakers
2007-04-12 China Daily
About 40 years ago, most Chinese dreamed of owning a Shanghai-branded watch. Nowadays, made-in-China timepieces no longer feature on Chinese wish lists. Watches are no longer just for keeping time and instead are seen as something of a status symbol. And Chinese watchmakers are losing out to their foreign rivals. Luxury Swiss brands such as Tag Heuer and Longines have boutiques on many city high streets, while counters in prime locations of many department stores only display fashion and sport watches like Casio and Swatch. Chinese watches account for 70 percent of the market share in terms of sales volume, but they only occupy 30 percent of the total value, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics. Industry insiders say the value of a Swiss-made watch is 224 times higher than a Chinese one. China's high-end watch market is dominated by Patek Philippe, Breguet, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. The medium-end is taken up by Swiss brands such as Rolex, Omega and Jaeger-LeCoultre. And Japanese brands like Citizen and Seiko and the numerous local brands compete for the lower end of the market. Outdated technology, not keeping up with trends and price wars are the main problems in the local industry, Hao Huiwen, deputy general manager of Shenzhen Fiyta (Group) Corp Ltd, was quoted as saying by China Economic Weekly. […]Local manufacturers cannot beat either the Swiss or the Japanese firms. But the Beijing Watch Factory Co Ltd is on an adventure to reach the high-end market. The firm brought four expensive watches to this year's Basel International Watch and Clock Show, the world's largest watch fair. All four are limited editions inspired by traditional Chinese culture and the Olympics, and are equipped with the factory's own technology on Tourbillon. The Tourbillon mechanism, invented more than 200 years ago by Abraham-Louis Breguet, is one of the most difficult watches to make and is extremely complex and costly. […]He said local manufacturers have the advantage in traditional Chinese arts such as micro-carving and cloisonne enamel, which are essential for competing in the high-end market across the globe. […]

 

Mongolia

Democratic Party celebrates 18 years
2007-04-11 Mongol Messenger
Mongolia's Democratic Party marked its 18th anniversary, April 7. Established initially in 1990 and forming a multi-party system. National Party for Progress and Green Party merged in 1992 and the ‘National Democratic Party' was formed. On December 6, 2000 the Party and the Mongolian Social Democratic Party, the Mongolian Religious Democratic Party, the Mongolian Renaissance Party and the Mongolian Democratic Party merged to establish the Democratic Party as it is today. December 6 had been marked as Democratic Party holiday, however from this year the date of establishment of the first Democratic Party has been selected as the celebration date.

Informal Marriages Hide Human Trafficking
2007-04-12 UB Post
The protection of rights and a positive legal environment for the victims of human trafficking who become illegally married to Asian men still does not exist yet because of a lack of information and knowledge about human trafficking. About 20 days ago, four Mongolian women with three of their children requested from the Mongolian consulate in Erlian, China, to save them from the violence of their husbands. They were married to Chinese men when they were introduced to each other in Mongolia, but have lived in China for over ten years now. According to reports in the Mongolian media, all of them were living in a half- starved state. They had no right to work for wages and weren't even allowed to go outside. They were beaten brutally by their husbands and had other physical pressure applied. Some of them were unwillingly forced to have sex by their husbands. But the accused husbands are demanding the return of their wives from the consulate. According to the consulate, the women are considered as Mongolian nationals according to the Mongolian Citizens Registration and Information Centre database. Their Mongolian nationality was not revoked and, under law, Mongolians are not allowed dual citizenship. Moreover, their children were born in Mongolia and their surnames are given by their mothers. This is a sufficient basis for the women to return to Mongolia, in the opinion of the consulate. The consulate sent the statement to relevant official agencies in China and if the two countries agree, the police of both countries will jointly examine the case. According to Chinese law, an individual indulging in sex trafficking would receive a punishment of 20 years in prison. There are also very strict prohibitions on a person prostituting him or herself. But in Mongolia, there has been just one court case related to human trafficking because victims do not come to the police. The victims are afraid to face the police since they fear they will be doubly punished for being part of an illegal action as well as having a lack of information and knowledge about human trafficking. The psychological damage caused by human trafficking is not understood clearly and everybody who lacks knowledge and information can become a victim. […] The Gender Equity Center is the first organization to do comprehensive research on the issue of Mongolian victims of foreign human trafficking over the last two years. The center does local research, as well as conducting studies and taking interviews from victims in China and Macao. […] According to Ganbayasgakh's research, Mongolia lacks a law which protects women from becoming a sex traffic victim and protects human rights. […] Lack of positive legal regulations for victims exposes them to have their lives ruined. State inspectors said that the overwhelming desire of many students to go abroad and leave Mongolia, only added to the problem of trafficking. .[…] Contrasting incorrect media reports that only males run human trafficking operations, research showed that women were more involved in the selling process then men, seminar organizers said.The intermediaries of human trafficking in Mongolia are women aged 20-45 years old. They use very detailed swindling methods to entice the girls abroad and in the some cases the parents believe them to be honest intermediaries, said Ganbayasgakh. However, the problems reach far deeper into society and law enforcement officials said the laws are far from effective. The criminal code in Mongolia is not strong enough for prosecuting human trafficking intermediaries. The Supreme Court and human rights NGOs reached an agreement to make some amendments to the criminal code and the Supreme Court should have made an explanation for this law yesterday, said D. Amarjargal, an officer of the Human Rights and Development Center. Captain Otgonbayar also said that enforcement officials as well as judicial sector officers had a general lack of knowledge on trafficking which made it hard for legal matters to be investigated. […] Captain Otgonbayar explained the laws on prostitution, citing that some women the police investigate say they are voluntarily partaking in these illegal activities.Mongolia prohibits any organization from selling a person's body for sexual activity. But most saunas are carrying out sexual services in secret. Most of the masseurs of the sauna are the girls who are allowing the sale of their bodies, he complained. […]

Australia to open Honorary Consulate
2007-04-11 Mongol Messenger
Australia's Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, confirmed Australia's interest in investing in Mongolia's mining sector and in strengthening bilateral relations, during his one-day official visit to Mongolia April 4. He met Mongolia's President N. Enkhbayar; Prime Minister M. Enkhbold and Finance Minister N. Bayartsaikhan and held official talks with Foreign Affairs Minister N. Enkhbold. He opened his visit with a tour of the Lotus Children's Center in Yarmeg ger district.

 

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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