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
  3.3-7.3.08, No. 207  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

FM: China plays constructive role in world peace, stability (Xinhua)
2008-03-05
[…] On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China continued active efforts to mediate and promote peace and negotiations and helped to promote all relevant parties to honor their commitments, move toward the same goal, and implement the second-phase action plan in a comprehensive, balanced manner. […] China's role on the Darfur issue also won appreciation from relevant countries and various parties in the Darfur region, and its special representative on the Darfur issue Liu Guijin had visited the region many times. As a friendly neighbor to Myanmar where there was turbulence, China stuck to the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, actively conducted communication and consultations with relevant parties and countries, actively supported the mediation efforts of the UN secretary-general and played a constructive role in realizing stability, democracy and development of the country. The international community had seen more and more clearly that the settlement of hot-spot issues could not be achieved without Chinese efforts, said the Ministry. Since the beginning of the New Year, China had continued its efforts to promote a new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa and implement the consensus reached at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

Pentagon report smacks of Cold War mentality (China Daily)
2008-03-05
A Pentagon report on China's military modernization distorts facts and plays up the "China military threat" theory, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. "It is also an interference in China's internal affairs and violates norms on international relations. China is firmly opposed to it," spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing. China urges the US to abandon its Cold War mentality and adopt the right attitude toward China and its development, Qin said. […] He urged the US to adhere to the one-China policy and stop arms sales to Taiwan to avoid sending wrong signals to secessionist forces on the island. In an annual report on China's military power, the US Defense Department said on Monday that the international community has limited knowledge of the motivations, decision-making and key capabilities supporting China's military modernization. "The lack of transparency in China's military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation," the report said. "This situation will naturally and understandably lead to hedging against the unknown. "China's expanding and improving military capabilities are changing East Asian military balances; improvements in China's strategic capabilities have implications beyond the Asia-Pacific region." Rear Admiral Yang Yi, a senior military expert at the University of National Defense, said: "Despite warming Sino-US military relations, Washington is still wary of China. "However, as more countries recognize China's long-term efforts at maintaining regional and global peace and stability, the 'China military threat' theory is losing its audience." He also noted the fear-mongering is partly driven by the US military industry's quest for a larger defense budget. Some US military analysts have also dismissed the notion that China poses a military threat. Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), recently told The Washington Times that assertions of China's military expansion "appear to be merely an attempt to incite angst or provoke a fight that does not actually exist". ^ top ^

Australian FM pleased with safe release of hostages in China (Xinhua)
2008-03-06
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said here on Wednesday he was pleased the hostage crisis involving Australian tourists in Xi'an of China was resolved so quickly and the hostages were safe. "Our Embassy in Beijing and our Consulate-General in Shanghai are providing consular assistance to the Australians affected by this incident," Smith said. Earlier reports said a resident of Xi'an City's Yanliang District, Xia Tao, hijacked a bus and took a foreign tourist and a translator as hostage in the downtown Zhonggulou Square at 9:52 a.m.. Armed with explosives, he called for negotiations with police. The police accepted Xia's demand to change buses and to go to the airport to avoid violence in the downtown core. The police shot and killed Xia when the bus approached the airport toll station at 12:36 p.m. after unsuccessful negotiating, according to the local public security bureau. The hostages were unharmed. ^ top ^

China calls for dialog, co-op in managing human rights (Xinhua)
2008-03-06
[…] "We must learn to respect each other in order to seek common ground, engage in dialogue to enhance mutual understanding and seek cooperation to achieve our common objectives," said Li Baodong, Chinese ambassador to the UN Office in Geneva. […] Political confrontation will only condemn the Council to reliving the fate of its defunct predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, he warned. Li said the Council, which has successfully completed its institution-building work after nearly two years of existence, should also promote the spirit of harmony and accommodation. "We are living in a world of great diversity, with differing national circumstances, varying levels of development, diverse religious and cultural traditions and uneven progress in the field of human rights," he said. "We should adopt a more inclusive approach by acknowledging such differences and treating them with respect. We also need to strive for harmony as a means to secure development for all," he added. Li also expressed hope that the Council, as the main organ of the United Nations in the field of human rights, would carry out its obligation to help solve the wide-spread problems the world is still facing. "Poverty, hunger and diseases are threatening the most fundamental human rights of millions of people around the world. The Middle East and other regions are still ravaged by wars and conflicts and the suffering of the Palestinian people continue unabated," he said. ^ top ^

China's peacekeepers contribute to Darfur peace (China Daily)
2008-03-07
China's peacekeepers in Darfur have made contributions to the Sudanese region's peace, stability and development, an official with the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday. China, the first nation outside Africa to send peacekeepers to Darfur, has pledged to send a 315-member multi-functional engineering unit. A 140-member Chinese peacekeeping engineering unit was deployed in south Darfur's capital city Nyala last November, and the second batch of 175 peacekeepers will arrive there soon. Dai Shao'an, deputy director of the peacekeeping affairs office with the National Defense Ministry, told Xinhua that the unit's main responsibility is to build and maintain roads and bridges, dig wells and build a helicopter parking apron to prepare for the deployment of the hybrid UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). "At present, the advance unit is mainly engaged in the construction of a new camp for the hybrid international peacekeeping force in south Darfur," Dai said. […] Their performance has won high praise from the UN and the UNAMID, he said. Some UN peacekeeping officials, including Joint Special Representative of the UN and African Union (AU) for Darfur Rodolphe Adada and UNAMID sector commander Brig. Gen. Federick Eze -- lauded the work of China's peacekeepers in Darfur during their inspection. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Dusty weather continues in north China (China Daily)
2008-03-03
Dusty weather and sandstorms continued in northern China on Sunday, downing visibility and fouling the Spring air. […] Meteorologists say several cities in the province, including capital Shijiazhuang were "slightly polluted", and visibility was poor. The dusty weather occurred after the province suffered an exceptional drought last year, which halved precipitation in many places and left earth arid and prone to becoming floating dust. […] Meteorologists advised the public to wear face masks to ward off dust. Precision equipments shall be properly sealed from being affected by the dusts. Drivers shall control vehicle speed due to poor visibility. Airport, expressways, ferry crossings and ports authorities are advised to take measures and ensure traffic safety. ^ top ^

NPC & CPCC: Religion 'can promote harmony' (China Daily)
2008-03-04
[…] "We should fully follow the policy on freedom of religious belief, implement the regulations on religious affairs, and conduct thorough research on important and difficult issues related to religion," said Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). "We should guide religious leaders and believers to improve their lives, and make full use of their positive role in promoting social harmony," he said in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee. The number of Buddhists, Taoists and Christians has been on the rise in recent years, religious officials say, and the central government has been increasingly encouraging religion to play a role in promoting social development. Figures from the State Administration for Religious Affairs suggest that there are more than 100 million believers in the country, mostly Buddhists, Taoists, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims. […] Ding Wenfang, a member of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC, said fellow members should strengthen national unity and promote religious harmony. Ding, also vice-president of the China Islamic Association, said: "The unity of the 56 ethnic groups in China and religious harmony are necessary to build a harmonious society." Jia also stressed that the CPPCC needs to "maintain close ties with members of the emerging social strata, such as private entrepreneurs, accountants and lawyers". "We should show concern for their interests, open up channels for them to articulate their views, and guide them to conscientiously assume social responsibilities and effectively promote socialist development with Chinese characteristics." He also urged political advisors to join hands with Taiwan people in opposing and containing secessionist activities. […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPCC: Government to unveil 'super ministries' plan - Proposal on umbrella bodies to be tabled (SCMP)
2008-03-04
Ministers yesterday confirmed that the central government will unveil a plan to set up overarching "super ministries" to oversee transport, health care and industry. The media and academics had been abuzz with speculation about how the government will merge ministries into the so-called "super ministries" to reduce red tape and watchdog duplication, but there had been no official confirmation. […] The streamlining plan is expected to take years to complete. Liu Binjie, head of the General Administration of Press and Publication, yesterday confirmed that overarching ministries would be set up to overlook transport and health care. "The institutional reform aims to resolve two problems, including macroeconomic control, such as transport, and improving people's livelihood, such as health care." While stopping short of confirming a health super ministry would be formed, Minister of Health Chen Zhu said he supported merging the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) into his ministry. "Food and health care are closely related, while drugs and health care cannot be separated," he said. Wang Xudong, Minister of Information Industry, indicated at the Great Hall of the People that his ministry would be merged with others to form a mega ministry in charge of industry and information. He said: "The advantage [of a mega ministry] is that it could smooth out the supervisory system and reduce duplications of duties. "It would also facilitate macromanagement," he said. The reform, led by Li Keqiang, has been scaled down due to strong resistance from ministries. He is to be appointed executive vice-premier at the end of the NPC session. Delays were forced on earlier proposals to form overarching ministries to oversee the energy and financial sectors, according to earlier reports. A smooth rollout of the reforms will be crucial in determining Mr Li's political credentials because he is tipped to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier in five years' time. Dr Chen yesterday said the new mega health ministry would not cover medical insurance, as some mainland reports had speculated. The Ministry of Health oversees rural co-operative medical insurance while the Ministry of Labour and Social Security is in charge of two urban medical insurance schemes for urban employees and those without jobs such as retirees, the elderly and children. "It is quite impossible because there are gaps between the development [of the insurance schemes for different groups of the population]." The SFDA was formed in 2003 by expanding the then State Drug Administration and taking over some responsibilities from the Ministry of Health and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. It was meant to take after the US FDA, but was derailed by corruption scandals that led to the execution of former chief Zheng Xiaoyu. It is widely expected that Dr Chen, appointed to steer the big reforms, will be the expanded ministry's chief. The mega ministry of transport is expected to merge with civil aviation and postal administrations and the Ministry of Communications, while a ministry of industry and information would absorb departments such as the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, and assume some functions of the National Development and Reform Commission. ^ top ^

NPC & CPCC: Non-Communists tipped for top posts (People's Daily)
2008-03-04
[…] "Many non-Communist personages have taken up posts at government departments and judicial bodies since China started its reform and opening up," said Wu Jianmin, spokesman for the First Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Wan Gang, of the China Zhi Gong Dang (Party for Public Interest), was appointed Minister of Science and Technology last April - the first non-Party cabinet minister since the late 1970s. Two months later, Chen Zhu, a Paris-trained scientist who is not affiliated to any party, became Minister of Health. Their appointments represent "major moves" by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to enhance socialist democracy and push forward multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, Wu said at a press conference on the eve of the annual political advisory session. […] "Across China, more than 31,000 non-Communists are working as officials at and above county level, of whom at least 6,000 work at government organizations and judicial bodies at various levels," he said. Twenty non-Communist officials are in high-ranking positions of the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and central government departments, said Wu. Meanwhile, the 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the Chinese mainland have 30 non-Communist vice-governors; and 15 big- and medium-sized cities have non-Communist vice-mayors. The eight non-Communist parties represent specific interest groups, and serve as a conduit for complaints and suggestions from all walks of life as well as a mode of supervision of the CPC. […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: West's criticism of defence budget shows bias against a strong China, say generals (SCMP)
2008-03-05
People's Liberation Army generals who are delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have defended the country's largest defence budget, accusing international critics of its military build-up of being biased. Major General Zhu Heping said the double-digit increase in defence spending, announced yesterday, was not high. "The budget hike is necessary and will be used mainly to improve the troops' living standards," said General Zhu, vice-president of the Air Force Command Academy and a grandson of leading revolutionary general Zhu De. He said a torrent of criticism over the mainland's fast-growing military power reflected a deep-rooted bias among western countries. "No country, especially those in the west, wants to see a powerful China," he said. "It is just an excuse to express their concerns over China's expanding power." He said that even though military spending had grown at a double-digit pace for the past two decades, it remained low in global terms, considering the mainland's sizzling economic growth. His views were echoed by Major General Liu Taihang, a former academy vice-president and son of another top revolutionary general, Liu Bocheng. […] "The increased budget is supposed to be spent primarily on the armaments upgrade, but it is almost impossible given the rather poor living standards of Chinese troops, especially in remote areas," he said. He said that during a trip to the Tibetan border last year, he was surprised to see Chinese soldiers far behind their Indian counterparts in terms of clothing and equipment. Both generals played down the impact of the surging defence spending on Taiwan ahead of the island's presidential election this month. "China's policy towards Taiwan has always been clear, and President Hu Jintao elaborated once again at the Communist Party's national congress last year that we would not tolerate Taiwan's secessionist moves towards independence," General Zhu said. General Liu said: "There must be ulterior motives behind those criticisms from western countries, especially the US. It may also be used to send some signals to Taiwan.". ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Officials leap to defence of controversial labour laws - New work rules under attack as 'vague legal blueprint'
2008-05-03
[…] National People's Congress spokesman Jiang Enzhu said yesterday that the new Labour Contract Law, which was designed to build long-term relations between employers and employees, was introduced after thorough public consultation and studies. Responding to some businesses "dodging the rule" through collective sackings, Mr Jiang accused them of misinterpreting some parts of the law. Among the law's most controversial terms is one that allows employees who have worked for a company for 10 straight years to ask for an open-ended employment contract, which critics deem the equivalent of an "iron rice bowl". "It is not an iron rice bowl or a life-long contract," Mr Jiang said. "There are three situations in which an open-ended contract can be terminated: for example, when an employee breaches rules or is physically unfit for work." Some delegates of the state's top advisory body - the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference - said the root of the controversy rested on the lack of implementation guidelines, even though the law came into effect on January 1. CPPCC delegate He Yongzhi, chief executive of restaurant and hotel group Chongqing Cygnet, called for further consultation on the labour law and amendment of what she described as a "vague legal blueprint". "The intention of the law is good, but the implementation guidelines should be made public as soon as possible, as the service and manufacturing industries got hit hardest," Ms He said. "The guidelines should provide greater details about the execution [of the law] and a better balance of the interests of employees and employers." […] Some academics have warned of possible social unrest if the labour-contract dispute issue worsens and if it is poorly handled by the central authorities. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Freed reporter gets to cover congress (SCMP)
2008-03-06
Zhao Yan, the mainland researcher for The New York Times who was released from three years' jail last September, has been given press accreditation to cover the annual NPC and CPPCC meetings. The 46-year-old journalist, whose arrest and sentence became a focus of international criticism, began covering the high point of the political calendar at the Great Hall of the People yesterday morning. Zhao said he was told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only last week that he could return to The New York Times and cover the two meetings. He said he had been "fighting to return to The New York Times for half a year because there are regulations that people with criminal records cannot work in news organisations". "But this is a political issue and it involves Sino-US relations. They have given special treatment to this problem and I think it is progress." Zhao was arrested in September 2004 after The New York Times broke the story that former president Jiang Zemin was about to resign from his last official post - that of chairman of the Central Military Commission. He was first charged with leaking state secrets to the US newspaper. But the prosecutor later dropped the charge and he was sentenced to three years for fraud instead. […]. ^ top ^

One-child policy must be overhauled: deputy (SCMP)
2008-03-07
A National People's Congress deputy has appealed for changes to the one-child policy, which has been blamed for a widening gender imbalance and a string of social problems. Outspoken Renmin University president Ji Baocheng said yesterday it was time to overhaul the family-planning policy, which challenged development and national security. "The alarming gender ratio among newborns will lead to the eruption of social conflicts," he said. Beijing has come under mounting pressure to relax the policy with the newborn gender ratio reaching 120.2 boys to 100 girls last year, and exceeded 130 boys to 100 girls in three provinces, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Although the policy has helped reduce population growth, it has also caused problems for a rapidly ageing society. "By the middle of the century, more than half of the parents on the mainland will have only one child," Professor Ji said. He also said the army was having difficulties in recruiting soldiers. The gender imbalance and population reduction were also blamed for an increase in the rural poor. "We should encourage people to have only one child, but allow them to have a second one," Professor Ji said, adding that the government should start working on an alternative plan. A top family planning official denied reports that the mainland was considering scrapping the policy. National Population and Family Planning Commission director Zhang Weiqing said: "Family-planning policy must be upheld and will remain unchanged." […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Private sector forced to turn patients away (SCMP)
2008-03-03
Private hospitals have been full for weeks and have even had to reject patients with life-threatening conditions. The president of the Private Hospitals Association, Alan Lau Kwok-lam, said most private hospitals were full and patients on average had to wait between three and five days to be admitted. "Quite often private doctors have to refer some urgent cases to public hospitals because they cannot secure any beds for the patients," Dr Lau said. Doctors said some patients had flu-related pneumonia as Hong Kong was in the middle of its peak flu period. […] Hong Kong Medical Association president Choi Kin said the Hospital Authority had to rethink its priorities on what hospital services it should provide in view of a lack of surgical capacity at public hospitals. He said hospitals under the authority sometimes conducted unnecessary procedures at the request of patients. "Public hospitals should use their resources properly," he said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

'Taiwan independence' doomed to fail – Hu (China DailyP)
2008-03-05
[…] Hu, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, observed that the "Taiwan independence" activities have become "the biggest menace to national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the biggest obstacle to the development of cross-Strait relations, and the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits." Meanwhile, he pledged that the mainland will make utmost effort to do a good job in anything that is good to the Taiwan compatriots and conducive to safeguarding peace in the Taiwan Straits and promoting the peaceful reunification of the motherland. "We are always committed to our pledges to the Taiwan compatriots. We will never sway upon temporary fluctuations of the situation, or change upon a few individuals' deliberate disturbances," said the president. As for the realization of peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, Hu said, "we take adherence to the one-China principle as the foundation, with the seeking of benefits for compatriots on both sides of the Straits as the objective, and the deepening of mutually-beneficial, win-win exchange and cooperation as the approach." "We are ready to have exchange, dialogue, consultation and negotiation with any political parties in Taiwan, as long as they recognize that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one China," Hu stated. "The negotiation will be conducted on an equal footing with completely open topics -- there is nothing we can't talk about," he added. "We look forward to the formal end of the state of hostility across the Straits through joint efforts by both sides and consultations based on the one-China principle, and hope to reach a peace agreement and build up a framework for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations," he told the advisors. Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan authorities are destined to pay a dear price if they stubbornly take the dangerous path of "Taiwan independence" and make a desperate throw of dice, Jiang Enzhu, spokesman for the First Session of the 11th National People's Congress, told a press conference in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday, March 4. Jiang told the press conference that the so-called "referendum on UN membership" pursued by the Chen Shui-bian authorities is a grave step in seeking "de jure independence" of Taiwan and will seriously harm the peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits and the Asia-Pacific region. "Safeguarding peace across the Taiwan Straits has been the most important and most urgent task for the compatriots on both sides of the Straits," he said. He said the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. Any issues involving China's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be decided by all the 1.3 billion people of the entire China, Taiwan compatriots included. "Conflicts and disputes between the two sides of the Straits could be resolved by equal consultations in the process of peaceful development of cross-Straits relations," he said. He called on Taiwan compatriots to be aware of Chen's intention of conducting the "referendum" and its serious consequences. […] The mainland will adhere to the principle of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems", the eight-point proposal for developing relations across the Taiwan Straits, and the four-point guideline on the relations with the island to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the spokesman said. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Qinghai-Tibet railway extensions necessary (People's Daily)
2008-03-05
Construction of Qinghai-Tibet railway extensions is "quite necessary", said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, on Tuesday. "We will fully tap the potential of railway in the region, and we hope the extensions linking Lhasa to Xigaze and Nyingchi would bring more benefits to the Tibetan people," said Qiangba Puncog, who is a deputy to the 11th National People's Congress, China's top legislature. […] The legislator disclosed that preparations for the Lhasa-Xigaze railway had completed while the construction plan was undergoing approval from the central government. The 254-km extension line, the first feeder for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, is planned to start this year and expected to be completed in 2010, according to an earlier report. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China imposes stricter penalties for bank crime (Xinhua)
2008-03-04
Presidents of the five largest commercial banks will be held accountable for criminal activity in provincial branches involving more than 10 million yuan (1.4 million U.S. dollars), the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said on Monday. These banks include the state-owned "big four" -- the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) -- and the Bank of Communications (BOCOM). An official of the CBRC said that this was the first time specific standards had been set, although senior bank executives were investigated and punished in some previous cases. If cases involving more than 5 million yuan occur in city-level branches -- or more than 10 million yuan in sub-branches -- the respective executives will be held responsible and their superiors will face administrative penalties, said the statement. The CBRC will strictly investigate each criminal case, especially those involving more than 1 million yuan, this year, said the statement. However, it didn't specify exactly what would happen in such cases. The commission also demanded tightened internal controls, it said. […]. ^ top ^

Three-way economic zone under discussion (China Daily)
2008-03-04
[…] On Sunday, Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po said the zone will be the biggest metropolis in the country, based on integration and cooperation on trade, culture and other social activities between the three regions. The investigation, which was launched in January, is being led by Wang Yang, Party secretary of Guangdong province, the newspaper said. In addition, 23 provincial government departments and research institutes are involved in looking at nine key areas, including the zone's impact on the country and the benefits to Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. […] Zheng Tianxiang, a professor at the Hong Kong and Macao research institute of Sun Yat-sen University, told China Daily: "To build up the cooperation zone, mayors, governors and the SARs' chief executives must hold regular meetings." "The regions should cooperate in all regards to remove administrative obstacles," he said. If the central government approves the development of the zone, Guangdong will be given greater powers over social and financial administration, the newspaper report said. The zone is expected to eliminate barriers to the flow of capital and personnel across the three regions, it said. Wang Yang said: "The goal is to combine the three regions into a world-class, integrated economic zone that can rival New York, Tokyo and other super metropolises.". ^ top ^

PBOC chief treads with caution on interest rates (China Daily)
2008-03-07
China's top banker refused to rule out the possibility of further interest rate hikes on Thursday, while pledging to be cautious in using this monetary tool. "There is definitely room for further increases, in my personal opinion," said Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank chief during a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the country's top legislature. However, regulators have to weigh the pros and cons before taking such a move, Zhou said. "The timing and the scale of the adjustment are also critical factors to consider." Zhou admitted that the recent aggressive rate cuts in the United States are restricting his agency's ability in raising the cost of capital. The two countries' interest rates moving in opposite directions is expected to attract more hot money into China, complicating the country's efforts to keep its economy from overheating and tame inflation. "This is just part of the factors, and we also have domestic considerations," he said, pointing to the boost of domestic consumption and the development of the capital market. China has been encouraging its people to spend more so as to reduce its over-reliance on investment and exports for economic growth. "We have to consider and measure the impact of interest rate changes on domestic demand," Zhou said, adding that regulators hope to cut the savings rate, which remains high in the country. In theory, a lower interest rate will help push Chinese citizens to increase consumption. Interest rate policies will also affect the development of the capital market, as well as the proportion of direct financing, Zhou added. When interest rates are low, people tend to look to the capital market for attractive products, thus helping adjust the proportion between direct and indirect financing, Zhou said. "The country should increase its efforts in developing the capital market and encourage direct financing." Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to follow a tight monetary policy on Wednesday in his policy speech to keep inflation in check and prevent the economy from overheating. […] In response, the central bank raised interest rates six times and the bank reserve requirement 11 times since the start of 2007. Zhou saw only limited direct impact on China's financial institutions by the sub-prime crisis across the Pacific which, he believes, has yet to bottom out. He was confident that China is unlike to suffer a similar crisis as the overall quality of the housing credit is good. The central banker said the rate cuts by the Fed to avert a possible economic recession in the United States may add to the excessive liquidity in the global market, which in turn might affect China's monetary policies. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Chinese political advisor: Politicization of Olympics hurts athletes (Xinhua)
2008-03-03
A Chinese political advisor voiced objections against linking the Olympic Games with politics on Sunday, saying that innocent athletes would fall victim if the sports event were politicized. "The Olympics shouldn't be used to solve problems that have nothing to do with the event. On the contrary, it is supposed to shun such problems (as politics)," said Yang Lan, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body. What the Olympics should care about is to let the athletes play well and fully enjoy the fun of sports, and let people of different nations have peaceful and friendly exchanges, said Yang, who is here to attend the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee slated to open on Monday. "If the Olympics were politicized, the athletes would be hurt most," said Yang, one of the ambassadors for the Beijing 2008 Olympic bid, citing that athletes of some countries couldn't attend the Olympic Games due to the Cold War in the 1980s. "Those athletes were innocent." […]. ^ top ^

Beijing enters Olympics security mode (SCMP)
2008-03-04
Hundreds of thousands of police, security guards and volunteers patrolled Beijing yesterday, ready to pounce on the slightest hint of dissent in the Olympic host city as the government top advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, opened its annual session. And with National People's Congress deputies from around the country gathering in the capital for tomorrow's opening of the annual NPC meeting, authorities have left nothing to chance, demanding security forces regard the two-week meeting with the same urgency they would for the Olympics in August. Police were out in force outside the Great Hall of the People, the giant building abutting Tiananmen Square where the two meetings are being held. A few blocks east of the square, grocer Liu Xiang, 33, like many people, could only guess at what the fuss was all about: "I suppose there's some meeting between the leaders. Who knows what they talk about? How would I know? I'm just a common person." Beijing has called on People's Liberation Army troops, the paramilitary People's Armed Police, city police, security guards and urban management officials to fan out across city streets. In and around Tiananmen Square, volunteers with red arm bands stood watch every 100 metres or so in the bright spring sun. More than a million volunteers were to stand at street corners and bus stations, and patrol local communities "as a rehearsal for the Olympics", Xinhua said. Their ranks would include 80,000 Olympic volunteers who would also "assist with urban beautification", the Beijing Youth Daily said. All aviation activity involving "sport, recreation and advertising" within a 200km radius of Tiananmen Square had been put on hold, the Public Security Bureau said in a statement to six provinces surrounding Beijing. Local officials were also asked to keep track of the activities involving "parasailing, paragliders and private light aircraft" in their regions, the bureau said. While government websites have invited internet users to air their grievances, authorities have taken great pains to ensure their complaints are not delivered to NPC deputies and CPPCC delegates in person. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea denounces 'madcap' military drills (SCMP)
2008-03-03
Tens of thousands of troops from South Korea and the United States kicked off annual military exercises yesterday while North Korea denounced the manoeuvres as a rehearsal for an invasion of the communist country. […] The North's Korean People's Army (KPA), which routinely decries US-South Korean exercises, said the drill was "an open and blatant challenge" to disarmament negotiations and warned it could retaliate. A spokesman said US overtures at six-party negotiations on the North's nuclear arms programmes were "nothing but a crafty charade intended to cover up its preparations for a nuclear war". The US and South Korea say the manoeuvres are purely defensive. The exercises, scheduled until Friday, involved a computer-simulated war game with field drills, and provided an excellent opportunity to improve combat readiness, said General B.B. Bell, the commander of US forces in South Korea. The manoeuvres were "key to our readiness and effective deterrence", General Bell said. Key Resolve aims to test the South's ability to host more than 600,000 US troops who would be deployed in the case of war. […] A KPA spokesman in the truce village of Panmunjom described the drills as "madcap war manoeuvres". If South Korea and the US "persistently work to realise their scenario to stifle the [North] by force of arms, at any cost the KPA will counter it with positive retaliatory strikes by mobilising all means". […]. ^ top ^

US envoy snubbed by North Korean official (SCMP)
2008-03-03
The top US negotiator on North Korea was to leave China yesterday without meeting his North Korean counterpart, who he said was "not ready" for talks aimed at pushing forward a stalled nuclear disarmament plan. Christopher Hill flew into Beijing on Saturday, returning after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hinted at progress towards ending the impasse over disarming North Korea during talks in Beijing last week. Mr Hill met Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, but was stood up by the North Korean envoy. "They're looking at the ideas and haven't decided what they want to do," Mr Hill said. He was referring to ideas proposed by China on how to move forward a 2005 agreement under which North Korea committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Expert team raises hopes of Hongor Soum Citizens (Mongol Messenger)
2008-03-06
Local citizens are eagerly awaiting results of tests conducted in Hongor soum by and international expert team A team of twelve experts from Japan, Britain, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Uganda and Australia and three local representatives has been working in Hongor soum of Darkhan-Uul aimag to conclude testing on contamination of animals, livestock, land, water and air pollution since February 20. Minimato Disease Research Centre of Japan head, Dr Mineshi Sakamoto [‘s…] research findings will be analysed in his own laboratory in Japan to identify mercury contamination. Human hair grows one cm a month and women of reproductive age – 18 to 35 were involved in the research. Samples taken citizen Ariya of Hongor, hospitalized in Clinic #1 for contamination were taken by five Mongolian experts in the team. ^ top ^

Land use program comes under the scrutiny (Mongol Messenger)
2008-03-06
The government of Mongolia passed a national programme to launch the third campaign for reclaiming virgin land […] to eliminate dependence on imported flour and wheat. Some scholars have criticized the programme claiming it will increase desertification by ploughing virgin land. Food and Agriculture Minister Ts. Gankhuyag denied the criticism at a press conference on February 28 and said no new land would be ploughed in the programme. He said the programme for arable land was based on three main principles - a) private economic entities will be dominant in realisation of the programme with State support of legislation and no new State-run farms would be established; b) ecological balance will be well maintained and no new land will be ploughed and c) investment would be properly spent and technological progresses well used. ^ top ^

Mongolia's 3rd Neighbor (Montsame)
2008-03-06
Foreign Minister S. Oyun was asked Cabinet to define Mongolia's third neighbor in the absence of official identification documents. She said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to process a document on third neighbor status and pass it to the National Security Council for discussion. Mongolia is landlocked between Russia and China but recognizes several countries such as the USA and Australia as its third neighbor. Since diplomatic relations were established with the former USSR in 1921, Mongolia established relations with about 150 countries. ^ 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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