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
  10.3-14.3.08, No. 208  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

China to issue human rights record of the United States in 2007 (China Daily)
2008-03-12
The Information Office of China's State Council, the cabinet, is scheduled to issue the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2007 on Thursday. Sources with the office said this is in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007 issued by the US Department of State on March 11. This is the ninth consecutive year that the Information Office of the State Council has issued human rights record of the United States to answer the US State Department annual report. ^ top ^

US drops China from human rights blacklist (SCMP)
2008-03-12
The United States dropped China from its list of the world's worst human rights violators, but added Syria, Uzbekistan and Sudan to its top 10 offenders in an annual report released Tuesday. Despite removing Beijing from its top blacklist, the State Department's last year Human Rights Report said China, which has raised hopes internationally that it would improve human rights by hosting the this year Olympics, still had a poor record overall. […] The State Department said in the report that “countries in which power was concentrated in the hands of unaccountable rulers remained the world's most systematic human rights violators.” It listed 10 in that category: North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan. […] But the report stressed that China's “overall human rights record remained poor” last year, citing tightened controls on religious freedom against Buddhists in Tibet and in Muslims in northwestern Xinjiang. […] Another State Department official, who asked not to be named, insisted: “We're not pulling punches with China” and denied there was any link with the Olympic Games. But rights groups criticised the report's findings. “We're of the view that the human rights situation in China is actually certainly not improving and particularly that there are abuses that are now taking place specifically because China is hosting the Olympics,” said Sophie Richardson, from Human Rights Watch. Reporters Without Borders, agreed in a statement from Washington, saying: “This move is seen as a major setback for human rights organizations, who have been striving especially hard in these last five months before the games to improve the status of human rights in China.” […]. ^ top ^

FM: President Hu's Japan visit not postponed (China Daily)
2008-03-12
Chinese president Hu Jintao will pay a state visit to Japan in the near term, the first visit by Chinese President to the neighbor in the new century, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Beijing Wednesday. […] "There is no such an issue as postponement of President Hu's visit," said Yang at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session. […] "This visit will be a historic one, which will boost relations between the two countries," Yang said. Through the visit, China hopes to improve the mechanism of exchanges to place the bilateral relations between the two neighbors on a long-term, health and stable development track. On the East China Sea issue between China and Japan, Yang said the case is complex and he believes that it is undesirable to set a deadline for bilateral consultation. Chinese and Japanese leaders reached four new consensus on the issue during Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's visit to China and agreed to find early solutions that serve the overall interests, Yang said. […]. ^ top ^

Political dance Sino-Russian ties have bloomed during Vladimir Putin's rule, but Beijing must now adjust to its resurgent neighbour (SCMP)
2008-03-13
Perhaps more than any other capital in the world, Beijing has closely observed the change of the guard in the Kremlin. There are many reasons for China's concerns: Russia's revival as a major power; its petro-politics approach to foreign relations; managing the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO); and stability of the 4,300km Sino-Russian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin's arrangement with his chosen successor, Dimitry Medvedev, last December was a surprise for Beijing. Few, if any, Chinese observers had anticipated that Mr Putin would have his cake and still eat it. […] For Beijing, Moscow seems to have finally figured out its approach to modernity: not the west, nor the east, but somewhere in the middle - the Russian way. The same charisma and capabilities that brought Russia back from the brink of collapse have been actively applied to dealing with others, including China. Mr Putin has repositioned Russia's relations with the west, consolidated the former Soviet space, institutionalised the SCO (which groups China with the former Soviet states) with Beijing, and prioritised economics in Russia's foreign policy. All this has been driven, at least partially, by rapidly rising energy prices. […] It remains to be seen what Mr Putin, when he becomes prime minister, will do in this vital area of economic co-operation. Although both sides claim that the current bilateral relationship is the "best" in history, this state of affairs was achieved at a time of Russia's historical decline and China's historical rise. […] A key element of the current Sino-Russian strategic partnership has been a high level of trust, which is expected to continue under the Medvedev-Putin team. Harmony among political elites, however, is no guarantee of success in managing such dissonant issues as asymmetrical trade, stagnant military sales and perceived Chinese immigration into Russia's far east. […] Moscow and Beijing also need to invigorate the SCO to turn it into a more efficient regional grouping. […]. ^ top ^

Vatican plan to spell out meaning of Pope's letter (SCMP)
2008-03-13
[…As] a three-day meeting on China affairs ended yesterday, it was still unclear whether the Holy See would adopt any new initiatives on the thorny issue of dialogue with Beijing, let alone re-establishing diplomatic ties. […] The meeting was the first opportunity for the members of the Vatican commission on China affairs, set up in January last year, to meet and review the latest developments following the Pope's letter. Despite speculation that the Vatican, which maintains diplomatic ties with Taipei, and Beijing would step up negotiations on resuming diplomatic ties ahead of the Olympic Games in August, the focus of the meeting was on how to implement the Pope's religious directives to mainland Catholics. "What were discussed were problems surrounding the Pope's letter," said one participant. "Among things we have assessed was whether the mainland government, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the underground church really understood what the Pope meant." One main option considered in the meeting this week was for the Holy See to issue a series of new documents that would make the rationales behind the Pope's letter easier to understand and the directives in it easier to follow. Among them would be a compendium consisting of the letter, a series of commentaries by experts on mainland affairs to elaborate on the points made by the Pope, and a simplified version of the document. To directly address the many practical questions raised by mainland Catholics on issues such as co-operation with the state, and the authority of state-appointed bishops and diocesan administrations, a package of questions and answers in Chinese was among main options being considered. Despite initially high expectations last year for the letter - in which the Pope called for reconciliation between the state-backed and underground Catholic communities, and for Sino-Vatican dialogue - Beijing gave it a lukewarm reception. Divisions have remained between the Catholic communities on the mainland. The state-controlled patriotic association tried to capitalise on the letter by encouraging underground bishops to "come out", despite the Pope's condition that it should happen only when religious freedom is respected in China. Also discussed in the meeting was the Pope's call in his letter for churches throughout the world to pray for China on May 24 each year - a day of liturgical memorial to Mary, which has long been carried out in devotion in the Sheshan Basilica in Shanghai. […]. ^ top ^

China refutes Japanese report on East China Sea (China Daily)
2008-03-14
China on Thursday refuted a report by the Japanese media that Japan proposed to submit the East China Sea issue to the international tribunal, labelling it as "going against reality"."I should reaffirm that China has a sufficient international law base on the East China Sea issue," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. Qin told a regular press conference that China and Japan should resolve the dispute through negotiations in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. At present, both China and Japan have agreed to consider the general situation of the bilateral ties and observe the principle of "putting aside disputes and seeking joint exploration" that would benefit both, he said. The spokesman said the leaders of the two countries share common ground on resolving the East China Sea issue. "The problem is complicated and cannot be settled promptly," he said. He called upon the two sides to remain patient and work together to achieve progress. ^ top ^

Chinese, Russian leaders hail strategic partnership development (People's Daily)
2008-03-14
Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hailed the development of the strategic partnership between the two countries in a telephone conversation, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday. […] The two countries have signed the Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation and achieved a thorough settlement of the border issue, the Chinese president said. […] Hu expressed confidence in seeing more fruits of friendship and further development of the Russia-China strategic partnership based on common efforts. Putin highly evaluated his close and fruitful cooperation with Hu, reaffirming that Russia and China are strategic partners and that his country attaches great importance to bilateral ties with China. More than 600 events were staged within the framework of the national theme years, he said, adding Russia and China have witnessed steady expansion of bilateral trade and good cooperation in world affairs. He expressed hope that the leaders of both countries will continue close exchanges and further promote the Russia-China strategic partnership. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Terror scares lay bare nation's vulnerability (SCMP)
2008-03-11
First came the attack by a Chinese man, armed with explosives, who held 10 Australian tourists and a translator hostage on a coach in Xian before being shot dead last Wednesday. Then it was the attempted plane hijacking from Xinjiang on Friday that only came to light on Sunday. Mainland officials may still try to put on a brave face to tell the world how safe the nation is for foreigners who will flock to Beijing for the Olympics in August. But in reality, the recent incidents have already laid bare the nation's vulnerability to terrorist attacks. Coupled with this is the harsh reality that security levels can vary greatly between domestic and international flights, and between major cities and remote parts of a country widely regarded as a police state that has resorted to a high-handed approach to curbing dissent. Having kept the news under wraps until pressed by a journalist on Sunday, Xinjiang Autonomous Region chairman Nuer Baikeli said a China Southern flight from Urumqi to Beijing had narrowly escaped a hijacking on Friday. Sources say that one of the four Uygurs taken away by police had taken cans of petrol into a toilet on the plane, a situation which raised concerns about how the liquid had passed through airport security checks. […] The attempted plane crash reflected the "gradual penetration" of terrorist activities from Xinjiang throughout the mainland and as far as Beijing, Professor Li argued. It was time the authorities carried out a detailed assessment of airport security, he added. Mainland-based anti-terrorist expert Shen Hongsheng highlighted the collaboration of Xinjiang secessionists with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a Uygur group allegedly linked to al-Qaeda, in trying to sabotage the Olympics. Professor Shen said it was important to raise awareness of terrorism on the mainland, which tended to be overlooked by the international community." […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Gaps in prosecution, judicial work reports (SCMP)
2008-03-11
The country's court and procuratorate chiefs tried hard to showcase their achievements in yesterday's annual reports, but others noted the gaping holes and glossing over of some key, long-overdue judicial reforms. As in previous years, the Supreme People's Court report by Xiao Yang and the Supreme People's Procuratorate report by Jia Chungwang failed to reveal the number of people given the death penalty and executed, a figure made public in most countries and sought by human rights groups. Under the mainland's widely applied death penalty, rights groups estimate that anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 people are executed every year. Beijing resisted calls for the abolition of capital punishment, but introduced reforms after several high-profile wrongful convictions came to light. Since January last year, all death sentences must be approved by the Supreme People's Court, and all second, and final, hearings of death penalty cases must be carried out in open court. But the application of this new rule is clouded in secrecy. "[The number of executions] is considered a super state secret," defence lawyer Mo Shaoping said. "But without this figure, there's no way to assess how efficient the new rule is in lowering the number of death sentences." Mr Xiao's report only said that the new system was "progressing smoothly". Huang Ermei, president of the criminal law chamber of the Supreme People's Court, said earlier that the court had rejected about 15 per cent of lower courts' death sentences last year. The reports also lacked a further breakdown of the 2,451 charges laid for "endangering state secrets", which could mean a range of vaguely defined offences from leaking state secrets to inciting sedition. Judicial injustice has been a top concern for mainlanders, who have trouble bringing claims and appeals, and getting court decisions carried out. Other problems are forced confessions and corruption. Some of these problems stem from systemic inefficiencies and some from the poor quality of judges and prosecutors, but experts said the symptoms pointed to a more fundamental problem. "The biggest problem of judicial injustice is the lack of judicial independence, but there is no mention in the report of how to systematically [remedy] this," said He Weifang , a law professor at Peking University. "The relationship between the judiciary and the government is still one of subordination." Judges on the mainland are considered civil servants, and are under the supervision of the government and the Communist Party. Without tackling this and without taking steps to introduce transparency into court hearings, such as by making judgments available to the public and allowing wider media access, "the report is only a rather mundane document jammed with numbers", Professor He said. Conceding that the reports could not deal with every problem, CPPCC delegate Zhu Zhengfu urged a change to funding courts through the governments at the same level and said judges should not be subject to the civil service management system. Other CPPCC delegates strongly advocate stepping up the battle against judicial corruption. The selection of cases due to guanxi, or connections, and severe regional protectionism were two other manifestations of judicial corruption, Qinghai provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Bai Ma said yesterday. Case overload is another problem plaguing courthouses across the country, especially in western and poor regions, where judges are in extremely short supply. More staff, better training and stricter appraisals were some solutions offered. "It is now very strict for judges to enter the profession, but there is a `blocked exit'," Gansu Provincial People's Political Consultative Conference chairman Zhong Zhaolong said. "In the local-level courthouses of Gansu, about one quarter of the judges are not up to the job, and no one wants them. But there is no mechanism for us to get rid of them." […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: China's NPC active in parliamentary diplomacy (People's Daily)
2008-03-11
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, has been active in establishing and enhancing ties with foreign parliaments, said Cao Weizhou, Vice Secretary-General of the 11th NPC Standing Committee. Currently, the NPC has set up regular communications with the parliaments and congresses of more than ten countries; and has established parliamentary relations with 178 countries in the forms of exchange and communication. The NPC has earned membership into 12 international parliamentary organizations; and acts as an observer for three regional parliamentary organizations. […] Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo stressed, in his report on the work of the 11th NPC Standing Committee, that deputies represent the people. The NPC is a pool of public opinion; and therefore, parliamentary diplomacy plays an indispensable role in state relations. According to Cao Weizhou, the NPC, also known as China's Parliament, enjoys unique advantages in international exchanges and communication. First, parliamentary diplomacy represents grass roots communication from people in various countries. […] By actively expanding and deepening communication, the NPC can better understand mainstream public opinion from different countries. Second, parliamentary diplomacy has a much broader scope of exchange and communication. The NPC, as China's "parliament” and top legislature, can develop relations not only with the congresses of different countries; but also with the governments and political elite. The scope of exchange covers areas including legislation, the economy, society, and culture. Third, parliamentary diplomacy has many forms. It can be both impersonal and personal; vary from holding serious seminars and bridging the gap for economic cooperation, to running light-hearted cultural festivals, galas or sporting contests; and could take the form of personal invitations to the MPs from different countries, all based on the principle of NPC diplomacy: "going global and welcoming others to come.” […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: China to set up five new 'super ministries' (China Daily)
2008-03-12
[…] According to the plan, which was distributed to journalists before the parliament meeting, the five new "super ministries" are the ministry of industry and information, the ministry of human resources and social security, the ministry of environmental protection, the ministry of housing and urban-rural construction, and the ministry of transport. To strengthen the government management on the energy sector, a high-level inter-ministerial coordinator, the national energy commission, is also to be established, with a national bureau of energy to be set up as its working office under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The new bureau will integrate the NDRC's functions relating to energy management, the functions of the National Energy Leading Group and the functions of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on nuclear power management. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health will be empowered with the function to oversee food and drug safety. The State Council will have 27 ministries and commissions apart from the General Office after the reshuffle, compared with the present 28. President Hu Jintao vowed to accelerate the reform of the administrative system and build a service-oriented government at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last year. "We must lose no time in working out a master plan for it," Hu said in October. At the beginning of the NPC session, Premier Wen Jiabao labeled reform of the administrative system as "an important link in deepening reform, an important part of the reform of political institutions, and an essential step in improving the socialist market economy." State Councilor Hua Jianmin, also secretary general of the Cabinet, made explanations of the plan to the NPC. On the necessity of the reform, Hua said in the report that functions of government have not been completely transformed, with public administration and public services being still weak; Structure of government institutions is not rational enough; Powers in some regards were too concentrated and lack due oversight and checks. Hua lists the reasons for the government reshuffle as follows: [1] The functions of government have not been completely transformed, and the intervention in microeconomy is still more than needed. Public administration and public services are still weak. [2] Structure of government institutions is not rational enough. The problems including overlapping responsibilities, powers and responsibilities being not well matched and low efficiency are quite serious. [3] Powers in some regards were too concentrated and lack due oversight and checks. The phenomena of misuse of authority, abusing power for personal gains and corruption still exist. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Top political advisory body elects new leadership (China Daily)
2008-03-14
[…] Jia Qinglin was reelected chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC. […] The 25 vice-chairpersons are: Wang Gang, Liao Hui, Du Qinglin, Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme (Tibetan), Pagbalha Geleg Namgyae (Tibetan), Ma Man Kei, Bai Lichen (Hui), Chen Kuiyuan, Abdul'ahat Abdulrixit (Uygur), Li Zhaozhuo (Zhuang), Huang Mengfu, Tung Chee-hwa, Zhang Meiying (female), Zhang Rongming (female), Qian Yunlu, Sun Jiazheng, Li Jinhua, Zheng Wantong, Deng Pufang, Wan Gang, Lin Wenyi (female), Li Wuwei, Luo Fuhe, Chen Zongxing and Wang Zhizhen (female). Qian Yunlu, a vice-chairman, also acts as secretary-general of the 11th CPPCC National Committee. […]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Censors' diverse interests sink mega-ministry plan: Top official hints merging cultural bodies proved too hard (SCMP)
2008-03-14
[…] "The decision was made after many rounds of discussion involving various parties," said Zhou Heping, a vice-minister of culture, at a press conference during the National People's Congress. Mr Zhou, who was trying his best to dodge any questions about censorship, implied he had different thoughts on the notion of consolidating functions of various cultural regulators and creating a mega ministry to manage the country's sometimes unruly cultural scene. "If I can talk about my personal opinions, I think separating [various cultural censors] has its advantages and disadvantages, and so does merging," he said. "The government restructuring is a long process of continual exploration. I think the existing plan is the best one." […] The Ministry of Culture was left untouched, which surprised some analysts, given the importance President Hu Jintao attaches to the ideological field and also the fractured nature of the country's cultural administration. […] A case in point was that the cultural vice-minister was the right person to ask about Icelandic singer Bjork's outburst at a recent Shanghai concert, but his position was not quite right for inquiring about the controversial movie Lust, Caution. When grilled by a full house of reporters about the banning of mainland actress Tang Wei for playing the politically incorrect role of a female spy who fell in love with a Japanese collaborator she is supposed to assassinate, Mr Zhou had a terse reply. "Go and ask the people in Sarft," he said. A similar rule applied when Li Dongdong, deputy director of Gapp, was asked on the NPC sidelines whether Beijing's tight control over cyberspace would be relaxed to a certain degree during the Olympics. The regulation of internet content generally falls under the jurisdiction of Gapp - with one exception, the category of Web news. "That's the job of the Press Office of the State Council," said Ms Li. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Xinhua in deft denial exercise (SCMP)
2008-03-14
One of the mainland's official mouthpieces, Xinhua, demonstrated its mastery of the art of denial yesterday by using a personal blog to dismiss Hong Kong reports that the culture ministry's party boss had been sacked and was under investigation. A Hong Kong newspaper had reported that Yu Youjun, the vice-minister and party secretary of the Ministry of Culture, had been fired from all posts and was being investigated. The report linked Mr Yu's alleged dismissal with scandals said to have occurred during his time as Shenzhen mayor between 2000 and 2003. The report caused a stir as Mr Yu, 55, was widely expected to become the minister of culture, replacing Sun Jiazheng , who has reached retirement age. The Hong Kong newspaper report said the post would instead go to Cai Wu, the director of the State Council's Information Office. If true, the news would be the biggest political scandal during this year's National People's Congress. Speculation deepened in the morning when media found a ministry of culture press conference was chaired not by Mr Yu but by another vice-minister, Zhou Heping. When pressed by the media to confirm the story, an embarrassed Mr Zhou fled the room without saying a word. But a Xinhua website flashed a reference to a personal blog in its headline news last night, denying the news report. "An authoritative source confirmed that Yu Youjun is still the vice-minister of culture and the party secretary of the culture ministry," read the blog message written in classic Xinhua style. It did not elaborate. Some readers posted messages challenging the blogger to provide more information, but their messages were deleted. Although it consisted of only one paragraph, the terse blog message was classified as big news on the Xinhua News net with the website flashing the message's headline as top instant news. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai economy most competitive (China Daily)
2008-03-11
Shanghai has beaten Beijing and Guangdong again to remain the most competitive provincial or municipal economy. Government think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) annual competitiveness report, released yesterday, shows western provinces and regions are still far behind their eastern counterparts, but the central provinces are catching up. Northwest China's Shaanxi province's rank fell sharply, while Anhui province in the east made impressive strides. The latest CASS study includes sustainable development and cultural competitiveness as ranking criteria for the first time, said Li Jianping, the report's editor-in-chief and president of the Fujian Normal University. Official figures were used in the calculations and the 207 criteria were divided into nine categories. "There is a geographical pattern of competitiveness - the eastern coast is still the strongest, the western region is the weakest and the central provinces are in the middle. […] A major change could only be triggered by carbon trading, said CASS senior economist Chen Dongsheng, though he was not part of the report. "Western provinces like Qinghai can hardly experience an economic miracle because they shoulder a far greater responsibility, of environmental protection and ecological restoration, as part of the State Council's recent plan to set different development goals for different places," he said. "For example, development is forbidden or restricted on more than 80 percent of Qinghai's land, which is the origin of the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Lancang River. But the province and several others will be compensated almost for sure through carbon trading when the market gains momentum a few years from now." Industrial development, though, remains the key to economic power, and eight provinces shot up in the rankings. Anhui improved the most, climbing from the lower end of the list to the middle. The central government policy of reviving industrial bases in Northeast China has had different effects on the three provinces there. Liaoning is now in the front part of the list and Heilongjiang is in the middle. Jilin, however, is still among the bottom ones. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

NPC &CPPCC: NPC official rejects HK delegates' plan for office in city (SCMP)
2008-03-10
Proposals to set up a Hong Kong office for use by local deputies to the National People's Congress have been vetoed by a senior NPC official who says delegates do not need a "signboard" in the city to carry out their duties. NPC Standing Committee deputy secretary general Qiao Xiaoyang met all 36 Hong Kong representatives to the national legislature in a three-hour closed-door meeting in Beijing yesterday. Mr Qiao responded to deputies' suggestions about improving their work in Hong Kong and elaborated on their function as NPC members. "The most important work is to attend meetings, to make suggestions on issues discussed at meetings and to make decisions through their votes," he was quoted saying by the Hong Kong delegation's deputy convenor, Maria Tam Wai-chu. Mr Qiao urged deputies to help Hongkongers understand national policies and solve problems. "To do this, deputies cannot simply act as a mailbox, but need to have a deep understanding of issues... especially of those which concern Hong Kong people," Mr Qiao was quoted saying. "As I ordered repeatedly in Shenzhen, deputies should reply to every complaint received from Hongkongers on the mainland. "What we need now is not to hang up a signboard," he concluded - using the mainland expression which refers to the opening of a shop - "but to increase manpower". Ms Tam said: "If you read between the lines, it means there will not be an office of Hong Kong NPC deputies." Describing the local delegation as "a very important force which can help Hong Kong people understand more about the central government's policies", Mr Qiao also said: "We must enhance the influence of Hong Kong deputies in the NPC." However, to assist Hong Kong deputies to do their job, central government liaison office director Gao Siren was quoted saying at the meeting that his office would request financial help and manpower. A proposed joint website for Hong Kong delegates would also be considered. Local deputy Ip Kwok-him, also vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said after the meeting that there had been concern that a joint office of NPC members might become a "second power centre" in Hong Kong, which has its own legislature. "We had our reasons to fight for channels to enhance communication with the public, and those holding other views had their reasonable concerns too. I think we have reached the balance now," he said. Deputy Yeung Yiu-chung welcomed the suggestion to allocate more human and financial resources to help NPC members in Hong Kong do their job. "It will enable us to better implement our duty," he said. "For example, we can do more field trips across the border to get a better idea about issues like food safety and pollution, which are closely related to Hongkongers' lives.". ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan protests ripple across mountain region (Reuters)
2008-03-13
The biggest protests by Tibetan monks in nearly two decades have rippled into Chinese provinces populated by Tibetans, as the government's tough response draws condemnation from international groups. The demonstrations over past days have followed marches around the world to mark the 49th anniversary of an uprising against Communist rule in the remote, mountainous region that has become a focus for protest ahead of this year's Beijing Olympics. […] "The reports of protests outside Lhasa show that Tibetans know the eyes of the world are upon them and are determined not to let the momentum drop," Matt Whitticase of the London-based Free Tibet Campaign told Reuters. On Monday, 500 monks from Drepung monastery defied authorities by staging a rare march in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, an act that the Chinese government called "an illegal activity that threatened social stability". About 2,000 Chinese security personnel fired tear gas to try to disperse 600 monks from Sera monastery taking part in a second day of street protests in Lhasa, a source told Reuters. They demanded the release of about a dozen fellow monks from Sera detained this month for waving a Tibetan flag and shouting pro-independence slogans, the source said. […] Another rights group said about 400 monks from Lutsang monastery in the northwestern province of Qinghai, known in Tibetan as Amdo, protested on Monday and shouted slogans for their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to return. […] The protesters shouted "Free Tibet!", the Free Tibet Campaign said on Thursday. About 100 monks from Myera monastery in the neighboring province of Gansu also protested on Monday, the rights group said, adding that police were investigating who was involved. A source with knowledge of the protests quoted monks and witnesses as saying the sound of gunfire was heard outside the walls of monasteries. But no casualties have been reported. The strife "could be a harbinger of further clashes between Tibetans and Chinese authorities in this Olympics year", said Mary Beth Markey, vice president of the International Campaign for Tibet. […] On Wednesday, China closed the north face of Mount Everest to expeditions until after the Olympic torch ascends the peak in early May. Five Americans, including an ethnic Tibetan, unfurled "Free Tibet" banners on Everest -- known in China by its Tibetan name, Qomalangma -- last year. China's neighbor, India, which hosts many exiled Tibetans, has been careful to distance itself from the protests. Indian police arrested around 100 Tibetans on Thursday, dragging them into police vans, when they tried to march to the Chinese border to press claims for independence and protest the Olympics. The marchers set off on Monday as part of the global protests, leaving from Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and the refugees' "government-in-exile". The Indian police have said they are acting on government orders to restrain the marchers, claiming they have breached an agreement not to hold "anti-Chinese activities" on Indian soil. "The march will continue and we are determined. Each one us. No one can stop us, we will reach our motherland," said Lobsang Yeshi, chief coordinator for the march. China continued to issue harsh words against the Dalai Lama. The head of the state religious affairs administration, Ye Xiaowen, told a newspaper that the exiled leader wanted to take Tibet "back to the darkness of theocracy". "Western anti-China forces are striving to support the Dalai Lama, and he is embracing foreigners to bolster himself," Ye told the Chinese-language Southern Weekend. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China launches world's 1st e-tagged int'l container route (Xinhua)
2008-03-11
A Chinese vessel with e-tagged containers sailed on Monday from Shanghai to Savannah, United States, marking the opening of the world's first international e-tagged container route. The doorbell-sized e-tags installed on the latch of a twenty-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) will record information about every procedure the container goes through in the whole transport process. It will record delivery and off-loading time, real-time TEU conditions and time and place of legal, or illegal, opening. The information will be transmitted through a wireless regional Web network to a website for monitoring. If a container is illegally opened enroute, the e-tag will automatically record the "intrusion" and put out a red alarm signal on the Website. The system will greatly enhance cargo safety over long journeys. […] The e-tag was developed by a research team led by Bao Qifan, Shanghai International Port (Group) Co. Ltd vice president. The system tested successful on the container route between Shanghai and Yantai in the eastern Shandong Province. At a Ministry of Communications seminar on Monday in Shanghai, experts believed the monitoring system could "significantly improve the safety and efficiency of container transportation". The system is also believed to be able to help to prevent stowaway and smuggling cases. Shanghai has been driving to become an international shipping center. […] The e-tag developed by Bao costs about 50 yuan (about 7 U.S. dollars) and can last 10 years. […] The development of the TEU safety locks in foreign countries is still in an experimental stage due to technological and costs problems, the vice president said. […]. ^ top ^

Foreign investments, hot money come to China (China Daily)
2008-03-14
Foreign investments and international hedge funds, some of which are speculative hot money, are now elbowing into the China market. They're lured by the Chinese people's emerging consumption power, and expectations of the Chinese yuan appreciating higher. The Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday that China drew $18.13 billion in overseas investments in January and February, shooting 75.2 percent year-on-year. Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who was promoted to the post late last year, said at a news conference in Beijing that the reason for the big increase of overseas capital in the first two months was due to the big increase in large-scale investing projects and a stronger yuan. Chen's ministry, which oversees foreign trade and domestic consumption, said that during the first two months, investments from the European Union countries rose a whopping 109 percent, while investments from the United States increased 44 percent. Wild expectations abroad that the yuan will continue to rise in value against major world currencies has led to money coming to China. "When you bring US dollars to invest in China, you need to change it into the yuan. Naturally you would like your funds to enter China at an earlier date. Because, if you are late, the same amount of dollars will turn out to be less yuan bills," Chen told reporters. […] The sharp increase in the stock of hard currencies has triggered another round of concern on speculative hot money flowing into China, posing potential risks to China's financial system stability. Wu Xiaoling, deputy head of the National People's Congress's Finance Committee, who was a former central banker, said that the American subprime crisis and the rising trend of the yuan's value will make world speculative funds come to the China market to seek profits. When asked by reporters whether the hot money has arrived in the name of foreign direct investments, Minister Chen Deming said: "I can hardly tell their entering channels, and their volume. It belongs to the management of the foreign exchange administration." […] Liang Hong, economist at the Goldman Sachs, argued in a written article published by a major Chinese financial newspaper on Thursday that Chinese monetary authorities should consider quickening the appreciation pace of the yuan, to fight domestic inflation, which approached to 8.7 percent in February. Others have suggested another "one-off" big rise of the value of the yuan, possibly 5 percent against the greenback by the central bank, to block more hot money from flooding in. […] She also argued for immediate interest rate hikes to thwart inflation, otherwise the Chinese economy faces an increasing risk of a hard-landing. ^ top ^

China's producer prices up 6.6%, highest in 3 years (China Daily)
2008-03-11
China's producer prices, a key inflation indicator, rose 6.6 percent year-on-year in February, the fastest rate in more than three years, suggesting consumers face more sharp price, according to data reported Monday. […] Economists expect February's inflation rate, due to be announced Tuesday, to rise as high as 8.5 percent after snowstorms disrupted transportation and wrecked crops, causing temporary shortages of food and raw materials. […] But Monday's data suggested pressure for across-the-board price rises is mounting as factories and households compete for resources amid a boom that saw China's economy grow by 11.4 percent last year. February's producer price rise was driven by a 37.5 percent jump in the cost of basic oil products and a 29.6 percent rise for some steel products, the statistics bureau reported. Prices of food-related raw materials rose by 11 percent. China is trying to boost food production to ease shortages and has been nudging up interest rates, hoping to cool growth without causing the economy to tip into an abrupt slowdown. State-set prices of gasoline, electric power and some other consumer necessities were frozen in September. […] Economists have warned that leaving price controls in place too long could add to inflation pressures by discouraging farmers and others from raising production, which would ease shortages and lower prices. […]. ^ top ^

China shares drop, break 4,000-point mark (Xinhua)
2008-03-14
Chinese shares closed more than 2 percent lower on Thursday from the previous trading day, breaking through the 4,000-point mark, on expectation of further monetary tightening measures. […] Investors remained cautious amid uncertainty over tightening measures, and their confidences have been dampened on rising consumer prices as well as liquidity strains in the market, said analysts, predicting that stock prices are expected to endure further ups and downs in the near future. […] Affected by soaring crude oil price on the international market, stock prices in the oil industry continue to slide, while stocks of other alternate sources of energy saw their prices keeping on rising. […] Stocks of agriculture, transportation and logistics, petrochemical sectors, steel and real estate industries also led the price dive. Losses outnumbered gains by 698 to 94 in Shanghai and by 549 to73 in Shenzhen. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Heir apparent's role in Olympics confirmed (SCMP)
2008-03-13
[…] Xi Jinping, a newly promoted Politburo Standing Committee member and heir apparent to President Hu Jintao, is the point man in the country's top leadership overseeing all Games-related affairs, Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games vice-president Liu Jingmin said on the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Mr Liu also confirmed that Zhou Yongkang, another Politburo Standing Committee member and the party's security tsar, was Mr Xi's lieutenant in the new "leading committee of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics launched in January by the Central Party Committee". The small group of Communist Party heavyweights have apparently taken over the final say from Bocog over weighty issues concerning the Games. Beijing Party Secretary Liu Qi, a Politburo member, was previously in charge of Olympics-related tasks, but although he retains his position as Bocog president, he now seems to be playing second-fiddle to Mr Zhou. Mr Xi, a former Shanghai party secretary and the son of a party patriarch, is also tipped to be anointed as vice-president this week at the ongoing National People's Congress annual plenary session. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

U.S., DPRK nuclear envoys begin talks in Geneva (Xinhua)
2008-03-14
Chief nuclear negotiators of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) began talks here Thursday with the aim of breaking the impasse over the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue. The closed-door talks are being held at the U.S. mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva, with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and the DPRK's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan representing each side. The Geneva talks will focus on the DPRK's delay in declaring the details of its nuclear program, which was agreed last October at the six-party talks which also included China, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, according to U.S. officials. The DPRK has missed an end-2007 deadline to provide a full declaration, but it attributes this to "other participating nations delaying the fulfillment of their commitments." The commitments include providing energy and economic aid to the DPRK and major diplomatic and security rewards particularly from the United States. "This is part of the six-party process. They will be discussing ways in which to move that process forward," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said of the Geneva meeting Tuesday. He expressed hope that Pyongyang would agree to provide a full declaration of all its nuclear activities, including the details on an alleged secret uranium enrichment program and suspected nuclear technology transfers to Syria. "We believe that there is the possibility to succeed in completing this phase and then move on to a new phase in which we would start to talk about actually dismantling the North Korean (DPRK) nuclear program," he said. Ahead of the Geneva talks, U.S. envoy Hill insisted on the DPRK providing a "complete and correct" disclosure of its nuclear activities, but said the format of that can be flexible. "We'll look at any and all ideas with the understanding that at the end of the day, we need a complete and correct declaration," Hill said Wednesday. "How we get that, what the pieces of paper look like, I think we should be a little flexible on the format, but with the understanding that flexibility on format doesn't mean flexibility on getting a complete and correct declaration," he said. The Geneva talks are scheduled for one day, but they can be prolonged to Friday if the two negotiators think it is necessary, according to the U.S. officials. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Foreign ministry press spokesman's statement (Mongol Messenger)
2008-03-10
Mongolia maintains partnership relations with the PRC and mutual profitable cooperation on a sustianable and long-term basis ensure peace and security in South East Asia. Mongolia respects the One China policy and considers the Government of the PRC the only legitimate government representing China, and Taiwan as an inseparable part of the PRC. Mongolia's position has been reflected in relevant political documents signed by Mongolia and the PRC. Mongolia opposes any attempts towards Taiwan's independence by holding a national referendum under the name of ‘Taiwan to be submitted admit to the UNO as it may cause unfavorable consequences to regional peace and stability, FM's spokesman said […]. ^ top ^

New Mining Ownership Laws Will Pass With Bipartisan (UB Post)
2008-03-14
Both of Mongolia's major political parties agreed to support draft mining laws this week. The Mongolian People's Revolution Party (MPRP) and the Democratic Party (DP) both offered support for the laws, which regulates large scale and strategic mining mineral deposits in Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi. The mutual support is a relief for mining companies, who were concerned about any government changes because of this year's election. Prime Minister S.Bayar requested the parliament speaker immediately schedule an irregular parliamentary session to push the changes into law. The draft laws on mining and ownership are ready for the parliament to discuss, said the Government of Mongolia. ^ top ^

CWP gets its house in order for elections (Mongol Messenger)
2008-03-14
The CWP held its fifth congress to set its party platform, policies and strategies for the 2008 parliamentary elections and promises an open and transparent government if elected. Civil Will Party leader, S. Oyun told 800 delegates at the fifth congress of the Party 2008 that it was time Mongolia had a sustainable development policy and if the CWP was elected in the 2008 elections, it would manage the State service transparently, openly and fairly without repeating mistakes of other parties. ^ 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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage