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
  24.12-28.12.07, No. 197  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Japanese PM hopes to elevate Japan-China ties to new level (People's Daily)
2007-12-26
[…] During an interview with Xinhua and other Chinese media at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Fukuda said he is "glad" to visit China in this memorable year marking the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-China diplomatic ties. "I expect to further promote the development trend of Japan-China ties so that next year bilateral ties can develop even faster and move into a new stage," he said. […] He said that the sound Japan-China ties not only benefit the two countries but also play an important role in maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and that "the two peoples also take great responsibility for the region and should make joint efforts" in that respect. […] He said China's economic development is important to Japan's economic growth, adding that "bilateral ties have become increasingly complementary, and one cannot do without the other." China is Japan's largest trading partner while Japan is the largest investor in China, Fukuda said. Further promotion of economic cooperation and exchange is important to the healthy growth of both countries' economies as well as the stability and development of Asia and the world, he added. […] Japan is ready to promote dialogue and exchange with China in all areas and at all levels with emphasis on exchange between the young people who shoulder the countries' future, Fukuda said. Regarding environmental protection and energy, Fukuda said […] "Environmental protection and energy are important issues of cooperation between Japan and China in building mutually beneficial relations which can contribute to Asia and the world," he said. Japan is ready to cooperate with China in promoting efficiency of coal-fired power generation, water purification and a recycling economy, said Fukuda, adding that the two neighbors have already started work in those fields through a joint committee on environmental protection and high-level economic dialogue. […] He said in the interview that he plans to make detailed suggestions on bilateral cooperation in environmental protection and energy during his visit. The premier also said he expects to discuss the East China Sea issue, climate change and the Korean Peninsula issue with Chinese leaders during his meetings in Beijing. The Japanese prime minister is scheduled to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, and meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo. […]. ^ top ^

Red carpet treatment for Japanese PM (SCMP)
2007-12-28
[…] The highest levels of protocol are expected to be on display today when Premier Wen Jiabao hosts a welcome ceremony. […] "We'll give Mr Fukuda warm, friendly and suitable treatment because this is an important visit that has significant meaning for improving Sino-Japanese relations," he said.

After arriving at Beijing airport (SEHK: 0694) at about 5pm, Mr Fukuda and his delegation headed to a dinner with Japanese embassy officials. His schedule today will be tight and includes meetings with Mr Wen, President Hu Jintao and National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo. An agreement on co-operation to deal with climate change and another on youth exchanges will be among a number signed today, the Japanese official said. Other issues to be touched on include energy co-operation, further promotion of trade ties and the long-running dispute over gas exploration in the East China Sea, the official added. He said Mr Fukuda would also discuss regional issues such as North Korea's denuclearisation. […] Some activists had been told by the central government to restrain themselves during the visit to create a "friendly environment", said leading campaigner Tong Zeng, president of the Chinese Civilian Association for Safeguarding the Diaoyu Islands. "Given that Mr Fukuda is an old friend of China, Chinese people now have higher hopes of better ties between the two countries," he said. ^ top ^

China-Pakistan joint venture launched in E Pakistan (People's Daily)
2007-12-28
The Pak-China Investment Company (PCICL), the first joint venture between Pakistan and China in financial sector, was launched Thursday in eastern Pakistan's Lahore city. A launch ceremony was held at the governor house in Lahore, capital of Punjab province, marking that the company founded in July become operational in the country. The joint venture, split 50:50 between the two sides, will perform investment banking business on commercial basis in the financial, infrastructure, services, mining, industrial manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors in Pakistan with registered capital of 200 million U.S. dollars. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China to tighten supervision of law enforcement, judicial system, Hu says (People's Daily)
2007-12-26
The reform of China's law enforcement and judicial system will focus on limiting and supervising the use of power, said Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Tuesday. […] The reform is intended to close the loopholes in the system that the public complains most about and to regulate law enforcement activities so as to create a fair and effective system, he said, adding that malpractice would be targeted. Law enforcement and judicial branches of government should prioritize the rights and interests of the people and try their best to solve the problems that matter most to the public, while working to protect state security, he said. Special attention must be paid to curbing crimes and maintaining law and order through preventive measures and penalties, Hu said. "The Party organs at all levels shall set an example of abiding by the Constitution and laws and support the work of law enforcement," said Hu, who is also the General Secretary of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC). The President also asked the police, the procuratorates and courts to improve staff training. The country needs to promote the public awareness of the law and ensure that the rule of law is part of the behavior of every citizen, Hu said. […]. ^ top ^

Guangdong's new party chief sets out targets (SCMP)
2007-12-27
New Guangdong party chief Wang Yang […] delivered a long speech on Tuesday at the second session of the 10th Guangdong People's Congress committee - a meeting that is to pave the way for next month's general assembly of lawmakers in Guangdong. Mr Wang set goals for the province next year, including a 9 per cent year-on-year increase in its gross domestic product, a 4 per cent cut in sulfur dioxide emissions and a 3.5 per cent decrease in energy consumption per unit of GDP. He also asked provincial officials to ensure Guangdong's pioneer status in nationwide reform, develop an innovative spirit, speed up the development of the economy and democracy, protect people's democratic rights, and solve livelihood issues, the report said. Mr Wang said investment-oriented economic growth in the province had led to increasing social problems, such as serious environmental pollution, energy shortages and excessive land exploitation. He blamed the worsening problems on lower-level authorities' shortsighted pursuit of profits and local interests. […] The new party boss said he would impose a new composite evaluation system to assess the performance of municipal officials. He lashed out at local governments for complacency and lacking the urgency displayed by officials. He urged administrations to be aware of the urban-rural divide, energy shortages and the need to improve people's lives and public security. Mr Wang said the provincial government should aim to cut the size of the permanent population, improve the education and skills of residents and move out of labour-intensive industry. He did not refer to expanding co-operation with Hong Kong. […]. ^ top ^

High courts to offload first hearings (China Daily)
2007-12-28
From April, high courts will no longer handle first hearings of civil and commercial trials, except for major cases approved by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), a top judge said this week. Cao Jianming, vice-president of the SPC […] said the move will free the high courts from unnecessary caseloads that could be handled by lower courts. The changes will come into effect at the same time as the modified Civil Procedure Law. The SPC will designate first hearings to the high courts if the case is considered to be of major local significance, or is related to official policy, public welfare or considered to be "highly socially sensitive". Caseloads for intermediate and other lower level courts are expected to increase, signifying a "test as well as a push for their judicial capacity", Cao said. […] Referring to criminal trials, Cao called on courts to "severely punish infiltrative, subversive and splittist activities to safeguard State security". "Courts will continue to focus heavily on cases of serious violence, frequently occurring criminal activities such as theft and robbery, terrorism, gangster-related crimes, and crimes that disrupt the socialist market economic order," he said. Cao also called for "better performance" from courts in dealing with civil trials, highlighting their role in creating a harmonious society. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Veteran activist held on Beijing protest mission (SCMP)
2007-12-28
A protest mission to Beijing launched by the League of Social Democrats suffered a setback last night when veteran activist Lo Chau was led away by police at Beijing airport (SEHK: 0694) despite being allowed to take a flight to the capital from Shenzhen after crossing the border. Mr Lo was released at about 9pm after being detained for almost three hours. He said he was not questioned or given an explanation for his detention. He said he would write a letter and present it in a petition today to the NPC complaints office calling for universal suffrage in 2012. He became the sole protester after three of his colleagues were turned away at the Lo Wu checkpoint. "I hope the NPC Standing Committee will respect Hong Kong's hope for the introduction of universal suffrage by 2012. I will take the message to the NPC's complaint office," Mr Lo said after arriving in Beijing. Almost immediately after being greeted by the media, Mr Lo was led away by more than 30 uniformed and plainclothes public security officers. He was not seen again before being freed. Mr Lo - a veteran activist from the movement to demonstrate Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, which are also claimed by Japan - was the only protester with a home-return permit on the four-member team which tried to enter Shenzhen. […] Speaking after returning to the Hong Kong side, Mr Tsang said the mission had already been a partial success as Mr Lo was allowed to continue his journey. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai legislature appoints two vice mayors (Xinhua)
2007-12-28
Tu Guangshao and Ai Baojun were appointed vice mayors of Shanghai here on Thursday at a conference of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, the city's legislature. Tu, born in January 1959 in central China's Hubei Province, had served as the vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission before the appointment. Ai, born in February 1960 in northeast China's Liaoning Province, had been the general manager of Baosteel Group, China's largest steel maker. ^ top ^

Restrictions aim to cool heated property market (China Daily)
2007-12-28
The Shanghai municipal government has further restricted foreign investors from acquiring land for property development. Under the No 16 land transfer bulletin issued by Shanghai Municipal Housing, Land and Resource Administration Bureau on December 23, deposits on land for residential use and commercial purposes can now only be paid in renminbi. Previously, the bureau accepted four different foreign currencies - US dollars, HK dollars, Euros and Yen - as deposits at government auctions. The move is widely seen as the latest attempt to clamp down on excessive speculation in the nation's hottest property market. Despite subtle changes, they are expected to have a large impact on the new inflow of foreign capital, partly triggered by the expectation of further appreciation of the renminbi. Land for industrial use, however, can still be purchased through foreign currency accounts, according to the No 17 bulletin released simultaneously. Industrial experts and analysts said this subtle policy change was expected to make a significant impact on Shanghai's property market by containing the rush of foreign capital, which had been partially blamed for pushing up prices beyond sustainable levels. […] Shuai Hu, an analyst on property at Haitong Securities, said that the supply and demand imbalance would remain the major factor in determining future property price movements. The stricter restriction is expected to ease pressure on prices in residential houses, he said. "The impact of the rule change needs to be watched closely," Shuai said. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Beijing puts suffrage back in Tsang's court (SCMP)
2007-12-28
Beijing has thrown the democracy ball back into Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's court, saying it will give "active consideration" to universal suffrage in 2017 provided Mr Tsang agrees and can come up with a proposal that can secure sufficient support from legislators, sources close to Beijing say. The National People's Congress Standing Committee, in a decision set to be made public tomorrow, would also reject "in clear terms" universal suffrage for the chief executive election in 2012, the sources said. But it is expected to allow the Hong Kong government to propose revisions to laws governing that year's elections. A draft resolution on Hong Kong's political development put before the Standing Committee yesterday did not rule out universal suffrage in 2017, the sources said. It would be up to the chief executive whether to propose any changes. And he would need to get the support of two-thirds of legislators before submitting a report to the Standing Committee, which would then "actively consider" it, the sources said. Likewise, any changes for 2012 are to be worked out by the city's government and sent back to the Standing Committee for endorsement after securing a two-thirds majority in the Legislative Council. […] "If Beijing will give us a clear promise of introducing universal suffrage by 2017 for both the chief executive and all members of Legco, we are prepared to consider it," Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said. But Mr Tong did not believe Beijing would do so, saying "anything less is just empty talk and we will reject it". Veteran Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming said it would be a "positive development" if Beijing showed sincerity by promising not to interfere when the people of Hong Kong negotiated with their city's government over arrangements for 2012 and 2017. "If Donald can show us he is sincere to work for democracy, we have time and we can talk," Mr Lee said. […]. ^ top ^

India strengthens co-op in air services with HK (People's Daily)
2007-12-28
An air services consultation between Hong Kong and India had successfully concluded, with substantial liberalization of the bilateral air services arrangements, said the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Thursday. Under the new arrangements, the airlines of the two sides will be able to increase services to Delhi and Mumbai by more than double the existing level, which is at present about 20 frequencies per week. New services to Bangalore, the IT base in India, and Chennai will also be possible. The two sides have also exchanged new fifth freedom rights. For example, Indian airlines will be able to operate services to points in North America via Hong Kong under the new arrangements. Hong Kong airlines will be able to operate services to points in Europe beyond India. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China opens online textile export license system as pact with EU nears expiry (People's Daily)
2007-12-26
A new online textile export license system began operation in China on Tuesday, just days before a quota system for shipments to the European Union (EU) is to expire, sources in the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) told Xinhua. The online application system "is one of a series of measures taken by China to better regulate the textile export market and avoid a surge of Chinese clothing exports to the EU like the one in 2005," Zhao Qiuyan, a senior analyst with the China Trade Remedy Information web site, under the MOC, told Xinhua. […] The two sides agreed this September to set up a bilateral system to monitor Chinese exports of T-shirts, pullovers, men's trousers, blouses, dresses, bras, bed linens and flax yarn after the quotas end. Monitoring is to continue until the end of 2008, without quantity restrictions. Under the system, these eight categories will be tracked on the Chinese side through export licenses and will be monitored when they enter the EU, which is watching for signs of another surge in textile goods from China. […] Commenting on the possibility of "Made in China" products flooding the EU, Zhao Qiuyan said that besides government efforts, domestic exporters should exercise restraint, since the EU might adopt tightening measures if there was a new surge of Chinese goods. […]. ^ top ^

UBS denies doing anything wrong in PetroChina IPO (SCMP)
2007-12-27
[…] On Tuesday, Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald reported that UBS reaped handsome gains from propping up the share price of PetroChina's already listed H shares before repatriating Asia's most profitable company to Shanghai with an A-share offering last month. It is the first time a mainland news organisation has criticised a foreign bank for activities in the capital market. Other mainland media also carried the report. Business Herald did not accuse the two other sponsors - Citic Securities, a mainland brokerage, and China International Capital Corp, a Sino-foreign joint venture. "It is unfortunate that none of the publications involved took the time to communicate with UBS before recklessly publishing articles that might raise unnecessary alarm in the general public and endanger the good reputation of UBS," the bank said in a statement. "These allegations are entirely new, and at this stage, UBS does not believe they have any merit whatsoever." The newspaper said UBS bought heavily into the oil giant's Hong Kong-listed shares through its subsidiaries worldwide before the share sale was made public, and cashed in on the H-share rally during the subsequent A-share listing. The newspaper charged UBS with unethically taking advantage of insider information to make money, citing data from the Hong Kong stock exchange showing the bank held 1.109 billion PetroChina H shares as of September 26. From September 26 to November 5, when PetroChina's A shares made their Shanghai debut, the value of its H shares climbed 30 per cent. […]. ^ top ^

Government to speed up salary rises (China Daily)
2007-12-28
[…] In an interview via the government website www.gov.cn, Qiu Xiaoping, director of the labor wage department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, said the authorities have rolled out a series of proactive policies to increase wages. The country's consumer price index, a bellwether of inflation, hit an 11-year record of 6.9 percent last month, which experts said was largely driven by soaring food prices. Qiu said average wage increases have actually outpaced the increase in consumer prices. But average wages of employees in some companies is still much lower, or lags behind others, Qui said. The government will continue to impose a minimum wage system at the local level and quicken measures to plug the problem. […]. ^ top ^

Three national technological projects approved (China Daily)
2007-12-28
[…] Premier Wen Jiabao presided over the executive meeting that deliberated the three projects. The three are a next-generation broadband wireless mobile communication network, water pollution control and treatment, and the manufacture and innovation of key new drugs. "These technological projects, all set in the national medium- and long-term science and technology development plan, are of great significance to boosting China's independent innovation capability and industrial competitiveness," the meeting pointed out. It said that "after a scientific, democratic and strict demonstration", the three schemes had become ripe for inauguration. The next-generation communication network represents the main direction of communications development. Applying it will greatly enhance the overall competitiveness and innovative capacity of China's wireless mobile communication, and lift the industry to a more advanced world level, according to the meeting. It said that the water pollution control project would provide solid technological support to address environmental woes of major water sources including the Yangtze River and Yellow River, to achieve an "energy saving and emission reduction" goal. The drug innovation project would target the treatment and prevention of serious diseases and innovation of key drugs so as to offer the public safe, effective and cheap medical products, the meeting said. The meeting also heard a report on the inspection and supervision of central enterprises, made by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which was directly under the cabinet. "Central enterprises have deepened the reform, accelerated restructuring and maintained a sound momentum of sustainable and fast development," it said. However, violation of laws and regulations occasionally occurred due to relatively high debt and poor profits. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Better services for overseas media promised (China Daily)
2007-12-28
[…] China has become increasingly integrated with the world, and that has created the need to "strengthen the relationship and cooperation with the global community with a more open attitude", State Council Information Office (SCIO) Minister Cai Wu said. Speaking at a press conference, he hinted that the easing of reporting rules for foreign journalists for the Beijing Olympic Games could continue. […] Cai said his office is helping train local news officials to better serve the media. The training is aimed at changing the mentality of news officials and government leaders at different levels and preparing them to face the outside world more openly. […] The country implemented a new set of regulations on reporting in the run-up to and during the Olympics from this year. They stipulate that from this year to the end of the Games overseas reporters only need an interviewee's permission to conduct an interview. "But no document says that when this new regulation expires on October 17, 2008, we are going to return to previous regulations," Cai said, hinting at the continuation of the arrangement. […] "If practices show that it will help the international community know China better, it is a good policy. Why should we change it?" […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S Korea to probe into president-elect's fraud allegation (Xinhua)
2007-12-27
The South Korean government approved a parliament bill on Wednesday to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations that President-elect Lee Myung-bak was involved in financial fraud in 2001, the Presidential Office said. Following the approval, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will name an independent counsel in early January at the recommendation of the head of the Supreme Court, Lee Yong-hun. Under the parliament bill, the independent counsel will launch investigation into the fraud allegation around Jan. 10 and complete an initial investigation by Feb. 17, shortly before Lee's inauguration on Feb. 25. According to local media, the independent counsel will investigate whether Lee set up the now-defunct investment consulting company BBK and was a collaborator in the stock price-fixing and embezzlement allegedly committed by Kim Kyung-joon, who is already under arrest. Kim was indicted on Dec. 5 on charges of stock price manipulation, embezzlement and document forgery related to the BBK, while prosecutors said they found no evidence linking Lee to the case. If the independent counsel probe proves Lee's involvement, Lee might face indictment. […]. ^ top ^

N Korea to scale back nuclear dismantling over aid dispute (SCMP)
2007-12-27
North Korea indicated yesterday it would slow down the disablement of its nuclear facilities because of a delay in receiving economic aid under an international deal. Hyon Hak-pong, vice-director general of North Korea's foreign ministry, said economic compensation pledged by the US, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia in return for disabling its nuclear facilities by the end of the year "is being delayed". "To cope with this, we have no option but to adjust the speed of the disablement process," Mr Hyon said. He made the comments at a meeting with counterparts from South Korea and China in Pyongyang, where they discussed the issue of energy-related equipment under the disarmament deal. The three-day meeting was due to end today. Diplomats have already said the deadline to disable the facilities was unlikely to be met because a key step - removing fuel rods from the nuclear reactor - could take several months. Earlier, an official at Japan's foreign ministry said Tokyo did not expect North Korea to meet the deadline. "These are peaceful days for us," he said, adding that diplomats were "not holding their breath" pending North Korea's compliance. "The year-end date isn't significant. What's important is a perfectly accurate declaration of whether North Korea has the will to abandon its nuclear programme." […]. ^ 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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