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
  23.4-27.4.07, No. 163  
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Foreign Policy

Boao Forum emerging as Asia's answer to Davos
2007-04-23 China Daily
Boao - One is already famous for snow, celebrities and glitz, while the other is a tropical contender with a less stellar but equally keen roster of participants. The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, may be the better known gathering, but China's Boao Forum for Asia has matured fast in the six years since it was first held. Could the two become competitors? Far from it, says Fidel Ramos, former president of the Philippines and Boao's chairman. "This forum was never intended to replace or rival Davos," Ramos told reporters at the three-day forum, which ended Sunday. "There is a very friendly relationship between these two great forums," he said. Like Davos, Boao seeks to stimulate exchanges and discussions on economic, social and political issues, while bringing together influential figures from business, government and academia. This year, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates attended both gatherings. Boao, which enjoys heavy Chinese government support, unlike the privately-run WEF, also attracted luminaries such as Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, Starbucks Corp. President and Chief Executive Jim Donald, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. In all, 1,300 participants were signed up, heavily skewed toward Chinese executives who see such networking opportunities as the next step in establishing their firms as major industry players. […]

Oil firm to remain in Africa despite deadly Ethiopia raid
2007-04-27 SCMP
Energy company Sinopec has no plans to pull out of Africa despite the attack on one of its oil projects in Ethiopia that left 77 people dead, China Daily reported. "There is no way we would stay away from Africa due to the fear of risk," a Sinopec spokesman told the newspaper. "This is not a game for us. We will try to improve security in the future, but there is no way we will withdraw from our projects there." Sinopec is the parent of Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, the operator of the oilfield where 68 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers were killed in Tuesday's pre-dawn assault by rebel gunman. Xinhua said seven Chinese workers were killed, but listed two others as missing. A London-based spokesman for the Ogaden National Liberation Front said it had no plans to hold seven other Chinese taken hostage during its raid. "We do not want to keep any hostage," he told Radio France Internationale, but added: "We do not want any Chinese in the Ogaden without our consent."

China-India border talks to resolve dispute
2007-04-24 People's Daily Online
China and India are taking tangible steps to thrash out a reasonable solution to their decades-old border dispute. Special representatives for the two sides - Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and Indian National Security Advisor MK Narayanan held the 10th round of their boundary talks in India on Friday. […] The meeting aims at pinning down a framework agreement for demarcating the 2,000-kilometer frontier as a prelude to a final package deal to resolve this contentious issue. This continues the full implementation of an 11-point road map agreed between leaders of both nations when Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in 2005. The fresh round of talks between the Asian giants bears testament to their determined efforts to settle the sticking point in bilateral ties based on the guiding principles and political parameters already agreed upon. […]As a key step that should lead to the realization of the proposal from both leaders to settle the border row politically, rather than technically, this round of talks in India forms the tough leg of the road map and indicates the political will of both sides to expedite the negotiation process leading to a final settlement. The Sino-Indian boundary has never been formally delineated, although a traditional frontier exists between the two nations that can be divided into eastern, middle and western sections. The border skirmish between the neighbours in 1962 was a serious setback for bilateral relations. […]

Pakistani military official in China for promoting friendly ties
2007-04-27 Xinhuanet
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Ehsan Ul Haq is on a six-day visit to China to push forward friendly relations between Pakistan and China. In his meeting with Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong here Friday, Ehsan said the all-weather friendship between Pakistan and China has withstood the test of time, and people from the two countries are sincere and friendly to each other. Pakistan firmly supports China's reunification cause, he added. Zeng said China appreciates Pakistan's support in the issues of Taiwan, Tibet and human rights, and China will make joint efforts with Pakistan to push ahead China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership.[…].

S. Korean to accelerate FTA talks with China
2007-04-25 Xinhuanet
South Korean Finance Minister Kwon O-kyu said Wednesday that his government will accelerate the preparation for free trade agreement (FTA) with China and other major trading partners. South Korea plans to make a quick and prudent decision on beginning FTA talks with China, Australia, New Zealand, and six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kwon said. China is South Korea's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade volume of 134 billion U.S. dollars last year, compared with 78 billion dollars in annual South Korea-U.S. trade. South Korea and China are set to begin their second feasibility study in June for the potential deal, Seoul's Trade Ministry said in a statement. South Korea's state institute estimated that the South Korea-China FTA is expected to boost the South Korea's gross domestic product by 17.9 trillion won (19.3 billion U.S. dollars), exports by 6.5 billion U.S. dollars and imports by 14.2 billion U.S. dollars.

China's top political advisor back home after African visit
2007-04-27 Xinhuanet
China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin returned to Beijing on Friday morning after an official visit to four African countries. Speaking on behalf of Jia, Zheng Wantong, secretary general of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said Jia's visit to Tunisia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya produced fruitful results. Zheng said the visit helped push forward the consensus reached between Chinese and African leaders and the achievements made during the Beijing summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.It realized the goal of enhancing understandings, friendship, exchanges and cooperation and will exert important and profound impact on furthering relations between China and the four countries, and comprehensively promoting the new Sino-African strategic partnership, said Zheng. Jia, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, China's top advisory body, made the visit from April 15 to 26 at the invitations of the Chamber of Advisers of Tunisia, the parliaments of Ghana and Zimbabwe and the government of Kenya.

China to build agro-tech experimenting center for Zimbabwe
2007-04-26 Xinhuanet
China will assist Zimbabwe to build an agro-tech experimenting center this year, an official with the Chinese Embassy said on Thursday. Hu Ming, the economic and commercial counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe, said preparations for the construction of the center were in full swing, as the two governments had signed an agreement on the project on April 21, when a high-ranking Chinese delegation headed by Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was paying a four-day visit in Zimbabwe. According to the agreement, the Chinese government will provide the necessary farming materials and send technical personnel who are experts on maize growing. The cooperative project will be completed in the coming three years. This was the first major agreement signed between the two governments on cooperation in agricultural sector, Hu said, adding that it will advance the cooperation of mutual benefit to a new level. He said it will also boost the agricultural production of Zimbabwe in the future to secure the food. During the Beijing Summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum last November, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced that China would help African countries build 10 pilot agricultural technology centers in the next three years.

Senior Chinese official meets Colombian president
2007-04-25 Xinhuanet
Visiting senior Chinese official Wu Guanzheng on Tuesday met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez to discuss the promotion of bilateral cooperation. During the meeting at a military base in Cali, about 300 km southwest of Bogota, the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on how to further increase exchanges and enhance cooperation in trade and economy, tourism, culture and education. […] China has steadfastly regarded Sino-Colombian ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and is willing to maintain frequent exchanges of high-level visits, he said. China will actively push for further cooperation with Colombia in energy resources, machinery, electronics and textiles, Wu said, noting that it will continue to promote bilateral exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, science and technology. […] After his visit to Colombia, Wu will visit Chile.

 

Domestic Policy

Yang Jiechi appointed China's new foreign minister
2007-04-27 Xinhuanet
China's top legislature on Friday approved the cabinet nomination of Yang Jiechi, former ambassador to the United States, as the country's new foreign minister. Yang, 57, replaces Li Zhaoxing, 66, who has served as China's top diplomat since 2003. China's minister-level officials usually retire at the age of 65. Li, was born in October 1940, a document provided to the lawmakers said. A veteran diplomat, Yang served in the Chinese embassy in the United States for nearly 13 years over different periods in the 1980s, 1990s and the beginning of this century. Yang started his diplomatic career in 1975 in the Foreign Ministry and was appointed vice foreign minister in 1998. While serving as ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2005, Yang won acclaim for his efforts to promote China-U.S. cooperation and exchanges in fighting terrorism, trade and the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. During his term in Washington, he was also said to be able to tread a fine line in both firmly defending China's national interests and maintaining smooth and stable ties with the United States. Back in Beijing, Yang was vice foreign minister mainly in charge of diplomacy in the Latin American region and foreign-related affairs involving Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. […] A fluent English speaker, Yang studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1973 to 1975. He is also an alternate member of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. […]

Non-Communist member appointed new minister
2007-04-27 Xinhuanet
China's top legislature has approved the cabinet nomination of Wan Gang, a non-Communist party member, as the country's new minister of science and technology. Wan, a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest) Party, replaces 65-year-old Xu Guanhua, becoming the only current non-Communist party minister in China's State Council. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) approved the nomination at the conclusion of its four-day bimonthly session on Friday. This is a notable move in China's political arena after top leader Hu Jintao urged the country's other political parties to play an active role in pushing the reform and opening-up drive. In the 1950s a number of non-Communist members were appointed ministers in the country's cabinet but they were soon dismissed during the "anti-rightist" movement. Wan is vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, a non-Communist political party with more than 15,600 members. Founded in 1925, the China Zhi Gong Party is mainly composed of returned overseas Chinese, relatives of overseas Chinese, and noted figures and scholars who have overseas ties. There are eight non-Communist parties (or "democratic parties") in China. They all admit the governance of the Communist Party of China.

Election of delegates to 17th CPC national congress goes smoothly
2007-04-22 Xinhuanet
The election of delegates to the 17th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC) went smoothly, as most electoral units have finished preliminarily nominating candidates. The Party's 17th National Congress will be held in the second half of 2007 in Beijing. A total of 2,220 delegates will be elected by 38 electoral units across the country. […] According to the announcement made by the Organization Department last November, Party member delegates from grassroots, women, ethnic groups and new economic and social organizations, (which usually refer to private owned enterprises), should occupy certain proportions. The CPC currently has more than 70 million Party members. […] The delegates are required to abide by and implement the Party constitution; carry out the Party's guidelines and policies; be industrious, honest and upright and be in close touch with the public and honestly represent their opinions and demands. […] While all the names of qualified nominees at county and prefecture level are put forward, a list of candidates is decided upon by the local Party congress. This is seen as an improvement over past practices when only the standing committee of a local Communist Party committee makes the decision. […]

Authorities ordered to increase public access to information
2007-04-25 SCMP
A groundbreaking measure in the interest of greater transparency is the way analysts are describing a new State Council regulation ordering authorities at all levels to grant public requests for information. The regulation signed by Premier Wen Jiabao on April 5 but released only yesterday, urges government departments at all levels to release information that "affects the immediate interests of individuals and groups" or "should be known by the masses". It will come into effect on May 1 next year. […] The regulation will require administrations to respond within 20 days to requests from the public for information about government finances, economic plans, statistics, land seizures and housing demolitions, public emergencies, investigations into environmental protection and other policies. To ensure the rule is effectively implemented, the State Council will also set up a series of assessment and monitoring systems to gauge compliance with the official obligations for information and allow citizens to sue or lodge complaints against parties who fail to meet the demands. The State Council has also urged governments at various levels to prepare a regularly updated list of information available to the public, and release the material through various media, including newspapers and the internet. In addition, governments have to improve the public's access to information at libraries and other community venues. Mr Zhang said the measures were aimed at preventing corruption at its root. "The principle of government openness about information is an important way to boost socialist democracy, government transparency and rule by law." But he said secrecy provisions would apply to prevent improper disclosure of information related to privacy, commercial confidentiality and state secrets. […] Commentators said the regulation was a landmark gesture to bring government in line with international conventions by changing its long-standing negative attitude to public demands for access to information. […]

Party push to clean up Net
2007-04-24 SCMP
[…] The moves to clean up cyberspace follow a series of measures this year aimed at "purifying" television broadcasts, including demands that stations reserve prime-time slots for "ethically inspiring TV dramas" and clampdowns on talent shows. The steps are seen by some as signs the party is tightening its grip on information dissemination before its sensitive 17th congress. […] This month, 10 party and government departments - including the Public Security Bureau, the Publicity Department, the Ministry of Education and bureaus in charge of broadcasting and publishing - launched a six-month campaign to combat indecent content on the internet. Under the campaign, the Public Security Bureau will establish "virtual police" and "virtual police stations" to supervise major websites, chat rooms and weblogs before the end of June to step up surveillance of their content and allow quicker action to be taken against offending material. The campaign will require internet service providers and webmasters to keep records of visitors to websites to ensure authorities can trace the source of indecent content.

China mulling plan to patent its own nuclear power plants
2007-04-25 Xinhuanet
China is planning to develop its own patented technology for third generation nuclear power generating plants which could be available before the end of the next decade, said an official with the country's atomic energy authority Wednesday. Zhang Fubao, vice director of the Systems Engineering Bureau under the State Atomic Energy Authority, said Chinese experts will study current third-generation nuclear power technology, and develop its own reactor by 2017. "Even by that time, we may still need international cooperation," said Zhang. The so-called "third-generation" technology is expected to be safer and more economical than existing technology and will be used in new nuclear power plants now being built in China. The Chinese government wants to raise the proportion of nuclear power in the country's total electric power output from the current 1.9 percent to four percent by 2020. This would require the construction of new power plants with capacity of a total of 30 million kilowatts in 15 years. Under a framework agreement with U.S.-based Westinghouse signed in December, 2006, China will acquire advance nuclear power technology in exchange for purchasing four nuclear reactors from the Westinghouse. The deal allows for technology transfers including equipment design nuclear facilities and technical support. The first of the four reactors is expected to begin generating power by 2013, said Zhang.

China to build harmonious society with wisdom of Taoism
2007-04-23 Xinhuanet
China's high-ranking officials have called for adopting the wisdom of ancient Taoism to build a harmonious society. Tao Te Ching, or the Classic of the Way and Virtue, was written by Lao Zi about 2,500 years ago, around the time when Buddha was expounding the Dharma in India and Pythagoras was teaching in Greece. […] The principle of being modest and peaceful in the book would provide an inspiring reference to China's ongoing construction of a harmonious society, said Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). […] The forum, jointly sponsored by Chinese Taoism Association and China Religious Culture Communication Association, will be held from April 22 to 27 in Xi'an and Hong Kong. Involving 300 delegates from 17 countries and regions, it has been the first international forum of its kind that China has organized for the last 50 years.

Confucius resurfaces in new China
2007-04-23 China Daily
The ancient teachings of Confucius, centring on peace and social harmony, are finding a new resonance amid the chaos and rapid development of modern China, according to an AFP report. […] Once suppressed, the Confucian revival is being welcomed by the government as a calming influence amid growing public dissatisfaction over a host of issues. […] China's education ministry gave permission for the school to open in a villa in the Beijing suburbs, and Feng sees it as the tip of a future iceberg. So far 46 students below the age of 14 have enrolled in the school which is based on learning through recitation. […] In the "eight vices and eight virtues" of President Hu Jintao issued last year, Chinese are told to love their motherland, serve the people and work hard -- all typical Confucian notions. […] Although the school is mainly geared for a privileged class capable of paying an annual tuition of 30,000 yuan (3,900 dollars), Confucian studies have also reemerged in Chinese society thanks to television and books. […]

Christians and US church leaders arrested, says rights group
2007-04-26 SCMP
Police in China detained four US church leaders and a group of Chinese Christians after they held a religious gathering in Xinjiang, a rights group said. The Americans remain in custody after being picked up a week ago and there are fears that at least six of the Chinese detained could face extended time in labour camps, the China Aid Association said. The Americans, including two pastors of a US church, met up to 30 local Christians in Aksu after their Thursday meeting. Eight of the local church leaders were released while six others were served 30-day detention notices and accused of involvement in "evil cult activities", the Texas-based group said.

Discrimination against minorities is sowing unrest, report finds
2007-04-26 SCMP
The mainland's ethnic minorities suffered from widespread discrimination and abuse, with protective laws either lacking or not enforced, sowing domestic unrest, a report said yesterday. Minorities found it increasingly difficult to get jobs, educate their children in their mother tongue and benefited far less from the economic growth, Human Rights in China and Minority Rights Group International said in a report. "The PRC is not meeting its international obligations on minority rights for Mongols, Tibetans or Uygurs," it said. China has 56 ethnic groups.

Editor and magazine disciplined by party
2007-04-26 SCMP
A leading mainland news magazine is halfway to closure and its editor has been disciplined after it defied a central government directive not to report on politically sensitive historic events, according to reliable sources. The Communist Party's propaganda department decided to impose a six-point penalty on Lifeweek magazine after an investigation. The propaganda department recently introduced the points system for the print media to tighten its control ahead of a crucial party congress this autumn. Media outlets can be closed if they incur a deficit of 12 points. The magazine's executive editor, Miao Wei, was also disciplined with a "serious internal warning". Disciplining of media officials ranges from "internal criticism"; "internal warning"; "serious internal warning"; and removal from office and party membership. In a reshuffle, two deputy editors were appointed recently to strengthen the editorial work. In November the propaganda department and the media regulator ordered the magazine to reform after the publication of three issues seen as politically sensitive. Lifeweek is run by the Sanlian Book Publication Group, a state-run publication giant. In its October 30 issue the weekly ran a cover story on the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cultural Revolution, with a front-page picture of Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing, standing trial. Jiang was part of the "Gang of Four" who played a pivotal role in the 1966-76 turmoil. In its September 11 issue it ran a lead story on the 30th anniversary of the death of Mao, with his image on the cover. And in its August 30 issue the cover story was on the 30th anniversary of the Tangshan earthquake, in which more than 200,000 died. In directives issued early last year the propaganda department demanded that media refrain from playing up such topics. It also asked media to limit coverage of such topics to Xinhua's official versions. […] Beijing recently tightened restrictions on freedom of expression and shut down publications that displayed signs of boldness in what propagandists said were steps needed to ensure a harmonious social environment ahead of the 17th Communist Party Congress. […]

Dalai Lama's chosen one is 'living free life', says Beijing
2007-04-25 SCMP
A boy chosen by the Dalai Lama but rejected by Beijing as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's second-highest figure, is not in restrictive custody, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday. Human rights groups say Gendun Cheokyi Nyima has been under house arrest with his family since 1995. "The child is growing up like other youths, other teenagers in China today, and living a free life," Mr Liu said. Beijing installed Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995. A statement by the US-based International Campaign for Tibet yesterday called the restrictions against the Dalai Lama's choice, who turns 18 today, symbolic "of the crisis facing the survival of Tibet's religious culture".

Four held for protest at Everest
2007-04-26 SCMP
Three Americans and a Tibetan-American were detained on Mount Everest yesterday as they called for independence for Tibet and protested against the Beijing Olympics, an activist group said. The protest was organised by Students for a Free Tibet, which said three people were taken away after holding up a banner at a base camp on the Tibetan side of the mountain that said "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008". The fourth person detained by Chinese authorities was a photographer, said the group's executive director Lhadon Tethong. "One World, One Dream" is the slogan of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The International Olympic Committee will announce the route for the 2008 Olympic torch relay in Beijing today. Chinese officials have said they want to take it to the top of the world's tallest mountain on the border between Nepal and Tibet. "The Chinese government hopes to use the 2008 Olympic Games to conceal the brutality of its occupation of Tibet," Ms Tethong said from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. A woman at the Tibet government office in Lhasa who gave her surname as Li said she was unclear about the protest. Tibet and Lhasa police offices also said they were not clear about the protest. Ms Tethong said three of the detained people were Americans and one was Tibetan-American. They also held up a symbolic torch. She said more than 70 Chinese climbers were in the base camp preparing for a trial climb to see if it was possible to take a torch to the top of 8,848-metre Mount Everest. "One of the key points for the Chinese in their Olympic propaganda is to show happy Tibetans. They are very much using the Olympics, so we are also using it to call for an independent Tibet," Ms Tethong said.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's chief of mainland policy to focus on stability
2007-04-23 SCMP
Taiwan's new mainland policy planning head, Chen Ming-tong, regards the maintenance of cross-strait peace and stability as his priority in the coming year, when the island elects a new leader. He says that as the chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) he has a need to secure Taiwan's sovereignty and identity in the face of a diplomatic embargo from its huge and hostile neighbour - mainland China. "The year 2008 will be a crucial year when Taiwan is to elect a new president, which is important for democratic and political developments in Taiwan," said the 51-year-old, who was recently appointed head of the MAC by President Chen Shui-bian. "Therefore, the priority task of the MAC is to ensure that cross-strait relations remain peaceful and stable," said Dr Chen, the MAC's vice-chairman from 2000 to 2004 and professor of the Institute of National Development under the prestigious National Taiwan University. Rejecting claims by the opposition that his appointment might escalate cross-strait tensions, as Beijing has considered him a "green" or "pro-independence" figure, Mr Chen, from the pro-independence, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said he would follow the footsteps of his predecessor, Joseph Wu Jau-shieh, in developing cross-strait relations. "I will do all I can to promote cross-strait trade, economic, cultural and social exchanges under the guidance of goodwill, active co-operation and permanent peace as prescribed by President Chen and Premier Su Tseng-chang," he said. The former adviser and a confidant to Mr Chen said the government has a set policy and it was unlikely he would change it. Dr Chen drafted the "China Policy White Paper" for Mr Chen in his 2000 presidential campaign. He said the current task of his MAC was to complete speedily negotiations over the expansion of direct passenger and cargo flights over the Taiwan Strait, allowing mainland tourists to make sightseeing trips to Taiwan. […] But he stressed that under his tenure, safeguarding Taiwan's sovereignty and national dignity would be the foremost principle in any future negotiations with the mainland. Asked if such a principle would result in fruitless talks, he said the biggest problem in cross-strait ties was that "China doesn't recognise Taiwan's existence. When it does, ties will normalise," he said without elaborating. Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) officials and lawmakers have attacked the appointment of Dr Chen, saying it will only serve to irritate Beijing. […]

PLA to have missile ascendancy over Taiwan by 2010, expert says
2007-04-25 SCMP
The PLA's missile forces will likely tip the military balance against Taiwan and in the mainland's favour for the first time by the end of this decade, according to Jane's Defence Weekly. The specialist magazine's correspondent Timothy Hu said the PLA had channelled funds into upgrading its air force, navy and strategic missile forces by developing a new generation of indigenous equipment and buying hardware from overseas. Hu said one of the PLA's goals was to lay a "solid foundation for the country's military position" by the end of this decade and the central objective of this near-term modernisation was to acquire capabilities to allow the army to execute a quick and decisive victory against Taiwan while deterring US military intervention. "The PLA's concentrated acquisition of precision-strike assets suggests that its preferred military strategy would be a `decapitation' strategy that would neutralise Taiwan's civilian and military command-and-control apparatuses and vital infrastructure and communication facilities," Hu wrote. He said the PLA was also acquiring a large number of highly accurate land-, air- and sea-launched cruise missiles for possible use against US bases in Guam and Okinawa, Japan. The report also said expenditure on weapons research and development and foreign arms purchases had been excluded from this year's 17.8 per cent increase in the official defence budget. Hu said the practice of Beijing pouring huge funding into procuring new arms would continue until 2010. The report said the purchase of Russia's carrier-launched Sukhoi Su-33 multirole fighter aircraft reflected the mainland's plans to build an aircraft carrier.

FM: "Taiwan independence" dressed up as health initiative doomed to fail
2007-04-25 Xinhuanet
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said here Wednesday that secessionist moves by Taiwan authorities disguised as health initiatives "will not succeed". Spokesman Liu Jianchao made the remarks in response to a question concerning Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's application for membership for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO). Chen wrote to the WHO chief recently, requesting the island be admitted as a member of WHO under the name of Taiwan. "WHO is a specialized UN agency, whose membership is only open to sovereign states," Liu said, adding that Taiwan is not eligible to join nor to apply for membership. The rejection of the letter by the WHO Secretariat complies with UN agency regulations, Liu added. Taiwan has repeatedly sought observer status at WHO over the past 10 years, but has never succeeded.

Official: Mainland hopes to resume natural sand trade with Taiwan as soon as possible
2007-04-25 Xinhuanet
The Chinese mainland is willing to resume trade with Taiwan in natural sand "as soon as conditions are ripe", a mainland spokesman said here on Wednesday. The mainland stopped the export of natural sand, a resource Taiwan's construction industry depends on the mainland to supply, on March 31. […] The mainland has previously complained that obstacles created by the Taiwan authorities have hindered talks across the Taiwan Strait on natural sand. […] In recent years, the mainland has boosted cross-Strait trade ties, including promoting the sales of Taiwan fruit, vegetables and aquatic products on the mainland. Yang also rejected rumors that the mainland will ban the establishment of new schools for the children of Taiwan businessmen. The mainland has never issued such a ban, he said. Taiwan businessmen have to decide themselves whether or not to set up new schools for their children in areas where they have invested heavily.The mainland now has three schools for the children of Taiwan businessmen -- in Dongguan City in south China's Guangdong Province, Kunshan City in east China's Jiangsu Province and Shanghai.

St Lucia told not to cosy up to Taiwan
2007-04-27 SCMP
Beijing yesterday criticised plans by St Lucia to form ties with Taiwan, insisting that the Caribbean nation should recognise it as the sole Chinese government. "There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. St Lucia should strictly abide by its commitment" to recognise Beijing, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. St Lucia's foreign minister, Rufus Bousquet, said on Tuesday his government intended to form ties with Taiwan. He said that did not mean the island was breaking ties with Beijing, although China refuses to have relations with any nation that recognises Taiwan. The possible resumption of ties between Taiwan and St Lucia was announced by Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang late on Wednesday when he attended a rally in Chungli, south of Taipei. "Their foreign minister already declared in parliament that St Lucia will re-establish formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. "So, the number of our allies will increase by one to 25," he told the rally in support of his presidential bid. […]

 

Beijing Olympics 2008

137,000km Olympic torch epic planned - Games relay goal: to tour the world and all China
2007-04-27 SCMP
Organisers of the Beijing Olympics yesterday unveiled an ambitious route for a torch relay that would cross five continents and all of China in 130 days ahead of the Games' opening in August next year. The route includes Mount Everest and Taiwan, although the latter was last night rejected by Taipei. Bocog president Liu Qi said the torch would be carried around the world in a "journey of harmony" covering 137,000km in 130 days, 97 of them in China. "It will be a relay that covers the longest distance, is most inclusive and involves the most people in modern Olympic history," he said. The route was unveiled by Politburo Standing Committee member Luo Gan and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge after the IOC's executive board approved it yesterday. The flame will be lit in Athens and the relay will start in Beijing and go to Almaty, Kazakhstan. The torch will be carried through 18 countries and five continents - Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia, including North Korea. Before officials in Taipei raised their objections, the route was planned to go from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Taipei, and from there to Hong Kong and Macau. The flame will arrive in the mainland on March 31 and travel to 113 cities and regions, including Lhasa in Tibet . Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games vice-president Jiang Xiaoyu said the ancient Silk Road was the inspiration for the route. Eleven out of the 19 international cities along the route are along the Silk Road. A senior IOC official said the route could change before the relay began. A second torch will be carried to Mount Everest, where a team will try to take it to the summit in May. The torch's design, a red-and-silver tube 72cm tall and shaped like a Chinese scroll, was chosen from among 300 competing entries. It was unveiled yesterday by State Councilor Chen Zhili and Hein Verbruggen, head of the IOC body that co-ordinates with the Beijing Games organisers. Developed by a team at computer maker Lenovo the torch boasts technological innovations to keep it lit in winds of up to 65km/h and in rain of up to 50mm/h. Mr Rogge said the relay embodied the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship and would add a Chinese note to the Olympic flame. "By travelling along the historic Silk Road, a symbol of ancient trade links between China and the rest of the world, crossing the five continents and going to new places ... I have no doubt the Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay will leave many extraordinary memories and create new dreams for people around the world," said Mr Rogge. Beijing has viewed the torch relay as an opportunity to promote China's international image ahead of the Olympics and as a political test. Organisers have vowed to make the relay highlight the country's culture and "national character", with Taiwan and Mount Everest included on their route. But officials did not provide details of any contingency measures they planned to take to tackle what they described as trouble-makers, including followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, supporters of separatism in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang, and pro-democracy and human rights groups.

Games torch relay hits Taipei snag
2007-04-27 SCMP
A plan by Beijing Olympics organisers to send the Olympic torch to Taiwan was rejected by Taipei last night, which said it undermined the island's "sovereign status". Under Beijing's plan to carry the Olympic flame across the globe, stopping in 135 cities and regions, the torch would go from Ho Chi Minh City to Taipei, then to Hong Kong, an independent member of the International Olympic Committee - fulfilling an earlier demand from Taiwan. But Taipei said the route was an attempt to belittle Taiwan and it would not allow the torch in. "This is an attempt by China to engineer the relay route so that Chinese Taipei is included in China's domestic relay route, thereby obviously undermining our sovereign status," Tsai Chen-wei, chairman of Taiwan's Chinese-Taipei Olympic Committee, told a news conference. The Mainland Affairs Council, which has the last say in Taiwan's cross-strait affairs, said the route was the "worst" arrangement and Beijing wanted to mislead others into thinking Taiwan was part of the mainland. Council of Physical Fitness and Sports chairman Yang Chung-he said the route was a "domestic" one decided in March 2005 by Beijing Games organising committee chairman Liu Qi, without taking into account Taipei's proposal that the "torch enters Taiwan from a third country and depart to a fourth country." The Taiwanese sports officials disclosed that Taipei had originally agreed that the torch could enter Taiwan from a third country and depart to a third area, including Hong Kong or Macau. But "relevant authorities" changed their minds at the last minute and excluded Hong Kong and Macau as a departure destination. "Under the original plan, the third area included Hong Kong and Macau," Mr Tsai said. He said he informed Beijing on Monday of Taipei's decision to exclude Hong Kong and Macau, and the Beijing Games Committee responded that "it cannot understand what was said in my letter". Jiang Xiaoyu, a vice-president of the Beijing Games organising committee, said Beijing had received a written reply in March from the Taipei Olympic Committee accepting the torch relay plan.

China to force rain ahead of Olympics
2007-04-26 China Daily
Chance of showers during the 2008 Beijing Olympics: 50 percent. But Chinese meteorologists have a plan to bring sunshine. The meteorologists say they can force rain in the days before the Olympics, through a process known as cloud-seeding, to clean the air and ensure clear skies. China has been tinkering with artificial rainmaking for decades, but whether it works is a matter of debate among scientists. Weather patterns for the past 30 years indicate there is a 50 percent chance of rain for both the opening ceremony on Aug. 8, 2008 and the closing ceremony two weeks later, said Wang Yubin, an engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. The forced rain could also help clean Beijing's polluted air, said Wang Jianjie, another meteorologist with the bureau. […] In 2003, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences questioned the science behind cloud-seeding as "too weak." But China frequently uses artificial rainmaking in the drought-plagued north. […] Last May, Beijing said having generated rainfall to clear the air and streets following the worst dust storm in a decade. Technicians with the Beijing Weather Modification Office said they fired seven rocket shells containing 163 cigarette-size sticks of silver iodide over the city's skies, provoking a chemical reaction in clouds that forced four-tenths of an inch of rain.[…] Hundreds of experienced weathermen will be "loaned" to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau to cope with the Olympics, she said. Despite measures to keep the rain at bay, Beijing still has to keep its fingers crossed - as Wang Yubin said: "God bless Beijing".

 

Economy

Beijing to 'fight to finish' over US gripes to WTO - Wu Yi says piracy and import complaints risk ties
2007-04-25 SCMP
Beijing has vowed to "fight to the finish" over US complaints to the World Trade Organisation of rampant piracy and import restrictions on American films, music and books. Vice-Premier Wu Yi said yesterday the move by Washington this month was threatening trade ties between the two countries. "Regrettably, the United States Trade Representative, the USTR, has totally ignored significant progress China has made," she said at a forum on the eve of International Intellectual Property Rights Day. "It will have an extremely negative impact. The Chinese government has expressed utter dissatisfaction about this, but we have decided to actively respond [to the cases] according to the related WTO rules and fight to the finish," said Ms Wu, top envoy for trade talks with the US. The highest-level response from the central government came after trade and copyright officials defended the country's record in fighting piracy and counterfeiting. The US filed two complaints with the WTO against China for piracy and counterfeiting, and barriers to market access for American films, music, books and other publications. "It will also inevitably have serious repercussions for bilateral intellectual property co-operation under the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade framework, and harm the existing co-operation between the two sides on market access for publications," Ms Wu said. […]

Oil exports nosedive; imports up
2007-04-25 China Daily
China witnessed an astonishing 83.2-percent year-on-year slump in crude exports in March, according to the General Administration of Customs. Crude oil imports last month, on the other hand, reached 13.9 million tons, up 8.8 percent year-on-year. The trade pattern is set to continue for the rest of the year, said Han Xuegong, a senior consultant with China National Petroleum Company (CNPC). "Although international crude price fluctuates at a fairly high level, the cost of production within China is also increasing with labor cost and raw material expenses on the rise. More importantly, the ever-soaring local demand for fuel requires less exports from the country. That's fundamentally why crude exports are nosediving," Han said. […]

Foreign banks to kick off yuan service
2007-04-23 China Daily
SHANGHAI: Four foreign banks will provide retail yuan services to people across China from today. HSBC, Citigroup, Standard Chartered Bank and the Bank of East Asia passed the regulator's audit last Thursday and now have unlimited access to the country's $2-trillion domestic household savings. The banks, however, have said they mainly intend to promote wealth management services and target China's wealthier customers. Domestic lenders, trying to fend off competition in the retail market, are also stepping up their efforts to court higher-end customers with services such as private banking. […]The four overseas institutions have more than 100 outlets across China. They said over the weekend that their Shanghai branches would offer full yuan services from today while others are expected to do so shortly. […]In addition to wealth management, the four banks can now provide a wide range of services, including mortgage loans. They could also expand their funding sources for corporate banking business by gaining access to personal savings and inter-bank borrowing. […]

Official: China's defence, economy at risk from machine tool technology imports
2007-04-21 Xinhuanet
A senior Chinese industry official has warned the country's economy and national defence are at risk from a reliance on imported key components for machine tools. By 2010, the engineering manufacturing sector would need more than 100,000 machine tools, 40 percent of them medium and high-quality, said China Machine Tool and Tool Builders Association vice-chairman Yu Chengting. However, about 90 percent of the digital-control systems currently used by Chinese manufacturers were produced by foreign companies, said Yu. Machine tools were vital equipment for the national defence, auto making, ship building, space and aviation industries. The country's machine tool building industry had reported a 20-percent growth in both output and sales revenue for six consecutive years. The digital control system was a key component accounting for 30 to 50 percent of a machine tool's overall cost. "If manufacturers continue to rely heavily on key component imports, the country's economy and national defence will be stunted," warned Yu. As the world's largest machine tool consumer and importer, China needed to intensify the research and development of homegrown equipment, especially digital-control systems, said Yu. Nevertheless, the country had seen a declining import growth rate of high-quality machine tools and increasing dependence on domestic equivalents. Customs statistics show China's digital-control machine tool imports dropped from 40 percent of all high-end machine tools sold in 2005 to just 10 percent last year. Only two years ago, China's machine tool market was dominated by Japanese and German companies who together sold 19,000 medium and high-quality machine tools in the country.

China Mobile ranks 5th global brand, ahead of IBM
2007-04-26 China Daily
China Mobile has leaped ahead of household names such as Marlboro and Wal-Mart to rank fifth in an influential annual ranking of the world's top brands. The brand of the world's biggest wireless operator is now valued at more than $41 billion - an increase of 5 percent from last year. […] Three Chinese banks also made the top 100 list, with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China coming in 33rd, Bank of China 38th and China Construction Bank 61st. Internet search engine Google topped the list, with a brand value of $66.4 billion. […]

 

Mongolia

Enkhbold Celebrates Mongolia's Visa- free Friends
UB Post 2007-04-26
Mongolia has to date clinched visa-free deals with 19 countries and special administrative regions in the world. Azerbaijan, Belarus, Hong Kong (SAR), Georgia, Israel, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao (SAR), Malaysia, Moldova, Singapore, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and the Philippines. Diplomatic and official passport holders can travel free to Bulgaria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, Romania, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Slovakia, Thailand, Turkey, Hungary, Czech Republic, Chile, and India. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also mentioned in this list Yugoslavia, an entity that ceased to exist in 2002. For the neighboring two countries, Mongolians can travel free to China - approximately 600,000 people travel to China a year - but for Russia require visas. "An exchange of visa- free status was talked about when our president visited Moscow. If both sides agree on mutual visa-free travel, Russian passport holders will also be able to travel free to Mongolia," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Enkhbold. Before 1990, Mongolia and Russia had no visa requirements. After 1990, Mongolia requested Russia enact visa requirements. "We are also working on visa-free travel arrangements with Thailand, hopefully realized in the near future. We are conducting similar talks with Brazil too for diplomatic and official passport holders," he said.

I'm No Jargalsaikhan Clone Says Davaadorj
UB Post 2007-04-26
TS.Davaadorj, advisor to B. Jargalsaikhan, the former minister of Industry and Trade and department director of Geology, Mining and Heavy Industry of the Ministry, was appointed to succeed the latter by 63.5% of the parliamentary vote. 33 out of 52 Parliament members supported Davaadorj as the new Minister of Industry and Trade on April 20, 2007. M. Enkhbold, prime minister, submitted the candidate to parliament, according to the agreement made between the MPRP and the Republican Party (RP) regarding the establishment of the National Coalition Government. According to his resume, Davaadorj is a physics scientist and has good skills in English, Russian, German and Czech languages as he obtained his last degree in Germany. He worked as an advisor to the former Minister Jargalsaikhan since February, 2006 and started working as a department director from the following April, 2006. Davaadorj said to journalists. I will work independently as much as I can within the cabinet principle. There are highly- promoted strategic policies in this sector. The parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy backed the proposal of the premier to nominate Davaadorj to the ministerial post of Industry and Trade. L. Gansukh, head of the Democratic Party (DP) faction in parliament addressed the beginning of Friday's parliament session.We are announcing officially that we will claim that there are negative impacts caused from the responsible ministerial post being given to the political party of a private company. During the vote taken at the Economics steering committee meeting, Gansukh has stated that the candidature of Davaadorj will not be backed by their party's faction as DP members voted against his candidature. The issue has to be discussed upon the solution of an issue on structural changes in the government, the DP faction believes. B. Jargalsaikhan and I were called two sides of the same coin, like appointing me is similar to appointing B. Jargalsaikhan, chairman of the RP. I want to stress that a coin has two different sides: one with a symbol and the other with numbers. So everyone is different. Davaadorj hit back with, at his critics. N. Enkhbayar, President of Mongolia, received and met with the newly appointed Minister of Industry and Trade, Davaadorj,onApril 24, 2007. The former talked about his foreign visits, especially regarding the mining sector of Mongolia, according to the staff of president's office. The new minister emphasized that he will work under the government cabinet principle in order to resolve thorny issues. According to him, the Ministry is now at the completion stage of a survey on mineral deposits explored and assessed by state funding, in accordance with the government decree on the president.s initiative.

 

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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