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
  14.5-18.5.07, No. 165  
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Foreign Policy

China approves China-Africa Development Fund
2007-05-14 People's Daily Online
The establishment of China-Africa Development Fund has been approved by the State Council, Gao Jian, vice governor of China Development Bank (CDB), said in Shanghai Sunday. CBD, as the main initiator of the fund, has drafted the plan on establishing the China-Africa Development Fund, Gao said while addressing the Development Finance and Sino-Africa Economic Cooperation Forum. According to the draft plan, the fund will start from one billion U.S. dollars, and then add up to three billion U.S. dollars in the second phase, until eventually amount to five billion dollars. […] The fund will be used to support African countries' agriculture, manufacture, energy sector, transportation, telecommunications, urban infrastructure, resource exploration and the development of Chinese enterprises in Africa. "The CDB attaches great importance to cooperation with Africa," Gao said. "We have sent eight working groups to Africa. This year, we plan to send another 18 working groups there." […]

WHO assembly rejects proposal on Taiwan membership
2007-05-15 People's Daily Online
The 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) announced Monday that a proposal on making Taiwan a "member state" of the World Health Organization (WHO) will not be included in the conference's provisional agenda. The announcement was made by Jane Halton, president of the Assembly and secretary of the Department of Health and Aging of Australia, following a recommendation from the 25-member General Committee and then a roll call vote by member states at the plenary session. The result of the vote showed that an overwhelming majority of WHO member states are opposed to including the Taiwan-related proposal in the agenda. This is the 11th time in as many years that a Taiwan-related proposal was rejected in the assembly. In the following interventions, many states also stressed that they support the one-China policy, and Taiwan, as a province of China, is not eligible for WHO membership. […]

Hu holds talks with Rwandan president, pledging to strengthen all-round exchanges
2007-05-15 People's Daily Online
Chinese President Hu Jintao held talks with visiting Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday, in which they vowed to pursue opportunities created by the China-Africa summit and boost bilateral ties. During their talks in the Great Hall of the People, the two state leaders spoke highly of achievements in bilateral ties. Hu said the two countries enjoy even closer contacts since Kagame came to power, and cooperate in many areas. […]The two countries signed five cooperation documents following the talks, covering economic and technological cooperation, and Chinese aid to Rwanda in other areas. […] The eight measures include the establishment of three to five trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa in the next three years, debt relief for African countries with diplomatic ties with China, and the building of 30 hospitals and 30 centers for malaria prevention and treatment. […]

Beijing acts as magnet for foreign dignitaries
2007-05-16 SCMP
Mainland leaders are hosting a number of foreign visitors this week. They include Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, who arrived yesterday and South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is due later this week. Mr Triet is expected to meet President Hu Jintao, while Dr Dlamini-Zuma will meet her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Sunday. Meanwhile, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin met Koo Yen Cho-yun, the widow of the late chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, Koo Chen-fu, in Beijing. Koo was Taiwan's top negotiator with the mainland until he died in 2005. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is also said to be planning to make a first visit to the mainland, his office said. No date has been set for that visit.

China gets Dutch support on key issues
2007-05-17 People's Daily Online
China and the Netherlands yesterday agreed to promote a "comprehensive and mutually-beneficial partnership" to emphasize the strategic importance of their ties. The agreement was reached when Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with his Dutch counterpart Maxime Verhagen in Beijing yesterday. A joint statement issued after their talks said the two sides had agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and intensify cooperation in trade, science and technology, agriculture, environment, energy, climate change, water resources management, health and education. […] The Dutch delegation said it was politically willing to help lift EU's arms embargo against China. The joint statement said the Netherlands understood the significance of granting complete market status to China. The two sides agreed that China and the EU should step up dialogues on Beijing's status as a market economy. […]

Invest with a human face, urges Sudanese official
2007-05-18 SCMP
A Sudanese official warned yesterday that the mainland's investment in oil production could cause further instability in the conflict-ridden country, unless Beijing did more to engage the local population. China has been criticised for buying oil from Sudan and building related infrastructure in the country. Critics say the financial support is helping Khartoum's fight against rebels in the western Darfur region through state-backed militia. The deputy governor of Sudan's central bank, Elijah Aleng, said: "If the Chinese and their government do not mind what is happening with the population and continue to produce oil ... the Chinese will be promoting the war, no matter the good intentions. "We have invited the Chinese to invest in the oil industry but we are advising them to invest with a human face." […] Reports say China is building a pipeline and port facilities in Sudan, as well as buying two-thirds of the country's oil exports. "You need to be considerate about the situation of the citizens, because when you are exploiting oil you are bound to disturb populations that are there," Mr Aleng said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the African Development Bank, which is being held in Shanghai. […] However, the Bank of Sudan official did not excuse his own government. "It is therefore the government's [responsibility] to tell investors, in this case the Chinese, to be mindful of the local sensitivities so that there is harmony," he said. Mr Aleng also warned that Chinese workers could be targeted, as they have been in other African countries. China, a member of the UN Security Council, has used its veto to block moves to send international peacekeepers to Darfur. There have been calls for countries to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics over the issue. "China now has a vote in the UN," Mr Aleng said. "We would like it to be used in such a way that it creates harmony in Sudan and not discord." […]

US legislators urge Beijing to act over Darfur
2007-05-18 SCMP
US lawmakers have introduced a resolution that would call on the mainland to use its economic leverage with Sudan to stop violence in the Darfur region. The measure, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, urges Beijing to press Sudan to allow the entry of a UN peacekeeping force and to disarm militias operating in Darfur. The United States accuses the African nation of complicity in genocide, and rights activists say isolating the Sudanese leadership is the only way to stop the militias, blamed for mass killings and rapes. Mainland officials say its robust oil trade and growing economic ties with Sudan will help end the violence. Since 2003, tribal rebels have been targeted by militias that observers say are supported by the Sudanese government. At least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million are refugees. According to the resolution, Beijing "has long-standing economic and military ties with Sudan and continues to strengthen these ties in spite of the ongoing genocide in Darfur". The mainland buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports and is building a pipeline and supertanker terminals in Sudan.

Beijing urged to use clout to tackle global problems
2007-05-18 SCMP
Beijing must be more diplomatically engaged and exert influence in dealing with global problems such as those in Africa, Britain's foreign minister said yesterday, adding that the mainland also should not fear domestic political reform. Calling Beijing a "strategic partner", Margaret Beckett praised its economic development, which has lifted millions out of poverty, and said the world needed a strong, stable China. "I know that outside interest in China's domestic affairs will always be a sensitive issue," Mrs Beckett said at the Central Party School in Beijing, where future leaders are trained. "So let me make it plain: in a globalising world of interdependent states, the success of China is good for the world, and its failure would harm us all." On Africa, where Beijing has faced criticism from the United States and Europe for its close ties with Sudan and Zimbabwe in particular, Mrs Beckett said the mainland had a key role to play because of its growing investment in the continent. "[…] Mrs Beckett welcomed Beijing's leadership in talks over North Korea's nuclear programme, saying she hoped authorities would become similarly involved in Myanmar. "What we would very much like the Chinese government to do is to use what influence they have in [Myanmar] to encourage the government to behave with greater regard for democracy and for freedom," she said, using Myanmar's former name. At home, Mrs Beckett said China needed a free press and an independent judiciary to complement its increasingly open economy. […] Mrs Beckett was to hold talks with her newly-appointed mainland counterpart, Yang Jiechi, and meet Premier Wen Jiabao today. "We are willing to work with the British side to elevate our all-round strategic partnership to a new height and a broader arena," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news conference.

US union chief set to break the ice in labour ties with mainland
2007-05-18 SCMP
The US Teamsters Union president will arrive in Shanghai today, ending American labour's traditional boycott of the mainland's only union, which the Communist Party controls. James Hoffa is travelling as part of the Change to Win coalition of US unions, which is seeking to protect American jobs in the face of rising globalisation. China's growing export power has required closer bonds between US and mainland workers and a better understanding of Chinese labour practices, the coalition said. Mr Hoffa's delegation plans to meet leaders of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions - the only group the government allows to organise workers - along with business executives, human rights activists and leaders of non-governmental organisations, the Teamsters said. […] American unions have tended to shun contacts with the All-China federation. Critics say the union is structured to impose government policies and head off potential disputes rather than represent workers' interests. One of the largest unions in the US, the AFL-CIO, has called for trade sanctions against the mainland for violations of international labour standards. The union claims rock-bottom wages, forced overtime and a lack of benefits have cost more than a million US jobs as companies move plants to the mainland to take advantage of lower labour costs.

China appreciates Cape Verde's adherence to one-China policy
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
China on Thursday expressed its appreciation for Cape Verde's consistent adherence to one-China policy. The bilateral relations between China and Cape Verde have maintained sound development since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 31 years ago, said Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong. While meeting with Cape Verde's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Overseas Affairs Victor Manuel Barbosa Borges, Zeng said the two countries have witness fruitful cooperation in areas like politics, trade, culture, education and health care. Zeng believed bilateral ties would reach a new level under joint efforts of the two countries. […] Borges pays an official visit to China from May 16 to 20 as the guest of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Chinese, Namibian military officers in talks
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, met in Beijing Thursday afternoon with Martin Shalli, chief of the Namibian Defense Force, exchanging views on promoting relations between the two countries and the two armed forces. Guo hailed the smooth development of relations between the two armed forces. He expressed his appreciation for Namibia's adherence to the one-China policy and support for China in international affairs, adding China is ready to work with Namibia to raise the level of bilateral friendship and cooperation. […] Before meeting with Guo, Shalli held talks with Liang Guanglie, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The two exchanged views on cooperation between the two armed forces in various fields, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry. […] Shalli started a weeklong official visit to China on Sunday.

Chinese, EU officials meet to discuss human rights
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
Chinese Foreign Ministry official Wu Hailong met with his German counterpart Peter Wittig in Beijing to discuss human rights issues during the 23rd round of the China-EU Human Rights Dialogue from May 15-16. During the two-day dialogue the two sides respectively introduced their latest progress in the human rights fields. Wu, director-general of the Department for International Organizations and Conferences of the Foreign Ministry of China, said that China has adopted a series of measures to enhance human rights protection by speeding up legislation on human rights, deepening judicial reform, ratifying the Property Rights Law and making government affairs public. He stressed that the Chinese government has been striving to put into practice the outlook on devleopment and to build up a harmonious society. […] Wittig, whose country is currently holding the EU presidency, introduced the EU's new measures to promote human rights, including bills on human rights promotion and guidelines passed by the European Parliament and the European Council. The two sides also discussed issues regarding the reforms to the criminal justice system, freedom of opinions, protecting the rights of minority ethnic groups and migrant labor forces. They also exchanged views on strengthening cooperation within the UN human rights mechanism. […] The China-EU Human Rights Dialogue, which began in 1997, is held every half year. The 24th round will take place in Beijing in the second half of this year.

China, Vietnam vow to properly handle border issues
2007-05-18 China Daily Online
China and Vietnam on Thursday vowed to properly handle border issues, and maintain peace and stability in border areas. Meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet, Chinese President Hu Jintao urged the two sides to properly handle the border issues so as to create good conditions for both countries' reform and development. Triet said that Vietnam was keen to develop relations between the border provinces, so as to create peace, friendship and common development in the frontier area. He pledged to deal with the land demarcation in a timely way and increase bilateral cooperation in the Beibu Bay area. […] Triet reiterated that Vietnam will firmly adhere to the one-China policy, support China's reunification and oppose "Taiwan independence separatist activities" in any form.

 

Domestic Policy

Attack on Mao portrait just one of many protests in Beijing's heart
2007-05-14 SCMP
For almost five decades, a giant portrait of late leader Mao Zedong has gazed over the many political events and myriad visitors to Beijing from atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace in the heart of China's capital. The portrait adjacent Tiananmen Square may be widely associated with the democracy protests of 1989, but an incident on Saturday, in which an unemployed man from Xinjiang defaced it by throwing a burning object at it, highlighted a phenomenon in the world's largest square that has rarely been reported. Witnesses say the arson attempt was just one of the many extreme activities carried out by an army of petitioners to make their various plights known. Many tourists visiting the square and the Forbidden City yesterday were unaware of the incident, as the portrait was replaced overnight, according to Xinhua. But some vendors noted that there were more police than usual patrolling the area. […] While the attack on Mao Zedong's portrait was reported around the world, it was almost ignored by the mainland's media outlets. In a brief report, Xinhua said Beijing police detained jobless Gu Haiou, 35, from Urumqi, after he hurled a burning object at the iconic portrait on Saturday night. It said Tiananmen Square was temporarily cleared of visitors and armed police were guarding the area. It added police were interrogating Gu, who arrived in Beijing on Saturday afternoon, and that he had a history of mental illness. The portrait would be replaced with an identical copy. Apart from this brief release, all main national media and the most popular websites kept silent over the incident, which came during the politically sensitive period preceding June 4. […] Tiananmen has been a politically sensitive spot since the 1989 pro-democracy movement, when authorities resorted to military force to crack down on protesting students. Plain-clothes police keep a watchful eye on the area, especially around the first week of June.

Pesticides next frontier in China food safety
2007-05-14 China Daily Online
China's farmers overuse pesticides, skip protective clothing and have at their fingertips an array of banned and counterfeit products, raising another area of concern in the country's food chain. Spraying chemicals on crops improperly or using products that may be fake or banned risks the health of China's hundreds of millions of farmers and could lead to unsafe levels of residues in fruits and vegetables, experts say. "The government has to stop banned or illegal pesticides being available in the market," said Angus Lam, a Greenpeace Campaign Manager for Food and Agriculture based in the southern city of Guangzhou. China banned five high toxicity pesticides as of January 1, but Lam said old stock was still in the market, in the hands of traders, retailers and farmers themselves. […]

CPC to launch big cadre training program after Party's 17th national congress
2007-05-15 People's Daily Online
A major new training program for cadres will be launched after the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to improve the quality of party cadres, said a senior CPC official. Zeng Qinghong, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during a visit to the Jinggangshan Cadres' Institute located at a former revolutionary base in east China's Jiangxi Province. The Party's 17th National Congress will be held in Beijing in the second half this year. […] China built the three high-profile cadre training institutes after the Party's 16th National Congress to improve the quality and skills of leading cadres and conduct international training exchanges. Pudong is the most developed area in China. The Pudong-based institute runs courses on international affairs, and helps trainees keep pace with the times and become more open. The other two institutes gives officials the opportunity to learn more about revolutionary traditions and about conditions in the country. So far, nearly 8,000 top and middle level CPC cadres have been trained at the Jinggangshan Cadres' Institute. Zeng urged the institute to ensure that training courses draw from real life but also from revolutionary traditions. He also called on the teachers and trainees in the institute to learn from Fang Yonggang, a professor of politics from Dalian Naval Academy. He said that Fang, who is fighting a terminal illness, has had an illustrious career in education and has contributed greatly to spreading the Party's new theories. […]

Beijing pledges legal reforms but judges to stay under party control
2007-05-15 SCMP
Beijing vowed yesterday to allow greater public participation in shaping legislation and in overseeing some judicial matters but insisted judges stay under control of the Communist Party. The promises came in three official reports issued during an international meeting on the rule of law on the mainland, the latest indication that legal reform is high on the central government's agenda. But the timing of any deeper changes remains uncertain. The legislative affairs office of the State Council said the country had progressed towards a stronger legal system but also acknowledged it had a long way to go. Inefficiency and abuses in making and enforcing law could be cured only by allowing a stronger public voice, the office said. The English-language version of the report issued at the meeting, co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, said the first step was to "further broaden public participation in lawmaking". The report recommended expanding public hearings. Judicial measures included proposed regulations to make the enforcement of decisions more transparent, so officials could not undermine judgments. But a report from the Supreme People's Court said party control was not going to change, even though the government promised greater transparency. It said the first principle of court reform should be to "adhere to leadership by the Communist Party". Asian Development Bank general counsel Arthur Mitchell said greater judicial transparency was needed to realise rule of law as more of the economy escaped from state control

Fury at DAB chief's Tiananmen tirade - HK not ready for universal suffrage because of unpatriotic view of June 4, says Ma Lik
2007-05-16 SCMP
Hong Kong will not be ready for universal suffrage until around 2022 because the people lack national identity and many still believe there was a massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the leader of the main pro-Beijing party said yesterday. In remarks that drew immediate condemnation from the pan-democratic camp, the chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Ma Lik, said local students had not received proper "national education" since the handover and many still "care nothing" about the mainland. He said one example to show Hong Kong society was not mature was people's belief that pro-democracy activists were "massacred" in Tiananmen Square in 1989. "We should not say the Communist Party massacred people on June 4. I never said that nobody was killed, but it was not a massacre," Mr Ma told a media gathering less than three weeks before the 18th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protesting students. […]

Beijing Party members to elect new leadership
2007-05-17 People's Daily Online
The 10th congress of the 16th Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opened on Thursday with the attendance of 731 of the 758 deputies. Deputies are expected to elect new senior officials for five-year terms on both the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee and the Municipal Committee for CPC Discipline Inspection, including the new Party secretary, as well as delegates to the 17th CPC Congress later this year. […] The 10th municipal Party congress, which is comprised of 743 elected and 15 invited deputies, will close on May 22.

New health minister not a member of the party
2007-05-18 SCMP
Beijing's new health minister will be a scientist who is not a member of the Communist Party, in the government's pursuit of its "own model of democracy". The government is allowing more non-communists to take up senior positions - while it retains a tight grip on one-party rule. It will also fill more top cabinet posts with academics in a number of reshuffles before the annual national meeting of the National People's Congress next March. Chen Zhu, a vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Science, will replace Gao Qiang, 63, as health minister. Many had expected the NPC Standing Committee to approve and announce the appointment of Professor Chen late last month, together with the appointments of new ministers of foreign affairs, science and technology, water resources and land resources. […] The Paris-trained scientist will be the first non-communist health minister. His appointment is also intended to illustrate that meritocracy is playing an increasingly important role as the central government seeks to appoint academics to top policymaker posts in the social and financial fields. […] The mainland departed from tradition by appointing the non-communist Wan Gang as science and technology minister last month in the first appointment of a non-Communist Party member to a ministerial or higher post for many decades. The party is under increasing pressure to introduce more democracy and reforms to maintain its legitimacy as a ruling party. […]

Beijing steps up clean energy drive - Inefficient and dirty power plants to be penalised in effort to meet emissions targets
2007-05-18 SCMP
The mainland, the world's largest burner of coal, will start using market-economy measures to promote energy conservation and cut emissions from power plants, according to senior industry regulators. The new policy will limit sales by inefficient power plants and give clean energy projects preference for sales to power grids. "The government will soon issue a document on energy conservation and emission reduction through market economy means," Wang Qiang, director-general of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission's department of policy and regulations, said at the China Power and Alternative Energy Summit. The document should come out this year, he said, but declined to give details. […]

Debate over party reform intensifies
2007-05-18 SCMP
Conservative Communist Party stalwarts are launching a fresh offensive against reformists in the raging debate over the reform of China's political system ahead of this autumn's key party congress. Seeking Truth, a journal sponsored by the Communist Party's central committee, published an article in its latest issue claiming the country had long practised its own kind of democracy. […] China's own democratic formula included a representative political system in the form of the National People's Congress, the Communist Party's leadership, with participation of other parties, autonomous governments in ethnic minority regions, and direct elections at grassroots levels, it said. The country should "unswervingly" stick with this hard-earned "socialist democratic political model with Chinese characteristics", the article urged. It was the third in a week published by major party mouthpieces to respond to mounting demands from liberal party members and intellectuals for political pluralism. Guangming Daily, sponsored by the Communist Party's propaganda department, ran a lengthy piece on Friday denouncing "democratic socialism". The next day, the overseas edition of People's Daily followed it up with another critical piece. The plea for "democratic socialism" - a Scandinavian-style social-welfare democracy - was made by Xie Tao, a veteran Communist Party member, in the magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu, a monthly backed by reformist party members. "Political system reform can no longer be delayed," Mr Xie wrote in his essay published in February. "Only constitutional democracy can fundamentally solve the ruling party's problems of corruption and graft. Only democratic socialism can save China." The article by the 85-year-old former Renmin University vice-president inspired more voices from the liberal camp, who are trying to push bolder political reforms onto the party agenda. So far, the central government has been trying to strike a balance between conservatives and reformists. Premier Wen Jiabao has made a stream of comments on political reforms since the publication of Mr Xie's article, which essentially stressed both the value of democracy and the importance of a gradual approach.

Women take 45% workforce in China
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
Great progress has been made in women development since the formulation and publication of the "Program for Development of Chinese Women (2001-2010)" in 2001, as learned from a press briefing by the Information Office of the State Council Tuesday. The ratio of woman employees is lifted. By now women has taken 45 percent of the nation's workforce, and more than 4 million women have been lifted out of poverty in rural areas. The number of woman cadres increases steadily, taking nearly 40 percent. The proportion of woman cadres at governments and Party organizations at provincial, municipal and county levels increased by more than 17 percentage points. […]

 

Taiwan

Top negotiator next Taiwan premier
2007-05-15 SCMP
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has appointed the island's top cross-strait negotiator and former premier to head the cabinet. But analysts see little hope for a major breakthrough in cross-strait relations, and opposition legislators doubt the new premier's ability to achieve a political reconciliation on the island. Chen loyalist Chang Chun-hsiung, 69, was reappointed premier yesterday, becoming the sixth to hold the position in Mr Chen's seven years in office. Mr Chang comes to the job following a two-year stint as head of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), which, in the absence of direct contact, represents the government in dealings with the mainland. He succeeds Su Tseng-chang, who is expected to lead his cabinet in a mass resignation tomorrow. […] Analysts said it was unlikely Mr Chang would make any major breakthrough in cross-strait relations in the final year before Mr Chen's term ended next May. […] Chang Wu-yueh of Tamkang University said cross-strait reconciliation was not the key reason for the appointment. "Rather, it is for the sake of increasing the DPP's chances of winning in the year-end legislative poll and March's presidential poll."

Taiwan's war birds on road to thwarting attack
2007-05-16 SCMP
Taiwan has launched a series of military exercises designed to demonstrate its ability to thwart a mainland attack, amid concerns that some of island's aircraft are old and poorly maintained. The exercises began yesterday with the landing of six fighter jets on a closed section of freeway in central […]Yesterday's drill was the first in a series that will include one today to demonstrate how the island's forces could repel an amphibious assault and another tomorrow consisting of manoeuvres to counter an airborne attack. The live military exercises mark the second stage of the annual Han Kuang exercise. The first stage of the exercise, involving mostly technological drills, wrapped up recently.

New cabinet seen loyal to Chen
2007-05-18 SCMP
Taiwan will see the swearing in of a new cabinet next week that is expected to push through President Chen Shui-bian's policies during his final year in office. The first round of cabinet appointments has seen the president's men named to key posts, contradicting the general expectation that they would go to the chief aides of Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, the ruling party's presidential candidate, or of outgoing Premier Su Tseng-chang. […]

 

Tibet

Australian leaders warned not to meet visiting Dalai Lama
2007-05-18 SCMP
Beijing has issued a thinly veiled warning to Australian political leaders not to meet the Dalai Lama during a visit by the Tibetan spiritual leader next month. "We hope that relevant governments and parties can stay on high alert to the actions and words of the Dalai Lama aimed at splitting China and do not give support to the Dalai clique," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. The 71-year-old Dalai Lama, who has led a Tibetan government-in-exile in India since fleeing a Chinese takeover in 1959, has planned a 10-day visit to Australia. Prime Minister John Howard and opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd both initially said they would not meet the Dalai Lama. But on Wednesday they said they might reconsider following accusations they were kowtowing to the mainland, which is Australia's biggest trading partner. "The words and deeds of the Dalai Lama in the past decades have shown that he is not a purely religious figure," Ms Jiang said. "He is a political exile engaged in activities aimed at splitting China."

 

Beijing Olympics 2008

Taiwan urged to allow 2008 Olympic torch to pass through Taipei
2007-05-17 Xinhua
A mainland official on Wednesday urged Taiwan authorities to accept the itinerary for the 2008 Olympic torch relay and allow the torch to pass through Taipei. Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the mainland hopes Taiwan will respect the consensus reached between the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) and the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) and acknowledge the relay route. The relay route has already been approved by the International Olympic Committee. The BOCOG announced on April 26 that the 2008 Olympic torch relay will pass through 135 cities all over the world. The planned 137,000-kilometer route includes a stop at Taipei before the torch arrives in Hong Kong, Macao, and a score of Chinese mainland cities.

Olympics to 'make Beijing a better place' - Official pledges Games benefits beyond 2008
2007-05-18 SCMP
Beijing's party boss vowed yesterday to make hosting a successful Olympics next year the top municipal priority, and to use the event as a catalyst to make the capital a better place. "Hosting a successful 2008 Olympics will be the new municipal party committee's No 1 mission," Beijing Communist Party Secretary Liu Qi told more than 730 delegates at the opening of the city's 10th party congress, which is held over six days once every five years. Mr Liu said the city's preparations for the Games were going smoothly and Beijing was committed to holding a "characteristic and high-standard" Olympics. But he admitted at the same time that the host city still lagged "in the level of civilised behaviour among its people, and in its standard as a world-class city". In line with the nationwide anti-corruption campaign, Mr Liu said the Beijing government would take further action to weed out corruption within the party and in particular tighten auditing and supervision, to ensure a "clean" and "frugal" Olympics. Beijing's former vice-mayor, Liu Zhihua , who looked after Olympics construction projects, was removed from office in June for "living a corrupt life". The congress will usher in a changing of the guard in the upper echelons of the municipal party committee, including its top officials as part of a nationwide leadership reshuffle in the run-up to the 17th party congress in October. There has been speculation that Beijing mayor Wang Qishan will be promoted to head the party in Guangdong, but other observers have raised doubts that either Mr Wang or Liu Qi will be replaced before the Olympics. Safety and stability in the capital was highlighted by the party chief as another major task faced by municipal leaders - both in relation to the Olympics and for residents beyond the event. […]

Protest at venue for sailing events
2007-05-18 SCMP
Dozens of residents in Qingdao, Shandong province, which will host the 2008 Olympic sailing events, barricaded themselves in their homes yesterday in an attempt to stop authorities flattening the area. Residents of Hexi village in the Sifang district of Qingdao were told their homes would be torn down today. However, dozens have yet to sign compensation agreements with the government, which is planning to build apartments on the site, said Yuan Bendu, a farmer-turned-activist whose house was torn down last month. The standoff echoed an incident in Chongqing last month, when developers demolished the home of a couple who had fought eviction for three years. In that case, the residents and the developer reached a settlement, and the family left willingly. Mr Yuan, 45, said […] the area's 932 households were offered compensation of 3,250 yuan per square metre, which was well below the market value of about 7,000 yuan per square metre. Qingdao, a popular coastal resort, underwent a construction boom when it was named the site of the Olympic sailing events. Most of the households in Hexi accepted the compensation package because of pressure and threats, Mr Yuan said, but 82 families have refused to budge. He said they would try to hold back authorities today. […] Li Subin of Beijing's Yitong law firm said he helped the group file paperwork for a lawsuit against the Sifang district government on April 23, but the Qingdao Intermediate Court refused to accept the case. A district administrative officer said he was unsure about the situation in Hexi and the redevelopment office was unavailable to comment.

 

Economy

Commercial banks able to invest in foreign stocks
2007-05-14 China Daily Online
China's commercial banks will soon be able to invest in overseas stocks with funds managed on behalf of their clients. The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) gave the official go-ahead on Friday to allow commercial banks, holding the qualified domestic institutional investor certificates, or QDIIs, to issue wealth management products that invest in overseas stocks. […] QDII expansion will be gradual, said Ronald Wan Ten-lap, managing director and head of investment banking at Bank of Communications Securities. "The fanatic A-share rally will keep the mainland capital from flowing out too quickly," he said. […] The Chinese government launched the QDII program last April to allow commercial banks and fund management firms to make overseas investment on behalf of their clients. The program is expected to reduce foreign exchange reserve pressures. The response has been poor so far - just 3 percent of the $13 billion in QDII quotas have been used. This is largely because banks are allowed to invest in fixed-income or money market products, but not equities. With the yuan growing in value against greenback and the soaring A-share market, the limited returns offered by QDII products lack appeal.

Central bank: deposits 'diverted to stocks'
2007-05-14 China Daily Online
Reduced bank deposits by Chinese households suggest that a large amount of money is being invested in the capital market, according to the central bank. Household deposits decreased by 167.4 billion yuan ($21.7 billion) in April. In contrast, they increased by 60.6 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) at the same time last year, the People's Bank of China said on its website yesterday. The high growth rate of M1 a narrow measure of money supply that includes cash and demand deposits plus diminishing household deposits suggests Chinese households are keeping money on tap for investment in the capital market. The red-hot stock market has grown by more than 50 percent this year after doubling last year.

Stock mania is sweeping the country despite warnings of a speculative bubble but small investors are rushing to pull out money from bank savings accounts and deposits to pump them into the share market. […]

More economic laws in pipeline
2007-05-15 Xinhua
Legislators are planning laws on finance, taxation, budgeting and investment in a bid to better regulate the country's economic development and refine its macroeconomic controls. "The rapid pace of economic development in the country demands more specified laws and regulations," said An Jian, deputy director of the Legal Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature. He made these comments at the International Symposium on China's Rule of Law yesterday in Beijing. "As we continue to improve the country's social legislation, we still place economic legislation at the top of our agenda to provide a solid legal foundation for a healthy economy," he said. In a report detailing the legislative plan for the next 10 years, the commission said China would gradually enact laws governing foreign exchange, futures trading and financing and leasing. Better financial legislation would help diversify the financial products available, optimize the distribution of financial resources, strengthen financial supervision and prevent financial risks, the report said. A securities law is also on the waiting list. The commission said a law is needed to maintain a balance between promoting the development of the securities market and preventing risk. Protecting investors' rights and strengthening penalties for market frauds are other issues to be addressed. In addition, the commission said it is necessary to enact a basic law on tax collection. Legislation should also be drawn up to address as-yet unregulated taxes, such as value-added and consumption taxes. […] The country entered a period of unprecedented legislative action on the economy starting in 1992, when the authorities officially decided to establish a socialist market economy. […]

Analysts predict interest rate rise
2007-05-15 SCMP
Mainland money supply growth eased last month, but analysts said strong lending activity and a drop in household deposits could herald further interest rate rises. The 17.1 per cent year-on-year growth in broad M2 money supply last month compared with 17.3 per cent in March and economists' expectations of a 17 per cent rise. The central bank has slowed M2 growth from a peak of 19.2 per cent in January last year by raising banks' reserve requirements seven times and interest rates three times in just over a year. […]

Market to get bigger role in yuan's value - Premier signals flexibility on currency
2007-05-17 SCMP
Beijing will allow the market to play a bigger role in determining the yuan's exchange rate, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday ahead of high-level economic talks with the US next week. Beijing has come under fire from the US and others over the value of its currency, which critics say is artificially low and gives exporters an unfair advantage. "We are deepening reform of the foreign exchange management system to improve the mechanism of setting the [yuan] exchange rate and to give greater scope to the role of the market," Mr Wen told the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Shanghai. "We're improving [the] management of foreign exchange reserves by expanding the scope and ways of using foreign exchange reserves." China has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, more than US$1.2 trillion - in part because of its booming exports - and Beijing is planning to set up a special agency to manage the money. Some analysts have warned of the impact on the US dollar should Beijing reduce US dollar assets following the establishment of the new agency. […]

China's FDI up 10% in first 4 months
2007-05-17 China Daily Online
China's foreign direct investment (FDI) increased over 10 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2007 despite concerns that higher corporate income tax rates might affect the inflow. China drew $20.4 billion in FDI from January to April, up 10.2 percent from a year earlier, according to Ministry of Commerce spokesman Wang Xinpei. Foreign investment in the service sector is expected to maintain robust growth while investment in manufacturing is likely to decrease, said Shen Danyang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce. "With five years (the grace period) elapsing since China entered the World Trade Organization, the service industry will be further opened up to foreign investors. New FDI will largely concentrate on sectors such as transportation, computer services, distribution, tourism, architecture and financial services," he said. The FDI inflow grew rapidly till 2005, but has now entered a new phase of steady rises, Shen said. But the inflow, he maintained, will remain high this year. […]China is now encouraging high value-added manufacturing sectors and service industries while turning down foreign investments in high-pollution and low-efficiency ventures. The government is also encouraging foreign investments in western China. […]

ADB concludes annual meetings in Shanghai
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
The African Development Bank (ADB) on Thursday concluded its two-day annual board meetings in Shanghai, boosting Africa-China ties in the process. ADB President Donald Kaberuka hailed the meetings as "a success". He said the discussions on a wide range of issues were constructive and the organization flawless.Around 2,000 people attended the meetings, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, President of Cape Verde Pedro Pires and Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana. In his address at the opening ceremony, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao highlighted the importance of China-Africa ties and proposed new ways to further cooperation in various areas. It was the first time the annual board meetings of the ADB had been held in Asia, and the second time outside Africa. Participants focused their discussions on ADB reform, development financing, debt management, aid to vulnerable countries and Asian-African cooperation, among other issues. People's Bank of China President Zhou Xiaochuan, who chaired the meetings, said the meetings helped give birth to an ADB blueprint on how to carry out poverty eradication and development programs in a more effective way. A series of business seminars were staged on the sidelines of the ADB board meetings, which helped companies and entrepreneurs, Chinese or African, establish contacts and discuss deals. The meetings also provided a platform for African countries and China to carry forward their partnership, following the Beijing Summit of China-Africa Cooperation Forum held in November 2006. The next ADB board meetings will be held in Maputo, Mozambique next May. Founded in 1964, the ADB has 77 members from Africa, America, Europe and Asia. China became a member in 1985.

China predicts $2.1 tln of foreign trade in 2007
2007-05-18 Xinhua
China's imports and exports of goods will likely amount to 2.1 trillion U.S. dollars for the whole year, a growth of 20 percent over the year-earlier level, according to a report released Thursday by the Ministry of Commerce. The report says in 2006, China's foreign trade stood at 1.76 trillion U.S. dollars, up 23.6 percent year-on-year, ranking third in the world. External trade has continued to grow rapidly since the beginning of the year, the report says. Foreign sales of machinery, electronics, textiles and clothing and footwear posted sustained growth. Trade with major partners, including the European Union, the United States and Japan, has increased continuously. According to the report, China realized 457.7 billion U.S. dollars in foreign trade in the first quarter of this year, up 23.2 percent from a year earlier. The trade surplus soared 99.4 percent to 46.4 billion U.S. dollars. The report believes the overall environment is still favorable for China's foreign trade.

China stocks rise; yuan gains
2007-05-18 China Daily Online
Chinese stocks rose Thursday, buoyed by retail investor purchases of foreign-currency "B shares" and gains for the brokerage sector. The yuan gained against the US dollar. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which tracks both Chinese-currency "A shares" and B shares, gained 1.6 percent to 4,048.29, just below its record close of 4,049.70 a week earlier. The Shenzhen Composite Index rose 2.5 percent to 1,151.85. Retail investors recently have piled into the B share market, where valuations remain lower than in the A share market. The two classes of shares are traded separately in Shanghai and Shenzhen. […] Despite the gains, concerns regulators might move to cool stock prices, were weighing on sentiment, analysts said. "Institutional investors, such as insurance companies, seem to be wary (of tightening measures) and are trimming holdings," said Zhou Lin, an analyst at Huatai Securities. In currency dealings, the dollar was at 7.6758 around 0730 GMT on the over-the-counter market, down from Wednesday's close of 7.6820.

Gov't to raise export taxes
2007-05-18 China Daily Online
China will raise export taxes by 5 to 10 percent on a range of products, including steel, aiming to slow the country's export boom and ease the country's trade surplus, government sources said yesterday. Beijing also plans to further reduce tax rebates on some exports, including some basic materials and textiles. It would remove import taxes on coal and reduce import taxes on other raw materials, according to officials from three government bodies - the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State Administration of Taxation.

"The plan has already been established basically," said a source in Beijing, noting that the changes could go into effect as early as June 1. […]

Investment rise stokes fears of overheating
2007-05-18 China Daily Online
Urban fixed investment rebounded significantly in April, adding to fears that the economy may be in danger of overheating. The figure hit 2.26 trillion yuan ($294 billion) in the first four months, up 25.5 percent on the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. It not only exceeded the 2006 full-year growth rate of 24.5 percent but also was 0.2 percentage points higher than in the first quarter. "This has followed the typical pattern: Fixed-asset investment growth usually accelerates in the second quarter after the Chinese New Year as firms get new credit from banks and workers go back to normal work schedules after the holidays," Sun Mingchun, an economist with Lehman Brothers, said. […] "Also, high profits and strong bank lending growth point ready availability of funds for fixed investment," said Sun. […] Besides, retail sales rose 15.5 percent in April, highlighting strong consumer spending. The trade surplus for the first four months increased to $63.3 billion, 88 percent more than a year earlier. Given these conditions, accelerated investment growth will further add to the country's difficulties in preventing the economy shifting from fast growth to overheating, said Zhang. The economy registered a higher-than-expected growth of 11.1 percent in the first quarter.

China to continue using monetary tools for economic stability: central bank governor
2007-05-18 People's Daily Online
China will continue to use monetary instruments to maintain macro-economic stability, the governor of China's central bank said on Thursday. "We will keep using monetary policy instruments and may consider other instruments to maintain macro-economic stability in China," President of the People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan told the press. The press conference followed the closing of the annual board meetings of the African Development Bank on Thursday. Zhou noted China's macro-economic stability is very important both for the nation and for its impact on the world economy. In March, China's central bank raised the interest rate by 0.27 percent, which Zhou said helps "deal with economic development and inflationary pressure." On the exchange rate, Zhou said the Chinese government has already mentioned very clearly that "we are gradually moving toward a more flexible exchange rate." The general policy is "managing the floating exchange rate regime in reference to a basket of currencies and based on the supply-demand relationship in our foreign exchange market," he said. "I'm sure that the Chinese exchange rate will become more and more flexible and reflect supply-demand forces in the market more closely," he said.

 

Mongolia

Law, ethics and owneship the key to quality journalism
2007-05-10 Mongol Messenger
Today, May 3, is World Press Freedom Day. Last year we stressed that press freedom is vitally important to Mongolia and all other free nations. It was true then and is still true today that a free press informs and educates the public, provides a check on power and the abuse of power, including and perhaps most especially corruption, and gives voice to the persecuted. Mongolia's citizens must have the ability to express themselves, to debate alternative ideas and to challenge assumptions. As such, a media that is independent from the state allows the peaceful expression and competition of ideas on which democracy depends.

Russian visit creates legal roots
2007-05-16 Mongol Messenger
The Russian Federation Council of the Federal Assembly chairman, Sergei Mironov commenced his official visit on landing at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, on Sunday May 13 at 10.20pm. He met Parliamentary Speaker, Ts. Nyamdorj May 14 and at a media conference and following the meeting the Parliamentary Speaker and Mr Mironov said talks on strengthening friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Russia had started. Mr Mironov said, “I have good impressions about the country because Mongolia connects with a part of my life.

Over 80 Illegal Chinese Workers Deported
2007-05-17 UB Post
Over 80 Chinese nationals, found working illegally in the country, were deported over the weekend from Mongolia. Most of them worked for the Chinese- invested Tan Li construction company. The Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens has fined the company Tg3 million for employing these people in violation of Mongolian immigration and other related laws. The company will additionally have to pay more than Tg7 million towards their deportation costs. Most of the deported Chinese workers had come to Mongolia on March 30 and April 3 on tourist visas and stayed on to work here after their visa had expired. […] Last week immigration officers detected 80 Chinese working illegally for the company and confiscated the passport of 75 of them. Around 20 of the 80 managed to flee during the raid. A representative of the Tan Li company, identified asYuang Chao Hui, told the Mongolian authorities,.We had little knowledge of your country.s rules and procedures.We were going to register these workers with the immigration office and did not realize such things would happen because we delayed.. […] On May 7, over 50 members of Blue Mongol, a .nationalist. movement, gathered at the construction site with the intention to assault Chinese workers. They were stopped by a police force. B. Enkhbat, head of the movement, later demanded that state legal enforcement agencies should prosecute those workers who had attacked the Mongolian security guard, and deport the rest of them.

 

Irene Frei
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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