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
  11.6-15.6.07, No. 169  
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Foreign Policy

Human rights, climate key focus of Hu talks in Sweden
2007-06-11 SCMP
President Hu Jintao and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt discussed human rights, climate change and China's growing Africa impact in a meeting yesterday. The Swedish government is a staunch critic of the human rights situation in China, especially the frequent use of the death penalty. (…) Mr Hu arrived in Sweden on Friday from the Group of Eight summit in Germany for the first state visit from China to the Nordic country. Mr Reinfeldt said their talks revolved mostly around "China's role in the climate process and the effort that is being made in China". (...)

China, Surinam to further co-op
2007-06-12 Xinhua
The Chinese and Surinamese vice presidents agreed Tuesday to further relations between the two countries. The two leaders also signed agreements on economic and technological cooperation. During the talk with Surinamese Vice President Ramdien Sardjoe, Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong (…) expressed appreciation for Surinam's adherence to the one-China policy. (…)

Beijing warns US Congress on expected legislation over yuan
2007-06-13 SCMP
Beijing fired a warning shot at US lawmakers yesterday, saying proposed legislation to pressure the mainland to step up exchange rate reform risked politicising trade and would not sway its priorities. "Ultimately China's renminbi exchange rate must suit Chinese realities, and it must benefit China's and the world's economic development," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. In Atlanta, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said dialogue and negotiation with Beijing was the best way to achieve more flexibility with the yuan, not legislation in Congress. The treasury's currency report is due to be delivered in Congress today. (…).

Japan MPs want war photos removed
2007-06-13 China Daily
Some Japanese parliamentarians will launch a league today asking China's war museums to remove photos that show the atrocities committed by Japanese troops during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, Kyodo News said. The group, believed to be led by veteran conservative lawmaker Takeo Hiranuma, plans to urge China - through diplomatic channels - to get rid of what it calls "unjustifiable" photos "which are faked to help foster anti-Japanese nationalism" and "constitute barriers to the two countries' rapport". (…)

China lodges representations to U.S. on monument to "victims of communist regimes"
2007-06-13 People's Daily Online
China has lodged stern representations with the United States after the inauguration of a bronze memorial to "victims of communist regimes" in Washington D.C., a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Wednesday. "We resent and oppose the U.S. acts and comments and have lodged stern representations with the U.S. side" said Qin when responding to a journalist's question. (…) "There are political forces in the United States that still think in 'cold war' terms and seek to provoke conflicts between different ideologies and social systems." Qin said. "(…)

FBI hails U.S.-China terrorism co-op
2007-06-13 Xinhua
A deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States on Wednesday hailed its cooperation with China on terrorism. "I am satisfied with the level of cooperation on terrorism with China," Thomas Fuentes, assistant director of the FBI, told a briefing on Wednesday. He said the FBI is working with Chinese public security officials to track the role of "East Turkistan" groups in China's northwest in terrorist activities and their possible links with al Qaeda. (…)

Sino-Indian drill to 'bring border peace'
2007-06-13 China Daily
The first China-India joint army drill scheduled for October will help increase mutual understanding and maintain a peaceful boundary, Chinese security experts have said. About 100 Indian armymen will visit China in preparation for the joint exercise, Indian army chief General J.J. Singh has said. General Singh agreed to the "engagement and mutual confidence building" during his visit to China in May, and hoped more such joint training exercises would be held. (…) Wu Xiaoming, an expert on defense issues with the University of National Defense, has said: "China and India share a land border so army exercises are more practical than naval drills." President Hu Jintao met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 7 in Berlin and agreed to seek a resolution on the pending boundary issue. (…) “Compared to diplomatic and economic activities, military exercises are of a higher level and can be seen as a symbol of friendly bilateral ties," Hu says.(…)

Mainland won't fire first, says top officer - Admiral asserts right to a nuclear defence
2007-06-14 SCMP
A senior military official has reaffirmed a long-standing government policy that the mainland would not use nuclear weapons for a "first strike", but said the country had a right to maintain its arsenal for defensive purposes. "The scale of China's nuclear arsenal is quite small. It is also the only country to maintain [a policy of] no-first-use of nuclear weapons," the China News Service yesterday quoted Rear Admiral Yang Yi as saying.(…) The mainland's steady increases in military spending, the opaque nature of its defense budget and its aiming of missiles at Taiwan have raised concerns among its Asian neighbors and the United States. (…) In 2005, Major-General Zhu Chenghu told visiting journalists that the mainland would use nuclear weapons against the US if Washington intervened militarily in a conflict between the mainland and Taiwan, which Beijing considers sovereign territory. Government officials were quick to backtrack on the sabre-rattling(…).

China appoints new ambassadors
2007-06-14 Xinhua
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday appointed and dismissed ambassadors to nine countries, in accordance with a decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature. (…)

Myanmar shaping up as Beijing's main ally in Asia - Mainland forging strategic ties with southern neighbour
2007-06-15 SCMP
The mainland has been courting Myanmar in recent months, with leaders in Beijing having decided that the junta is now its most important ally in Asia. Beijing's support for the military regime has strengthened immeasurably recently as Myanmar has become the cornerstone of its revised Southeast Asia strategy in the face of what Beijing regards as the growing and unwanted influence of the United States in the region. Since the beginning of the year there has been a flurry of diplomatic and business visits between the two capitals, with the aim of boosting economic, trade and technology ties. (…) Beijing has long been eyeing the US' growing influence in the region, especially in what it regards as its own backyard and natural sphere of influence - Cambodia, Vietnam and, to some extent, Laos. So it is unlikely Beijing will criticise the junta in Naypyidaw - publicly or privately.

G8 pact to fight climate change is flawed, says technology minister
2007-06-15 SCMP
A climate-change pact reached by Group of Eight leaders failed to specify obligations for developed countries, and a prolonged debate over setting caps on emissions of greenhouse gases should be avoided, a top Beijing official said yesterday. The remarks by the new minister of science and technology, Wan Gang, were among Beijing's first responses to the agreement produced at last week's G8 summit in Germany, attended by President Hu Jintao, to pursue "substantial", but unspecified, cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. […]

US keeps up its assault on 'masked' might
2007-06-15 SCMP
The US Defence Department has again accused Beijing of shrouding what it spends on rapidly expanding weapons programmes, including technology to disrupt US space programmes. Testifying before a mostly supportive House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, the deputy undersecretary of defence for Asia, Richard Lawless, said: "What we see is a deliberate effort on the part of China's leaders to mask the nature of Chinese military capabilities." As a result, he said, "the outside world has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making and key capabilities of China's military or the direction of its modernisation". (…)Committee chairman Ike Skelton said China's official defence budget this year was about US$45 billion, but Mr Lawless said the Pentagon's best estimate was that Beijing could be spending US$85 billion to US$125 billion on its military this year. (…)

 

Domestic Policy

Chongqing, Chengdu lead wealth distribution reform
2007-06-11 China Daily
Chongqing Municipality and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, have been selected to pilot a project which aims to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the wealth gap between rural and urban areas. A document issued by the country's top economic planner urged the two cities to push forward comprehensive reforms in order to achieve coordinated and balanced development. The reforms will target issues such as household registration, land management, social security and governance. (…)"The ultimate aim is to ensure that farmers and migrant workers enjoy the same rights, public services and living conditions as urban residents," Yang said. (…)

Heavy rains in southern China kill at least 66
2007-06-11 People's Daily Online
Torrential rains that plagued southern China for days have killed 66 people and resulted in 12 missing by 6:00 p.m. (Beijing time) on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. "Floods caused by heavy rains have affected about 294,800 hectares of crops, completely destroying 53,000 hectares of them," said an official with the ministry. (…) More than 1.97 million people have been affected after the floods triggered by continuous heavy rains hit some 40 counties since Wednesday. (…)

Police block rights activist from attending course in Europe
2007-06-11 SCMP
Activist Yao Lifa said he had been prevented from leaving the country to attend a human rights training course in Switzerland. Mr Yao, known nationally for his dogged advocacy of elections free of Communist Party control, said police stopped him at Beijing airport (SEHK: 0694), citing orders from his home province of Hubei. (…) Mr Yao said three other mainland rights advocates apparently left without problems to attend the International Service for Human Rights course.

Second activist prevented from attending overseas rights seminar
2007-06-12 SCMP
The mainland prevented Zeng Jinyan, the wife of fellow activist Hu Jia, from leaving the country yesterday, Mr Hu said. Ms Zeng, an Aids and human rights campaigner recently named by Time magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people, was stopped at Beijing airport (SEHK: 0694), where she planned to travel to Switzerland for a rights training course. (…)

Ex-head of drug watchdog appeals death sentence
2007-06-12 Xinhua
The former head of China's pharmaceutical watchdog, who was sentenced to death on corruption charges last month, has appealed for leniency in a second hearing of his case. Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), asked the court of second instance to reconsider his sentence as the "penalty was too severe". Zheng said he "confessed his crimes" and "cooperated with the investigating prosecutors", which could merit a lighter sentence under Chinese law. (…) Zheng had taken bribes, including cash and gifts, which were worth more than 6.49 million yuan (850,000 U.S. dollars), the court heard. (…) The court ruled the death sentence was appropriate given the "huge bribes involved and the great damage inflicted on the country and the public by Zheng's dereliction of duty".(…)

South China city weeds out lazybones officials
2007-06-12 Xinhua
About 300 officials in Shenzhen, an economic boom town in south China's Guangdong province, have been reprimanded by the municipal supervision bureau for "inaction", the bureau said on Monday. (…) In just over a year, 294 people have been identified as chronic under-performers. (…)

Pension plan for migrant workers
2007-06-12 SCMP
The mainland has drafted a plan to include its 140 million migrant workers in the nation's old-age pension scheme, according to Vice-Minister of Labour and Social Security, Zhang Xiaojian. A draft of the national old-age insurance system for migrant workers from rural areas had been completed and would soon be submitted to the State Council for approval, Mr Zhang told a conference on regional labour co-operation in the Pearl River Delta on Sunday. (…) Those with no permanent job could join a new scheme designed to take the high mobility of rural migrants into account. Employers and employees would be obliged to make compulsory contributions to the scheme, with an employees' contributions capped at 5 per cent of monthly salaries. (…)

Pig disease sweeps 22 provinces
2007-06-12 China Daily
The highly pathogenic blue-ear disease hit 22 provinces during the first five months of this year, killing 18,597 pigs, the country's chief veterinarian said yesterday. (…) Jia Youling, director of the veterinary bureau affiliated to the Ministry of Agriculture (…)said the outbreak had partially led to recent hikes in pork prices "but the main reason was the big price increases of animal feed that began last June". Pork prices rose 35.5 percent in April and 10.4 percent in May to about 17.4 yuan ($2.27) per kg, according to official figures. (…)

Forum demands heritage be saved from wreckers
2007-06-12 SCMP
Senior mainland officials have warned provincial leaders against further "senseless" destruction of the nation's cultural heritage, saying it was on a par with the damage caused during the Cultural Revolution. At an international forum on urban culture and planning, which opened in Beijing on Saturday, the mainland's second annual National Heritage Day, they called for an end to the construction of "fake heritage". Delegates said the preservation of genuine assets was critical to the mainland's urban development. (…) Mr Qiu compared the destruction of cultural heritage since the "opening up of the market" to the damage caused during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. (…) "Most of the destruction of cultural heritage occurred because [local leaders] defy the plans," he said.

Pollution rising in cities: report
2007-06-13 SCMP
Air and water quality in mainland cities worsened last year despite a push to reduce notorious pollution levels, the country's environmental watchdog said in a new report. Only 38 per cent of 585 cities surveyed last year registered air quality that reached national health standards, down from about 45 per cent in a 2005 study, the State Environmental Protection Administration report said. […]

Official: Food safety issues under control
2007-06-13 China Daily
The food safety problems were not as bad as reported and the authorities were enforcing safety protections and supervisions, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday. "Yes, there are now some problems of food safety of Chinese products. However, they are not serious. We should not exaggerate those problems," Li Dongsheng, vice minister for the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, told reporters at a food safety lab.(…) Major buyers such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union have pushed for Beijing to improve inspections. (…) In response, Chinese safety officials have urged better surveillance at all levels and promised to set up a food recall system, the country's first, by year end. (…)

Gay bars bring HIV awareness out of closet
2007-06-13 China Daily
Nineteen gay venues in Beijing have launched a joint education campaign to help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS among their clients. The venues, mostly bars, will distribute free condoms, display AIDS awareness posters and even promote the safe sex message in dance performances. (…) According to the memorandum of understanding, bar owners are responsible for promoting safe sex among their gay clientele in their venues. (…)Statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the number of gay men living with HIV/AIDS has increased to 47,000, double the figure in 2004. (…)

1,000 child slaves in brick factories
2007-06-14 SCMP
At least 1,000 children aged between eight and 16 years have been kidnapped to work as slaves in Shanxi brick factories, mainland media reported yesterday. The children were from various provinces and only 40 had been rescued, the reports said. Henan TV estimated that more than 1,000 children from Hubei, Henan and Sichuan were still locked up in the illegal factories. (…) The children were tightly monitored and had to work more than 14 hours a day. (…) Legal analysts said the abuses were the result of the web of relationships between factory owners and local officials. (…)

Police accused of beating villagers
2007-06-15 SCMP
About 20 villagers were beaten up by 300 armed police in Dingzhou, Hebei, and prevented from going to Beijing to protest on Monday, the second anniversary of the violent deaths of six relatives involved in a land dispute, residents said yesterday. Residents say that on June 11, 2005, local officials hired more than 260 armed gangsters to attack farmers from Yongjiang county's Shengyou village who refused to surrender 25 hectares of their land for an electronics factory. Six villagers died in the raid and 144 were injured. (…)

Non-Communist minister in spotlight
2007-06-15 People's Daily Online
As China's first non-Communist Party minister in more than three decades, Wan Gang's first news briefing on climate change yesterday was a media highlight. Wan, a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest) Party - a small organization with 15,600 members - was appointed science minister in April by the State Council. (…) "The biggest challenge for me is the change from a scientist and engineer to an executive officer," Wan said, adding that his appointment was an "important" step in the development of China's political democracy. (…) In recent years, the CPC Central Committee has issued many directives to promote non-CPC members to political positions.

 

Taiwan

Premier suffers veto setback
2007-06-13 SCMP
After barely a month in office, Taiwanese Premier Chang Chun-hsiung has suffered his first political setback in an attempt to overturn a series of legislative amendments. Mr Chang submitted a motion this month to overturn amendments to laws governing farmers' and fishermen's associations, which had been passed by the legislature. But the motion was vetoed yesterday and the result could lead to him stepping down if the legislature mounts a no-confidence vote. (…)

Chinese mainland official slams "referendum" promoted by Taiwan separatists
2007-06-13 People's Daily Online
The "referendum" promoted by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian about whether the island should join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan" will have a strong impact on cross-Strait relations, said a mainland official in Beijing on Wednesday. Yang Yi, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, told a press conference that the "referendum" was an important step towards "de jure independence of Taiwan" promoted by Chen Shui-bian. (…)

 

Tibet

Tibetan nomads forced into towns, says group
2007-06-11 SCMP
Mainland authorities are forcing nomadic Tibetan herders to settle in towns to clear land for development, leaving many unable to earn a living, a human rights group said in a report yesterday. Herders had been forced to slaughter herds of yaks, sheep and goats, while officials had paid minimal compensation and failed to protect Tibetans' legal rights, Human Rights Watch said. Possibly hundreds of thousands of people had been affected, it said. (…)Human Rights Watch said the resettlements in Tibet and in adjacent ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces were linked to Beijing's effort, launched in 1999, to develop the poor, restive west and bind it to the bustling east. (…)

Tibetans riot in Sichuan over sacred mountain's exploitation
2007-06-12 SCMP
Hundreds of Tibetans rioted in a remote, sparsely populated area of Sichuan to stop exploitation of a mountain they consider sacred, several local residents said yesterday. Angry people in the town of Bamei, home to an ethnic Tibetan population, attacked government officials and smashed cars during a protest outside the local branch of a mining company late last month, the residents said. (…)

 

Hong Kong

Study: CEPA boosts HK economy
2007-06-12 Xinhua
The implementation of the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) has pumped impetus to Hong Kong economy by benefiting trade, creating jobs, inducing investment and boosting tourism, according to a study released by the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Tuesday. (…)

Trust in Beijing dives after autonomy remark - Wu Bangguo's comment on HK's powers weakens backing for central government
2007-06-15 SCMP
The Hong Kong public's trust in the central government and the "one country, two systems" principle has weakened significantly since a state leader's comments about the limitations of the city's autonomy. The results of a University of Hong Kong poll published yesterday revealed a drop of 8 percentage points in people's trust in Beijing, and a 5 percentage point drop in people's confidence in the "one country, two systems" principle. The survey of 1,016 people was conducted between June 8 and 12 and followed Wu Bangguo's comments of June 6. (…) "This probably explains the drop," he said, noting that trust in Beijing and the "one country, two systems" principle had surged to a record high two months ago. People's trust in Beijing now stands at 50 per cent, down from 58 per cent in the previous survey between April 17 and 20. Confidence in "one country, two systems" stands at 73 per cent, down from 78 per cent. Trust in the Hong Kong government dropped 4 percentage points to 59 per cent over the same period. […]

 

Beijing Olympics

Merchandise manufacturers hit back at 'groundless' allegations
2007-06-12 SCMP
Mainland companies called allegations that they use child labor to produce official Olympic merchandise "totally groundless", insisting they comply with every domestic labor law from the minimum wage to maternity leave. Workers in one of the four companies said there was no use of child labor in their factory but did complain of long hours.(…)The four companies had been accused of labor abuse by the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). (…)

Slavery should have no place in modern China
2007-06-15 SCMP
The horror stories from the mainland of children rescued from enslavement highlight an issue that labour rights workers have been telling the world about for years. Officials well know that slavery exists and there are laws against forced labour, but corruption and indifference mean that it persists. With the world spotlight on China amid its economic rise and the approaching Olympic Games, authorities have every reason to do their utmost to ensure that the practice is eliminated. That is why top officials have expressed concern. In recent days, tens of thousands of police have been checking places where people may be working against their will in brick factories in Shanxi and Henan, where the cases have been reported. Not surprisingly, authorities have been quick to release hundreds of other enslaved people and dozens of arrests have been made. (…) Part of the problem is that economic necessity is driving rural people to industrialised parts of the country to search for work, leaving them vulnerable to the corrupt and greedy. (…) The mainland also still has not ratified the International Labour Organisation's Convention on Forced Labour or the Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labour. (…)

Torch relay aims to shame mainland over Darfur links
2007-06-15 SCMP - In a campaign aimed at shaming the mainland into cutting support for Sudan over its role in the Darfur conflict, US actress Mia Farrow has unveiled plans for an Olympic-style torch relay that will end in Hong Kong. Farrow and activist group Dream for Darfur are hoping to use the spotlight of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to draw attention to the mainland's economic and diplomatic support for Sudan. They are asking it to suspend debt relief for Sudan, end arms transfers to the regime, and increase diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government. The torch relay will begin on August 8 in Chad and make its way through countries associated with genocide - Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia, Germany and Cambodia - before ending in Hong Kong in December.

 

Economy

Chinese, Russian companies ink 2 bln-dollar contracts
2007-06-10 People's Daily Online
Chinese and Russian companies on Sunday in St. Petersburg inked a series of contracts ranging from agriculture to car-making, on the sidelines of an international economic forum. The 19 contracts are valued at about 2 billion U.S. dollars. Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi and her Russian counterpart Alexander Zhukov were present at the signing ceremony(…)

Sina, Google team up to compete with Baidu
2007-06-12 China Daily
Google yesterday signed a deal with Chinese portal Sina.com, giving the US search engine a leg-up in its race to catch up with rival Baidu.com. (…) Its market share in the first quarter of this year reached 19 percent compared with Baidu's 58, according to Analysis International(…).

China's inflation rate hits 27-month high in May
2007-06-12 China Daily
China's inflation in May hit the highest level in 27 months on rising pork and food stuff prices, raising the pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a barometer of inflation, rose 3.4 percent compared with the same period of last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday, beating the three percent target set by the People's Bank of China for this year. (…).A rise in food prices is especially sensitive because it would be felt most strongly in the poor countryside.(…)

China's central bank orders report on suspected terrorist financing
2007-06-12 People's Daily Online
China is hoping to boost its chances of becoming a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering organization, with a set of tough new regulations which were released by the People's Bank of China (PBOC) on Monday. The regulations require financial institutions in China to immediately report suspected terrorist financing deals and to improve customer data collection and security measures. Financial institutions are required to report suspect financing deals to the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLMAC) which is affiliated to the central bank. (…). The FATF is scheduled to vote on China's entry into the organization this month.(…)

 

North Korea

Official: North Korea funds transferred
2007-06-15 China Daily
Most of the North Korean funds long frozen in a Macau bank have been transferred, an official said on Thursday, raising the prospect of an end to the deadlock stalling a nuclear disarmament deal with Pyongyang. "Francis Tam confirmed that Banco Delta Asia has remitted a sum of over US$20 million out of Macau," a Macau government spokesman said, referring to the territory's secretary for economy and finance. North Korea has refused to honour a February agreement to begin shutting its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and source of material for atomic weapons until $25 million at Macau's Banco Delta Asia are released through normal banking channels. The funds were blocked after the United States blacklisted Banco Delta Asia, accusing it of laundering illicit funds for Pyongyang (…).

 

Joel Baumgartner
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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