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
  8.12-14.12.07, No. 195  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

Beijing Olympics

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

OECD official: China's role in Africa welcome (People's Daily)
2007-12-10
Increased interest in Africa by emerging economies such as China and India is good news for the continent, said an official of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Saturday. "It is a major event and good news for Africa to have new players entering in the playground," said Javier Santiso, OECD chief development economist. […] He said the China-Africa relationship is not focused on minerals and oil, as critics have claimed, but also on infrastructure and telecommunications. China is also involved in agriculture in Africa, he said. […] Luis Riera, a European Commission official on development policy, also welcomed China's involvement in Africa. He said the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union (EU), would like to coordinate with China and other major players on Africa policy. […]. ^ top ^

UN hopes China play bigger role in stabilizing Haiti (People's Daily)
2007-12-10
Hedi Annabi, U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations and chief of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, said Friday that he hoped China could play a bigger role in stabilizing Haiti. […] Annabi spoke highly of China's contribution to the peacekeeping mission, saying the Chinese riot squad and police stationed here are working hard and have demonstrated their professional capabilities. […] According to Annabi, China has become a big contributor to the U.N. peacekeeping efforts in the world. "China's role in Haiti is very important. I expect it to play a role even larger," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Japan takes China to task on yuan omission (SCMP)
2007-12-10
[…] Foreign Minister Masahiko Kumura said Japan had asked China to reinstate an omitted reference to Tokyo's wish to see the yuan rise in value. "The point that Japan raised about foreign exchange was omitted because of some sort of mistake. So we are telling them: `One whole item was dropped, so please put it in'," Mr Kumura said. On December 1, senior ministers from the two countries met in Beijing for their first high-level bilateral economics meeting. The two nations issued a joint press communique after the meeting. In the part that was dropped from the Chinese version, the statement said Tokyo "welcomed the Chinese policy direction to increase the flexibility of the rate of the yuan. Japan also expressed its hope that China would make efforts to tolerate a faster appreciation of the real exchange rate of the yuan". […]. ^ top ^

EU diplomatic pace hard to halt (People's Daily)
2007-12-11
[…] The three summit meetings have been so close to one another chronologically, and it should be said that his is some sort of coincidence. […] Meanwhile, with a continuous increase in its power, EU also has raised new claims or desires of its own. And United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has also placed his high hope on it with regard to the Kosovo issue. Of course, the "America factor" has injected vigor and enthusiasm into the active diplomacy of EU. The United States knows very clearly that its strength alone is not enough to deal with such tough issues as the Iranian nuclear issue and the Palestine-Israel conflict, but needs a helping hand from its allies on the other side of the Atlantic. […] EU hopes to cut a deficit in its trade with China and increase its market access via the China-EU summit and, through the way of holding its summit with India, steps up its free trade ties with India and finds a way out for numerous European firms and, by means of the EU/AU summit, it beefs up cooperation with its EU/AU organizations and goes on exporting the "EU model". Furthermore, it takes on a momentum to export its "soft power" by working hard to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, dispatching troops to Darfur region and striving to maneuver in the Middle East issue. Overall, EU effort has so far achieved little on the Iranian nuclear issue, scored no major progress on the Middle East Issue, and the security and stability situation in the Congo (Kin) and Sudan and other places remains a question despite money and forces it has dispatched there. […]. ^ top ^

Myanmar trade deals signed (SCMP)
2007-12-11
The mainland has signed trade deals worth more than 3.3 billion yuan with politically isolated Myanmar, China News Service reported yesterday. The deals, which were signed at a trade fair in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, cover 32 projects including tourism, the timber industry, mining and agricultural products. The two sides have also agreed to simplify border-crossing procedures. The report said more than 50,000 business leaders and merchants had taken part in the trade fair. ^ top ^

Wu Yi rips US over trade barriers, media criticisms - 'Iron Lady' has harsh words at the opening of talks (SCMP)
2007-12-12
Wangling over product safety and trade came to the fore yesterday when China and the United States opened talks in Beijing, with Vice-Premier Wu Yi hitting out at the US for imposing trade barriers and accusing the US media of "exaggerating" the product quality problem. The tough stance by China's "Iron Lady" was delivered during the opening ceremony of the 18th Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, when Ms Wu said that "unharmonious notes" have been struck in Sino-US trade ties this year. […]. ^ top ^

China, US ink 14 agreements (China Daily)
2007-12-13
China and the United States signed 14 agreements yesterday at the end of talks under the umbrella of the bilateral Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. Following is a summary of the main agreements: To ensure the safety of food products and animal feed exported from China, exporters will be required to register with the Chinese government and certify the safety of their products. Medical devices, drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients must be certified as meeting agreed standards. Guidelines were agreed that outline methods for working together on safe and secure civilian high-technology trade. The two countries will exchange information on the import and export of alcohol and tobacco products. The two countries will work together on the scientific, technical and policy aspects of bio-fuels and will promote their production and use. ^ top ^

China, ROK vow to enhance comprehensive partnership (People's Daily)
2007-12-12
[…] Chinese President Hu Jintao made the remarks during a meeting with the ROK Prime Minister Han Duck Soo. Hu said China would like to work with the ROK to maintain the good momentum in the bilateral relations and promote a comprehensive and cooperative partnership. […] Han Duck Soo said the comprehensive and cooperative partnership between the ROK and China had developed in an all-round way. He praised China for its effort to push forward the six-party talks process, saying that his country would work with China to ensure peace and prosperity in northeast Asia. […] Han Duck Soo echoed the sentiment that ROK would enhance parliamentary exchanges with China. ^ top ^

Chinese officials consider legal action over German terracotta army fakes (People's Daily)
2007-12-14
Chinese cultural officials on Thursday said they are considering legal action against the German exhibitors of fake Chinese terracotta army statues, which they describe as a "fraud." "It is a serious act of fraud and has implications for intellectual property rights," said Chen Xianqi, a spokesman for the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Cultural Heritage, in Xi'an, home of the 2,200-year-old terracotta army.
[…] German news agency dpa Wednesday quoted Yolna Grimm, of Center of Chinese Arts and Culture, as saying the Center had never said the figures were original, but that they were "authentic". "To us, authentic means they are ceramic, life-sized and comparable with the originals." […]. ^ top ^

Chinese President calls for further Sino-U.S. cooperation after economic talks (Xinhua)
2007-12-14
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday called for further cooperation between China and the U.S.as the two countries wound up two days of economic talks with a slew of agreements in Beijing. "I hope the two sides can make efforts to perfect the dialogue so that it can better serve the overall development of the Sino-U.S. constructive and cooperative relations," Hu told a delegation to the Third Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) headed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. […] China was willing to work with the U.S., from a strategic and long-term view, to further cooperation in international and regional issues, Hu said. […] Paulson said […] "The quality of our discussions has improved over the last year, as we have come to know one another better.". ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Official pledges support for publication of Bible (China Daily)
2007-12-10
The country's top religious affairs official has pledged to continue support for the printing and publication of the Bible, even as the religious text here hit a milestone of 50 million copies published. "The country respects and protects religious freedom," said Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs. […]. ^ top ^

Over 6,000 malfeasant officials investigated (China Daily)
2007-12-11
The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) announced here that in the past five years 6,205 malfeasant officials nationwide were investigated and punished for their illegal activities. The ascertained crime led to about 598 million yuan (79.7 million US dollars) worth of economic loss, the Procuratorial Daily reported on Monday […] Their illegal activities ranged from practicing favoritism, forging legal documents, hiding facts or misconducting. Another 1,451 administrative officials were probed on their practices purposeful short taxation, improper approval of land seizure, indulgence of fake goods manufacturers or vendors. They were from industrial and commercial administrations, taxation offices, customs, land administrations, environmental protection agencies, inspection and quarantine organs, and medical and drug regulation bodies, the newspaper said. ^ top ^

Another year of water shortages for Guangdong - Province faces supply problems as rivers become too polluted (SCMP)
2007-12-11
The country's economic heartland, Guangdong, will face another year of severe human-induced water shortages, media reported yesterday. Although the province had a relatively plentiful supply of water compared with many others, much of it is unfit for human consumption because of pollution, Xinhua said. The news agency said almost 40 per cent of the province's rivers were too polluted to be used as sources of drinking water, and about 60 per cent of waste water flowed back into the environment untreated. […]. ^ top ^

Thousands in limbo over delay in giant water diversion project (SCMP)
2007-12-11
Officials in Nanyang, Henan, where about 160,000 people will be moved in the next few years to make way for the central route for the South-North Water Diversion Project, described it as "an arduous task", China News Service said. Yao Longqi, a vice-mayor of Nanyang, went on to complain that despite talks of imminent resettlement for years, the relocation scheme had yet to start, and the local economy and people's livelihoods had been badly affected by the project, according to a local-government website. […] The ambitious project, designed to channel some 50 billion cubic metres of water from the Yangtze River northwards along three routes, has been under way since 2002 despite growing fears over its effectiveness, huge resettlement scheme and worsening river pollution. With up to 14.5 billion cubic metres of water a year diverted northwards from the Danjiangkou reservoir, the central route of the project will displace 330,000 people in five cities and counties in Hubei and Henan by 2010. More than 500 sq km of land in Nanyang, including nearly 9,000 hectares of farmland, will be submerged, at an economic cost of at least 4 billion yuan, the agency's report said. ^ top ^

Bloomberg pushes free media (SCMP)
2007-12-11
Information controls are a barrier to social progress and innovation, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Beijing yesterday as he began a visit to China. […] Attempts to control information online or in more traditional forms would "undermine progress", he told a conference on innovation. "Access to information is a strength, not a threat, and it is a fundamental part of innovation." Beijing also would increasingly realise that lax legal protections for intellectual property would cause innovators to take their business overseas or stop innovation altogether. "China should be the champion of property-rights protection - not the `Wild West' where anything goes and something for nothing is accepted practice," he said. "In the long run, nations that protect and incentivise innovation will have an enormous edge over those that don't." […]. ^ top ^

Four jailed over missing uranium (SCMP)
2007-12-12
A Guangzhou court has ordered four people from Hunan to serve three to five years in jail for selling highly radioactive uranium ore that could be used in a nuclear bomb, a human rights group said yesterday. What's more, the 8kg of uranium ore, which has sickened more than 20 people, including the four defendants, is still missing, posing a serious threat to public health, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said. The men […] were sentenced on Monday, the centre said, without giving details of their prison terms. It said the uranium, which is enough to produce a nuclear bomb, may have been bought by Hong Kong or Macau buyers because the defendants claimed to have targeted overseas clients. In January, Guangzhou police arrested six people, including the four, after receiving reports from an informant who pretended to buy the ore. But police found only several grams of samples on one of the defendants, who all claimed that the rest was lost in a Ningyuan county hotel room by their partner in Hunan. Reports had said the four were farmers and miners and none had realised the danger. They used a plastic bag, a sack and carbon paper to pack the ore during their attempts to process, store, move and sell it. Yang even used a home sieve to "refine" the uranium ore to raise its purity from 47 per cent to 56.7 per cent, after a buyer offered him 12.8 million yuan. […]. ^ top ^

Action plan to fight human trafficking finalized (China Daily)
2007-12-13
[…] The National Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking (2008-12) covers prevention, prosecution of criminals, victim assistance, repatriation, recovery and international cooperation, Du Hangwei, director of the criminal investigation bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, told a conference in Beijing. He said the plan, involving 28 ministries including public security, foreign affairs, and labor and social security, aims to "provide sustainable and long-term solutions to human trafficking". […] Du Wednesday reiterated that there would be zero tolerance for the crime and called for more cooperation among neighboring countries as trafficking is an international issue. […]. ^ top ^

Global giants on pollution blacklist in China (Xinhua)
2007-12-14
Forty multinationals are among some 4,000 firms on an air pollution blacklist released Thursday. Top companies such as Michelin China, Sina-Mars Group APP in China, the joint ventures of Toyota and Ford, and subsidiaries of Sinopec figure on the list of the China Air Pollution Map, compiled by the Beijing-based non-governmental Institute of Public and Environment Affairs (IPEA). […] The air pollution map is the second such blacklist launched by the group. The China Water Pollution Map has made public details of about 9,400 water violations since last year, including those involving up to 280 foreign firms. The water map has led 50 companies, including two local players, to respond; and two have cleared their names so far. To get their names removed from the blacklist, the companies need to comply with the rules and undergo a third-party audit. Ma expressed the hope that the lists will pressure polluters to make improvements and encourage more people to join in the clean efforts. ^ top ^

Beijing refuses to relax grip on yuan, financial services (SCMP)
2007-12-14
Beijing refused to bow to US pressure to loosen its grip on currency controls and open its financial services sector to greater foreign competition, but US companies will be allowed to list on stock markets under a series of commitments thrashed out during yesterday's economic talks. The United States promised in return that mainland banks applying to set up US subsidiaries would be given the same treatment as domestic banks, while mainland lenders will be allowed to make portfolio investments in US stocks for the first time. "China isn't ready to have a market-determined currency, but they are moving in that direction," US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said at the close of the third strategic economic dialogue. Although the yuan's annual pace of appreciation has accelerated from 3.4 per cent last year to 6.1 per cent this year, US officials believe that a much faster rise is needed to help trim the mainland's soaring trade surplus - to make its exports more expensive and cut the price of imports. […] "Both the banking and the securities regulators have said they will open up the market over time, but we wish they would raise the equity caps now," said David McCormick, under secretary of the US Treasury for international affairs and a leading adviser to Mr Paulson. US officials said the much criticised two-year moratorium on the licensing of new joint-venture securities companies had finally been lifted, although regulations detailing the form of new foreign-invested brokerages have yet to be released. Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse are said to be the first in line to join Goldman Sachs and UBS, the only foreign institutions with joint-venture securities companies. Analysts said that Beijing had maintained its tight grip on the financial services industry and remained averse to allowing foreign competition into the market. […] "There is clearly demand for any company doing business in China and investing in China to be able to finance yourself in renminbi," Mr Paulson said. Similarly, letting mutual funds managed by mainland banks invest in US stocks will be welcomed by fund managers in New York waiting for the so-called "Great Wall of Chinese liquidity" to hit US shores, but it is also another move by Beijing to loosen the nation's capital account and drain excess liquidity from the domestic economy. "The US capital market is huge, so in terms of real impact Chinese investment may not be that significant. But it's an important first step," said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist at HSBC. ^ top ^

More democracy 'possible' by 2012 (SCMP)
2007-12-14
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung says there is room for the election of both the chief executive and the Legislative Council to become more democratic in 2012. But he refused to speculate about whether the National People's Congress Standing Committee would allow changes to electoral methods in 2012, or comment on timetables. Speaking on an RTHK programme yesterday, the minister said the Basic Law already encompassed the idea of attaining universal suffrage so there might be room for electoral methods to become more democratic in 2012. […] Mr Lam said he hoped the NPC Standing Committee, which meets at the end of next month, would decide on the report as soon as possible. Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie said the meeting agenda had yet to be decided. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Campaign launched against ATM limit (SCMP)
2007-12-10
A city-wide signature campaign is being launched by the Liberal Party against the controversial plan by HSBC to raise the minimum for cash withdrawals from cash machines to HK$300. Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said the bank's decision was disappointing. He also criticised it for having failed to consult the public. The bank announced last week that from January 6, the minimum cash withdrawal from its ATMs would be increased from HK$100 to HK$300. The bank said the goal was to shorten customer waiting times by up to 10 per cent. The move, however, has sparked a public outcry. […] "If HSBC really wants to cut the waiting time, a simple and easy way is to set up more ATMs. "More importantly, there is no evidence that the long waiting time is because too many people withdraw money at ATMs. We all know that many services are now provided by ATMs, like paying fees." […]. ^ top ^

HK monetary authority launches electronic platform for bond trading (Xinhua)
2007-12-11
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced Monday it was to launch an electronic trading platform for exchange fund bills and notes (EFBNs). The platform will start operation Tuesday, the Monetary Authority said. […] The platform was expected to help "enhance price transparency among the market players and streamline the trading process," it added. The trading platform has been designed to be flexible, allowing it to be set up according to the specific requirements of individual market players. […] Besides local market players, overseas investors are also encouraged to use the platform when trading bonds and other financial instruments issued in Hong Kong.

 

Macau

Macau losing billions from betting scam; High-rollers' illegal side wagers cuts stake for casinos, taxman (SCMP)
2007-12-10
[…] Lost or skimmed revenue due to so-called side betting could represent almost 80 per cent of the officially reported VIP gaming market or around 50 per cent of all reported casino revenues, according to estimates by industry executives. […] At the estimated volumes it would represent the world's biggest known incidence of casino skimming to date. […] Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, five senior executives at licensed Macau casino operators responded to a South China Morning Post survey attempting to gauge the extent of side betting. […] The actual turnover of side bets is probably impossible to ascertain due to the secretive nature of the wagers. "I don't have precise figures on the dimensions of side betting," Mr Neves said. "But I do not believe the number is as high as what you referred to since there are so many risks subjacent to this activity." […] Junket operators caught accepting side bets face a maximum three years in prison, while players face up to six months. To date no one has been convicted of such an offence, in part reflecting the difficulty of detection. […] Side betting may also be driven by Macau's high gaming tax rate, set at 40 per cent of gross casino winnings. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Beijing dismisses report on religious repression in Tibet (SCMP)
2007-12-12
Beijing has dismissed accusations that religious repression is increasing in Tibet, and accused the exiled Dalai Lama of wanting to reintroduce serfdom to the region. London-based Tibet Watch said Beijing had started building police stations close to, or even inside, monasteries, limiting the number of monks or nuns and making them take exams to prove their loyalty to China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he thought so little of the report that he would not comment on it directly. "Their lies are too many," he said, adding that the Dalai Lama wanted to restore what he called "a terrible dark system of serfdom". ^ top ^

 

Economy

China acts 'responsibly' in its currency reform (China Daily)
2007-12-11
China has reformed its foreign exchange regime with utmost responsibility, and further reforms will be pursued in accordance with evolving national and international conditions, analysts have said. […] [The China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED)] is not a negotiating table but a forum at which the two sides can better understand each other and understand the logic behind their respective policies," Zhao said. […] The exchange rate policy, Zhao said, has to conform to changing domestic and international conditions and should be worked out in the best interest of the world economy instead of just a single economy - be it the US or the EU. The country's currency reform, analysts say, needs time. […] Revaluation of the yuan, some experts argued, would not necessarily reduce China's trade surplus and its foreign currency reserves. […] Some Chinese experts, however, favor a "speedy revaluation" of the yuan. "The relatively speedy revaluation (of the yuan) can help curb inflation, which has been rising," Peking University professor Xia Yeliang said. ^ top ^

Foreign investment up 14% (China Daily)
2007-12-14
The nation received $61.67 billion of foreign capital for the first 11 months this year, up 13.66 percent compared with the same period last year, the commerce ministry said Thursday. The government approved over 34,000 foreign-invested enterprises during the same period, down by 7.02 percent. […] A new directive for the first time allows foreign investment in the futures market, grid construction and operation. It also encourages foreign capital in service outsourcing and logistics sectors. China will continue to provide favorable tax policies to encourage foreign investment in certain sectors, Vice-Minister of Commerce Ma Xiuhong, said. […] However, foreign investment in some export-driven industries will no longer be encouraged under the new policy, according to a spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). […] Vice-Premier Wu Yi said earlier this week that China would not change its stance in expanding the use of foreign capital. "China's door has been and will be resolutely open to the outside world," she said during the opening ceremony of the 18th Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, on Tuesday. ^ top ^

 

Avian flu

Beijing issues winter bird flu warning (SCMP)
2007-12-11
China has warned of a “very high” possibility of outbreaks of bird flu over winter and spring as the country hunts for the causal link between a son and a father struck by the virus, state media said on Tuesday. […] Beijing's agriculture ministry was “not optimistic” about winter and spring, when the virus is at its most contagious, the China Daily quoted Yin Chengjie, a vice minister of agriculture, as saying. Methods of poultry breeding, slaughter, delivery and processing still needed “radical changes”, and prevention measures were not fully carried out in some regions, Yin said. He called on local authorities to step up immunisation efforts and testing of birds at border areas and local wetlands. Authorities have now confirmed 27 human infections of bird flu, with 17 deaths. The rare case of two family members struck by the disease has drawn urgent concern from health authorities, as humans almost always contract H5N1 from infected birds. Xinhua earlier reported that the son had had no contact with dead poultry and there had been no reported bird flu outbreak in poultry in Jiangsu province. Experts fear the virus could mutate into a strain that jumps easily from person to person. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Foreign reporters eager to present real China (China Daily)
2007-12-10
French journalist Caroline Puel wants to present the real China to her readers, who are eager to know more about the country with the Beijing Olympic Games just eight months away. "Most of the time, when you speak about China in France, people think about the ancient culture, the history and traditions, not much about the China (as it is) today," Puel said on Friday. "My job is to present modern China to my readers." […] China has pledged to intensify efforts to facilitate reporting on the Olympic Games. ^ top ^

Writers urge Olympic clemency (SCMP)
2007-12-12
[…] The International PEN, which champions writers' freedoms in 101 countries, made the appeal on Monday in a letter to President Hu and China's top judge and prosecutor. The letter listed 40 Chinese jailed for "exercising their right to speak and write freely", including Lu Gengsong, who was arrested this year for posting articles critical of communist rule on the internet. […] "With all eyes on China this year, we look forward to the good news that our colleagues have been released," read the letter. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S Korea struggles to clean up oil leak after ship collision (Xinhua)
2007-12-10
Thousands of South Korean troops and volunteers Sunday are cleaning up crude oil gushed into the sea after a 146,000-ton supertanker Hebei Spirit collided with a South Korean barge ship Friday. The damaged supertanker has already stopped leaking oil, officials said, pumping the remaining oil out of the last of three containers. But with over 10,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the Yellow Sea and now polluting a long stretch of coastline. The thick layer of pungent crude oil started crashing ashore Saturday at Mallipo, one of South Korea's best-known beaches 150 kilometers southwest of Seoul. […] The South Korean government has sent 90 vessels and six planes to the spot soon after the accident to prevent further spreading of the floating oil. ^ top ^

Two Koreas restore rail link after 50 years (SCMP)
2007-12-11
The two Koreas on Tuesday started their first regular train service since the 1950-1953 war by sending freight cars across their heavily armed border for a run hailed as a milestone in reconciliation. The South has been pushing to re-open the rail link cut for more than half a century so it could shuttle goods to an industrial park it operates just inside the North where its manufacturing companies have access to cheap labour and land. […] South Korea had restored tracks across the landmine strewn border but had struggled to win approval from the isolated North, nervous of any contact with the outside world, in order to resume a train service. […] The two Koreas are technically still at war, having failed to sign a peace agreement to replace the ceasefire that ended their conflict. South Korea's next goal is to run its freight and passenger trains through North Korea and into China and Russia and onto Europe. ^ top ^

Tempers flare during North-South negotiations (SCMP)
2007-12-14
Military officers from North and South Korea engaged in a shoving match and a war of words yesterday over their disputed sea border, on the second day of talks dominated by the thorny issue. The general-level talks at the frontier truce village of Panmunjom aim to make security arrangements so that proposed joint economic projects including a shared fishing area can go ahead. But the row over the Yellow Sea border known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL), which caused the breakdown of the last round in July, surfaced again. […] North Korea wants it sited south of the sea border, which it refuses to recognise. The South says it should straddle the NLL, which was drawn unilaterally by United Nations forces after the 1950-53 war. Yesterday, the South took issue with attempts by a North Korean officer to show a slide displaying the North's proposal to reporters. A South Korean naval officer rushed over and stopped the North Korean, triggering an argument, according to a reporter at the talks. The North Korean tried to push the South Korean away but the Southern officer refused to budge and managed to stop the slide being displayed. The North's chief delegate, Lieutenant General Kim Yong-chol, then launched an angry attack on his counterpart over the way Seoul was handling the talks. In a press release late on Wednesday, the South Korean Defence Ministry said the North agreed to allow South Korean workers and tourists to use the internet and wired and wireless telephone services at two major inter-Korean joint-venture areas - the Kaesong industrial complex just north of the border and the Mount Kumgang resort on the east coast. The North also agreed to simplify customs checks for South Korean visitors, and expand the hours the military border would be open, according to the ministry. General Kim said South Korea was publicising what it wanted its people to know, while keeping more important issues secret. The North wants full media coverage of the talks. South Korean officials resist this, saying General Kim wants to use the press to highlight demands for a new sea border. "Our side accepted your demands out of goodwill, but your side refused to do so [accept our demands]," General Kim said. "Your side should apologise. We cannot expect any results since your side does not trust us." He told his counterpart Major General Lee Hong-kee: "You should have taken the interests of a group into consideration, not your personal interests. This must not happen at upcoming talks ... all those who watched the scene are angry." General Lee responded that both sides had narrowed differences on border crossing, communications and customs, and he voiced "regret" over General Kim's remarks. He also called for an apology. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Remaining Cabinet Ministers Submitted for Approval (UB Post)
2007-12-13
This past Tuesday, candidates for the three remaining vacant minister posts in the new coalition government were submitted for approval. Prime Minister S. Bayar, nominated R. Rash to the Minister of Road, Transport and Tourism, Ch. Khurelbaatar, to the G. Shiilegdamda is Deputy Minister of Road, Transport and Tourism. Earlier, the environment ministry was to be allocated to the Republican Party, but the Republican Party refused to sign a political agreement with the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party. Bayar withdrew Ts. Davaadorj of the Republican party, as candidate for the post of Minister of Environment. Bayar is proposing Ch. Khurelbaatar for the second time to President N. Enkhbayar for consultation. Earlier, the President rejected Ch. Khurelbaatar along with Ch. Ganzorig, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade. The Prime Minister is likely to appoint Ganzorig to the post of Chief Executive Officer of the Mongolian- Russian Erdenet Joint Venture instead. Last week, the Parliament approved 12 cabinet ministers for the new coalition government. Minister of Fuel and Energy, and G. Shiilegdamba to the Minister of Environment. Names were submitted to President N. Enkhbayar for political consultation. Once approved, the State Great Hural (Parliament) will make its final decision. R. Rash, is a Member of Parliament, and former chief officer of the Ulaanbaatar Railway. Ch. Khurelbaatar is a state secretary of the Ministry of Finance, who was a key government representative in the negotiation of the Oyu Tolgoi agreement with the Canadian invested Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia, Inc. ^ top ^

Democracy celebrates its birthday (UB Post)
2007-12-13
The lyrics of this song and its melody were the seeds of democracy and in the hearts of Mongolians, 18 years ago, while against communist rule. It's the national pride of Mongolia that there was no force and violence used in order to bring about democracy. It was executed by peaceful means; there was a peaceful fight for democracy in the 1990s. […] But Mongolia's democracy is still very young and vulnerable and can be damaged. The Mongolian Democratic Association (MDA) […] organized its first meeting in February, 1990 and declared the foundation of the Democratic Association in a public meeting. Democracy brought many changes including travel to foreign countries. […] From the MDA, many political parties were born, said by Kh. Battulga. Over 3,000 people, including current parliament members, Kh. Battulga, B. Batbaatar Z. Enkhbold, Ch. Ulaan, Minister of Finance, D. Dorligjav, General Secretary of the Democratic Party, G. Baasan, head of the Mongolian Free Senior Association and partisans, and supporters attended the event. They organized a meeting at the State Central Cultural Palace where Sh. Nina was awarded MCD's Human Rights award and received a key for a two room apartment. She was the sole attendee from the hunger strike 18 years ago. […]. ^ top ^

 

Novella Bellonia
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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