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
  18.2-22.2.08, No. 205  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Beijing 'worried' over Kosovo (SCMP)
2008-02-19
Beijing expressed "deep concern" yesterday over Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence and poured scorn on Taipei's desire to recognise Kosovo's new status. […] Taiwanese authorities swiftly announced their approval of Kosovo's decision and said the island would recognise Kosovo's independence. "In no way should the independence of one nation be denied by another," the island's foreign ministry said. "Self-determination is a right recognised by the United Nations, and it is the people who are masters of their nation's future." Mr Liu challenged Taipei's stance, saying: "Taiwan is part of China, and has no right or qualification to give the so-called `recognition'." Beijing's relatively calm response, short of the outright objection expressed by Moscow, surprised some observers, given the tension over Taiwan's status; others said the response was carefully calibrated and allowed Beijing to react to future developments with more flexibility. Most mainland experts were reluctant to discuss the likely impact of Kosovo's decision on the Taiwan situation, deeming the issue too sensitive to be commented on publicly. Feng Zhongping, director of European studies at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, said he believed Kosovo's act set a bad precedent. "If a unilateral declaration of independence becomes successful, despite the objection of its sovereign state, this would have a negative impact on stability of the international community," Professor Feng said. Philip Yang Yung-ming, director of the Taiwan Security Research Centre, said Taiwan's situation was totally different from that of Kosovo. "Unlike Kosovo, which has support from the US and other western powers, Taiwan lacks the necessary backing, and a declaration of independence would cost too high a price.". ^ top ^

Beijing wants peace in Darfur, premier says (SCMP)
2008-02-20
Premier Wen Jiabao voiced China's desire for peace in Darfur yesterday as the Foreign Ministry confirmed special envoy Liu Guijin would return to the war-torn African region. […] "China wishes to see that peace, stability and development be achieved soon in Darfur," Mr Wen said on the phone to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He stressed China's contributions to Darfur's peace process, including its help in three-way talks between Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations. He also emphasised that China was the first non-African country to send peacekeepers to Darfur, and the first to offer development assistance to Sudan. But he also expressed the wish to work with Britain and "continue the endeavour to properly resolve the Darfur problem". The ministry said Mr Brown praised Beijing's efforts in resolving the issue and voiced Britain's opposition to boycotting the Games. Mr Liu will return to Sudan for the fourth time later this month, stopping over in Britain beforehand. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has also been invited to visit China at the end of the month. Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that "with efforts from the international community, including China, Sudan's Darfur problem has made positive progress". "Pressures should not be used, to avoid the situation from becoming more complicated," he said, calling for talks to remain the main channel for resolving the crisis. He conceded that progress was lagging in Darfur and that the international community could do more to bring the opposition groups to the negotiating table. […]. ^ top ^

Japan expects Hu's visit to achieve "important progress" (People's Daily)
2008-02-22
Japan expected Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to achieve "important progress", said Japanese Upper House senator Oishi Masamitsu during the second meeting of the China-Japan regular legislative exchange mechanism. […] Lu Yongxiang, vice-chairman of China's National People's Congress Standing Committee, co-chaired the meeting with Oishi Masamitsu, who led the Japanese delegation for the meeting. Both sides spoke highly of the regular legislative exchange mechanism that was launched in October 2006 to cement overall bilateral ties. […] "The regular exchange mechanism conforms to the new situation of bilateral ties, and it has become a participant to build China-Japan strategic, mutually beneficial relations," Lu said. […] He added that the Japanese Upper House would make efforts to prompt the Japanese government and people to earnestly face and reflect on history and improve understanding between the two countries. […]. ^ top ^

Rice visit will revive nuke talks (People's Daily)
2008-02-22
[…] Rice's one-day schedule will restrict her visit to the capital for political meetings with China's top leaders. She will also hold talks with her Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. Beijing is the second leg of Rice's east Asian trip, which will focus largely on the deadlock to dismantle Pyongyang's nuclear facilities. […] Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told yesterday's regular press briefing that Rice's visit is a key diplomatic step between the two countries and hopes it will push forward the development of healthy, stable and constructive Sino-US ties. The chief US negotiator on the Six-Party Talks, Christopher Hill, arrived in Beijing this week to lay the groundwork for Rice's visit. Hill held talks with the Chinese side as well as his counterpart in Pyongyang, Kim Kye-gwan, before flying to Seoul and Tokyo for further consultations. Diplomatic activity aimed at kick-starting the stalled process has been intensifying. ROK chief negotiator Chun Yung-Woo also met with his counterpart from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Kye-Gwan, yesterday in Beijing. Chun told reporters after the meeting that the DPRK insists talks on dismantling its nuclear programs stalled due to "technical issues" and not a lack of political willingness. Top officials from Beijing, Pyongyang and Seoul also met in the Chinese capital yesterday to discuss ways of using economic and energy aid under the framework of the Six-Party Talks. Headed by Chinese special envoy on Korean Peninsula affairs, Chen Naiqing, the Chinese delegation comprised officials from the foreign affairs and commerce ministries. Liu said thanks to the tremendous efforts made by the relevant parties, the nuclear talks as well as the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula have made progress. "Despite the difficulties, all parties remain committed," he said. ^ top ^

China, Russia ink consultation plan 2008 between FMs (Xinhua)
2008-02-22
[…] Chinese Ambassador to Russia Liu Guchang and Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov inked the agreement on behalf of their ministries at the debut ceremony of a review on bilateral cooperation agreements that were signed from 1999 to 2007. […]. ^ top ^

Terms reiterated for Vatican ties (Xinhua)
2008-02-22
China's top religious affairs official reiterated on Wednesday that the country is ready to improve ties with the Vatican as long as the Holy See accepts two conditions. The two are recognition of the one-China principle and non-interference in the country's internal affairs. "China is ready to develop ties with the Vatican at any time on the basis of the two principles," said Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, during a press conference held at the Chinese Embassy in the United States. "China's religious affairs brook no intervention by foreign forces ... and we hope the Vatican will respect the principle," said Ye, who is on a four-day US visit that started on Monday.

There are 5 million Catholics on the Chinese mainland. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao yesterday urged the Vatican to show sincerity over the two important issues and create conditions for normalizing and improving relations. Ye also pledged that the authorities will better safeguard religious freedom as part of the country's efforts to build a harmonious society. "The government's respect for religious freedom is sincere and consistent," he said. "Only by respecting the religious freedom of its citizens can the country unite most of the people and achieve its goal of national rejuvenation and building a harmonious world." Ye also told US academic and religious representatives on Tuesday that mutual appreciation and peaceful coexistence among different cultures hold the key to global harmony. China is making great efforts to build a harmonious society, he said, adding that "we believe that Americans can understand the Chinese ideal of harmony and appreciate the beauty of China, so as to contribute to the building of a harmonious world". ^ top ^

China, DPRK, ROK meet in Beijing on economic, energy aid (China Daily)
2008-02-22
Officials from China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Thursday met in Beijing to discuss economic and energy assistance within the framework of six-party talks. China's Ambassador for Korean Peninsula Issues Chen Naiqing is heading the Chinese delegation, which also includes officials from the foreign ministry and commercial ministry, said foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. "The six-party talks and the Korean Peninsula denuclearization process have achieved remarkable progress, which is attributed by all to the great efforts by relevant parties including China," Liu said. Despite some current difficulties, all parties have maintained consultation and communication, Liu said. "China is ready to make joint efforts to push forward the six-party talks so as to realize the agreements completely and in a balanced fashion," Liu said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Row erupts over 'martyr' honour for dead official (SCMP)
2008-02-18
The deputy Communist Party secretary of Hohhot, who was gunned down in his office this month, has been named a "revolutionary martyr" in a move drawing much criticism. Wang Zhiping and a female tax official, Wang Ying who was also in his office, were murdered by Guan Liuru who then committed suicide on February 5 in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. Critics say the move to name Wang Zhiping as a martyr comes before local police and the Ministry of Public Security unveil their findings. Mainland media yesterday reported that on Friday the Civil Affairs Department of the Inner Mongolian government approved the Hohhot city government's application for the honour. In a written reply to the application, quoted by Huashang Daily, the Inner Mongolian authorities described Wang Zhiping as an "excellent party member and official, who was unfortunately murdered at around 4pm on February 5 in Hohhot city, sacrificing himself while at his work post, aged 54". It said the decision was based on the Revolutionary Martyr Praise and Commend Regulations, which said a person could be named a martyr if "he is killed by his enemy when carrying out revolutionary tasks". Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociology professor of Renmin University, said being named a martyr was a top honour and required a strict review process before approval, which seemed not to have been done in this case. […]. ^ top ^

Hu urges reform, innovation in Party building (China Daily)
2008-02-19
[…] Addressing a workshop attended by delegates from the Party's Organization Department in Beijing on Monday, Hu urged all members to stick to the direction of reform and establish a system helpful to innovation. Hu said the 17th CPC National Congress held in October called for strengthened governance capability of the Party to lead Chinese to social prosperity in the new era. To do so, the Party should keep innovating the Party's theories and improving the Party's systems, said Hu, also the Central Military Commission chairman. He urged all members to do their best to promote inner-Party democracy as the important content and condition to guarantee innovation within the Party. Inner-Party democracy is key to stimulating innovation among Party members, and a more democratic system within the Party will invite more people to contribute their wisdom to our Party building, Hu said. […]. ^ top ^

Reform or else, says think-tank (SCMP)
2008-02-20
[…] The "comprehensive political system reform plan" produced by scholars at the Central Party School in Beijing argues for steady liberalisation that its authors say can build a "modern civil society" by 2020 and "mature democracy and rule of law" in later decades. The cost of delaying this course could be economic disarray and worsening corruption and public discontent, they write in Storming the Fortress: A Research Report on China's Political System Reform after the 17th Party Congress. "Citizens' steadily rising democratic consciousness and the grave corruption among party and government officials make it increasingly urgent to press ahead with demands for political system reform," the report said. […] The authors say the party must keep overall control and "elite" decision-making would help China achieve lasting prosperity by pushing past obstacles to economic reform. But the 366-page report gives a detailed blueprint of how some advisers see political relaxation unfolding, with three phases of reform in the next 12 years, including restricting the party's powers and expanding the rights of citizens, reporters, religious believers and lawmakers. […] The authors argued that government regulation of news was needed as China navigated unsettling social changes. But the present system of secretive and often arbitrary censorship was stoking corruption and public distrust of government. "Freedom of the press is an inevitable trend," they said, calling for a law to protect reporters and "halt unconstitutional and unlawful interference in media activities". They also propose that the National People's Congress be slimmed down and given direct powers to set the budget and audit government spending. Candidates for legislatures should be allowed to compete for votes, the authors said. And the Communist Party itself must bind itself under rule of law. President Hu Jintao has promoted limited "intra-party democracy" to expose officials to more checks, but has shown no appetite for broad political liberalisation. But the party school report, with its detailed arguments for change, and other books and essays from reformist advisers in the past year, suggest that some senior advisers have been thinking closely about much more ambitious reforms. ^ top ^

Unprecedented press access to CPPCC (People's Daily)
2008-02-22
The media will get an unprecedented level of access to all 56 panel discussions of the first plenary session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee (CPPCC) next month, Hong Kong-based newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported yesterday. Scheduled to open on March 3, discussions involving all 34 member groups of the CPPCC, the country's top political advisory body, will be open to media interviews at least once during the eight-day annual session, the paper reported. […] Previously, panel discussions by groups such as the Chinese Communist Party, religious groups and the group for specially invited members from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, were not open to the press. The newspaper said this year's session will also see an increase in the number of press conferences and group interviews. The session's media center will reportedly provide the press with details such as the names of CPPCC members, hotels where members are expected to stay and other contact information to encourage reporters to "directly get in touch with members for interviews". "The scale and degree of openness of this year's event is unparalleled," the paper said. […] Members' proposals help the State to make scientific and democratic decisions, especially with the quality of proposals improving and becoming more valuable and practical, Yang Zhenjie, vice-chairman of the subcommittee for handling proposals of the 10th CPPCC National Committee, said. […] In the past five years, the committee has received 23,081 proposals from its 2,249 members, with 99 percent of them being accepted, investigated and replied to by government and Party departments. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Capital sets tougher emissions standards (SCMP)
2008-02-18
Beijing will introduce new emissions standards for new cars next month amid mounting concerns over its ability to improve the city's choking air quality ahead of the Olympics. But the move, making the capital the first mainland city to comply with Euro IV emissions standards, has been questioned by state media as being premature. Xinhua said in a commentary yesterday that Beijing's introduction of the National IV emissions standard - equivalent to the Euro IV - at least two years ahead of a nationwide trial, had underlined a dilemma between the government's ambition to cut pollution and the relatively low quality of its fuels. […] Under Beijing's plan, unveiled by Du Shaozhong, spokesman for the city's environmental protection bureau, sales of new petrol-fuelled light vehicles that failed to meet the new emissions standards would be banned from March 1, the Beijing Times reported yesterday. Heavy vehicles used for public transport, sanitation and postal services will apply the new standard in July, while those for other purposes can still use the existing National III standards. The new standards will not apply to the more than 3 million cars already on the road in Beijing, which have taken the most blame for the city's smog. In an apparent move to improve the city's environmental image, Mr Du said the stricter standards were expected to drastically reduce emissions of key pollutants, especially particulate matter. Particulate matter, a major pollutant in the capital, is harmful to the respiratory system. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai starts work on what may be nation's tallest building (SCMP)
2008-02-19
[…] Under one plan, the Shanghai Centre building, as it is tentatively called, would be 580 metres tall. That would make the skyscraper higher than the city's Jinmao Tower, which is now a major tourist attraction at 421 metres and the Shanghai World Financial Centre, which is expected to open to tenants within months, and soars to 492 metres. The new building will be a short distance from the other two skyscrapers, creating a cluster of the mainland's highest buildings in what will be a focal point of Shanghai's financial district. […]. ^ top ^

Harassment stepped up, dissident says (SCMP)
2008-02-22
Shanghai's best-known dissident, lawyer Zheng Enchong, yesterday said harassment by authorities had increased ahead of a key political meeting next month and the Olympics later in the year. In the past week, police had sought to stop him leaving his home to meet people, detained him twice and physically assaulted him by forcing him to the ground, kicking him and slapping him. Speaking by phone, he said authorities were trying to stop petitioners visiting him at home, where he is now confined. "The government fears more people coming into contact with me," he said. Mr Zheng, who was released from jail in June 2006 after serving three years for leaking state secrets and for contacting a human-rights group, has advised hundreds of Shanghai residents on disputes with district governments over eviction and compensation. Shortly before he was arrested, he accused city officials of corruption in relation to a land sale. The increased surveillance followed media interviews he gave and comes before the March 5 opening of the National People's Congress, ahead of which the central government typically rounds up dissidents. Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, said in a statement: "If China is serious about the rule of law, it must immediately cease the crackdowns on and detentions of lawyers and legal advisers.". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

I didn't spy for Taiwan, says released journalist (SCMP)
2008-02-22
Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong insisted on his innocence as he spoke in public for the first time since being freed from a Guangzhou prison, vowing he had not spied for Taiwan. He also called on the mainland authorities to grant amnesty to more prisoners, to enhance social harmony in the run-up to this summer's Beijing Olympics. Ching yesterday made a statement to about 100 journalists gathered at the Foreign Correspondents' Club about his conviction on charges of spying for Taiwan, for which he was held for nearly three years in mainland jails. "I have not done anything that would endanger national security or harm national interests. I have a clear conscience," he said. "I have not let down those who give me understanding, trust and support. As I stressed in court, I did not have any subjective intention to spy, nor did I knowingly commit any offence. "I have never held any state secret, not to mention passing on state secrets to Taiwan." The 58-year-old chief China correspondent for Singapore's The Straits Times stopped short of commenting on details of his case. "If I behave inappropriately, I may get into trouble again," he said, emphasising that he was freed on parole from an original five-year jail term. He said he hoped his case would help the mainland move forward on the road to the rule of law, and that Hong Kong people's support for him had demonstrated that justice was a core value held by the community. "We [Hong Kong people] strictly abide by the principle of presumption of innocence, highly regard judicial procedures and oppose interference in the judiciary," he said. Accompanied by family members and friends, Ching bowed in front of the cameras with his wife Mary Lau Man-yee, sister Ching Shui-yee and brother Ching Hai to express gratitude to all those who had helped with his release. They also presented a "thank you" card to all Hong Kong people. Ching said he hoped to continue his work reporting on China and planned to return to work after taking a month's paid leave from his newspaper. "Right now, I'm still rather disoriented after being held for almost three years," he said. He called for the release of more prisoners on the mainland this year as the country celebrates the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up, and the Olympics. […]. ^ top ^

DPP candidate 'would invite Hu' (SCMP)
2008-02-19
The presidential candidate of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party yesterday repeated an offer by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to invite President Hu Jintao to visit if he was elected next month. Frank Hsieh Chang-ting made the gesture - widely considered an electioneering gimmick - when he visited the Taiwanese island of Quemoy. "If elected as the president, I would like to invite Mr Hu Jintao to visit Taiwan and come to Kinmen [Quemoy], a place of historic significance, where we could talk," Mr Hsieh said. […] Recent polls show that Mr Hsieh's rival, former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang, enjoys a 20 point lead ahead of the March 22 presidential election. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese military official urges U.S. to see essence of "Taiwan independence" (Xinhua)
2008-02-21
The United States should see clearly the essence and risk of "Taiwan independence", Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Caihou said here on Wednesday. He made the remarks in a meeting with a U.S. delegation of retired generals led by William Owens, former deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. armed forces. Xu said recently Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian had frantically pushed for "referendum on U.N. membership" and "Taiwan independence" that seriously threatened the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and the mutual interests of China and the United States. China appreciated U.S. President George W. Bush's and the U.S. government's repeated one-China position and hoped the United States would stop keeping official and military contact with Taiwan. It also hoped the U.S. would stop selling weapons to Taiwan so as not to send wrong signals to the Taiwan authorities, he said. Xu said the current Sino-U.S. relations have maintained a sound momentum and ties between their respective armed forces have developed smoothly. […]. ^ top ^

Taipei opens trade office in Libya (SCMP)
2008-02-22
Taiwan has opened a trade office in Libya, the island's foreign ministry said. The move comes two years after President Chen Shui-bian made a surprise visit to the oil-rich nation. The office "will further develop the relations between Taiwan and Libya for mutual benefits", the ministry said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Employers boost wages in bid to attract workers (China Daily)
2008-02-19
Companies in the Pearl River Delta area, the country's manufacturing powerhouse, are raising wages to attract migrant workers amid fears of a worsening labor shortage, a survey has shown. The survey was conducted by the service center of Guangzhou human resources markets, which looked at 252 companies with at least 200 employees each. The poll found out that the average monthly salary offered to new staff was up 13 percent from last year at 1,160 yuan ($162). The survey also showed that nearly 70 percent of the companies said they will hire new employees this year, up 20 percent from the same period of last year. Still, the number of job-hunters has decreased and are said to be more picky, the Guangzhou Daily reported. […]. ^ top ^

3 Chinese banks in top 25 of world banking list (China Daily)
2008-02-20
HSBC, Europe's largest bank by market value, has been named the world's most valuable banking brand, while three Chinese banks are among the top 25, according to The Banker magazine's latest […] This year's The Banker magazine listing highlights the emergence of Chinese banks as significant players on the international stage, with three Chinese banks appearing among the top 25 brands. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) ranked 15th, while China Construction Bank is 17th and Bank of China 22nd. In its latest issue, the magazine also named HSBC as the only bank to achieve the highest possible triple 'A' brand rating. […]. ^ top ^

China approves plan to develop Beibu Bay economic zone (Xinhua)
2008-02-21
China has promoted its southwest Beibu Bay as a new economic zone, with approval of the "Guangxi Beibu Bay Economic Zone Development Plan", announced Ma Biao, Chairman of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Thursday in Nanning, capital city of the region. According to the plan, the area will be built into the regional logistic base, the trade base, the processing and manufacturing center between China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). […] "China's coastal economic zones have assembled as a ring with establishment of the Beibu Bay economic zone ", said Ma, noting that the Beibu Bay economic zone will not only boost regional economic development, but also lay a solid base for economic cooperation with its surrounding areas. […]. ^ top ^

 

Avian flu

Central China confirms new human bird flu case (China Daily)
2008-02-19
China's Ministry of Health on Monday confirmed a human case of H5N1 bird flu in the central Hunan Province. A 22-year-old man surnamed Li in Jianghua County, Yongzhou City, suffered fever and headache on January 16 and was hospitalized on January 22. His symptoms worsened despite treatment. Li died at 5 pm on January 24 after all rescue measures failed. His specimens tested positive for the bird flu virus strain H5N1, said the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The report didn't identify how he might have contracted the disease. The virus is most commonly passed from sick poultry to humans who have close contact with infected birds. Statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show there have been 18 human deaths from the H5N1 strain, and 28 confirmed cases of infection in China since 2003. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Beijing loses the early rounds of pre-Games public relations battle (SCMP)
2008-02-18
[…] The central government now has the mother of all public relations battles to wage, but judging from the past few days, it has fumbled with its head-in-the-sand approach. It is time for mainland officials to review their strategy to win more international favour. The trouble started on Wednesday when Hollywood director Steven Spielberg announced he would quit as an artistic consultant to the Games because of Beijing's policy over Sudan and the war-torn Darfur region. His announcement coincided with a Global Day of Action for Darfur. In the spirit of the day, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates signed a letter to President Hu Jintao on Tuesday, urging the mainland to uphold Olympic ideals by pressing Sudan to stop atrocities in Darfur. While the news featured prominently in the international media and internet chat rooms around the world, mainland authorities remained curiously silent for nearly 48 hours before the Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao described Spielberg's pullout as "regrettable", and accused "some people" of ulterior motives. It is difficult to fathom why there was such a long wait. The central government should have given its response as soon as Spielberg made his announcement instead of having Spielberg's story and that of his supporters dominate the news cycle completely. It is not that Beijing did not anticipate this was coming. Spielberg threatened six months ago to resign from the opening and closing ceremonies' artistic design team if Beijing failed "to bring safety and stability" to Darfur. In addition, a high-profile international campaign, led by actress Mia Farrow, to put more pressure on China, has been gathering steam in the past few months. In a situation like this, it seems obvious China can either be defensive or go on the offensive. Mainland officials are apparently trying to find something in between, which can only be counter-productive. It would seem officials are caught in a dilemma. An aggressive response may play up the importance of Spielberg's snub while an accommodating response will embolden human rights groups. Other mainland officials may simply reject Spielberg's remarks as the ramblings of a Hollywood star, taking great comfort in the timely remarks of US President George W. Bush that he disagreed with Spielberg and still planned to attend the Games. What mainland officials may not fully comprehend is the western culture of revering celebrities more than politicians - Spielberg's words may just carry more weight in public opinion. […] With the arrival of more than 20,000 journalists who have been accredited to cover the Games, many will write about the shiny new stadiums, world-class infrastructure, smiling volunteers and so on in the context of China's economic rise. But others will try to find and talk to the people whose homes have been demolished to make way for Olympic venues, the beggars, human rights activists, underground church-goers, Falun Gong practitioners. The scale of the negative press coverage will be unprecedented. […] The view is simply lopsided because, whether Beijing likes it or not, the pressure will continue to intensify through international media. Silence or refusal to engage can only lead to one side of the story dominating one news cycle after another with Beijing losing the public relations war without ever trying. […]. ^ top ^

PLA on alert for Olympic terror plots (SCMP)
2008-02-18
[…] The Beijing Times said an undisclosed number of troops, while carrying out rescue and evacuation drills at Olympic venues, were focusing on possible responses to terrorist threats involving nuclear and biochemical devices. “We have scheduled massive training programmes before the Olympics to better prepare against any possible threat,” an officer from the PLA's General Staff Headquarters told Xinhua news agency. […] None of the reports disclosed how many PLA officers were involved in the security operations, which will also include police, private security companies and volunteers. […] Last September China's then-police chief Zhou Yongkang said that “terrorist” and “extremist” groups posed the biggest threat to the success of the Olympics. He did not elaborate but China has previously accused some members of the ethnic Muslim Uighur community in the nation's far western region of Xinjiang of terror-related activities. ^ top ^

Housing official admits Beijing evicted 15,000 in path of Games (SCMP)
2008-02-20
[…] Zhang Jiaming, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Construction Committee, said yesterday that only 14,901 residents in 6,307 households had relinquished their homes to make way for the construction of 31 venues in the capital. One-third of the stadiums were built from scratch. The rest involved renovations or expansions of existing facilities. […] He said the official total did not include homes demolished in pre-Games facelift projects, an element factored into COHRE's estimate. Mr Zhang also said that the relocation programme, which started in 2002, had run smoothly. "The projects enjoyed the support of the residents involved. All the relocated households signed the relocation agreements and moved voluntarily; no one was forced out of their homes," he said. Part of the reason for the peace was the unusual generosity from the otherwise heavy-handed government-backed developers, he said. […] A total of 10,355 residents from 4,614 households, mostly peasants, moved out of the area, on the northern fringe of the Fourth Ring Road, as part of the express route's redevelopment plan. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Pressure on Pyongyang (SCMP)
2008-02-18
The Yomiuri newspaper in Japan cited unnamed diplomatic sources as saying Wang Jiarui , director of China's International Liaison Department, told North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to resume the deadlocked nuclear disarmament talks because he believed it was "highly likely" a Democrat would win the US election in November. According to the source, Mr Wang believed that if a Democrat won, current diplomatic officials would be replaced, which would make the six-party talks difficult to restart. North Korea was supposed to disable its main atomic plants by December 31 and list all its nuclear programmes under a six-nation deal. The US said Pyongyang failed to meet the deadline for a full declaration, leading to an impasse. The six-nation deal involves the two Koreas, the US, Japan, China and Russia. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

New coalition to contest election (Mongol Messenger)
2008-02-21
The Mongolian Green Party (MGP) and the Civil Movement Party (CMP) have signed a memorandum to establish a coalition called the ‘Civil Coalition' to contest the 2008 Parliamentary elections. MGP leader, D. Enkhbat and CMP head, J. Batzandan signed a memorandum for establishing the Civil Coalition on February 4 in the Chinggis Khaan Hotel in Ulaanbaatar. The party leaders served the two parties' conference decision as guidelines and emphasized over the last four years they have respected concepts from civil movements and reformers and struggled towards a healthy state, healthy society and healthy country with public participation, and said they would cooperate to create a healthy, leading political force. ^ top ^

President vetoes tax amnesty (Mongol Messenger)
President N.Enkhbayar has partially vetoed the the taxation amnesty law approved by Parliament on February 6 2008. He said he disagreed with the proposal to exempt taxation and social insurance commission debts in full, that were to to be paid before December 2007. ^ top ^

Parliament approves new Ambassadors (Mongol Messenger)
Parliament has appointed Mongolian ambassadors to foreign countries with 47 Members of Parliament voting on February 5. The Ambassadors appointed include; Ministry of Foreign Affairs Agreement and legal department head, B. Altangerel as Mongolian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Counselor of the Mongolian Embassy in Tokyo, head of Consular department, D. Gerel to the Republic of Korea with 100 percent support. Former vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, A. Battor to the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union with 97.9 percent vote; State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kh. Bekhbat to the USA and the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Trade and economic cooperation department head, V. Enkhbold to the Republic of India with 95.7 percent votes. ^ 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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