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
  21.1-25.1.08, No. 201  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China plays responsible, constructive role in Asia-Pacific (People's Daily)
2008-11-22
China plays its due role in the international system and upholds and contributes to this system, Xu Jialu, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, […]. In his speech, Xu said, the Asia-Pacific, one of the most dynamic and promising regions in the world, has become an engine of global political and economic development. […] However, discord and instability still exist in the Asia Pacific, he added. To address various challenges, enhance common security and achieve common development, "We need to follow the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, remain committed to multilateralism, and intensify collective action and international cooperation," Xu told the lawmakers. The world needs a "peaceful and stable, united and cooperative, open and inclusive" Asia -Pacific region, Xu added. China has fulfilled its due responsibility, and will be more active in international cooperation and continue to play a responsible and constructive role in the region, he said. "The National People's Congress of China will work with other members of the forum and contribute to play a positive role in enhancing exchange, understanding, trust and friendship among parliaments and peoples of Asia-Pacific countries, and make the region an open and inclusive one," Xu added. […]. ^ top ^

Blurred strategic perspectives on Iranian Nukes (People's Daily)
2008-01-23
[…] The six world powers, consisting of five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, will hold talks over finalizing the text of a third UN sanctions resolution against Iran which could be voted on in the meeting; and striving to reach a consensus on strategies to further enhance sanctions against Iran. The on-going meeting is a reaction to Iran's refusal to halt sensitive nuclear work despite the previous two rounds of UN sanctions. Iran insists that its uranium enrichment program is solely for civilian energy generation. The Iranian government says it still needs to produce nuclear fuel domestically, as it wants to build more power plants for planned network of 20,000 megawatts by 2020 to satisfy the soaring electricity demand. The United States, however, held that enriched uranium can be used for making nuclear fuel, and if refined much further, can provide material for bombs. […] “Iran poses a threat to the US and the Middle East, despite a US intelligence assessment that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003,” US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was quoted as saying. The US also accused Iran of actively supporting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Hezbollah and Hamas Islamic groups. The US-allied European countries have been at odds on issues like sanction scope against Iran and whether to resort to military force. Although Gates urged Iran's neighbors to cooperate more closely in defense to counter Tehran's policies and deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons; the Gulf Arab states are more concerned about regional stability – particularly the security of their oil-rich areas. The recent confrontation between US Navy ships and Iranian vessels at the Strait of Hormuz is a worrisome incident which could escalate into a clash or even a regional war. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets Vietnamese deputy PM (People's Daily)
2008-01-23
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Beijing on Tuesday with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Gia Khiem. The two sides exchanged views on China-Vietnam ties and the issues of common concern. Khiem is here to attend the second meeting of the China-Vietnam steering committee on cooperation. ^ top ^

Germany 'back on good terms' after chill (SCMP)
2008-01-23
Germany and China said yesterday that bilateral relations had returned to normal after a four-month chill over Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to host Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has spent months trying to patch up relations, and he met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi yesterday before talks with other countries about Iran's nuclear programme. "China values its ties to Germany and the continuation of these links," Mr Yang said at a joint news conference. "We are ready to meet the challenges we both face together, hand in hand with Germany," he said, adding it was important that neither country meddled in the other's affairs. Beijing cancelled a number of high-level meetings with German officials after Dr Merkel became the first German chancellor to meet the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese government views as a separatist. German business leaders voiced concerns in the wake of the meeting that China could penalise domestic firms. "We cannot hide the fact that the last weeks and months have not been easy for German-Chinese relations, so I am even happier that today's meeting sends a signal that we are returning to a normalisation as of today," Mr Steinmeier said. […]. ^ top ^

PM: Kosovo ready to declare independence in days (China Daily)
2008-01-25
Kosovo is ready to declare independence in coming days, Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said here on Thursday. "It is an issue of days," the breakaway Serbian province leader said after talks with EU top diplomat Javier Solana. "Kosovo is ready. We will proclaim independence very soon," he added, noting that some procedures would need to be conducted ahead of the declaration. He said the Kosovo authorities would coordinate with "the European Union and the United States" on the matter. "We will cooperate closely," Thaci said, "We have some procedures that we need to respect and some consultations that we need to respect too, but Kosovo is ready, is united and I think the date we will proclaim in Pristina is very soon." Kosovo, a Serbian province inhabited by a majority of ethnic Albanians, would declare unilaterally independence as a U.N. resolution is not likely to solve the problem of Kosovo's future status since Russia has stood by Serbia, which prefers that Kosovo enjoys broad autonomy within its territory. Multiple rounds of direct negotiations, which was mediated by the troika of the EU, Russia and the United States, failed to resolve the future status of Kosovo before the West-set December 10 deadline. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Kazakh parliament leader (People's Daily)
2008-01-25
Chinese President Hu Jintao met in Beijing on Thursday with Kasymzhomart Tokaev, chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan. […] He praised the consultation between the two countries in international and regional affairs, saying he was satisfied with China-Kazakhstan relations. "China and Kazakhstan are good neighbors, as well as strategic partners," Hu said. Hu stressed China valued relations with Kazakhstan and would strengthen the strategic partnership. He also said China supported the exchanges of the legislative organs, special committees, as well as the parliament members groups between the two countries. Tokaev said Kazakhstan and China would face an important period to develop the bilateral ties, and Kazakhstan hoped to realize the agreements of the two sides to expand the cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Migrant worker is elected NPC deputy (SCMP)
2008-01-22
A migrant worker who has been working in Guangdong for 10 years was elected yesterday as a deputy of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, state media reported. Hu Xiaoyan, 34, a Sichuan native, was the first migrant worker to be chosen to become an NPC deputy, Xinhua reported. She was selected for the post during the annual session of the provincial people's congress but her qualifications will still have to be assessed by the National People's Congress. […] She said she would focus on education and helping "children left behind in rural China" - those whose parents leave home to work in urban areas. "I have had to leave 12-year-old twin daughters in Sichuan since both my husband and I work in Guangdong," she said. "I always worry about their education and daily life since only their old grandmother takes care of them at home. I hope the state and local governments can invest more in education in rural areas." Ms Hu said she felt proud but nervous about becoming an NPC deputy. "It's an honour but also a great responsibility," she said. "Millions of migrant workers are behind me. I need to work well and speak out for them." But Ms Hu said she had not yet spoken at the provincial people's congress since she had very little political experience. Ms Hu and five other migrant workers are among 790 deputies of the Guangdong People's Congress. They are the mainland's first migrant legislators. […]. ^ top ^

Wealth gap widens in capital (SCMP)
2008-01-22
The income gap between Beijing's urban and rural residents continued to widen last year, the municipal Bureau of Statistics revealed yesterday. The per capita annual disposable income of urban residents was 21,989 yuan last year, 12,430 yuan more than the average rural income, said Yu Xiuqin, deputy director of the bureau. The gap was 9,793 yuan in 2005, according to statistics. ^ top ^

CPPCC spokesman reappointed (SCMP)
2008-01-22
Wu Jianmin, a former ambassador to France, was again named as spokesman for the annual conference of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March, Xinhua reported. Mr Wu, now China Foreign Affairs University president, is a veteran diplomat and a former Foreign Ministry spokesman. ^ top ^

Agriculture ministry warns grave animal epidemic in Spring (China Daily)
2008-01-23
China's Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai said on Tuesday some regions in the country were at high risk of serious animal epidemics in Spring due to frequent deliveries of livestock during the Spring Festival and activities of migratory birds. Sun did not specify which regions were exposed to such risks. He said local departments had kept animal epidemics such as bird flu and blue ear pig disease under control, but disease prevention measures in some areas were not in place. He urged local authorities to step up vaccinations against animal diseases in order to guarantee a sufficient supply during the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year holidays which fall in early February. He said all the seasonal vaccinations should be finished by the end of May and the ministry would organize an examination on their effectiveness in early June. The minister also called for strengthened supervision of vaccine production and delivery. He ordered departments to establish emergency plans for the Spring Festival and the Olympics. […]. ^ top ^

Hukou should be scrapped: Experts (People's Daily)
2008-01-24
The household registration (hukou) system should be scrapped in three to five years so that farmers enjoy the same status as urbanities, a government-sponsored expert group has suggested. […] The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which conducted a research on the issue along with the Australian government, did not comment on the timetable but expressed "solid support" for the reform. The NDRC has listed it as "one of the key issues and priorities" after three decades of fast economic growth. "We are going to neutralize the hukou system to strip it of its many social functions," NDRC Deputy Secretary General Ma Liqiang told an international conference on balanced urban-rural development yesterday. "By 2020, farmers will have equal rights and development opportunities as urban residents," said Ma, who described the hukou system as an "institutional barrier." […] Kong Jingyuan, NDRC's department director in charge of economic system reform, said a new registration system, based on pilot reforms in more than 12 provinces and autonomous regions, should replace the hukou system. "We should terminate the social difference between the urban and rural residents," Kong said, adding that the government will remove barriers to facilitate a "free flow" from rural regions to cities. "We encourage farmers who have a place to live in cities and have stable income to register there," Kong said. […]. ^ top ^

Death linked to killer antibiotic (SCMP)
2008-01-25
A 37-year-old man has died of kidney failure in Guangzhou after being treated with an antibiotic tainted with an antifreeze ingredient - the 14th fatality linked to the drug since 2006 - state media and a hospital have said. The man, surnamed Ren, died on Wednesday at the No3 Zhongshan Hospital, a woman who answered the phone at the hospital's Communist Party administration office said yesterday. Ren, who was being treated for hepatitis, was one of 65 patients at the hospital who received injections of the antibiotic Armillarisin A in April 2006, Xinhua said. […] The government shut down the drug company in 2006 and ordered its products removed from shelves. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan boosts election security (SCMP)
2008-01-22
Taiwan authorities have strengthened security for presidential candidates in the run-up to March's election. President Chen Shui-bian and Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien were shot and slightly wounded while campaigning on the eve of the last election in 2004. […]. ^ top ^

Firm with KMT ties ordered to repay loan - HK company owes bank more than HK$82 million, court told (SCMP)
2008-01-24
A judge has ordered a company closely linked to the Kuomintang to repay a loan it claims was given to it in an effort to curry favour with what was then the ruling party of Taiwan. The Bank of East Asia […] (BEA) lent Labour Buildings (LBL), a Hong Kong company controlled by the KMT, HK$50 million to finance the construction of an 18-floor property in Changsha Street in Mong Kok. […] The company made some repayments, but by March 1, 2002, the bank was still owed HK$47,139,733. There have been no more payments and the debt had, by the start of the hearing, ballooned to HK$82,402,127. BEA sued to recover the debt and take possession of the building. The second defendant, China States Limited, a member of the board of LBL, is the current tenant of the building. LBL claimed BEA had made the loan on very generous terms in the hope of gaining a political advantage with the KMT, then the ruling party in Taiwan, where it was trying to become the first Hong Kong bank […] to set up a branch office. As such, LBL claimed, BEA chief executive officer David Li Kwok-po took a personal interest in the negotiation of the loan. It also alleged that bank officers turned a blind eye to the misappropriation by two directors of HK$10.3 million and HK$7.6 million. The company asked the court to declare the debenture null and void. […] LBL also challenged the circumstances in which the debenture was created, arguing there were material irregularities in the way the meetings leading to its being ratified were conducted. But Deputy High Court Judge David Gill found that while there were irregularities in the creation of the debenture, the fact the company had made payments on it after the fact showed that LBL had treated it as binding. He ruled against LBL's arguments and in favour of the bank. […] Mr Justice Gill […] ordered the company to repay the debt with interest, and to pay the costs of the litigation. ^ top ^

UN referendums leave Taiwan in a no-win situation (SCMP)
2008-01-25
Two controversial UN membership referendums proposed by Taiwan's two major parties are taking a toll on the public, analysts say, with the votes likely to hurt the island regardless of whether they succeed or fail. The main opposition Kuomintang says it will initiate a motion when the new legislature opens next month to resolve the UN membership referendum problem, which is also apparent to some members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. "We hope the DPP will endorse our motion to have the legislative issue a resolution seeking to rejoin the United Nations in the name of the Republic of China," KMT legislative caucus head Kuo Su-chun said. Her remarks reflect a growing concern that if both referendums fail when they are held alongside the presidential elections on March 22, Taiwan would be hurt immensely. Whereas the KMT's referendum asks voters to decide whether the island should seek to rejoin the UN by any name, including its official Republic of China title, the one proposed by the DPP seeks to gain UN membership under the more politically sensitive "Taiwan". Beijing has warned the DPP against holding any referendum, seeing the use of the name Taiwan as an attempt by the pro-independence party to change the cross-strait status quo and take the first step towards a formal declaration of independence. Washington has also warned the DPP, saying the referendums could spark a cross-strait conflict. The crushing defeat of the DPP in January 12 legislative elections has relieved Beijing and Washington somewhat, especially since two referendums held alongside the legislative elections also failed - a hint that Taiwanese voters lack interest in votes they believe are politically motivated. If that is the case and both UN referendums fail, the impact on the island would be great, said Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien. "This means we could not hold similar referendums for three years in line with the referendum law," she said. Not only would Taiwan lose face, but it would also create the impression the Taiwanese people did not want to return to the UN. Observers also pointed out that if the referendums fail, Beijing could claim that by rejecting calls for UN membership, the people accepted that they were part of one China. "It now becomes a dilemma for Taiwan. If the referendums, especially the DPP's, pass, it will escalate cross-strait tension and anger Washington. If they fail, it will hurt Taiwan internationally," political commentator Yang Hsien-hung said. Last week, DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh Chang-ting suggested that President Chen Shui-bian hold a special meeting with leaders of various parties to find a way out or simply combine the DPP and KMT referendums in a bid to secure enough support from voters. But now the KMT apparently prefers a non-binding resolution to express Taiwan's desire to return to the UN in the name of the Republic of China, a less sensitive title for Beijing as it at least mentions China. ^ top ^

Cabinet move fuels talk of DPP rift (SCMP)
2008-01-25
Taiwan's cabinet has resigned four days ahead of schedule in a move that has fuelled speculation of a widening rift between President Chen Shui-bian and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh Chang-ting. Without giving any clue as to whether he would stay in his post or not, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung led the cabinet in resigning en masse yesterday, refusing to say who would be in the new lineup. Cabinet secretary general Chen Chin-chun also declined to reveal any planned personnel changes. The new cabinet is to be formed before the opening of the new legislature on Friday. "Whether the new lineup will be made known by Monday or Wednesday is up to President Chen, who is discussing the issue with the presidential candidate," he said. Mr Chang exhorted his cabinet members at their last meeting yesterday to carry on with their work until the new cabinet was formed. The cabinet's early resignation was a surprise decision Taiwanese media said had to do with Mr Hsieh's announcement that he planned to replace the premier with a chief executive capable of running the government as efficiently as a private enterprise. As the president is empowered to appoint the premier, Mr Hsieh's announcement was reported to have displeased Mr Chang, who was hand-picked by President Chen as the cabinet head eight months ago. Mr Chang yesterday said he was not offended by the announcement and that he was willing to step down to ensure the smooth operation of government. Mr Hsieh is running for president against opposition Kuomintang candidate Ma Ying-jeou, with the poll scheduled for March 22. Meanwhile, the Presidential Office said Mr Chen met Mr Hsieh yesterday to discuss the cabinet personnel issue and that of appointing a chief executive as cabinet head. ^ top ^

Taiwanese vice-president to shore up Pacific allies (SCMP)
2008-01-25
Taiwanese Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien will visit four Pacific allies next week, officials said, to shore up relations following recent elections in the region. Ms Lu will start her tour in the Marshall Islands on Wednesday, the island nation's foreign minister, Tony de Brum, told Parliament on Wednesday. Elections brought Litokwa Tomeing to power last month as president of the islands. Mr Tomeing said before his election he wanted to end the country's decade-long recognition of Taiwan, but has since said he wanted to maintain close relations with Taipei. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet re-elects top legislator, gov't chairman (People's Daily)
2008-01-23
Legqog was re-elected the top legislator of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qiangba Puncog chairman of the regional government at the first session of the 9th Tibet Regional People's Congress, the legislature, on Tuesday. Legqog, born in 1944 of Tibetan nationality, was re-elected chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, or head of the regional legislative body. He has been in the post since 2003. The congress heard the government work report, reviewed and approved the budget and elected government heads, among others. Qiangba Puncog, born in 1947 of Tibetan nationality, was re-elected chairman of the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, equivalent to a province governor. He has been in the post since 2003. ^ top ^

Reincarnation rules defended (SCMP)
2008-01-04
A senior Tibetan lama and government advisers will defend the mainland's contentious rules apparently aimed at empowering it to name the next Dalai Lama in the event Tibet's exiled spiritual leader dies. The State Administration of Religious Affairs issued regulations in July banning reincarnations of "living Buddhas", or holy monks, that fail to seek government approval. Tubdain Kaizhub, a living Buddha and vice-chairman of Tibet's regional Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, affirmed the regulations on Monday, Xinhua said. It quoted Soi'ham Rinzin, a member of the advisory body, as saying the 14th Dalai Lama had ignored religious ritual and historical convention to unilaterally decide reincarnations, disturbing religious order. The rules, which went into force on September 1, bar any Buddhist monk living outside the mainland from seeking reincarnation for himself or recognising a "living Buddha". […]. ^ top ^

Beijing's policies in Tibet and relations with Sudan defended (SCMP)
2008-01-25
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu defended Beijing's policies in Tibet and relations with the government of Sudan yesterday, saying it was wrong for activists to seize on the issues as a way to put pressure on Beijing ahead of the Olympic Games in August. The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, told Britain's ITV last week that Tibet supporters should protest peacefully in China against Beijing's rule during the Olympics. But Ms Jiang repeated the government's position that the Dalai Lama was a separatist and a traitor. She also said attempts to link the Olympics with Beijing's policies in Sudan politicised the Games, which was "inconsistent with the Olympic spirit and principles and will bear no fruit". ^ top ^

 

Economy

Changes in political system necessary in tackling wage gap and graft, says expert (SCMP)
2008-01-22
[…] Wang Xiaolu, deputy director of the non-governmental National Economic Research Institute, said "grey income" - largely gained through corruption and other illegal activities because of an "unsound" political and administrative system - was the main cause of the income disparity. In a recent study, he found the "grey income" earned by a small proportion of people amounted to more than half of personal income on the mainland and about 26 per cent of gross domestic product. […] "That means Chinese people made much more money than official data suggested, but the problem is that most of it, at least three-quarters, goes into the pockets of a small proportion of people who have enjoyed political privilege," Dr Wang said in an interview with the South China Morning Post […]. Grey income is a nebulous concept. Dr Wang's study covered illegally earned income and irregular income from "questionable" or "unspecified" sources. He lists five main sources - misused public-works funds, corruption among financial institutions, extra fees levied on government administrative procedures, profiteering on land sales and the disproportionate wage bills of government monopolies. […] The extra money would have paid for special bonuses, gifts and trips that public-sector workers enjoy. Unexplained spending outside the state budget by central and local government departments had also become a source of benefits for officials, Dr Wang said. The National Audit Office finds billions of yuan of unexplained spending by government departments every year. […] "Many government agencies get off-budget revenue from unauthorised charges on services and use it for entertainment and other benefits for their staff," Dr Wang said. In some cases, such undeclared income was many times their taxable salary. […] That made the income gap 54:1 compared with the 21:1 claimed in official statistics. Dr Wang said his survey found big differences in official data for the highest earners but little difference for the lowest because rich people made most of the untaxed grey income. "That undeclared income is often involved with illegal or unauthorised activities, such as corruption and abuse of public funds," he said. He argued that the government needed to remove itself from the economy in order that the mainland could sustain its phenomenal economic growth. "The first thing we need is transparency to stop corruption and increase efficiency, and that is to say all government activities should be under the spotlight," he said. "If its duties, responsibilities and authority are not properly spelled out so as to regulate what it must do, can do and cannot do, then we can't even begin to talk about fairness and efficiency in governance." Dr Wang said that the glaring contradiction between the mainland's lean, free-market capitalism and its bloated, closed and corrupt government was about to become the country's central economic challenge. […] Dr Wang said the central government had taken steps to help the poor, but "money earmarked by the central government to help the needy often ends up in the pockets of corrupt local officials or businessmen in collusion with officials". […] Dr Wang said: "The key bottleneck is in the government sector; it has not changed substantially with the economy and is compromising economic reform." He said the public's widespread hostility to the rich was not just about disparities in wealth, but also about unequal opportunity. "With social tension mounting over the mainland's rich-poor divide, the 4.8 trillion yuan in grey income highlights structural problems that must be fixed," he said. "All these problems are rooted in the unsound political system, which has not made any significant progress in past decades despite the continued market-oriented economic reform. […]. ^ top ^

Bank of China denies reports of losses (China Daily)
2008-01-24
The Bank of China (BOC), the nation's second largest lender, on Tuesday denied reports that it might post sharply lower profits or even a loss in 2007 due to investments in securities linked to US subprime mortgages. "The reports were groundless," said a statement from the bank. "The bank's after-tax profit continued to grow in 2007, taking into consideration provisions made for subprime-linked assets." Trading in the Bank of China was suspended on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Tuesday pending a profit announcement. The bank's shares lost 4.14 percent, falling to 6.25 yuan on Monday. Shares traded in Hong Kong tumbled 8.61 percent to HK$3.08 on Tuesday after falling 6.39 percent on Monday. The bank reported a net profit of 45.5 billion yuan for the first three quarters in 2007 under international accounting standards, up 40.1 percent from the same period a year earlier. ^ top ^

China's industrial output up 18.5% last year (China Daily)
2008-01-25
Industrial output jumped 18.5 percent last year, or 1.9 percentage points more than in 2006, Xie Fuzhan, director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Thursday.[…] Industrial output and gross domestic product (GDP) could both expand more slowly this year as the sub-prime crisis and a potential recession in the United States could reduce demand for Chinese exports, according to Zhang Liqun, a researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council. […] Other statistics released on Thursday: Companies sold 98.1 percent of their production last year; Profit grew by 36.7 percent year-on-year during the first 11 months of last year, six percentage points more than a year earlier, to 2.295 trillion yuan, Xie added. This growth came as the economy expanded 11.4 percent for the whole year, the fifth year of double-digit growth; Vehicle producers' profit soared 68.7 percent, the highest rate among all sectors. The rates for the chemicals, coal and steel industries were 51.5 percent, 49.1 percent, and 47.2 percent, respectively. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Foreigners encouraged to donate blood for Olympics (China Daily)
2008-01-24
"Whenever there's need for blood, we'll give. We don't consider ourselves foreigners, for the world is a big family," said Mustafa Ali Alhumaid, headmaster of Saudi Arabia School in Beijing, yesterday. The school is for children of Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia officials, and all its teachers are from that country. Since 2005, the school has been organizing its staff to take part in the annual free blood donation camp, held in collaboration with the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center (BRCBC). More than half of the staff have donated blood at least thrice. Alhumaid and his colleagues are potential blood donors for BRCBC, which has been appealing to the public, especially foreigners living in Beijing, to donate rhesus (RH) blood to ensure enough supply during the Olympic Games, BRCBC deputy director Shi Weiwei said. […] Since 1 million people, including about 20,000 athletes, coaches and officials, are expected in Beijing during the Games, the city could face a shortage of RH blood, Shi said. […] Beijing plans to have 800 of the 200-ml units of RH-blood for the Olympics. But the BRCBC has only half those number till now, Shi said. […]. ^ top ^

Linking Olympics with Darfur issue "strongly" opposed (Xinhua)
2008-01-25
China said here Thursday it strongly opposes the practice of using the Olympic Games to hype political issues such as Darfur, saying it is in fact destroying and disturbing the preparation works of Olympic Games. "It is of apparent political intention and purpose to link the Darfur issue with the Olympics," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a routine press conference. "Such practice violates the Olympic spirit and principle, and will never succeed." China is firmly opposed to those persons or organizations who hype particular issues in the name of the Olympics, said Jiang in response to the question that whether China would put more pressure on Sudan as someone considered China's continued support for the regime in Sudan could tarnish the Olympics. China will never, ever accept those accusations, said Jiang, adding that international society knows very well that China has exerted a positive and constructive influence on the Darfur issue. […] "China will continue to play a constructive role in pushing forward a proper settlement of the Darfur issue," Jiang said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea to shut down embassy in Australia (SCMP)
2008-01-23
[…] Some commentators interpreted the move as a snub to Australia's new government. Pak Myong-guk, North Korean embassy spokesman and Pyongyang's most senior representative in Canberra, blamed the decision on financial hardship created by flooding in his homeland. […] "While the closure of any embassy is regrettable, we will continue to maintain diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea through our embassy in Beijing which is accredited to the DPRK," said Andrew Dempster, Mr Smith's spokesman. Mr Dempster declined to comment on the reasons for the closure. North Korea is expected to maintain diplomatic ties with Australia through its embassy in Indonesia. […] "Australia did Washington's bidding and kept open a diplomatic corridor to the North Koreans," Crikey said. "Now that corridor has been blocked and the North Koreans are exiting Canberra." Commentators also speculated the decision was a snub directed at new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who once refused a North Korean delegation Australian visas during a heated exchange. But Asia expert Peter Drysdale, an economics professor at Australian National University, said Pyongyang's decision was purely financial. "This was a decision that was taken some time ago and has only to do with the inability to finance missions abroad and is partly a consequence of the financial squeeze that is being put on North Korea," he said, referring to economic sanctions. "Obviously, Australia is a mission which doesn't generate significant business." […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia to send troops to Sierra Leone (Mongolia-web)
2008-01-18
Mongolia has announced it will send its fifth group of soldiers to the Sierra Leone. Acting as part of a U.N. force, the 200 Mongolian troops will serve to protect the Special Court for Sierra Leone and its staff. To assist in its mission, Mongolia will receive $5.9 million to pay for the peacekeeping mission. Mongolian troops began participating in the peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone in 2006. Mongolia also has troops serving in non-combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. ^ top ^

Parliament approves MCC (Mongolia-web)
2008-01-23
Parliament discussed and ratified draft law approving the “Millennium Challenge Compact” concluded between the Mongolian Government and US Government for implementing activity through the Millennium Challenge Corporation on January 15. Both Presidents signed a compact of USD 285 million irrevocable aid from the Millennium Challenge Corporation during the Mongolian Presidents' official visit to the US in October 2007. Over a five years period, the irrevocable aid be transferred to Mongolia year by year in USD for projects in education, health, railways and land tenure sectors. USD 188.36 million of aid will go to railway renewal and renovation, USD 17.03 to a land tenure project, USD 23.06 million to vocational education and USD 25.51 million to health. Mongolia received the Millennium Challenge Corporation's irrevocable aid for the first time since 19901. Mongolia is among 16 countries that fulfilled criteria in August 2004 and decision to award the funds to Mongolia was issued in July 2007. ^ top ^

Policy (Montsame Agency)
The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Part (MPRP) made an ethics agreement with government members, ministers and vice ministers appointed to their political posts from the MPRP. MPRP Secretary-General Yo. Otgonbayar signed the agreement and the Prime Minister S. Bayar expressed hope that those appointed to high political positions would work ethically. He requested them to respect the laws, avoid corruption and to work fairly for the interest and rights of the State and people.

An appeal has been released on joint participation in the 2008 parliamentary elections, addressing political forces with citizen orientation at the first congress of Civil Movement Party. A working group was set up January 16 to form a civil coalition including M. Ichinnorov, Deputy Chairperson of the party; E.Batbayar, Secretary-General; and Ch.Chimedsuren, Head of the CMP Office. The working group plans to hold its meeting with the Mongolian Green Party. ^ top ^

Demand Grows for Transparency in Asgat Deal (UB Post)
2008-01-24
SOME political parties and politicians have expressed their surprise that the Government does not give a chance to international companies to offer their bids for the Asgat silver deposit. The Government has always said that the only company to show any interest in joint and equal ownership of the deposits has been the Russian Polymetal LLC. […] The Government keeps on trying and defending its decision. Recently Ya.Sodbaatar, Vice Minister of Industry and Trade, told the Standing Committee of Economy that it would be possible to extract 600,000 tons of ore annually at Asgat and the potential lifetime of the deposit is 50 years. […] A team of Russian geologists completed a survey of the deposits 20 years ago but exploration work could not be started. The agreement between Polymetal and the Government accepts the findings of this study. The Government's claim that there has been no international interest in Asgat would appear to be not borne out by facts. According to a report in the Onoodriin Mongol on January 23 a British company, Central Asia Metals, presented a proposal about development of Asgat to the Government. The newspaper also claims that what Sodbaatar said about the extent of Asgat's deposits may not be accurate. The British company estimated these could be twice what is now being said. The British company offered to do a fresh exploration of the area, using more advanced technology. It also submitted eight provisions that are likely to be missing in the present agreement. These included the building a complete complex with a smelter, electric power, coal mining and metallurgical plants. Central Asia Metals also offered to use only eco-friendly technology. Its proposal mentioned that all the equipment for the metallurgical plant to be imported from the USA would be state of the art, and processing work would be done with detoxified chemicals. The newspaper is clear that the Central Asia Metals proposal was in all respects better for Mongolia than what Polymetal of Russia now offers, and what the Mongolian Government accepts without public debate or explanation. […] Many politicians have expressed concern that that such a lucrative as well as important project is being given to a company without any competitive bidding. They see a lack of transparency in the whole thing. Jargal has said his party will not support the draft law on developing Asgat in its present form and content. It will press for an open tender. If necessary the Mongolian Government should compete with other bidders. Not just international companies, but some Mongolian companies also may turn out to have the potential to explore the deposit. ^ 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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