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
  7.1-11.1.08, No. 199  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese FM talks over phone with Pakistani counterpart (People's Daily)
2008-01-07
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called his Pakistani counterpart Inamul Haq on Saturday and the two sides exchanged views on Pakistan's current situation. […] China hopes that Pakistan will hold its parliamentary elections successfully, Yang said. China believes that under the leadership of President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani government, the Pakistani people can overcome temporary difficulties and remain united so as to maintain social stability and national development, Yang said. Haq expressed appreciation for China's support to and understanding of Pakistan at such a difficult time and said that the Pakistani government has committed itself to further promoting democracy and maintaining the country's stability and development. […]. ^ top ^

Peacekeepers prepare for Kosovo mission (China Daily)
2008-01-08
A team of 18 police officers from Sichuan Province will fly to Kosovo next month to take part in a yearlong United Nations peacekeeping mission, officials have said. Zeng Gang, an information officer with the provincial public security department, said it is the first time the Ministry of Public Security has entrusted a local security department to select officers for such a mission. […] The training course […] will conclude with an examination to determine the final 18, Chen said. The team will then undergo three weeks' intensive training with the Ministry of Public Security before leaving for Kosovo, Zhao Jian, deputy chief of the Sichuan provincial department of public security, said. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese defense minister meets with Singaporean guest (Xinhua)
2008-01-08
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan met here Monday with Chiang Chie Foo, permanent secretary of the Singaporean Defense Ministry, and both sides discussed cooperation in the defense field. Cao said China is satisfied with the good momentum of bilateral relations and will make joint efforts with Singapore to drive forward relations between the countries and armed forces. Chiang Chie Foo, who is here attending the first China-Singapore defense policy dialogue held Monday, said he hoped both countries could expand exchanges and cooperation in the defense area. Chiang spoke highly of current bilateral state and military relations, saying Singapore seeks to deepen the friendly cooperation between the two defense ministries. Chiang reiterated the Singaporean government's one-China stance. ^ top ^

US Pacific commander to visit China (China Daily)
2008-01-09
Timothy Keating, US Pacific Command commander-in-chief, will visit China from January 13 to 16, the Chinese Ministry of National Defence (MND) said on Tuesday. During Keating's China stay, senior Chinese generals and officials from the Central Military Commission, the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), Guangzhou Military Area Command and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will meet him separately, the foreign affairs office of the MND said in a press release. The Chinese officials were expected to widely exchange views with Keating on Sino-US military ties, the Taiwan issue, and international and regional affairs of common concern, according to the press release. The four-day tour would also take Keating to the country's financial hub of Shanghai, and Guangzhou, capital of the southern Guangdong Province. There, he was scheduled to visit the PLA military institutions and bases and hold a seminar with Chinese military officials. […]. ^ top ^

China and South Africa set up strategic dialogue (China Daily)
2008-01-09
China and South Africa on Monday established a strategic dialogue mechanism to enhance diplomatic relations between the two countries. The announcement was made by visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at a press conference shortly after talks in Pretoria. […] South African President Thabo Mbeki met the Chinese foreign minister in his presidential residence on Monday. […] "The two countries forged strategic partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development (in the past decade). The two sides have also had fruitful cooperation in bilateral relations and international affairs," he added. […] This year would see more high-level visits between the two countries. Both countries would host bilateral trade fairs and China plans a cultural show in South Africa later in the year. […]. ^ top ^

China vows to further parliamentary exchanges with Philippines (Xinhua)
2008-01-10
Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo met here Wednesday with Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Jose De Venecia. The two sides agreed to further expand bilateral parliamentary exchanges. […] Concerning parliamentary exchanges, Wu called on both sides to maintain sound momentum of exchanges, enhance contacts between special committees and departments in a bid to make greater contribution to expand bilateral strategic cooperation. He also expressed appreciation for the Philippines' adherence to the one-China policy as well as its opposition to "Taiwan Independence". In response, De Venecia said China's rapid economic growth has provided important opportunity for Asian countries. Saying that bilateral ties are entering a golden age, he vows to further cement parliamentary exchanges and make new contribution to beef up bilateral relations. ^ top ^

Criticism over growing Africa role dismissed (SCMP)
2008-01-11
Officials have defended the country's growing influence in Africa, insisting that Beijing's engagement with countries like Sudan does not mean China has endorsed human rights abuses there. The central government has been heavily criticised for its role in Sudan, and human rights groups have called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics to express their disapproval. Liu Guijin, special envoy to Africa, recently visited Washington and New York to state Beijing's case to the US government and groups such as the Save Darfur Coalition. He said some criticism had stopped, but unfair attacks on Beijing's role in Sudan continued. "Unfortunately, there are still some non-governmental organisations, including some media, who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, and don't give objective or complete reports." On the central government's china.com.cn website, Mr Liu rejected any connection between the Darfur conflict and the Olympics, and said China's investment in Sudan was creating wealth in a place where wars were fundamentally about poverty. "Blaming the Chinese government for everything the Sudanese government has done on the Darfur issue is unreasonable," he said. […] The envoy said Beijing's engagement with Khartoum, in particular President Hu Jintao's talks there last year, helped push the country to accept a UN peacekeeping force alongside African Union troops to help staunch bloodshed in Darfur. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday the central government was prepared to step up co-operation with the European Union on development in Africa, but warned that African opinions should be fully respected in the process. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China mulls tax plan for environmental protection (China Daily)
2008-01-07
[…] The environment tax, one of the key taxation policies China plans to push forward this year, is going through careful study and appraisal by the Ministry of Finance, State Administration of Taxation and State Environmental Protection Administration. Two researchers with the Ministry of Finance Sun Gang and Xu Wen proposed three candidate plans of collecting environment tax in their report published in November of 2007, according to Beijing-based Caijing Magazine. Based on the principle of "pay according to profits", the first plan suggests government collect tax from companies in accordance with how much they earn from the products which consume resources or pollute the environment, said Dr. Xu Wen. He said this kind of general taxation will be imposed on all the companies since almost all the products consume resources. According to the second plan, companies would pay tax according to how much pollutant they have discharged, said Xu, adding that the tax will target the discharge of sulfur or sulphide, carbon dioxide, sewage, solid waste and other forms of pollutant. He said that the third plan would ask consumers of potentially polluting products, such as fossil fuel, ozone-consuming commodities, fertilizer and pesticide, to pay tax. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance said it might be a more pressing task for them to raise the resource and consumption tax to give more consideration to environmental protection while expanding the current taxation system and adding new kinds of tax. […]. ^ top ^

Hu: China to promote sustainable development, protect worker's rights and interests (People's Daily)
2008-01-08
Chinese President Hu Jintao said in Beijing on Monday that China attaches great importance to sustainable development and will take a series of measures to better safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of workers. "China is willing to cooperate with the international community to address the challenges posed by the international issues like climate change, environment pollution and energy shortage." […] He called on the concerned countries and organizations to make efforts to promote the globalization with balanced, reciprocal and win-win results. […] He also highlighted the role played by trade unions. They need to promote conditions of improved employment, increased salary and improved social insurance and health care for workers in various countries. […] Chinese government highly values the role played by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), the country's top level trade union. It supports the organization's efforts to expand bilateral exchanges and cooperation with trade unions in other countries. This aims to generate further contribution to promote the long-lasting peace, prosperity and harmony in the world, Hu said. […]. ^ top ^

China to start prison administration reform (China Daily)
2008-01-10
China plans to kick off a nationwide prison administration reform program this year after a five-year trial in 14 provinces, the Ministry of Justice said Wednesday. The reform, initiated by the ministry in 2003, is aimed at modifying the country's prison administration method, promoting a community correction system and improving prison facilities, with the emphasis on protecting inmates' legal rights, said a statement issued by the ministry. As a key part of the reform, China plans to relocate its 700-odd prisons across the country, from remote and isolated areas to places near the cities or busy traffic routes, by 2010. […] The ministry also plans to change the management of prison-run workshops. The workshops where the inmates receive re-education through labour will be state-owned and run by the bureau of prison administration in local governments instead of the prisons themselves, in a bid to prevent the prisons from making profits through the workshops. The trial on community correction will be expanded as well, said Wu Aiying, Minister of Justice. Community correction, another important part of the ongoing prison system reform, is aimed at preparing convicted criminals for a smooth return to society and exploring new ways to educate non-violent criminals. […]. ^ top ^

Former Tianjin Party chief dies of illness (Xinhua)
2008-01-11
Zhang Lichang, former secretary of the Tianjin municipal committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) died of illness at 22:20 Thursday evening in Tianjin at the age of 68. Zhang was a member of the Political Bureau of the 16th CPC Central Committee. He was also the deputy chief of a State Council working group responsible for reviving traditional industrial bases in northeast China. An official obituary says Zhang had been an outstanding member of the CPC, a faithful Communist fighter and a distinguished leader of the Party's cause. […]. ^ top ^

New measures to ensure air safety (China Daily)
2008-01-11
[…] Li Jiaxiang, the newly appointed acting minister of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), told a working conference Thursday that the measures will ensure the stable development of the industry. They will include controls on the number of aircraft purchases that can be made by airlines, and the introduction of tighter restrictions on new airlines entering the market. Figures released Thursday by the CAAC showed the industry developed rapidly last year, with both passenger and cargo numbers recording double-digit growth. […] The authorities, however, fear that if the industry develops too quickly, flight safety could be jeopardized. Industry insiders have added to the fears, saying that most small-scale private airlines lack pilots, so the ones they do have are forced to work a lot of overtime, which creates a safety risk. These airlines will be specifically targeted by the new measures, Li said. Airlines that cannot supply the required number of cockpit crew to fly its planes will not be allowed to import new aircraft or open new routes, he said. […] The administration will also impose stricter requirements on new airline applications, and closely scrutinize investors, plane ownership and pilot quality, he said. Li, the former general manager of China National Aviation Holding Co, encouraged domestic airlines to open more long-distance international flights to Europe and North America, to "raise their percentage of share in the international market". He said domestic airlines were losing market share on international routes, especially in the cargo transport market. […] With the arrival of the new Boeing 787 and Airbus 380, now is the time for airlines to open more international flights and increase their market share, Li said. ^ top ^

China appoints new State Council officials (People's Daily)
2008-01-11
The State Council, China's cabinet, announced on Thursday a list of new appointments of ministerial-level officials. Mu Hong was appointed Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission. Wang Wei and Hao Mingjin were appointed Vice Ministers of Supervision. Yang Zhiming was appointed Vice Minister of Labor and Social Security. Ma Delun and Yi Gang were appointed Deputy Governors of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank. Lu Bin was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the General Administration of Customs. Li Jiaxiang was appointed Vice Director and Acting Director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation. Yang Yuanyuan was appointed Deputy Director of the State Administration of Work Safety. Liu Xueliang was appointed Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key Large-Sized State-Owned Enterprises. According to the State Council's statement, Huang Shuxian, Li Yubin and Chen Changzhi stepped down from their posts as Vice Ministers of Supervision. Liu Yongfu left his post as Vice Minister of Labor and Social Security. Wu Xiaoling left her post as Deputy Governor of the PBOC. Liu Wenjie stepped down from his post as Deputy Commissioner of the General Administration of Customs. Yang Yuanyuan left his post as Director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation. Tu Guangshao stepped down from his post as Vice Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Ex-Beijing official accused of corruption (China Daily)
2008-01-11
A former top official from Beijing is facing prosecution for taking bribes from property developers, advertising companies and other businesses, a local newspaper reported Thursday. Zhou Liangluo, 46, former head of Haidian district, the city's thriving university and hi-tech hub, received bribes totaling 16 million yuan ($2.2 million) from 10 businesses and individuals, the Beijing Times reported. Caijing magazine said on its website last month that Zhou was apparently uncovered when authorities were investigating Liu Zhihua - the former vice-mayor of Beijing - for alleged corruption and finding out that a real estate developer Liu Jun had been bribing the two. However, there is so far no evidence proving the alleged links. […] His wife, Lu Xiaodan, also faces charges of taking more than 8 million yuan in bribes, the paper said. […] Zhou's posts in Haidian, and before that in Chaoyang district, gave him a big say over lucrative projects. The report did not say when Zhou and Lu are to be tried or how they are expected to plead to the possible charges. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

187 nations, organizations confirm to join Shanghai World Expo (People's Daily)
2008-01-08
A total of 187 countries and international organizations have confirmed their participation at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, organizers said here Sunday. The number has already set a record in the World Expo history, surpassing the previous record held by Hanover, Germany, in 2000, said Zhu Yonglei, deputy director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination. "Shanghai will strive to get confirmation from 200 countries or international organizations by the end of 2008," said Zhu. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Focus on electoral methods for 2012, ADPL chief urges democrats (SCMP)
2008-01-07
[…] Bruce Liu Sing-lee, acting chairman of the pan-democratic party, said the ADPL was studying the feasibility of increasing the number of Legislative Council seats in 2012 to pave the way for full direct elections in 2020. […] One proposal under discussion by the ADPL is to add 10 seats to the geographic constituencies and 10 to the functional constituencies for the Legco election in 2012, with all new functional seats indirectly elected by the public through district councils. This is similar to the government's proposal for this year's Legco election, which was vetoed by pan-democrat lawmakers in 2005. The administration then suggested increasing geographical and functional seats by five seats each. But Mr Liu added the condition that all appointed seats on district councils must be abolished. He said that adding an equal number of seats on the two sides of the legislature would be in line with the NPC Standing Committee's rule that the 50-50 split between the two types of seat remain unchanged. More opportunities would also be available for all parties to nurture their second-tier political talent. If government-appointed district council seats were abolished, Mr Liu expected several pan-democrat district councillors would be able to enter the legislature through indirect elections under the proposal, which his party has yet to finalise. […]. ^ top ^

China appoints new commander for PLA HK Garrison (Xinhua)
2008-01-08
Major General Zhang Shibo has been appointed the new commander of the Garrison of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Lieutenant General Wang Jitang, Zhang's predecessor, has been promoted to vice commander of the PLA Guangzhou Military Area Command, according to a decree signed by Chinese President Hu Jintao, who also chairs the Central Military Commission. […]. ^ top ^

Radio activists back on air despite court order (SCMP)
2008-01-11
Six legislators and activists from Citizens' Radio were back on the air last night despite a court injunction, risking charges of unlicensed broadcasting and contempt of court. […] Mr Justice Barnabas Fung Wah ruled that it was in the public interest to continue the suspension of a lower court's earlier ruling that the broadcast licensing system was unconstitutional, because unlicensed broadcasting could interfere with the telecommunications channels used by emergency and aviation services. The one-hour talk show, with the theme of urging people to join Sunday's march for universal suffrage in 2012, ran without interruption. The hosts' booth was surrounded by dozens of passers-by. No uniformed police could be seen but officials distributed copies of the injunction to the participants. The Office of the Telecommunications Authority said it had launched an investigation into last night's transmission. A spokesman said the authority would also prosecute offenders under the Telecommunications Ordinance if there was sufficient evidence. Among the speakers were the station's convenor, Tsang Kin-shing, and legislator Leung Kwok-hung, who were named in the injunction. They and three others, charged with illegal broadcasting over earlier operations of Citizens' Radio, mounted a constitutional challenge to the Telecommunications Ordinance that led to the ruling by Magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong, which he suspended until the prosecution's appeal has been heard in a higher court. The case took its latest twist on Wednesday evening when the government sought an urgent court order to stop the station from broadcasting. […] Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, one of the guests on last night's programme, said: "If we are sentenced to jail, we will go to jail." Other lawmakers who spoke on the show were Albert Chan Wai-yip, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, Lee Cheuk-yan and Lee Wing-tat. Commerce secretary Frederick Ma Si-hang said the injunction had been sought to protect the public interest, and warned the station and participants to comply with the order. "The government has to enforce the law against any deliberate attempt to flout the law" he said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

New NPC deputies from Macao SAR to be elected (People's Daily)
2008-01-07
An electoral conference, which is to elect 12 deputies from the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) to the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), held its first plenary meeting in Macao on Saturday. The conference, composed of 325 Macao residents with Chinese citizenship, was chaired by Sheng Huaren, vice chairman and secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee. […] Out of the electoral conference members, the first plenary meeting chose nine persons to form a presidium, with Macao SAR Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah voted as its executive chairman by the presidium members. The presidium will preside over the future meetings of the electoral conference, and is in charge of announcing the list of deputy candidates and the result of the election. […]. ^ top ^

Casinos help Macau reduce tourism gap (SCMP)
2008-01-10
The number of visitors to Macau increased by nearly 23 per cent last year to more than 27 million, narrowing the gap with Hong Kong, which attracted a record 28 million arrivals. Macau is trying to repackage itself as an international destination with Las Vegas-style attractions. […] Tourism experts say this could result in the number of arrivals to Macau reaching or even exceeding that of Hong Kong this year. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Chen plays 'China card' to woo voters - Taiwanese leader tries to spark DPP surge (SCMP)
2008-01-08
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has played the "crisis card" to try to persuade supporters of independence to vote for the ruling party in Saturday's legislative elections. But analysts said they doubted the tactic would be able to turn the campaign in the Democratic Progressive Party's favour. In the final week of the campaign, Mr Chen called on voters to reject the opposition Kuomintang to stop Taiwan returning to the mainland fold. "[…] The KMT, which favours friendly cross-strait ties and increased exchanges, has adopted a platform of eventual unification with a democratic mainland. Mr Chen […] asked voters to send at least 50 DPP candidates to the 113-seat legislature and said DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh Chang-ting would be able to rally support from other non-KMT members to form the majority in the lawmaking body. He did not explain how. Taiwanese media have quoted unnamed DPP sources as expecting the party to win only about 35 seats because of the growing public disappointment with the Chen administration. […] Philip Yang Yung-ming, director of the Taiwan Security Research Centre […] said the fact that Mr Chen convened a high-level meeting with five other DPP leaders, including Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien and Mr Hsieh and his running mate, Su Tseng-chang, indicated that the president, who also heads the DPP, sensed the risk of a substantial defeat. "He apparently hoped that other bigwigs would jointly share the responsibility in the event of a big defeat, thereby avoiding the impression that the defeat would be a no-confidence vote in him," Professor Yang said. […]. ^ top ^

Kaohsiung vote to put DPP's clout to the test (SCMP)
2008-01-09
Kaohsiung, one of the strongholds of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, has emerged as a key testing ground of the party's ability to maintain its core support base in the south ahead of the presidential election in March. […] While the DPP leadership in Kaohsiung city insists it still holds the edge over other parties in the "pan-green" stronghold, they admit undecided, independent voters - estimated to account for 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the electorate - will be crucial in Saturday's legislative election. […] The importance attached to Kaohsiung is perhaps best reflected by the fact that the opposition Kuomintang's presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, and Mr Hsieh have both chosen to canvass in the city on Friday, just hours before the polls open. Lee Chia-hsing, head of the DPP's Kaohsiung city headquarters, said the party faced an uphill battle as the election was characterised by "one-to-one" fighting between DPP and KMT candidates. He said smaller parties did not stand a chance under the new scheme. […] The city has five seats up for grabs while Kaohsiung county has four. Mr Lee said in the past, the DPP had about a 5 percentage point edge over the KMT, and he predicted the party could secure at least three seats in the city and two in the county, but hoped for one more in each. However, Lai Fen-wei, vice-chairman of the KMT's Kaohsiung city headquarters, said he did not believe Kaohsiung was a DPP power base. […] He added that the KMT could win up to four seats in the city if it succeeded in luring independents. […] Chang Ling-chen, a professor of political science at National Taiwan University, said she believed the DPP still had an edge in Kaohsiung. However, she said that with both parties in close "one-to-one" battles, an individual candidate's image and local links would be important. […]. ^ top ^

Chen shores up support for DPP candidates in his hometown (SCMP)
2008-01-10
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian returned yesterday to his hometown of Tainan, where he was injured by a bullet during the last presidential campaign, to drum up support for candidates of his ruling party in Saturday's legislative elections. Thousands of supporters took part in a deafening parade in the city as the president travelled the same route he took four years ago to remind voters they must vote for the candidates of the Democratic Progressive Party to save the ruling party from losing its stronghold in southern Taiwan. The DPP has vowed that it will snap up all five seats in Tainan - two from the city and three from the county - but the main opposition party, the Kuomintang, has expressed hope that it might be able to win, pointing to the president's frequent campaign visits to the area as a sign of weakness. […S]ome supporters were worried that the DPP might face an uphill battle this time. […]. ^ top ^

Vote-buying rife on eve of poll despite crackdown (SCMP)
2008-01-11
[…] The number of alleged vote-buying cases has hit a record of more than 6,000 involving more than 10,000 people, according to the Justice Ministry, despite efforts to crack down on the illegal practice.

Officials said the most unusual case they had involved handing out free coffins to mourning families in return for their support in the southern county of Kaohsiung. Other tactics included lottery draws, free sightseeing trips, lavish dinners, employment offers and so-called relief funds for low-income families. […] Justice officials said votes were being bought for as much as NT$5,000 in some fiercely contested constituencies. […] Justice Minister Shih Mao-lin said on Wednesday that he expected more people to be indicted for vote-buying before the polls, which many see as a pointer to the island's presidential election on March 22. Mr Shih said that since July, the authorities had fielded secret agents in more than 4,000 areas judged to be at greatest risk to gather evidence of voting irregularities. They have also held activities and set up special centres to promote clean polls, hoping to put a stop to the rampant election bribery Taiwan has endured for decades. Justice Vice-Minister Lee Chin-yung said: "In addition to trumpeting the severe punishments against vote-buyers, we have offered rich rewards to voters whose information leads to the punishment of guilty parties." […] "The fierce competition due to the halving of the number of seats in the legislature has made such practices even more aggressive," Prosecutor General Chen Tsung-ming said. Election experts said vote-buying was almost inevitable, due mainly to the smaller constituencies introduced by the new electoral system. "The new system divides Taiwan into 73 small districts plus two districts for six indigenous candidates," said Wu Tung-yeh, political science professor at National Chengchi University. In the past, there were only 25 electoral districts. ^ top ^

Taipei keeps watch on diplomatic allies amid fears of post-election 'dirty tricks' by Beijing (SCMP)
2008-01-11
[…] Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang Chih-fang admitted yesterday that such a development was inevitable, but his ministry was ready to fight back and would take on whatever diplomatic challenge the mainland delivered. […] Beijing has recently accused Taiwan of trying to change the cross-strait status quo by planning a referendum in March on joining the United Nations under the name of "Taiwan" despite warnings from the United States and the mainland. Mr Huang said that according to his experience, the mainland would soon launch a fresh diplomatic offensive. […] Mr Huang said Beijing could try to deal a new diplomatic blow to Taiwan immediately after tomorrow's legislative elections or when Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian leaves for a visit to Guatemala on Sunday or when he attends the inauguration of Guatemalan president-elect Alvaro Colom on Tuesday. […] Meanwhile, Mr Huang said his ministry remained on high alert against possible diplomatic advances by Beijing in Panama in Latin American and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, though relations with the two countries were so far safe. Despite reports of a possible defection by the Marshall Islands, newly elected President Litokwa Tomeing assured his Taiwanese counterpart on Wednesday there would be no change in relations. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetans forced to oppose Dalai Lama, says group (SCMP)
2008-01-07
Mainland authorities have been forcing Tibetans to sign a petition opposing the Dalai Lama's return, a London-based group said, in apparent retaliation for the award of a high US honour to Tibet's spiritual leader. […] No one obliged, the campaign group said. Residents were then asked to raise their hands if they did not have weapons at home. As it is illegal to possess firearms, everyone raised their hand. A photo was taken and sent to state media with claims that residents were opposed to the Dalai Lama's return, the Free Tibet Campaign said. Also last month, secretaries and accountants in townships in Gansu were invited on a nationwide tour paid for by the central government, the group said. Before setting out, they were called to a meeting and forced to sign a petition, on behalf of the people they represent, opposing the Dalai Lama's return, the Free Tibet Campaign said. The meeting was apparently broadcast on local television. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China imports less, exports more oil products (China Daily)
2008-01-07
China imported 29.02 million tons of oil products in the first 10 months of 2007, a decline of 8.9 percent from the same period of the previous year. The imports were valued at 13.15 billion U.S. dollars, down 3.2 percent, customs sources said. However, the nation exported 12.99 million tons of refined oil during the 10-month period, up 30.4 percent on the same period of the previous year. Import decline coupled with export increase were due largely to price hikes on world oil markets, the sources noted. Major sources of imports were the Republic of Korea, ASEAN members and Russia, while leading target markets for exports were ASEAN members. […]. ^ top ^

Large aircraft firm to be launched in March (China Daily)
2008-01-08
A joint venture firm responsible for China's large airplane project will be set up in March, a senior official said Monday. […] Different from other major projects, [Huang Qiang, secretary-general and spokesman for the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND)] said the large plane project starts with "reforming the aviation industry", which means consolidating resources in the industry and carrying out strategic and professional restructuring. "It will be a major structural adjustment in the development of the aviation industry. It will also provide experiences for the reform of the national defense technology industry," he said. A detailed plan of the reform has been drafted by the COSTIND and is awaiting approval by the State Council and National People's Congress. However, industry sources earlier told China Daily that AVIC I and AVIC II, the country's two State-owned aviation manufacturers, are likely to be consolidated, to "strengthen the country's aviation manufacturing capabilities" and "pool resources to carry out the large commercial airplane project". […]. ^ top ^

Small investors block airline deal (SCMP)
2008-01-09
Small investors proved more powerful than Beijing's top policymakers yesterday when minority shareholders of China Eastern Airlines (SEHK: 0670) scuppered a HK$7.16 billion tie-up with Singapore Airlines. Despite the green light from top officials, the long negotiated deal was resoundingly defeated by shareholders, who now expect a sweeter offer from the parent of Air China (SEHK: 0753, announcements, news), China Eastern's biggest rival. […] The vote is a victory for reformers who want aggressive Wall Street-style business tactics to replace the politically stage-managed manoeuvrings of most state-run companies. It also sets China Eastern up in the middle of an expected bitter bidding war. In a stark contrast to most meetings on the mainland where investors sit without a word of dissent, yesterday's event was chaotic with frequent howls of anger as well as applause interrupting the proceedings. […] More than 90 per cent of China Eastern's mainland-listed A shareholders and over 70 per cent of Hong Kong-listed H-share owners voted against the proposal. While many considered the vote a victory for the small investor, some market watchers say opposition from Air China was the real force behind the failure of the deal. […]. ^ top ^

Price cap promise on basic necessities (SCMP)
2008-01-10
[…] The State Council, the mainland's cabinet, decided at a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao that it would increase its monitoring of the prices of daily necessities and prohibit illegal pricing, such as collusion among firms. The government would not allow adjustments on the prices of oil products, natural gas or electricity in the near term, despite rising prices in the international market, said a statement posted on the central government's website. […]Analysts said the stepped-up measures were intended to curb any price hikes that would hurt consumers before Lunar New Year, the mainland's biggest holiday, which starts on February 7 .[…] The government said it would prohibit price rises on oil, gas and electricity, and public utilities such as gas, water and heating supplies. It also said it would maintain current prices for public transport, schooling and medical treatment. The State Council warned it would crack down on companies and individuals who had been hoarding goods, unreasonably jacking up prices or spreading rumours about price rises to create panic buying before Lunar New Year. […]. ^ top ^

More access to markets promised (China Daily)
2008-01-11
The nation's opening up has laid a solid foundation for its economy while creating great opportunities for international companies, Chen Deming said Thursday in his first public appearance as commerce minister. He pointed out that the rate of return for multinational companies in China has been 22 percent, markedly higher than the global average. […] Canadian trade minister David Emerson praised his new counterpart as "brilliant and with a scientific mind", and said: "We can speak very openly with each other on a range of issues and get things done." US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, who met Chen during last month's China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue shortly after he moved to the Ministry of Commerce, also said Chen had impressed with his nippy handling of complex matters. […] China's foreign trade performance may have been brilliant, but the challenge is whether the domestic market can match that growth. "The key driving force of China's economic development is gradually shifting from the overseas market to the market at home. Making the domestic market more orderly, and thereby boosting domestic consumption, will be more important than ever," Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Ministry of Commerce, said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Avian flu

Father caught bird flu from son: official (SCMP)
2008-01-11
A mainland man who died of bird flu passed the disease on to his father in the latest human case, the Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday. But ministry spokesman Mao Qunan said there was no evidence that the virus had mutated into a form that was easily transmissible among humans. He said the 52-year-old father in Jiangsu province was infected through close contact with his 24-year-old son, who died last month. "The initial judgment is that it was an infection from close contact," Mr Mao said. "It has no biological features for human-to-human transmission." He said the father had recovered. However, Mr Mao said experts still could not determine the source of infection for the father and son, as both had no known history of contact with dead poultry or birds - the primary source of H5N1 bird flu. The World Health Organisation said yesterday it would not rule out the possibility of animal-to-human infection in the case and there was no immediate threat of an epidemic because the virus had not mutated into a form that could jump easily between humans. "A human-to-human transmission through close contact between the son and the father cannot be ruled out in this family cluster," Hans Troedsson, the WHO representative in China, said in a written answer to questions from the media. "However, the biological findings at this stage show that the virus has not mutated to a form that can be transmitted from human to human efficiently. "The source where the son contracted the virus from has not been concluded yet. WHO understands that there is no confirmed contact with sick or dead poultry for either case. However, the possibility of animal-to-human infection cannot be excluded." He said the organisation would not ask to be allowed to send experts to look into the case for the time being. "WHO has offered and provided technical support to the Ministry of Health in its investigation and follow-up of this case," he said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Silence is golden as media blackout begins (SCMP)
2008-01-07
[…] with the Beijing Games less than eight months away, it has seemingly fallen into the hands of a junta. Since New Year's Day, armed police have taken over the security detail of the 200,000 square-metre compound from civilian guards at the invitation of the sports ministry, the State Sports General Administration. The paramilitary force has set up seven rotating sentries from a 35-strong, crack mini-regiment. They in turn are supported by the Beijing municipal police who carry out 24-hour patrols inside the compound and will do so up until the end of August. The extreme security measures, argue mainland sports officials, are to ensure a distraction-free environment for the country's Olympic hopefuls in the lead-up to probably the biggest event of their careers. Most of the national sports teams will move into this compound over the next few months, a complex which now serves as the main base for Chinese athletes before the Olympic village opens in late July. It is estimated that around 800 elite Chinese athletes would hone their skills and patriotism in the compound during the pre-Games period. […] The NSTC, a department-level apparatus, does not, according to Chinese government rules, warrant armed state protection. Usually, only ministry level government and party offices are guarded by the prestigious security service. But the authorities apparently have good reason to make it an exception. […] Sun Weimin, the deputy director of the NSTC […] didn't elaborate on what kind of threat or intruders they aim to keep out. But one obvious category of unwelcome guests is the media. Most Chinese sports officials believe media exposure would affect the athletes' mental health. […] The sports ministry introduced a public relations education programme to most national teams last October, teaching athletes how to deal with nosey reporters. But the administration was not pleased with the results of the crash courses and instead has now decided to muzzle the athletes completely to avoid any "bad publicity." National teams at training camps in other parts of the country have also pulled up the drawbridge and issued their own version of the new gagging law. […] Observers believe the measures are also to guard against sports espionage, especially with an unprecedented Olympics medal haul high on the authorities' agenda. […]. ^ top ^

Olympic opening ceremony to stage rehearsal in July (China Daily)
2008-01-09
[…] Wang Ning, deputy director of the department in charge of the opening and closing ceremonies, said rehearsals for the opening ceremony would begin on March 1 and will be moved into the "Bird's Nest" on June 10. […] Jiang Xiaoyu, the Beijing Organizing Committee's executive vice president […] denied claims that Beijing is intent on surpassing Athens' three-hour epic lauded by many as "the best opening ceremony ever". […] Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, who is masterminding the 2008 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, has said the ceremony will last about three and a half hours. Zhang, one of China's most respected directors, is best known for his films "Raise the Red Lantern," "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers". […]

 

DPRK and South Korea

Hu urges proper handling of aftermath of ROK explosion (Xinhua)
2008-01-09
Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for the proper handling of the aftermath of Monday's explosion and subsequent fire in the Republic of Korea (ROK) which killed 12 Chinese citizens, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Hu told relevant departments in China to keep in close contact with the ROK side and make active efforts in the rescue and treatment of the wounded. […] The ROK government also confirmed that one Chinese was seriously injured in the accident. President Hu urged authorities of both sides to provide convenience to relatives of the victims for their trip to the ROK. He extended his deep condolences to all the dead in the accident. Premier Wen Jiabao also required relevant departments to try their best to rescue the wounded and settle the aftermath. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese embassy in ROK have triggered off emergency mechanism to cope with the issue. The12 Chinese victims will be identified in two weeks by DNA tests, said an official with the Chinese embassy. […] Yan Fenglan, the consul general of the Chinese embassy in Seoul, arrived in Icheon early Tuesday to handle the matter. Yan told Xinhua that she is working with ROK officials to confirm the identities of the victims and discuss afterwards measures. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

MPRP dominates new cabinet (Mongol Messenger)
2007-12-20
[…] The RP party, without a minister, remains displeased with the Cabinet make-up and says it will take the issue to the Constitutional Court.The Prime Minister had earlier nominated State Secretary of Finance, Ch. Khurelbaatar for the post of Minister of Fuel and Energy and Ch. Ganzorig for Minister of Road, Transport and Tourism. However, their appointments were delayed because the DP Council strongly opposed the candidates. The Prime Minster then suggested MP, R. Rash instead of Ch. Ganzorig and the parliament appointed him as Road, Transport and Tourism Minister with a vote of 88.9 percent. The Prime Minister's unchanged proposal for State Secretary of Finance, Ch. Khurelbaatar as Minister of Fuel and Energy was supported unanimously at the Economic Standing Committee and the appointed won 87.2% percent votes at the plenary session of Parliament. ^ top ^

Bank vice president's appointment under scrutiny (Mongol Messenger)
2007-12-20
The Mongolian Parliament appointed D. Enkhjargal as Bank of Mongolia vice president following the Mongolbank president's proposal of on December 14 even though some Democratic Party MPs opposed the appointment and expressed concerns over some information they had about her. DP MP, Z. Enkhbold said he knew some banks complained about her and delivered their demands to the Central Bank president because candidate D. Enkhjargal gave privileges to her private bank.

Erdenet mining plant gets new chief (Mongol Messenger)
2007-12-20
[…] Former Vice-Minister of Finance, Ch. Ganzorig was appointed as acting general director of the Erdenet Mining Plant replacing General Director, Kh. Naraankhuu who has been was as Minister of Industry and Trade. […]

MPs avoid suspension (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-03
Four Members of Parliament suspected of embezzling state property have escaped suspension from their posts. Parliament issued a decision on December 28 to allow Members of Parliament L. Gundalai, G. Zandanshatar, T. Badamjunai and U. Khurelsukh to hold their posts but gave the Police Department permission to in their personal belongings including a body search. The Parliamentary Sub-committee on immunity held several closed session and arrived at the conclusion to allow the MPs to continue their duties because there wasn't enough information to suspend their rights. […]

Anti Corruption chair appointed (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-03
The Mongolian Parliament appointed General Intelligence Agency Investigation department head, Ch. Sangaragchaa as chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Office. The President of Mongolia nominated him. […]

Dash uncovered for corruption (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-03
[…] Leading the corrupt practices was former NEMA chief and High commissioner, P. Dash who was relieved of his post December 19 by the Government for suspected embezzlement of state reserve assets. Government appointed former Police Academy working director, Colonel Ts. Amgalanbaatar as P. Dash's replacement.

T. Bilegt replaces Ts. Batbayar (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-03
[…] Former Presidential Office head, T. Bilegt replaced former Ulaanbaatar Mayor and Governor Ts. Batbayar, by order of the Capital City Citizens' Representative Khural, or city's legislative body, on December 28. G. Monkhbyar proposed the dismissal of Ts Batbayar with a resolution from the MPRP and caused hot debate among members for several days T. Bilegt was appointed with a unanimous vote from 30 members in attendance, defeating another candidate L. Amarsanaa.

PMs' talks of Russian bilateral relations (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-03
Prime Minister S. Bayar held telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart V. Zubkov on December 25, 2007. Mongolia's Prime Minister, S. Bayar, briefed his Russian counterpart, Russian Prime Minister, V Zubkov about the price increase of some consumer goods in Mongolia. Prime Minister Bayar said Mongolia imported considerable amounts of wheat and flour and almost all of its fuel needs from Russia. He also discussed possible cooperation towards managing prices with Russian Agriculture Minister, A. Gordeyev during the recent Mongolian-Russian Business Forum in Ulaanbaatar. The Prime Minister asked Prime Minister Zubkov to pay attention to Mongolia's imports of 200,000 tons of wheat and 40,000 tons of flour, agreed to during the forum.

Government fights growth in illegal immigrant numbers (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-09
A working group inspecting employment of foreign citizens has found an increase in illegal employment numbers among rural aimags and failure by employers to pay for work permits. […] With MPs, the Immigration and Naturalization Agency, the State Professional Inspection Agency, the General Intelligence Agency and general police conducted an inspection from August to November and found about 50 organizations in Dornogovi, Hentii, Govi-Sumber, Tuv and Arkhangai aimags illegally employed many foreigners.

Ambassador and PM confirm cooperation (Mongol Messenger)
2008-01-09
Mongolian Prime Minister S. Bayar received US Ambassador in Mongolia, Mr Mark Minton on January 4. Ambassador Minton handed over US President George Bush's congratulatory letter to the Prime Minister following his appointment as head of the Mongolian Government. The Prime Minister said 2007 had been very important in the 20-year history of bilateral relations and of high importance had been the Mongolian President's official visit to the US in October where both Presidents signed the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC). The Prime Minister said, “I'm glad to say the Mongolian Government issued a decision to send the ninth rotation to peace keeping operations” and expressed gratitude to Ambassador Minton and the US Government for implementing several important projects in Mongolia. He emphasized the agreement for the ‘One Laptop per Child' project in Mongolia and noted the importance of developing the relationship and cooperation in the economy and trade. He said, “As Mongolian Prime Minister, I will work to develop our countries' relationship more.”

 

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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