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
  25.2-29.2.08, No. 206  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, Japan vow to boost ties (People's Daily)
2008-02-25
[…] The two-day dialogue, which concluded on Saturday in Beijing, mainly focused on boosting mutual strategic trust, according to the Foreign Ministry. […The] two delegations […] also pledged to strive for an early and proper settlement of the East China Sea issue. Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart Mitoji Yabunaka co-chaired the dialogue. Wang said the dialogue has played an important role in overcoming obstacles in bilateral relations and establishing a framework for a mutually beneficial strategic relationship. […] Zhou Yongsheng, an expert on Japan studies at China Foreign Affairs University said: "It (the dialogue) is a key element of the China-Japan cooperation mechanism." At the same time, the dialogue also witnessed a mini climax in bilateral exchanges. […]. ^ top ^

Sino-Thai Friendship Pavilion opens in Bangkok (People's Daily)
2008-02-25
[…] The "Sino-Thai Friendship Pavilion", sitting on the green lawn of Bangkok's most-visited downtown public park, is a Chinese classical-styled, double-roofed pavilion of 8.8 meters high. […] Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said when presiding over the opening ceremony, "The elegant style of the Sino-Thai Friendship Pavilion reflects the classical elements in China's historical and cultural heritage. It is another symbolic building to represent the centuries-old Sino-Thai friendship and the diplomatic relationship between the two countries since 1975." Lu Hao, deputy mayor of Beijing, who headed an official delegation to present the pavilion as a gift from the Beijing municipal government to Bangkok, praised the friendly and fruitful cooperation and exchange between the two cities in 15 years. […]. ^ top ^

Greek minister: Greek-Sino relationship enters golden period (Xinhua)
2008-02-25
The relationship between Greece and China has entered a golden period, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said in an interview with Xinhua Saturday before he embarks on a four-day visit to China. Liapis […] is going to sign an agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Culture on combating illegal trafficking of art crafts. "Every nation should protect its own relics, antiquities, defying any obstacles," he said. The minister also proposed holding a Chinese Cultural Year in Greece, saying culture is the best bridge to link the Chinese people and the Greek people, and to deepen the friendship and understanding of the two countries. […] The Cultural Year of Greece, which presents the modern and diachronic characteristics of the Hellenic Culture, has been staged in Beijing since September 2007 and will end in September 2008. "Theatrical performances, movies, dances, archaeological and modern art exhibitions, operas, folk concerts, modern and popular music, conferences and book exhibitions constitute the different activities taking place in the framework of the 'Cultural Year of Greece in China'," he said. "We want our Chinese friends to have a very good 'taste' of Greece and the feedback we have until now is very positive," the minister added. […]. ^ top ^

Togo, China hold 1st meeting of joint economic commission (China Daily)
2008-02-25
The first meeting of the China-Togo Mixed Commission on Economy and Trade was held in Lome, capital of Togo, on Friday to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The meeting, jointly presided over by Togolese Foreign and Regional Integration Minister Leopold Messan Gnininvi and visiting Chinese Deputy Commerce Minister Wei Jianguo, was attended by seven other Togolese ministers, members of the Chinese delegation and some Chinese entrepreneurs. At the meeting, both sides reviewed the development of bilateral economic and trade ties in recent years, and reached consensus on a variety of issues. The two sides also signed seven agreements on economic and technological cooperation. Under the agreements, China will provide financial aid for Togo to fund some projects chosen by the two governments, and supply materials worth 5 million yuan ($700,000). Moreover, China will help build an agro-technology demonstration center, two rural primary schools and one anti-malaria center in this Western African country. […]. ^ top ^

Breakthrough made in new trade mechanism with EU (China Daily)
2008-02-26
[…] Commerce Minister Chen Deming met EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in Beijing over the weekend, and exchanged views on how the mechanism should work. China proposed the mechanism, which was agreed to at the China-EU Summit in Beijing in November 2007. The mechanism, to be overseen at the vice-premier level, is expected to deal both with short- and long-term issues of China-EU trade, investment and economic cooperation. Chen's talks with Mandelson revolved around three key questions - what should be included on the agenda, how the mechanism will help arbitrate disputes and what the time span would be for the first results. Chen and Mandelson have asked their respective officials to take the preparations forward in a businesslike and brisk manner to create a work program. "We have laid the foundation for a constructive and strong personal relationship, and provided the basis to advance a positive EU-China trade agenda. The high-level mechanism is not a quick-fix - it will map out the long-term strategic direction of our economic and trade relationship, and help smoothen out issues we encounter along the way," Mandelson said after the meeting. […] In another development, the EU imposed five-year anti-dumping tariffs on ferro-silicon from China, Russia and three other countries to shield EU producers. The duty on the ferroalloy, which was up to 33.9 percent, follows provisional ones introduced six months ago and will take effect after being published in the Official Journal. ^ top ^

China, Zambia sign $200m contracts (China Daily)
2008-02-26
Visiting Chinese trade delegation [headed by deputy Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng] on Monday signed with local enterprises a basket of contracts, buying goods worth US$200 million. Entrepreneurs from both China and Zambia also hammered out cooperation intentions of US$300 million to further explore business potentials in the Southern African country. […] Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Zambian Commerce Minister Felix Mutati urged local business community to deepen partnership with their Chinese counterparts. He hoped that by partnering with China, Zambian will be able to fill the wealth gap and grow into a developed force. Mutati also said Zambia is eager to export value-added products rather than raw materials and China is the one that is to help Zambia accomplish that goal. The minister, who will lead a trade delegation to China, said through close cooperation with Chinese enterprises, Zambian companies are able to reap more contracts. "I am sure, by doing that, when you come back from China, you will come back, smiling," Mutati said. […]. ^ top ^

China, Vanuatu vow to step up inter-parliamentary co-op (Xinhua)
2008-02-26
China and Vanuatu on Monday pledged to continue to promote bilateral relations and step up inter-parliamentary cooperation. In a meeting with top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo, visiting Vanuatu parliament speaker Sam Dan Avock reiterated his country's commitment to the one-China policy and its firm support for China's reunification. A prosperous and strong China would play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability, Avock told Wu. The people of Vanuatu appreciated the assistance China offered to support the country's development. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said the development of ties brought concrete benefits to both peoples, and served the stability and prosperity of the region. China remained committed to promoting friendly and cooperative ties despite the country's size and richness, Wu said. China would work with Vanuatu to step up relations, Wu said, and he encouraged the two parliaments to intensify exchanges and cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

Chongqing signs co-op MOU with UK (China Daily)
2008-02-28
UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on urban-rural coordinated development cooperation with the Chongqing municipal government. […] The two sides have seen a wide range of private sector partnership since the UK opened a consulate in Chongqing eight years ago. The MOU pays special attention to fighting climate change because it aims to help Chongqing realize sustainable development. "Balanced growth will not have the meaning without full respect for the eco-system on which we depend," he said. "I hope we work together to help Chongqing avoid some of the mistakes that have marked our development in the 20th century." […] "I think the MOU is the first step in trying to find areas we can work on," Whittingham said. […] "The selection of Chongqing as a pilot area will usher in massive urbanization in the city, whereas Britain has a lot of experience in the field as a leading industrial country," said Tian Daigui, a professor in the Development Research Center of Chongqing municipal government. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy: U.S., China differ only in approach to resolving Darfur crisis (People's Daily)
2008-02-28
[…] "Through my engagement with U.S. officials, through my engagement with previous U.S. president's special envoys and the new one, the two states in principle have no differences over the Darfur issue," Liu told a news conference at the Chinese embassy in Khartoum before ending a four-day visit in Sudan. Liu said he held the first meeting on Monday at the Chinese embassy in Khartoum with new U.S. special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson, who was coincidentally also visiting this Arab country. […] "Both the Unites States and China are in favor of a political solution to the Darfur crisis both maintain that the dual-track strategy should be applied, thirdly both governments thinks that reconstruction and development efforts should follow the deployment of the U.N.-AU hybrid peacekeeping forces in Darfur," Liu said. The dual-track strategy, initiated by China, is designed to push forward political negotiations and the peacekeeping mission in Darfur in a balanced manner. Liu, however, said the two nations differ "in the approach," namely in "how to realize those objectives of our policies." […] "For china, we oppose sanctions and embargoes because we think if others impose sanctions and embargoes against a certain nation, the consequence would be the suffering of the people. Sanction and embargo can't solve the problems," said Liu. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese, British FMs reach broad consensus on deepening ties (China Daily)
2008-02-29
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held talks with his British counterpart David Miliband here Thursday, reaching a broad consensus on advancing bilateral and international cooperation. Calling bilateral ties "better than ever", Yang said China-Britain relations were facing new opportunities. The two sides should work together to implement the agreements reached between the two leaders and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. Yang said the talks with Miliband were "constructive" and "productive". The two sides agreed to continue to maintain high-level exchange of visits, further promote political mutual trust, continue to conduct dialogue on human rights and other areas. The two countries also pledged to increase trade and the scale of mutual investment, strengthen cooperation on finance, education, science and technology, culture and the Olympics and boost youth exchanges, Yang said. Hailing the remarkable achievements made in China, Miliband expressed the wish to conduct more cooperation and exchanges with China. He backed the Beijing Olympics, saying the games should not be used to pressure Beijing over its human rights record, and a successful Olympics accorded with the interests of Britain and the world at large. "We believe that the Olympics are an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been achieved in China," he told reporters after the talks with Yang. "From our point of view, engagement, not isolation, is the right way forward," he said. Yang and Miliband agreed that the two countries would work closely on major international and regional issues with regard to enhancing the UN's role in peacekeeping and reconstruction, promoting more effective non-proliferation and substantial international efforts on reducing carbon emissions. The two sides would promote China-EU cooperation and jointly face the challenges and opportunities of globalization and early realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals. In the talks that also covered Darfur, the Iranian nuclear issue and dialogue between developed and developing countries, the two ministers decided to hold bilateral high-level African talks later in the year. In response to questions of democracy in China, Yang said people in China enjoyed extensive freedom of speech. "No one will get arrested because he has said human rights were more important than the Olympic Games. This is impossible," he said. He said China, like many other countries, needed to further improve human rights and conduct dialogues with other countries on the issue on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Yang stressed Beijing's constructive role in Darfur, highlighting its quick dispatch of peacekeepers and development assistance to Sudan, and the appointment of a special representative on Darfur. But he warned outsiders had limited influence with the government there. "Of course, Darfur in essence is a Sudan issue and an African issue. Neither China nor Britain is a direct partner so we should respect the views of other partners," Yang said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese president urges improved public service in gov't (People's Daily)
2008-02-25
[…] Addressing an assembly of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Saturday in Beijing, Hu said building a service-oriented government was key to social harmony and to government building. He urged government officials at all levels to devote themselves in building a government "by the people, for the people", and one that ensures all Chinese enjoy the fruits of the country's economic development. "The government should provide education for the young, medication for the ill, care for the old-aged and housing for the homeless." Hu said the key to building a service-oriented government is to improve people's livelihood. He called for establishing a social welfare system that provides equal coverage to all Chinese. He said the government would invest more in the public service sector in future, and would gauge government officials' performances in promoting public service as reference to their accomplishments and responsibilities. He called on all government officials to be loyal to the people and serve them wholeheartedly. ^ top ^

Drinking water crisis in north (SCMP)
2008-02-25
Millions of people in the northern part of the mainland have no potable water amid a prolonged dry spell that has prompted the agency co-ordinating flood and drought relief efforts to issue a stern warning. In a circular, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters called on local governments yesterday to draw up a plan to deal with the drought and ensure drinking water supplies. The call came after Zheng Guoguang, director of the China Meteorological Administration, admitted for the first time that his agency had failed to make a proper and timely forecast of the scale, duration and impact of last month's severe snowstorms in central and southern regions. […] Mr Zhang added most tributaries of the Haihe River in the north had virtually dried up and water levels at some major reservoirs in eight regions including Beijing, Ningxia and Shanxi were much lower than normal. […] The centre predicted that the number of days of sandstorms in the north this spring would be noticeably greater than last year and the likelihood of severe sandstorms would also be much greater. […]. ^ top ^

Cabinet reform tops agenda at party meeting (SCMP)
2008-02-26
[…] The second plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party opened in Beijing yesterday, Xinhua reported. "Restructuring of the State Council departments, elections and appointments of state leaders, including the president, parliamentary chairman and premier, will be on the agenda for next week's National People's Congress," Xinhua reported. "Tabled with the [party] meeting on Monday were a draft opinion on the reform of the administrative system and a draft plan on the restructuring of central departments under the State Council," it said. […] The cabinet reform plan aims to reduce substantially the number of ministries and government agencies under the State Council by merging those with similar functions. The plan has sparked fierce debate over the need for and efficiency of the so-called "super-ministries", but few details have been revealed. Yesterday's Xinhua report hinted that the reforms would be gradual, avoiding any significant shake-up. "Government reform must be pushed forward unswervingly and implemented in phases with the aim of building an efficient and service-oriented government," Xinhua said. There has been speculation that the reform will include the establishment of a new ministry of energy, a new ministry of transport and the upgrading of the environmental regulator into a cabinet-level ministry. Li Keqiang, who is expected to become executive vice-premier at the end of the NPC meeting and succeed Wen Jiabao as premier five years later, is in charge of the reform. […]. ^ top ^

Bohai Bay to get 130b yuan clean-up (People's Daily)
2008-02-26
The government will spend 130 billion yuan ($18 billion) to clean up the Bohai Bay, one of the country's most contaminated marine areas. The treatment plan is awaiting State Council approval, according to a State Oceanic Administration (SOA) official who did not wish to be named. The funds will be used to monitor seawater quality, establish treatment plants, tackle industrial pollution, rehabilitate coastal wetlands, plant protective trees along the coast and set up marine parks. The clean-up is part of China's 2006-10 marine development and planning guideline recently released by the SOA, which outlines economic development, public services and ecological rehabilitation for the country's maritime areas. […] Desalinated seawater is expected to provide 16 to 24 percent of water supply to the nation's coastal areas by 2010. […]. ^ top ^

China starts building world's first 3rd-generation nuclear plant (China Daily)
2008-02-27
China began excavation for the foundations of the world's most advanced nuclear reactor in Sanmen City in the eastern Zhejiang Province on Tuesday. The No. 1 reactor in Sanmen nuclear power plant will use the third-generation AP1000 technology, which was transferred from the US-based Westinghouse Consortium. […] In July, China reached an agreement with Westinghouse Electric Co. to build four nuclear power plants in the country -- two in Sanmen and two in Haiyang City in the eastern Shandong Province. The construction of the Haiyang plant will begin later this year. […]. ^ top ^

China legislature confirms qualification of 2,987 newly elected deputies (Xinhua)
2008-02-27
China's national legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) has examined and confirmed Tuesday the qualification of 2,987 newly elected deputies. The new deputies, representing 34 Chinese regions and the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), will attend the upcoming First Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC). The Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) held its 32nd meeting Tuesday, to finalize preparations for the new parliamentary session, which is set to open on March 5. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, presided over the meeting. Sheng Huaren, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee delivered a report that explains the election of the new legislators, the agenda of the session, and members of the presidium and those who will observe the session. According to Sheng, all the new legislators were democratically recommended by the people and were carefully checked by relevant authorities, widely recognized by the public and able to represent people of all circles. The meeting also studied draft revisions to the Law on the Prevention of Water Pollution and the Law on the Protection of Handicapped People, respectively. […]. ^ top ^

China issues white paper on "Promoting Rule of Law" (China Daily)
2008-02-29
A White Paper on "China's Efforts and Achievements in Promoting the Rule of Law" was issued on Thursday by the Information Office of the State Council, the cabinet. The paper, consisting of a foreword, eight statements, a conclusion and an appendix, covers such topics as the historical course of building a socialist country under the rule of law, legislation and a legal system with Chinese characteristics, legal systems to respect and safeguard human rights, and other social and economic issues. In the first part, titled "Historical Course of Building a Socialist Country Under the Rule of Law," the paper covers the long history of China's legal system, noting that the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 ushered in a new era for the promotion of the rule of law. "Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese people, after revolution, construction, reform and development, gradually took the road of building a socialist country under the rule of law," the white paper says. In its second part, "Legislation and Legal System with Chinese Characteristics," the paper says that, to guarantee the uniformity of the legal system of the state and reflect the common will and overall interests of the people, China exercises uniform, multi-tiered legislation. "The Constitution prescribes that the National People's Congress (NPC) and its Standing Committee exercise the legislative power of the state," says the paper. The third part, "Legal Systems of Respecting and Safeguarding Human Rights," says that "based on its Constitution, China has formulated and improved a series of legal systems to codify and institutionalize the safeguarding of human rights." China has joined 22 international human rights conventions, it says. The fourth part, "Legal Systems Regulating the Order of the Market Economy," says that during the transition from a planned economy to a market economy, which has taken place since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies in 1978, China has continuously strengthened its legislation in economic and related fields. "A legal system compatible with the socialist market economy has basically taken shape," it says. In its fifth part, the white paper claims that administration by law and building a government under the rule of law are essential for the overall implementation of the fundamental principle of governing the country by law, which are basic administrative norms of the government. The administrative powers of the people's governments at various levels have been gradually guided along the track of a legal system, says the white paper, which adds that "the legal system that regulates the acquisition and operation of government power has taken shape." The white paper introduces the "Judicial System and Fair Administration of Justice" in its sixth part, saying: "The people's court is the judicial organ in China and the people's procuratorate is the supervisory organ for law enforcement." In the seventh part, the white paper stresses the importance of the "Popularization and Education of the Law." "For many years, the nation has unremittingly carried out education and publicity of the legal system, promoting the spirit of law and enhancing public awareness," the white paper states. In "International Exchange and Cooperation in Legal Construction," which is the eighth part, the white paper says that China has referred to and learned from other countries' legislative experience. The white paper says that China has held dialogues on the rule of law regularly with the United Nations, international human rights organizations and the World Trade Organization. China has also launched multilateral and bilateral legal exchange mechanisms with the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the League of Arab States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as with individual countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia. These exchanges have greatly enhanced mutual understanding and trust. In conclusion, the white paper says: "China's legal construction is still facing some problems" and adds that "the task still remains onerous to strengthen education in the rule of law and enhance the awareness of law and the concept of the rule of law among the public." The white paper says that the Chinese people are going all out to build a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Along with the sound, rapid development of the economy and society, the rights and interests of the people will certainly enjoy better protection, it says. The construction of a socialist country under the rule of law will certainly witness more fruitful results, and China will surely make more contributions to the development and advancement of human society, the paper adds. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan is no Kosovo (SCMP)
2008-02-27
Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia has, naturally enough, been viewed as a rare opportunity in Taiwan. […] Beijing reacted vehemently, asserting that Taiwan, not being an independent country, was not qualified to recognise any country's independence. Early signs suggested that Kosovo was receptive to Taiwan's overtures. […] Sounding very much as though it was talking about itself, Taiwan's message declared [on a Kosovo's website]: "Despite a multitude of barriers, the people of Kosovo have insisted on an ideal that they believe in, which is to peacefully pursue independence, without being threatened or scared away. Their determination in achieving this lofty ideal is truly admirable." However, the website is not official, and a few hours later, Taiwan's name was removed - a possible indication of the new nation's desire not to do anything that might provoke Beijing. […] The difference between Taiwan and Kosovo is that the latter is being sponsored by several international heavyweights, such as the United States, Britain, France and Germany. Taiwan lacks any credible international sponsors. […] Kosovo will not recognise Taiwan and, in time, will win Beijing's recognition, be able to join the UN and, with Serbia, become a member of the European Community. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Cambodian, Chinese companies lay foundation of special economic zone in Sihanoukville (People's Daily)
2008-02-25
Cambodian and Chinese developers Saturday laid the foundation stone of the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which has been the largest one of its kind so far in Cambodia. Addressing the ceremony on the construction site, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said "This special economic zone is currently the biggest one in the kingdom with the investment from China (and Cambodia), which again testifies the close economic and political ties between Cambodia and China and those between the top leaders of both countries." […] The premier said that the goods produced in this special economic zone could be exported to foreign markets duty free, but the companies should pay import tax if their goods were sold in Cambodia. […] In 2015 when the whole construction is finished, the zone will embrace some 300 companies, provide around 80,000 job opportunities and generate export volumes of 2 billion U.S. dollars a year, it added. ^ top ^

Goldman Sachs raises China's 2008 inflation forecast to 6.8% (People's Daily)
2008-02-26
The U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs has lifted forecast of China's inflation this year to 6.8 percent from 4.5 percent in light of the rapid growth in money supply. M2, the broader measure of money supply, which covers cash in circulation plus all deposits, rose 18.94 percent by the end of January, 2.22 percentage points higher than a month earlier, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said on Feb. 14. Liang Hong, the bank's chief China economist, said in a recent research report that inflation may continue accelerating in the short term and rise by double digits in some coming months. The bank also raised forecast for China's inflation next year to 3 percent from 2.5 percent. Liang noted the high inflation would add pressure to the faster appreciation of the local currency and the yuan was expected to appreciate 12 percent in the coming 12 months. The yuan's appreciation was the most practical and the best way to tame inflation and avoid an economic "hard landing", the report noted. […] Analysts believed the PBOC was allowing faster appreciation of the yuan in an attempt to curb the rising inflation. […]. ^ top ^

China blacklists 141 seriously polluting products (China Daily)
2008-02-27
China's environmental watchdog blacklisted 141 products on Tuesday for causing serious pollution or posing serious environmental risks. The list included products closely linked to people's daily life, such as warfarin, mirex, DDT and nickel-cadmium cell, said Pan Yue, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). The administration suggested retrieving the tax refund of 39 of the listed products after they were exported and banning the processing trade of these products. […] "The blacklisted products placed a great negative impact on the environment. The chrome sour calcium in chrome residue, a surplus element for the production of heavy chrome sour sodium, was not only a strong carcinogen but also difficult to deal with." […] "We should not only strictly limit its production, but also ban its tax refund, so that no more pollution be generated," Pan said. […] "This move is urgently needed to safeguard people's health, curb environmental pollution and fulfill China's commitment to the international community," Pan said. He noted the blacklisting would help boost a "green trading" system that is fully adaptable to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). […] The green securities policy, which was made public on Monday, stipulated highly-polluting companies must pass environmental inspections when applying for an initial public offering (IPO) or refinancing. The green insurance system, which aimed to have all industries with pollution risks insured, would be implemented nationwide by 2015 after a trial period. The goal would be to have insurers compensate victims of environmental accidents, avoid bankruptcy by the polluting company and lessen the government's financial burden. […]. ^ top ^

Largest Russian bank opens 1st China branch (China Daily)
2008-02-27
Venshtorgbank, Russia's biggest bank, opened its first Chinese branch in Shanghai on Tuesday, marking the start of a new era in Sino-Russian finance. "China's banking service industry is the fastest-growing and most promising in the world economy. I believe the Shanghai branch will grow as energetically as China's economy," said Andrei Kostin, Venshtorgbank Group (VTB) chairman and president. VTB has entered into credit granting agreements with a number of Chinese banks and the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation to provide Russian importers with long-term financing and insurance services when purchasing Chinese goods and services. Clients can receive up to US$1.3 billion in financing from Chinese banks. According to Kostin, the Shanghai branch will cooperate with China UnionPay system to provide banking card services to both domestic and Russian clients. It also plans to apply for offering RMB services within three years, and will broaden the business scope of the branch for a larger operating scale "very soon". VTB even plans to issue its own union cards in China. […]

 

Avian flu

Migrant with bird flu dies in Guangdong (SCMP)
2008-02-26
A migrant worker in Guangdong who, tests show, had the potentially lethal strain of bird flu has died, the provincial health department said yesterday. Mainland authorities also confirmed a fresh outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain among poultry in Guizhou province in the southwest. […] The woman tested positive for H5N1 in a test conducted by Guangdong's Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. It has asked the Ministry of Health to confirm the finding. A South China Morning Post […] report yesterday that the ministry had confirmed she had H5N1 was wrong. […] A Shenzhen-based doctor involved in epidemic prevention was disappointed by the provincial health department's slow response to Zhang's case. "I can understand the delay in reporting the case to the public since it does take time to confirm the virus," he said. "But the authorities should have launched emergency measures in public places, especially at train stations, as soon as they heard about the suspected case." If it is confirmed Zhang died from H5N1, hers will be the third human death from bird flu on the mainland this year and the 20th since late 2003 […]. ^ top ^

Bird-flu deaths all linked to sick poultry (SCMP)
2008-02-28
The three people who have died on the mainland this year from H5N1 bird flu had all had contact with sick poultry, the World Health Organisation said yesterday. There was no evidence the virus had been transmitted between people, it said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

New drive to clean up Beijing air (China Daily)
2008-02-27
[…] The capital and its neighboring Tianjin municipality, as well as the provinces of Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shandong, will have to cut emissions under a wide-ranging plan approved by the State Council in September. […] More than 10 factories in Beijing and Hebei previously scheduled for closure over the next two years will be shut down before June […]. Beijing's worst polluter, Shougang Steel, has said it would move its facilities out of the capital by 2010 and reduce operations during the Olympics - part of a raft of measures already in place in the capital. The main anti-pollution plan also recommended Beijing restrict the use of private vehicles by banning cars with registrations ending in odd and even numbers on alternate days, but said that details of the measures will be up to the city authorities. The scale of pollution reduction will depend on climatic conditions in the capital during the Olympic and Paralympics, [Wang Jian, director of the air and noise pollution control division at the State Environmental Protection Agency] said, with more restrictive measures being put in place if necessary. "In the worst weather conditions, more reductions would be required of industry, more restrictions would be applied to vehicles and construction sites," he said. […] In a related development, Beijing will step up its pollution control efforts in various ways, such as closing heavy-polluting plants and upgrading environmental remediation facilities. The cleanup will continue after the Olympics, according to a bulletin posted by the Beijing municipal government last Friday, as the city plans to shut a total of 40 heavily polluting, energy-intensive companies by the end of December. ^ top ^

I'll press Beijing on rights at Games: Bush (SCMP)
2008-02-29
US President George W. Bush vowed yesterday to press Beijing to respect human rights and religious freedoms when he attends the Olympic Games later this year. "I'm going to the Olympics because it's a sporting event," Mr Bush told a White House press conference. "I'm looking forward to the athletic competition, but that will not preclude me from meeting with the Chinese president and expressing my deep concerns about a variety of issues." […] "The Chinese government should not fear the idea of people praying to a god as they see fit." His comments came the day after US lawmakers said the mainland should be held accountable for vows to protect human rights, press freedom and the environment that were made when it was awarded the 2008 Olympics. "We expect the Chinese government to keep its word," Senator Byron Dorgan told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. In Brussels, EU parliamentarians urged the European Union to step up pressure on China to end its arms exports to African nations whose leaders were deemed responsible for wide human rights violations. […] In Beijing, families of victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 appealed to members of the National People's Congress to open a dialogue, saying it would send the right message before the Olympics. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Leaders hold closed meeting to discuss mining agreement (UB Post)
2008-02-22
On February 22, leaders of the parliament-seated political parties met with the President N. Enkhbayar over the draft amendments to the minerals law, redefinition of strategically significant mineral deposits, and their percentage of Government ownership. The meeting took place behind closed doors. The President opened the meeting attended by Speaker of Parliament, D. Lundeejantsan, leaders of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), the Democratic Party, the Civil Will Party, the Republican Party, the People's Party, and the National New Party. The President defined the goal of the three-hour meeting was to narrow the views of the political parties and reach a common understanding over the Tavan Tolgoi, Oyu Tolgoi and Asgat mineral deposits, all awaiting final agreements. The Prime Minister, S. Bayar, Chairman of the MPRP, stressed the importance of joint understanding over the strategically significant deposit and its redefinition by law. D. Dorligjav, General Secretary of the Democratic Party, said that the Parliament urgently needs to devise a final version regarding this issue. B. Jargalsaikhan, Chairman of the Republican Party, said that the windfall profits tax of 68 percent should be reviewed as it is making “big trouble” for potential foreign investors. L. Gundalai, leader of the People's Party, expressed that more than 51 percent of large mining deposits should remain in government ownership. S. Oyun, leader of Civil Will Party, who is also Foreign Minister of Mongolia, expressed that strategic deposits may not need to fix numeral limitations. The meeting concluded that all parties would work hard to make the pending draft amendments and the investment agreements be approved by the Parliament in a short period of time or before the election at the latest. Last year, a working group was set up by the Parliament consisting of two main political forces, MPRP and Democratic Party, as well as government officials. Last week, the group stated that it reached some agreements on key principle issues of changes to the current minerals act. The proposed amendment is to replace the phrase “up to” with “a minimum” in the article about government entitlement to ownership in strategically important mineral deposits. This draft amendment gained support by all political parties except the Republican Party at the meeting. At present, the Government has the right to acquire up to 50 percent of the share in a strategically important mineral deposit if exploration has been done with state funding, and up to 34 percent if exploration is done by private funding. According to local media reports on the meeting, all parties agreed the Government should own a minimum of 50 percent of its strategic deposit, and all types of taxes should be payable by both domestic and foreign investors. ^ top ^

Golomt Bank and Credit Suisse signing ceremony for the subordinated convertible loan agreement (Mongol Messenger)
2008-02-28
Golomt bank of Mongolia pleased to announce the signing of the formal agreement whereby Credit Suisse, acting trough its Singapore office, is extending 5 year Subordinated Loan of up to US$ 20.000.000 convertible at an escalating formula into just over 20% of equity of Golomt Bank. The Loan Facility is added to the Tier 2 capital base of the Bank. […]. ^ top ^

The Parliament of Mongolia passed the MDG (Online Insights)
2008-02-28
The Parliament of Mongolia passed the MDG-based National Development Strategy, initiated by President N. Enkhbayar. This strategic document defines Mongolia's longterm development goals, embracing almost all national issues. In past years, the country had defi ned four-year development policies that relied on election agendas. The present document is expected to guide Mongolia's development until 2021. The National Development Policy can be found on www.president.mn^ 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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