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
  06.10-12.10.07, No. 186  
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Table of contents

Beijing Olympics

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

South Korean diplomats 'abused privileges by obstructing police' (SCMP)
2007-10-12
Beijing accused South Korean diplomats yesterday of obstructing police attempting to detain four people believed to be North Korean refugees at a South Korean-run school in the capital. It also rejected allegations that officers had used improper force against the envoys. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the diplomats had abused their diplomatic privilege. "The consular officials ... obstructed Chinese police in the performance of their duties. Their actions violated relevant regulations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations," said Mr Liu. ^ top ^

China, Japan start fresh talks on E. China Sea (China Daily)
2007-10-12
China and Japan started the 10th round of talks on the East China Sea issues at Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse Thursday morning. Director of Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian Affairs Hu Zhengyue attended the talks as top Chinese negotiator. The Japanese delegation is represented by Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and Harufumi Mochizuki, director-general of Japan's Natural Resources and Energy Agency. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said last month that China will in accordance with the agreement reached by the leaders of the two countries, continue to push forward the momentum of consultation with a pragmatic attitude. "We hope Japan would make joint effort with China," she said. During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan in April, China and Japan agreed to speed up talks over the joint development of oil and gas fields in a "relatively wide area that is acceptable to both sides", and to report concrete measures to the countries' leaders by this fall. The two countries have conducted nine rounds of East China Sea talks since October 2004. The last round of talks was held in Tokyo in June. The two sides made in-depth discussions and exchanged views on the joint development of the gas and oil resources in East China Sea. ^ top ^

Russia-China arms trade to continue (China Daily)
2007-10-12
Russia will not sell aircraft carriers to China because it has stopped producing them, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told Chinese netizens in an online dialogue this week. "Now China has its own advanced weapons manufacturing technology there's no need to buy outdated military equipment," said Alexeyev. But he added that Russia will continue selling up-to-date arms to China. "It is unfortunate that various threats in the world against us (Russia and China) have not decreased," said the deputy foreign minister, indicating that maintaining a high-level defense capability is in line with the common interests of the two countries. (...) In regard to recent actions taken by the Russian government on foreigners working and running retail businesses in Russia, Alexeyev said they were not targeted at Chinese citizens, but aimed at combating illegal immigration. (...) The ban has raised concerns that it was aimed at Chinese traders. "The anti-China tendency in Russia contradicts the policy of our government," said Alexeyev. Another Russian guest engaged in the online dialogue, Nikolay Dudov, governor of Magadan Oblast, said the so-called expansion of Chinese citizens in Russia is not really taking place. (...). ^ top ^

Group demands end to web restrictions (SCMP)
2007-10-11
An international media rights group called on China yesterday to loosen controls on internet news and personal expression, calling the country's system of censorship an insult to the spirit of online freedom. Reporters Without Borders said: "With less than a year to go to the Olympic Games, there is an urgent need for the government to stop blocking thousands of websites, censoring online news and imprisoning internet users." The Paris-based group also released an investigative report yesterday about internet controls that it said was written by an anonymous Chinese technician. The technician lists 12 examples of government directives to web portals from May and June last year ordering them to purge news items or topics or telling them to post government-approved content. ^ top ^

China "resolutely opposes" sanctions against Myanmar (People's Daily)
2007-10-09
China on Tuesday said it "resolutely opposed" sanctions against Myanmar as they would not help resolve the country's problems. "Any move by the United Nations Security Council should be prudent and responsible and be conducive to the mediation efforts of the UN secretary-general, and conducive to achieving stability, reconciliation, democracy and the development of Myanmar," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. He told a regular press conference that China had noticed the situation in Myanmar was returning to calm and attributed it to the common efforts of the international community and all sides. He said China hoped the situation would move in a positive direction. "China hopes all relevant sides of Myanmar will maintain restraint and achieve reconciliation, democracy and development and improve the living standards of the people by peaceful means," he said. He also said China praised the recent visit to Myanmar by Ibrahim Gambari, special advisor on Myanmar of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, adding China had taken an active part in the discussion in the UN on the Myanmar issue. Gambari, who just ended a four-day mission to Myanmar, exchanged views with Myanmar leaders on the domestic situation and made widespread contacts with local people. ^ top ^

 

17th Party Congress

Activists arrested and beaten in 'worst crackdown in five years' (SCMP)
2007-10-12
The weeks before a major political meeting on the mainland are traditionally tense, but activists say the run-up to the Communist Party's 17th National Congress, which opens on Monday, has been marked by the severest wave of repression in years. Dozens of arrests, detentions, beatings and abductions have taken place since August, peaking during the week-long holiday following National Day on October 1, activists say. Targets have included Christians, lawyers, petitioners, Olympics critics, writers and democracy activists. "(...). (…). ^ top ^

Activist disappears ahead of congress (SCMP)
2007-10-11
Human rights campaigner Yao Lifa has disappeared and is probably in secret detention, his son said yesterday, as authorities impose strict controls on dissidents ahead of a key Communist Party meeting. Mr Yao, from Hubei province, is known for dogged campaigns to win an independent seat in his local Party-controlled congress and to organise citizens, especially disgruntled farmers, to challenge long-standing restrictions on political activity. His son, Yao Yao, said his father was taken away on October 1 as part of a sweep of potential protesters before the 17th Communist Party Congress next week. (…). ^ top ^

Shanghai faction still part of the gang - Officials from the financial capital remain a force despite moves to sideline the city (SCMP)
2007-10-11
When an article praising Shanghai appeared in People's Daily just a few weeks before the Communist Party congress, it sparked speculation. Had a resurgent "Shanghai Gang" hijacked the front page of the party mouthpiece, or was it just an affirmation of the work of the city's new leader? With Shanghai's new party secretary, Xi Jinping , expected to be promoted at the meeting, the article (Glad to Hear Good Tidings from Shanghai) appeared to be directed at praising him and showing the city's support of the centre. (…) The Shanghai Gang might be down, but it is not out, political analysts say. It remains a force within the party and the central government. But Mr Hu is expected to elevate his allies and members of his own faction from the Communist Youth League at next week's congress. (…). ^ top ^

Media praises party bid to be more open (SCMP)
2007-10-11
State media outlets have been in a celebratory mood in the weeks leading up to the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, lauding the congress for its expanding democracy, wider representation of its 70 million-plus party members and the achievements of its delegates. The 2,217 delegates, a record number, are expected to listen and discuss reports filed by the Central Committee and the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. They are supposed to reflect opinions and needs of party members and the public and to decide on the party's key issues. They are also expected to vote for the new central committee and the disciplinary inspection commission personnel appointments, according to the CPC's Organisation Department. In order to represent a wider variety of people, the party has raised the minimum proportion of delegates working in grass-roots jobs from 25 per cent at the previous congress to 30 per cent. It has also insisted on greater participation by women and ethnic minorities, as well as people engaged in the private sector. (…) In an effort to promote a kind of intra-party democracy, the central committee has ordered that the number of candidates be 15 per cent higher than the number of delegates, an increase of five percentage points over the 16th congress. Each delegate has to be recommended by the employer's party standing committee, assessed by local disciplinary and supervisory bodies and endorsed by all party members in their city, instead of just needing the approval of standing committee members, as was the case five years ago. Widening the competition for congressional delegates is a marked departure from the shady dealings of the past, when non-competitive elections were the norm to maintain the party's tight grip on power. (…) Fraught with political turmoil throughout its 86 years of existence, the Communist Party today is wary of the risks of political reform. Many analysts believe it is keen to push for internal democracy in the form of competitive elections because the measures are the least risky and least likely to cause unrest. ^ top ^

China's Communists Prepare for Conclave (The Guardian)
2007-10-09
Leading members of China's Communist Party met on Tuesday as part of final preparations for a twice-a-decade congress that will see president and party chief Hu Jintao entrench his power with new appointments. The meeting of the party's roughly 350 Central Committee members and their alternates is expected to approve a final draft of a guiding document to be adopted at next week's congress. (…) Such meetings are held in secret and news about them is released only after they end. Long under preparation, the congress document is expected to spell out Hu's agenda for spreading more balanced economic growth, increasing spending on schools and health care, and fighting corruption. The document is expected to touch vaguely on political reform, although no bold moves are expected. (…) The meeting(…) is not expected to offer any insights into the composition of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee that will be decided at the 17th congress that kicks off Monday. Hu is expected to appoint trusted allies to the panel, including a possible successor, but the final roster is not believed to have been settled yet. (…). ^ top ^

12,000 petitioners send letter urging democratic reform (SCMP)
2007-10-10
More than 12,000 mainland petitioners have sent an open letter to Communist Party leaders demanding democratic reform and basic human freedoms, in the face of strict orders from the public security chief for social stability during next week's party congress. The letter, signed by 12,150 petitioners from 30 provinces, was initiated by four petitioners from Heilongjiang , Hubei , Hebei and Henan , the organisers said yesterday. It highlights social problems including disputes over rural land seizures, relocation problems caused in urban renewal projects, unemployment, pollution, depleted resources, and a decline in moral standards caused by official abuses of power and disregard for the constitution. Among its wide-ranging demands, the letter calls on party leaders to initiate political reforms and to guarantee freedom of expression, the press and association, as set out in the constitution. […]The letter also demands the abolition of the re-education through labour, or laojiao, system and an end to the persecution of petitioners, who are often rounded up and sent home or imprisoned, particularly during sensitive political events. Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang has ordered police nationwide to "spare no effort" to support security in Beijing to create a "joyous and peaceful" social environment for the congress. […]. ^ top ^

Succession a top issue at China congress (Christian Science monitor)
2007-10-11
President Hu Jintao is almost certain to be elected to a second five-year term. All eyes will be on which younger leaders – and possible successors – get top posts. Through the fog of Byzantine horse-trading presumed to be taking place behind closed doors ahead of the imminent congress of the all-powerful Communist Party, one clear change in the nature of Chinese politics is emerging, say political analysts and insiders. In stark contrast to the tradition of paramount leaders stamping their will and imposing their successors on the ruling party, China's top communists are now building coalitions and seeking compromises among themselves that some say could pave the way for a more open form of government. "The era of strongman politics is over. No single leader can decide things anymore" says Li Cheng, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and longtime monitor of Chinese leadership struggles. "Today you need consensus, trade-offs, checks and balances." (…) "We won't see one prince emerging," Mr. Li Datong predicts. "There will be several new members of the central group, and in three or four years we'll see who has earned the best reputation." Whoever eventually comes out on top is unlikely to be a standard-bearer for radical change, though. (…). ^ top ^

China targets new central bank chief (FT)
2007-10-11
Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, is expected to be replaced in the wake of this month's Communist party congress – with his chances of a promotion fading, say Chinese officials and diplomats. Officials, scholars and diplomats familiar with the finance sector gave conflicting accounts of why Mr Zhou's term at the People's Bank of China was likely to finish after the congress, which opens on Monday. An unusually activist central bank governor, Mr Zhou has presided over extensive reform of the state-owned banks and the de-pegging of China's currency, the renminbi, against the US dollar in 2005. But his activism has attracted many critics within rival bureaucracies, most recently over a PBoC-backed plan to allow Chinese citizens to buy shares overseas, which has been wound back after the initial announcement. (...). ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

More non-Party people take high posts (People's Daily)
2007-10-11
The appointment of two ministers who are not members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) generated much talk earlier this year - but that was just the beginning. A senior Party official yesterday said the CPC is determined to tap more of the talent outside the Party to help with the country's economic and social development. "The practice of selecting government bureau leaders from among the ranks of non-CPC members will continue in the long run," Chen Xiqing, vice-minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said yesterday. Chen also said the Party, which has traditionally represented the interests of farmers and workers, has been reaching out to people in new social strata, namely people in the private sector and those with floating professions, to encourage them to contribute to the country's development. The France-trained non-CPC scientist Chen Zhu was named the health minister, while the Germany-trained Wan Gang, who is a member of the China Zhi Gong (Public Interest) Party, was named science and technology minister earlier this year. (…) Sectors such as the sciences, technology, health and culture that need the leadership of high-level experts are the ideal areas in which non-CPC members can be absorbed (…). ^ top ^

Fate of week-long breaks still up in the air - No immediate plan scrap 'golden week' holidays (SCMP)
2007-10-10
The government is still weighing up proposals to modify the "golden week" system, a tourism official said yesterday, denying reports that a decision to scrap the week-long May Day holiday was pending. Zhang Dong , director of the China National Tourism Administration's propaganda department, told the Beijing Evening News studies of the issue had been done for years but the authority had yet to finalise a draft to revise the eight-year-old system. […] Mr Zhang said there was also uncertainty about whether a proposal to revise the scheme - of week-long holidays around the Lunar New Year, May Day and National Day in October - would be sent to the National People's Congress for deliberation. He was responding to recent mainland reports that the national tourism watchdog had suggested at least one of the three "golden weeks" be eliminated in favour of breaks at other times of the year. ^ top ^

Censors hot under the collar over 'vulgar' ads (SCMP)
2007-10-11
Mainland censors have banned 2,000 television and radio ads promoting female underwear and other “sexually suggestive” items, state press reported, amid a wave of censorship ahead of a major Communist Party gathering. Advertisements for breast enhancements and female underwear are “vulgar”, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said in a statement published by the Xinhua news agency late on Wednesday. Other ads that have been banned over the past fortnight for being “sexually suggestive” involve sex-related health supplements, drugs for sexually transmitted diseases and sex toys, the administration said. “The [administration] has always called on all media to hold onto their sense of responsibility but some of them surrendered to audience ratings and profits and caused a vile impact,” the statement said. About 2,000 ads have been pulled off TV and radio airwaves over the past fortnight, according to the administration. Censorship has toughened in recent weeks ahead of the Communist Party's five-yearly congress, with the nation's leaders at pains to present the nation in the best possible light and avoid any controversies. TV shows deemed unacceptable have also been banned, while news bulletins have been dominated by items extolling the great work of the party. ^ top ^

Airbus A380 to make its debut in China late October (People's Daily)
2007-10-09
The world's largest airliner Airbus A380 will arrive in China on October 23 to go on show to the Chinese public for the first time, the Airbus Beijing office said on Tuesday. The China tour of the jumbo airliner is scheduled for between October 23 and 29 in three cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. (…) To date, the A380 has received 185 orders or commitments from 15 customers worldwide, five of which come from China Southern. (…). ^ top ^

China to subsidize airports, regional air routes (Xinhua)
2007-10-10
China is expected to unveil regulations within the year to subsidize its small and medium-sized airports and regional air routes to meet the rising demand for air travel. The government plans to offer subsidies to airports that each handle less than five million passengers a year, according to the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC). The subsidies would cover 80 percent of the country's airports, the CAAC said, adding that 19 large airports would not be entitled to any handouts. The airports in the central and western parts of China are expected to receive higher subsidies than those in the eastern regions and the smaller the airport, the higher the subsidy. Air routes within a province and those shorter than 600 km are also expected to be subsidized. But the CAAC said the subsidies would not cover air routes between the metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and between some hot tourist destinations. (...). ^ top ^

China's State Council appoints new vice ministers (Xinhua)
2007-10-11
The State Council, China's cabinet, announced the appointments of four senior officials here Thursday. Yao Zengke was appointed as Vice Minister of Supervision and Liu Qian as Vice Minister of Health, according to a press release. Zhou Xisheng and Zhou Shuchun were appointed vice presidents of the Xinhua News Agency, the statement said. Those who vacated their posts were Deputy Secretary-General of the State Council Lou Jiwei, Vice Minister of Finance Zhang Hongli, Vice Ministers of Health Wang Longde and Jiang Zuojun, Vice President of Xinhua News Agency Ma Shengrong, Vice Chairman of the National Council for Social Securities Fund Gao Xiqing, the statement said. ^ top ^

Corruption poses ‘lethal threat' to China (Financial Times)
2007-10-11
Corruption costs China as much as 3 per cent of its economic output, or $86bn in 2003, and poses a “lethal threat” to the country's economic development, according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The report by Minxin Pei, the director of the China programme at the Washington-based policy study group, says the sums of money expropriated by corrupt officials have risen “exponentially” since the 1980s and cost more than last year's entire education budget. Mr Pei said: “Even after adjusting for inflation, the sums of money looted by government officials today are astonishing – a relatively low-level official can amass an illicit fortune in tens of millions of yuan.” (…) Despite a stream of high-profile corruption cases, including the arrest last year of Shanghai's party boss and the execution this year of the former head of the national food and drug regulation body, the report says that in reality only a “small proportion” of officials tainted by corruption are punished. “The odds of an average corrupt official going to jail are at most three out of 100, making corruption a high-return, low-risk activity,” the report says. Speaking to foreign journalists in late September, Chi Yaoyun, deputy director-general of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's anti-corruption body, admitted that graft was a serious problem, especially in the finance sector and land transfers. (…) Mr Pei, however, sees corruption not just as a stage of development but as a failure of political reform. (...). ^ top ^

4m more people to move for Three Gorges Dam (SCMP)
2007-10-12
Chinese authorities say the giant Three Gorges Dam will force the relocation of about 4 million additional people over the next 10-15 years, Xinhua news agency reported. Some 1.4 million people have already been uprooted and spread throughout China to make way for the dam, China's showcase engineering triumph and the world's biggest hydropower project. Authorities are also showing a growing recognition of serious environmental problems related to the project. Those forced to leave their homes will come from outlying districts of the giant central Chinese city of Chongqing, where the bulk of the dam's 600-kilometre long reservoir has started to erode the banks of the Yangtze River in many places, Xinhua said in a report late on Thursday. […]. ^ top ^

Telling tales doesn't pay, cancer village whistle-blower learns (SCMP)
2007-10-12
Wang Dehua fought to get a polluted town cleaned up, and then paid the price for upsetting the local authorities in a labour camp. For all the talk of social harmony and scientific development on the mainland, pollution and land grabs remain pressing problems and as Josephine Ma reports, those who fight back risk severe retribution. Wang Dehua may have won a battle to save future generations in his village from cancer, but he has paid a high price for it. The 47-year-old villager from Tianjin wondered why his neighbours and relatives were dying of cancer and it did not take him long to identify the culprit - the malodorous rivers around the village tainted with untreated chemicals discharged from the area's sprawling factories. So, in 2001, Wang embarked on an odyssey to bring attention to the environmental crisis, taking the most popular and only route available - petitioning government departments at higher levels. But seeking justice on the mainland is dangerous and like many other petitioners, Wang was sent to a labour camp for a year in 2003. It took two more years for his story to finally gain the attention of state media, including the powerful CCTV, but in 2005 Xiditou became known as one of the country's most infamous "cancer villages". Changes did occur under the intense media pressure - chemical plants in the area were told to leave and the drainage channels stinking with chemicals were covered. But villagers still have to buy expensive bottled water and the incidence of cancer remains high due to the long exposure to toxic chemicals. In addition, mainland journalists were banned from further reporting on the area's pollution and Wang was sentenced to eight years in jail in May after more than a year in detention. […]. ^ top ^

Mainland losses to corruption exceeded education budget (SCMP)
2007-10-12
Corruption costs the mainland more every year than it spends on education and is one of the most serious threats to political stability, according to a report from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. […] The report said the graft problems would continue because the Communist Party was unlikely to carry out the political reforms needed to fight corruption because it fears losing its grip on power. […] The report said the direct cost of corruption in 2003 equalled 3 per cent of the gross domestic product, or US$86 billion - "an amount exceeding the government's entire spending on education in 2006". […] "Combating corruption is perhaps one of the toughest tasks ahead because it requires politically difficult reforms so far eschewed by Beijing for fear of undermining the supremacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party," the report said. […]. ^ top ^

Activist beaten as rival police clash in melee - Campaigner knocked unconscious (SCMP)
2007-10-12
Dozens of police from rival city districts in Beijing fought a pitched battle yesterday over Christian activist Hua Huiqi, who was knocked unconscious during the melee and admitted to hospital. Four factions took part in the battle that saw Chongwen district police and security guards, whom witnesses said worked for New World China Land - a subsidiary of Hong Kong's New World Development - squaring off against police from Fengtai district and plain-clothes national security officers, who had been monitoring Mr Hua for weeks. (…) Attempts to contact New World in Hong Kong and its office in Beijing for comments were not successful because office staff said the managers responsible were not available. The incident, a complex one involving police and private security forces representing both political and economic interests, illustrates what human rights activists say is a growing trend on the mainland - attacks by private security guards, often representing companies involved in property deals with local governments, are on the rise. Mr Hua, under scrutiny by the authorities due to his long history of underground church activism, also has a history of opposing home evictions in the capital. He has been detained repeatedly in recent years for leading a house church, as well as for his rights defence efforts on other issues. Recently, Mr Hua began helping petitioners from the provinces who travel to Beijing seeking justice. He was released from jail in July after serving six months for "obstructing justice". Under heavy police guard, Mr Hua moved out of his Chongwen district home on Monday and was taken to Fengtai district, in the southwest of the city. But Fengtai police did not want him in their jurisdiction, and yesterday he returned to Chongwen with a dozen Fengtai policemen. He was greeted by Chongwen policemen and the developer's security guards, according to witnesses. Both those groups were equally intent on not letting him return to his home, which is slated for demolition. Late yesterday Mr Hua was still in hospital. Family members said doctors were refusing to discuss his condition, and the family was being watched by police. ^ top ^

SW Chinese ancient town honored by UNESCO for heritage conservation (Xinhua)
2007-10-09
Lijiang, an ancient town in southwest China's Yunnan province, has won UNESCO's 2007 Award of Merit for its restoration of ancient buildings, UNESCO official Richard Engelhart announced here on Monday. A panel of international conservation experts noted that the high-degree of verisimilitude demonstrated in Lijiang's restoration showed effective government funding. It also provided an inspiring example for ancient towns to retain their heritage, which is endangered by excessive numbers of tourists and urban development. Lijiang, listed in UNESCO's "World Cultural Heritage", had completed restoration of 299 households and 236 traditional complexes since 2003, said He Shiyong, chief of conservation and management bureau of Lijiang Ancient Town. The result of the award came out in a UNESCO regional meeting in August and the ceremony held on Monday was its official acknowledgement to the town, said Engelhart. The other three Awards of Merit include Bonython Hall (Adelaide,Australia), Little Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR, China) and the Astanaof Syed Yahya (Skardu, Pakistan). ^ top ^

Major Xinjiang gasfield found (People's Daily)
2007-10-11
PetroChina has discovered another major gasfield in western Xinjiang, a source from the company's Tarim unit confirmed yesterday. "The gasfield, known as Dabei III, boasts an estimated reserve of as much as 130 billion cubic meters, and will serve as an important backup supply source for the west-east gas pipelines," he said on condition of anonymity. (…) The discovery has the potential to be the third largest gas field in Xinjiang, after Kela II and Dina II Gas fields, said Dai Jinxin, a researcher with the Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development affiliated with PetroChina, the country's largest oil and gas producer. (…) According to BP energy statistics for 2006, coal accounted for 70 percent of China's total primary energy consumption; oil, 20.6 percent; natural gas, 2.9 percent; hydropower, 5.6 percent; and nuclear power, 0.7 percent. The country plans to increase gas use to 5.3 percent of the country's total energy mix by 2010, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK's economy fully recovered, says Tsang (SCMP)
2007-10-10
On a upbeat note, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen opened the 2007 policy address by emphasising that Hong Kong's economy was enjoying strong growth. “I am confident because Hong Kong's economy is back on track, registering rapid growth over the past 15 quarters. The three years from 2004 to 2006 saw average annual growth of 7.7 per cent,” he said. It is Mr Tsang's first policy address to the Legislative Council following his re-election as chief executive earlier this year. […]. ^ top ^

Tsang discusses new infrastructure projects (SCMP)
2007-10-10
Hong Kong was now on track to finish some important new infrastructure projects, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said on Wednesday. Mr Tsang was discussing Hong Kong's future plans in his annual policy address in the Legislative Council. […] He said major cross-boundary infrastructure projects were planned with Shenzhen. This included the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link – a high-speed national rail network of some 12 000 kilometres to link up major cities, with maximum train speeds of 200 to 300 kilometres per hour. Other key projects included the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Airport co-operation and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen joint development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop projects. […]But the chief executive noted that to achieve success, the first step for Hong Kong to take would be “to study the feasibility and economic benefits” of the projects and work closer with mainland authorities. […]. ^ top ^

Business wants say in political structure - Chamber urges balanced representation but hedges on date for full direct elections (SCMP)
2007-10-10
Businesses and other sectors should be given equal seats if all district councillors were included in the nomination committee for chief executive elections in future, the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce has said. The leading business group, while giving conditional support to universal suffrage no later than 2017, argued that it was essential to maintain "balanced representation" for all sectors when returning the future leader. […]In a submission, the chamber said it was reasonable to expect universal suffrage for the chief executive election no later than 2017 if eight conditions could be met. These include a regulatory framework for political parties, a network of thriving policy think-tanks as well as sufficient representation of the business sector in the political structure. […]. ^ top ^

Officials cast doubt over mainland pollution study (SCMP)
2007-10-10
Environment officials yesterday cast doubt over mainland research on air pollution that found Hong Kong lagging behind in its efforts to reduce emissions, questioning the accuracy of some of the data. A senior official admitted that sulfur dioxide levels in Hong Kong had risen above the levels of the late 1990s, as reported in a scientific paper, but was sceptical about a reported increase in nitrogen oxides (NOx) and total suspended particles (TSP).[…] In particular, it said the city's NOx levels had risen 30 per cent while Guangzhou had slashed its level more than 50 per cent. It also said Hong Kong's TSP level rose 10 per cent whereas Guangzhou had cut its by a third. But the Environmental Protection Department yesterday questioned the accuracy of the figures. It suspects that the nitrogen oxides data from Hong Kong had incorporated roadside readings, instead of ambient ones as in the cases of Guangzhou and Shanghai. Roadside readings are normally much higher than ambient data. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

China and Taiwan flex military muscles (IHT)
2007-10-10
China has blanketed its territory with air defense radar that almost matches the performance of similar networks in developed countries, state media reported Wednesday, as its rival Taiwan held its first National Day military parade in 16 years. A senior officer from Chinese Air Force headquarters, Fang Lei, said a seamless network of all-weather air defense radars had been installed to cover all Chinese airspace, according to a report on the Web site of the official military newspaper, the Liberation Army Daily. (…) The development of a high-performance air defense system to complement China's increasingly potent force of surface-to-air missiles and jet fighter interceptors has been a top priority for the People's Liberation Army, military experts say. Senior Taiwanese and U.S. military officers have acknowledged the improvement in Chinese air defenses as a significant indication of the country's rapid military modernization. This system is a direct challenge for self-governing Taiwan as it seeks to counter the mainland's growing military power. (...) China's arms buildup could also pose challenges to the United States if it is drawn into a conflict with Beijing over Taiwan. The commander of American forces in Japan, Lieutenant General Bruce Wright, told The Associated Press earlier this month that China's air defenses were now almost impenetrable to the U.S. F-15 and F-16 aircraft stationed in Asia. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Opposition to Dalai Lama's medal (SCMP)
2007-10-12
The mainland has complained to the United States over a decision to award the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. "We strongly oppose any country or person who uses the Dalai Lama to interfere in China's internal affairs," he said. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said last month that US President George W. Bush would attend the ceremony in Washington on Wednesday. ^ top ^

 

Economy

EU, China agree to end textile quotas (Xinhua)
2007-10-10
The European Union (EU) has agreed with China to end quota restrictions on Chinese textile imports with a joint surveillance system to monitor the trade flow in 2008, the European Commission said on Tuesday. The "double checking system" will track the issuing of licenses for export in China and the importation of goods into the EU, the commission said in a statement. It will operate for one year in 2008 following the end of quota restrictions on Chinese textiles and clothing, the statement said. Following a so-called "textile war," the EU and China reached an agreement in June 2005 on resuming quotas on China's textile exports to the EU, which expires at the end of 2007. Although imports of these goods will be closely monitored, their level of import will not be restricted by this arrangement, the EU's executive arm said. "I welcome this further step in the cooperation between the EU and China in ensuring a smooth transition to free trade in textiles," said EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Mandelson said a system of joint monitoring means predictability for EU producers and traders as well as a clear picture of future developments as the EU makes the final step to free global trade in textiles and clothing. According to the commission, the joint surveillance system will cover eight categories of textiles and clothing from China, namely T-shirts, pullovers, men's trousers, blouses, dresses, bras, bed linen and flax yarn. The system will be formally adopted by the commission in the coming days. On the EU side, national licensing offices will be in charge of the monitoring. ^ top ^

China resists European pressure on currency (FT)
2007-10-09
The European Union and China locked horns over exchange rates on Tuesday after authorities in Beijing deflected a European call for a rise in the level of the renminbi. Only hours after eurozone finance ministers said the renminbi's exchange rate should more accurately reflect the country's vast and growing current account surplus, China's central bank set a noticeably low official reference rate for the currency against the dollar. Market participants interpreted the action as a signal that China has no intention to yield to foreign pressure for a faster appreciation of the renminbi against the currencies of its western trade partners, although there was no firm evidence of this. A foreign ministry spokesman repeated Beijing's well-honed official line, saying the government would allow the currency to become more flexible “over time”. “We are willing to engage in dialogue and consultation with concerned parties on this issue,” he said at a regular news briefing. (...). ^ top ^

China alliance for Barclays Capital (FT)
2007-10-10
Barclays Capital will announce on Wednesday a strategic commodities alliance with China Development Bank to provide Chinese companies with risk management in the energy, base metals and emissions sectors. The agreement comes as Chinese companies' commodities consumption booms amid the country's rapid urbanisation. In spite of growing appetite for commodities and highly volatile prices in the past few years, Chinese companies are still far behind their western counterparts in the use of commodities' risk and hedging strategies, analysts said. Investment banks are rushing to tap this emerging market, opening commodities sales offices in China to boost their commodities business. The agreement with CDB might provide Barclays with some advantage against its competitors. Barclays will train CDB commodities traders and bankers and will become the Chinese bank's preferred provider of commodity market risk hedging. Benoit de Vitry, Barclays Capital head of commodities, said that the agreement would "accelerate" the bank's commodities business growth. The bank also said it will help CDB develop commodity products, focusing initially on corporate clients rather than investors, trading capabilities and commodities risk management infrastructure. Gao Jian, deputy governor of CDB, said Barclays was the right long-term partner for the bank.The agreement, which runs to 2012 and could be extended for another five-year period, is part of the banks' alliance started in July when CDB become one of Barclays' largest shareholders. ^ top ^

Billionaires bloom on back of equity, property boom (China Daily)
2007-10-11
The country's roaring stock market and soaring property prices have generated wealth for so many that the mainland now has more billionaires than any place other than the United States, according to a list released Wednesday. The list has 106 US dollar billionaires, compared with 15 last year and none in 2002, according to the popular annual The Hurun Rich List - compiled by Shanghai-based independent analyst Rupert Hoogeperf. Out of the top 10, nine own listed companies - six are real estate developers and two also derive a large percentage of their wealth from real estate, indicating that the country's economic growth is largely driven by construction and manufacturing. (...). ^ top ^

EU set to track Chinese exports (BBC)
The EU has reached an agreement with China to track Chinese exports of textiles until the end of 2008. The deal does not limit how much China can export, but should help give European firms "predictability", the European Commission said. The move is set to help European firms in the run up to 2008, when all caps on Chinese exports are to be lifted. Chinese exports have long worried European firms, who have found it hard to compete with cheap Chinese goods. "A system of joint monitoring means predictability for EU producers and traders as well as a clear picture of future developments as we make the final step to free global trade in textiles and clothing," said EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Chinese export licenses and European export permits will be used to track tee-shirts, sweaters, men's trousers, dresses, bras and bed linen among others. The move by the European Commission echoes a similar move by the US to extend the time during which it can track exports of Chinese goods before restrictions are lifted. ^ top ^

Starbucks recalls China-made mugs (Financial Times)
2007-10-11
Starbucks, the coffee shop chain, has become the latest US company to issue a voluntary recall of China-made products because of child safety concerns. Following in the heels of Mattel and Hasbro, the largest US toymakers, the Seattle-based coffee company is recalling a quarter of a million plastic children's mugs sold at its stores between May 2006 and August this year. The mugs have moulded plastic animal faces representing a ladybird, a turtle, a bunny and a chick and have a plastic top. ^ top ^

Huawei to buy large stake in 3Com (FT)
2007-10-11
Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, could acquire up to 21.5 per cent of 3Com and hold three of the 11 board seats as part of a deal to take over the US technology group with Bain Capital, but it will have “no ability to make decisions” for the company, a regulatory filing disclosed. The recently announced $2.2bn proposed bid for 3Com by Bain, a US private equity group, and Huawei, which will initially take a 16.5 per cent minority stake, has come under scrutiny in Washington, where lawmakers have expressed alarm at Huawei's allegedly close ties to the Chinese government. 3Com's products include “intrusion prevention” technology that helps clients, including the US defence department, defend themselves against hackers. (…). ^ top ^

China's plane ambitions take off (BBC)
China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I) is probably not a name that has executives at Boeing and Airbus quaking in their boots. But the Chinese aircraft maker is currently assembling a regional passenger jet that it hopes will establish China as a major plane manufacturer. The ARJ21 - which stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century - is due to have its first test flight in March next year. China believes this could be the start of a trend that will see the country build its own jumbo jets in the near future. AVIC I, a state-run consortium based in Shanghai, says the regional plane is China's first independently developed passenger jet, although it will have engines made by US firm General Electric. (...) State-run media report that 71 ARJ21s, which will initially have 70 to 90 seats, have already been sold to domestic airlines, such as Shanghai Airlines. Other deals are pending. These aircraft will be delivered from the end of 2009. A slightly larger version of the ARJ21, with 150 seats, will be produced later. There will certainly be demand for more aircraft from China. In its latest forecast, Boeing said China would require 3,400 new planes worth about $340 billion over the next 20 years. It expects China's domestic market to grow nearly fivefold by 2026, which will make it slightly larger than today's intra-North American market. (...) Mr Ballantyne agrees that China should be able to produce jumbo jets in the coming decades, but he says it might be difficult persuading airlines to buy the planes. "One of the problems in China is that even Chinese airlines do not want to buy China's own planes," he said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Chinese polluters face Olympic shutdown (FT)
2007-10-11
China is considering limiting the operations of steel­makers, petrochemical plants and other factories near Beijing for nearly two months next year in order to reduce air pollution during the Olympic Games, according to local media. The reports highlight continuing speculation about what action the government will take to try to ensure air quality does not hit dangerous levels when its often smoggy capital hosts the Games next August. It has been widely assumed that Beijing will be forced to order nearby factories to reduce or suspend operations, but Liu Qi, the head of the Olympic organising committee, last month told the Financial Times that such action was not needed. (...). ^ top ^

 

North Korea

Zone rebranded to ease N Korean anxiety (SCMP)
2007-10-11
South Korea said yesterday it had stopped citing a flagship joint project with North Korea as an example of "reform and openness" after the North's leader, Kim Jong-il, took offence at the description. The unification ministry, which handles relations with the North, "deleted such words - reform and openness - from its website this week", a spokesman said. "It is in line with the [South Korean] president's remarks following a summit in Pyongyang," the spokesman said. The website previously said the Seoul-funded industrial estate in the North's border city of Kaesong would provide "a basis for future reform and openness" of the North. President Roh Moo-hyun held a rare summit with Mr Kim in Pyongyang last week. He said at the time he "could feel a sense of distrust and disapproval of our use of the terms `reform' and `opening' during the meetings". The North wanted Kaesong to be developed faster, Mr Roh said, but did not view it the same way as the South. The South sees Kaesong, which employs 19,430 North Koreans and 800 South Koreans in 26 factories, as a flagship project to reform the North's moribund economy and ease the massive costs of any eventual reunification. "We have often referred to the Kaesong complex as an example of reform and opening, but those terms reflect only the southern point of view," Mr Roh said last week. During a visit to Kaesong last Thursday on his way home, Mr Roh called it a place "where South and North Korea become one and work together for joint development, not a place where one is trying to force the other into reform and openness". Supporters of Kaesong visualise it eventually becoming a North Korean version of Shenzhen. The South Korean government is eyeing a target of 450 companies and 700,000 workers by 2012, although some industrialists there complain of customs regulations and other red tape. The project's management, the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee, said yesterday that the accumulated production value of goods manufactured at the industrial complex had exceeded US$200 million. Analysts say Mr Kim sees full economic reform as a threat to his regime and its control over the crumbling centrally directed economy. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Scholarship for 109 in NUM (UB Post)
2007-10-11
Altogether 109 students of the National University of Mongolia have received scholarships for their entire period of study there from 2006 to 2010. The awards came from the Zorig Foundation(ZF) with support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).The third annual award ceremony under the program was held on Monday. Of the 109 chosen, 94 students are from Ulaanbaatar, five from Gobi-Altai, and ten from Khovd. Among those present at the ceremony were Dubach Marcus, honorary consul of Switzerland who is also the SDC representative here, S. Oyun, head of the ZF and Member of Parliament, and members of the ZF Board of Directors. The scholarship is given to students who face difficulty in continuing their studies because of financial hardship. Academic excellence is, however, not the sole criterion for selection. Participation in community activities is also taken into consideration. Scholarship recipients must develop and implement some project to benefit society every year. The 94 students from Ulaanbaatar city will be divided into 12 teams and will start developing their projects soon. ^ top ^

To Russia, Without Visa (UB Post)
2007-10-11
Mongolian and Russians should once again be able to travel to each other.s country without requiring visas. The old system is likely to be restored in the near future, maybe as early as the beginning of next year, according to reports on the talks held by Mongolian Foreign Minister N. Enkhbold in Moscow on October 3-5..(…). ^ top ^

A first for UN representative (Mongol Messenger)
2007-10-11
On October 1, Resident Representative from Mongolia to UN, O.Enkhtsetseg, presented her letter of trust to UN Secretary General, Ban ki-moon . She discussed Mongolia-UN cooperation and other mutually interesting issues with the UN Secretary General. Mrs Enkhtsetseg has became the first woman UN Resident Representative from Mongolia. ^ top ^

Austria looks to open air routes (Mongol Messenger)
2007-10-11
On October 3, Austrian Ambassador to Mongolia, Dr Martin Sadjdik presented his credentials to President of Mongolia, N. Enkhbayar. The President said Mongolia was a gate to emerging markets of China and Northeast Asia. He noted recent rapid development of relations, particularly in education, science and cultural sectors between Mongolia and Austria with their long historic relationship. He said this was a strong base for further development of economic relations. ^ top ^

 

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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