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
  17.3-20.3.08, No. 209  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

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Foreign Policy

G20 climate-change meeting concludes without agreement (Xinhua)
2008-03-17
[…] At the opening ceremony on Saturday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that it's unfair to force developing nations to sacrifice their strong will for industrialization. "It's commonly agreed that the earth could be saved only when all members of the international community participate in the process. However, developing countries worry about their economic growth being constrained by environmental obligations and all participants know it will not be easy to find double-win schemes" said Akira Amari, minister of the Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry, at a press conference following the two-day meeting. As the concept of "common and differentiated responsibilities" has been accepted by all, participating nations were still far apart over what are common responsibilities and what are differentiated responsibilities, Amari said, adding that to mitigate such divergent understandings and explanations may be a time-consuming procedure. Developing countries questioned the meeting's defining participating members as "major emitters." […] Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the China National Development and Reform Commission, called on developed nations to allocate, in accordance with a U.N. treaty, some of their Official Development Assistance to set up a fund facilitating the distribution of high-end technologies, indicating that developing nations should enjoy free or low-cost access to those environment-friendly technologies. China supports the proposal of establishing the Multilateral Technology Access Fund which could bring more technologies into the box of "public goods," Xie said in his speech. Japan's proposal to calculate potential CO2 reductions on a sector-by-sector basis was widely questioned at the meeting, with opponents from both the developing and the developed worlds expressing concerns that such methods may derail the current U.N.-led negotiations to create a post-Kyoto global climate framework. […] While recognizing the meeting as a good forum to exchange ideas, Xie warned against transforming it into a new dialogue mechanism which could disturb U.N.-led negotiation process for Conventions and Protocols. ^ top ^

US vies with China in the new scramble for Africa (SCMP)
2008-03-19
[….] Last week, US President George W. Bush embarked on a multistate African tour, a very visible sign of America's growing recognition of the strategic and economic importance of the continent, and its determination to catch up with China. China's investment in Africa in the past few years has been little short of remarkable. […] China also satisfies just short of one-third of its oil needs from Africa. The US has been slower to embrace Africa and is now playing catch-up. Yet Mr Bush was last week at pains to play down Sino-American rivalries on the continent, assuring local leaders and the media that America's intentions are honourable. In Ghana, Mr Bush said he wanted to "dispel the notion that, all of a sudden, America is bringing all kinds of military to Africa our policy is aimed at helping people". He insisted that China was not the reason for his trip to the continent. "We can pursue agendas without creating a sense of competition," he said. Despite these pronouncements, the Chinese march into […] A very 21st-century scramble for Africa is under way, with direct competition between China and the US now a reality. And, with the growing need for both to secure reliable long-term sources of energy and resources, the interest in Africa will only grow. Whether the average African citizen, never mind regional stability, will benefit from America's and China's courtships of African states remains less clear, however. ^ top ^

China, Peru vow to push forward all-round cooperative partnership (People's Daily)
2008-03-20
[…] The two countries also signed a series of agreements on bilateral cooperation in economics, technology, cultural exchanges, quarantine and media. During the meeting with the Peruvian President Alan Garcia on Wednesday afternoon, Chinese President Hu Jintao sang highly of the China-Peru relations over the past 37 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties, describing bilateral relationship as healthy and stable, mutual high-level visits as frequent, cooperation in various fields as ever expanding and two sides as taking cooperative attitude in dealing with international or regional affairs. […] Garcia said Peru welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in the country and will provide sound environment for Chinese investors. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

NPC & CPPCC: Leaders elected to top posts (China Daily)
2008-03-17
Wen Jiabao was appointed to a second five-year term as premier yesterday morning, following Saturday's re-election of Hu Jintao as the country's president and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) at the ongoing session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC). Legislators on Saturday also re-elected Wu Bangguo chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and elected Xi Jinping the country's vice-president. Thirteen vice-chairpersons and 161 members of the NPC Standing Committee were elected on Saturday as well. Yesterday, Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou were elected vice-chairmen of the CMC, and Liang Guanglie, Chen Bingde, Li Jinai, Liao Xilong, Chang Wanquan, Jing Zhiyuan, Wu Shengli and Xu Qiliang were approved as CMC members. The NPC yesterday also endorsed the nominations of Wang Shengjun as president of the Supreme People's Court and Cao Jianming as procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The State Council's institutional restructuring plan to reshuffle the Cabinet by establishing five "super ministries" also got the nod from legislators on Saturday, signaling a fresh effort to push forward administrative reforms. Today, legislators are expected to endorse the nominations of vice-premiers, State councilors and various Cabinet ministers. The new leadership faces pressing challenges. […] Apart from taming inflation, reduction of energy consumption and environmental protection have also been listed as major tasks for the government in the coming years to maintain sustainable growth. NPC deputies hailed the new leadership, saying they hope all targets set in the government report are met. "[…]. ^ top ^

NPC & CPPCC: Lineup of ministers approved (China Daily)
2008-03-18
Lawmakers approved the new lineup of the State Council yesterday to lead the country's social, economic and administrative reforms in the next five years. Former Liaoning Party secretary Li Keqiang was appointed vice-premier at the ongoing session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC). The other three vice-premiers are Hui Liangyu, who is already serving in the post and oversees agriculture, former Guangdong Party chief Zhang Dejiang and former Beijing mayor Wang Qishan. Liu Yandong, former minister of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was elected state councilor. New Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, former head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Ma Kai, national police chief Meng Jianzhu and senior diplomat Dai Bingguo were also appointed state councilors. Ma was elected secretary-general of the Cabinet as well. Other appointments approved by nearly 3,000 NPC deputies included 25 ministers, Zhou Xiaochuan as governor of the People's Bank of China and Liu Jiayi as auditor-general of the National Audit Office. Apart from Liang Guanglie and Liu Jiayi, there are nine new faces among the Cabinet level ministers. They include NDRC Minister Zhang Ping; National Nationalities Affairs Committee Minister Yang Jing; Minister of Culture Cai Wu; and State Population and Family Planning Commission director Li Bin. The other five are heads of the "super-ministries" newly created in the institutional restructuring plan of the State Council. They are: Li Yizhong, minister of industry and information; Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security; Jiang Weixin, minister of housing and urban-rural construction; Li Shenglin, minister of transport; and Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection. Legislators yesterday also endorsed the composition of eight special committees of the 11th NPC, such as the law committee, the ethnic affairs committee and the internal and judicial affairs committee. The new leadership faces pressing challenges. Official figures show that inflation climbed to a 12-year high of 8.7 percent last month, driven by a 23.3 percent jump in food prices. The government's target is to contain inflation to 4.8 percent this year, the same level as last year. Holding a safe and successful Beijing Olympic Games is also a key task this year. Apart from these, reduction of energy consumption, environmental protection, and the resolution of social problems such as education and medical reforms have also been listed as major tasks for the government. "Some members of the new Cabinet have held posts both in local governments and departments under the State Council and they are quite capable of handling economic issues," said Dalielihan Mamihan, an NPC deputy from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. They are familiar with deep-rooted problems of the nation, and thus will help solve thorny issues in the economic and social sectors, he said. Another deputy, Wang Shengxi from Jiangsu province, said the new State Council should improve policies on macro-economic regulation, and provide affordable housing and social security. He also said he hopes the Cabinet continues to increase spending on education and health. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China Tries Rights Advocate; Verdict Expected in Week (NYT)
2008-03-19
One of the most prominent human rights advocates in China stood trial on Tuesday morning on subversion charges in a proceeding that lasted three hours and centered on whether his public criticism of the ruling Communist Party represented a threat to the state. A verdict is possible within a week. The case of the advocate, Hu Jia, has become an international cause célèbre for many human rights groups that contend that the Communist Party is rounding up dissidents to silence criticism of the government before the Olympics in Beijing in August. On Monday, the European Union presidency called on China to release Mr. Hu and said his arrest undermined the principle of free speech enshrined in the Chinese Constitution. Mr. Hu, 34, has publicly condemned the Communist Party for failing to fulfill its promises to improve its rights record before the Games. His lawyer said that prosecutors presented as evidence six unspecified essays by Mr. Hu and two interviews he conducted with foreign radio outlets. “We believe his articles are expressing peaceful views that do not concern state security but that represent criticism of the current system,” his lawyer, Li Fangping, said after the trial. Mr. Li acknowledged that some of Mr. Hu's comments had been “pungent,” but argued that the government should not ban speech. “We're hoping for a more tolerant government,” he said, adding that the verdict should be announced within a week. Mr. Hu's case is prompting further criticism of China as the Communist Party is facing a domestic political crisis because of antigovernment protests in Tibet. Human rights groups say jailing peaceful dissidents like Mr. Hu violates the Communist Party's promise to create a “harmonious society” and its stated commitment to human rights. Mr. Hu's short morning trial coincided with a news conference by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao that closed the annual meeting of the National People's Congress. Asked about Mr. Hu's case, the prime minister denied that the government was trying to silence dissent. “As for critics' view that China is trying to increase its efforts to arrest dissidents ahead of the Olympic Games, I think all these accusations are unfounded,” Mr. Wen said. […] At the trial on Tuesday, Mr. Hu spoke little as his lawyer presented his case. His wife was listed as a prosecution witness but was barred from the trial. But she and Mr. Hu's mother were allowed to meet with him afterward. Prosecutors were not available after the trial for comment. But Mr. Li, the defense lawyer, said they had described writings by Mr. Hu as threatening state security. “We have a major dispute on how to interpret Chinese law,” Mr. Li said. “We hope the court will give him a just verdict and give him freedom.”. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Hsieh plays Tibet card in warning (SCMP)
2008-03-17
Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh Chang-ting yesterday marched, hit hands and bowed to rally supporters, as the run-up to Saturday's poll entered the home stretch. "Reverse the tide," shouted the ruling party's candidate as he slapped hands with supporters, who at the same time turned their caps backwards - in the hope of changing the campaign's fortunes - before beginning their march from the Sun Yat-sen Memorial in Taipei. He was clad in a black T-shirt bearing the "reverse the tide" phrase in Chinese to signify Mr Hsieh's hopes of derailing his Kuomintang opponent, Ma Ying-jeou. The DPP candidate, who trails Mr Ma in opinion polls, warned voters of the "serious risks" of giving their ballots to the KMT. "[Mr Ma] has said abroad that the future of Taiwan should be decided by the people from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. If this is true, Taiwan will become another Tibet," Mr Hsieh shouted. His comment was seen by pundits as part of his aim to scare voters away from Mr Ma whom, he says, could sell Taiwan out to the mainland if elected. Mr Hsieh, who has been struggling since the DPP's drubbing in January legislative elections, told the rally that the mainland's recent "bloody suppression" of Tibetan rioters would be echoed in Taiwan if the KMT, which had already taken full control of the legislature, also won the presidential election. Beside Mr Hsieh at the memorial, a huge, black wooden horse was erected to reinforce his warning that Taiwan would fall prey to the mainland if the island opened its markets to the mainland, as Mr Ma proposed. Supporters put on a sketch to show toxic mainland products flooding Taiwan once the island's markets were opened, despite repeated clarifications by Mr Ma that his common-market idea would not result in Taiwanese people losing their jobs and products losing their competitive edge. Mr Hsieh later led tens of thousands of supporters, together with his running mate, Su Tseng-chang, in another huge rally in Taipei county. At the rally, Mr Hsieh reminded voters of the KMT's authoritarian attitude in the past. "If we lose the election, there will be no more checks and balances. They could do what they wanted. They could barge into our homes and we would be unable to resist them," said Mr Hsieh, referring to a recent incident in which four KMT legislators charged into his office, alleging that he had used his position to get his campaign office in Taipei. ^ top ^

Beijing calls for silence on Taiwan polls - Academics urged to refrain from public comments before island votes on Saturday (SCMP)
2008-03-20
Beijing has ordered academic institutions not to hold any forums or seminars on Taiwanese issues before the island's presidential election on Saturday, which coincides with a controversial referendum on the island's bid to join the United Nations, sources say. The State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office has also discouraged leading scholars from publicly commenting on the election, to avoid giving ammunition to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Sources said the guidelines issued by the office also advised officials in charge of Taiwan affairs to avoid making public comments on the election. "We are asked not to host any forums or seminars on Taiwan's political development before the election ends, as we did in the previous two presidential elections in 2000 and 2004," a leading scholar said. "We are also advised to avoid making public comments on the election, and on particular candidates." Several Taiwan affairs experts contacted yesterday were reluctant to comment on the election. Zhu Weidong, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Taiwan Research Institute, said he would not comment before the election, but would like to do so after "the dust settles". Sources said that while Beijing had discouraged scholars from commenting before the election, it had not barred them from doing so afterwards. The guidelines are apparently designed to avoid "messing up" the campaign. Tough talk by senior officials and leading scholars on Beijing's determination to suppress pro-independence sentiment has been used by Taiwan's pro-independence camp to gain votes in the past, with the DPP triggering public debate on the issues of "unification" and "independence". The sources said top state leaders had refrained from making tough comments on Taiwan issues during the just-finished annual meeting of the National People's Congress. […]. ^ top ^

Island keeps close eye on military moves across the strait (SCMP)
2008-03-20
Taiwan has stepped up security and combat readiness to ensure this weekend's presidential election goes smoothly in the face of persistent military threats from the mainland. The Defence Ministry confirmed yesterday that it was keeping a close eye on the mainland's military movements to prepare for any possible hostile action. "The military has been monitoring the latest Chinese communist armed movements in order to prepare in case the communist forces make surprise and irrational moves," ministry spokeswoman Major General Chi Yu-lan said. She said that although the number of People's Liberation Army activities had increased greatly compared with the same period last year, the PLA had made no unusual movements so far. Also, the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk has left its port in Japan, an action that analysts said indicated US concern over the coming election and the referendum. General Chi confirmed that the Kitty Hawk had left its base in Yokosuka, but she declined to give further details on the battle group's destination. "We have information that Kitty Hawk left its base in Japan early Tuesday morning, but as to where it will go, what it will do and whether it will pass by Taiwan, we have no comment," she said. The South China Morning Post […] reported that the Kitty Hawk, which failed in its last mission to visit Hong Kong late last year, is expected to apply again for a port call to Hong Kong in the first half of next month. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said during the National People's Congress that Beijing had yet to review the application. Military experts said the Kitty Hawk would be stationed off the east coast of Taiwan ahead of any port visit to Hong Kong, coinciding with the election. They said the movement of the Kitty Hawk was related to the election on Saturday. "It is not the first time the US has done that. It did so in previous presidential elections in Taiwan," said military expert Andrew Yang Nien-dzu, secretary general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies, a Taipei-based think-tank. Professor Yang said the action was to make sure there was no surprise action from the mainland. Alexander Huang, former vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council and professor of strategic studies at Tamkang University, said the action was more of a gesture to show US concern. He noted that the mainland and the United States should have reached an understanding that no military action would take place during the election. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Government chief ensures safety in Tibet (China Daily)
2008-03-17
Qiangba Puncog, Tibet Autonomous Regional Government chairman decried rioters and the Dalai Lama clique for conspiring the latest riot in Lhasa, and underlined the government's determination to safeguard Tibet, during a news briefing in Beijing on Monday. Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death in last Friday's riot in Lhasa, and sixty-one police were injured, six of them seriously wounded, said Qiangba Pungcog. Rioters set fire at more than 300 locations, including residential houses and 214 shops, and smashed and burned 56 vehicles, causing heavy losses and seriously disturbed social order in the city. The vilence was out of conspiracy jointly made by domestic and overseas separatists who are advocating "Tibet independence". […] The head of Tibet's regional government denied that security personnel carried or used lethal weapons in dealing with the violent riots in Lhasa last Friday. "The security personnel showed restraint in the entire process of handling the incident," said Qiangba Puncog at a news briefing in Beijing on Monday. "In dealing with the violent riots, the security forces carried out their duties strictly according to law and in a civil manner," said Qiangba Puncog. He also expressed confidence that social stability and order would be maintained under the leadership of the central government, despite secessionist activities in Lhasa. Qiangba Puncog said people of all ethnic groups in Tibet were determined to fight secession, safeguard national unity and maintain social stability. "Any plots to destroy social stability or to mastermind the secession of Tibet are against the will of the people in Tibet and doomed to failure," he said. At the briefing, Qiangba Pungcog said that sixty-one police were injured in last Friday's riot in Lhasa, six of them seriously. Rioters attacked public security personnel in an extremely cruel manner while they were maintaining order and refrained from using weapons, said the chairman. "For instance, the rioters beat a patroling police officer until he got into coma, and rioters cut out a piece of flesh, as big as a fist, from his buttock," he said. […] No foreigner has been harmed since Friday's riot in Tibet's capital Lhasa, said Ju Jianhua, director of the autonomous region's foreign affairs office. […] "Currently, foreigners in Tibet are quite safe. And they have been well protected." For those foreigners who demand to leave, the office will coordinate civil aviation, railway and highway departments to provide convenience for them, Ju said. […] Lhasa police rescued more than 580 people, including three Japanese tourists, from the violent array of sabotage. As of Sunday, more than 20 foreign tourists had left Tibet safely with the help of local government. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama refuses to call for boycott of Olympic Games (SCMP)
2008-03-17
The Dalai Lama said yesterday that the Beijing Olympics should go ahead, refusing to call for a boycott despite the crackdown on protests in Tibet. […] However, he may not get his wish, as top athletes were considering standing down, according to International Olympic Committee vice-president Thomas Bach. "Several sports stars are feeling ill at ease when they think about the Olympic Games. Some are even considering cancelling," Mr Bach said in Berlin yesterday. He did not name any particular athletes, however, and said he was advising them to participate. Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura appealed for calm in Tibet, urging Beijing to bear in mind the potential impact on the Olympics in August, according to a report. "I hope all parties involved will deal with this calmly and ensure that the number of those killed and injured does not worsen any further," Kyodo News quoted Mr Komura as saying. "I ask that the Chinese government give thorough consideration [to this] so that the Olympics will not be affected." Earlier, Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, also rejected the idea of boycotting the Games over the crackdown, saying it would only hurt athletes. "We believe that the boycott doesn't solve anything," Dr Rogge said in Basseterre, St Kitts. "On the contrary, it is penalising innocent athletes and it is stopping the organisation from something that definitely is worthwhile organising." On a six-day tour of the Caribbean, Dr Rogge declined to say whether the committee would change its stance if the violence continued or more people were killed. The head of the Swiss Olympic Committee told state-owned DRS radio that he was against a boycott but wanted the IOC to intervene with Beijing over the troubles in Tibet. "The Rubicon has been crossed," Joerg Schild said. "I can't bring myself to say that we're going to go there and do sport." Mr Bach said the IOC would speak to Beijing about human rights, but boycotting the Games "would be the wrong way because that will cut lines of communication". European officials joined the IOC in urging Beijing to end the violence and engage in dialogue, but also said politics should not intrude on the spirit of the Games. […]. ^ top ^

Exiles spread protest around the globe (SCMP)
2008-03-17
Tibetan exile communities ramped up their protests on behalf of demonstrators inside Tibet .Their protests spread across the globe from New York to Tokyo and from Dharamsala to The Hague. In The Hague, 400 people tried to storm the Chinese embassy yesterday. They tore down part of the embassy fence and took down a Chinese flag, replacing it with a Tibetan one before police arrested three men. As police watched, the protesters chanted "China go home!" and "Long live the Dalai Lama".In Tokyo, about 100 Tibetans and supporters ran through Yoyogi park relaying their "Tibetan Olympics" torch and waving flags while shouting "Free Tibet" and "China, get out of Tibet". "We are questioning China," said Rinchen, an exile in Japan. "There are such violations of human rights in China. But will they still hold the Olympics? It's an event for peace." On Saturday, dozens of exiles also clashed with police in New York outside the UN headquarters to protest against the crackdown. Hundreds also gathered for a candle-light vigil in the Indian town of Dharamsala, headquarters of the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile. Tibetans in Australia apologised for a protest outside the Chinese consulate that resulted in a man being charged with assaulting police. Tenzin Gaden, of the Tibetan Community of Australia, said the clash was fuelled by concerns about relatives. Amnesty International called on Beijing to allow an independent UN investigation into the protests in Tibet. ^ top ^

Tibetan riots spread to provinces - Protesters torch police station; PLA moves in (SCMP)
2008-03-17
Riots have spread from Tibet to Sichuan and Qinghai, with thousands of People's Liberation Army soldiers moving into the restive region to restore order and arrest looters and rioters. Unconfirmed reports from the new flashpoint - in Sichuan's Tibetan-populated Aba county - said police had opened fire and reports of fatalities ranged from three to more than 10. "They've gone crazy," said a police officer there, her voice trembling down the telephone as the main government building came under siege. The officer, who declined to be named, said a crowd of Tibetans hurled petrol bombs, burning down a police station and a market in the county's main town, and also torched two police cars and a fire engine. Security forces fired tear gas and arrested five people. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said on a website that People's Armed Police shot and killed at least seven protesters. A police officer, reached by telephone, denied this. One ethnic Tibetan resident in Aba said there were loud sounds like gunshots and there was widespread talk of 10 or more dead. The riots in Aba county were not reported by official media. Xinhua yesterday only reported on the situation in Lhasa, emphasising order had been restored and schools and business would open as normal today. But last night, a Sichuanese surnamed Luo who runs a supermarket in west Lhasa said they had been besieged by angry Tibetans who tried to loot their shop. He said Han Chinese were arming themselves in self-defence. In Qinghai, 100 monks defied a directive confining them to Rongwo Monastery in Tongren city by climbing a hill behind it, where they set off fireworks and burned incense. Witnesses in Lhasa interviewed earlier yesterday said truckloads of soldiers with machine guns and anti-riot gear were arriving in the city. In the afternoon, hundreds of People's Armed Police sealed off a section of the city and carried out door-to-door searches for rioters. The police broke down the iron gates of shops and pulled out suspected rioters. Holding AK-47 machine guns, officers searched all cars and passengers for identification. Police, patrolling in armoured personnel vehicles, broadcast messages calling on people to surrender and help the authorities to restore order. "[We] must work together for unity," the message said. "Draw the line between who's our enemies and who's our friends." Near a metalware factory, dozens of Uygurs and Han Chinese were seen arming themselves with iron bars, fearing they would face Tibetan mobs on the streets. Overall, the situation in Lhasa remained tense and most people were staying at home. A businessman reached by telephone said: "It's dead silent. There are a few kids and people beginning to walk around, but mostly people are staying inside." The authorities have set rioters in the city an ultimatum, urging them to hand themselves in to police by midnight today and gain possible clemency, or face harsh punishment. In Beijing, Sui Mingtai, a former political commissar of the People's Armed Police, denied that police had suppressed the rioters, and said that officers had only tried their best to restore order in the city and save lives. Xinhua reported that 10 "innocent civilians" had died in the anti-government riots and had been burned to death or shot by rioters. Twelve policemen were seriously injured. However, the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, said 80 people had died in the clashes between the authorities and protesters, and 72 had been injured. […]. ^ top ^

Students protest quietly in Beijing (SCMP)
2008-03-18
Tibetans staged a small protest in Beijing last night, the first such rally in the capital since demonstrations against Chinese rule of Tibet broke out last week. Around 50 to 60 people gathered in a silent protest at a small park outside the College of International Education at the Central University for Nationalities in Haidian district, in the northwest of the city, from about 7.30pm, an eyewitness said. The students sat together in the park and lit candles. Although the protest was peaceful, a large group of policemen soon arrived and surrounded the students. They stopped any passers-by from speaking to the students. The students stayed in the park for about three hours. They tried to walk around the college building, but were stopped by the police. They dispersed at about 11pm. Although the students had left, a heavy presence of police could still be seen around midnight. The front entrance of the university was closed and a large number of police cars were parked outside. Other protests have been reported in the provinces of Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai , and in remote regions of Tibet. The Free Tibet Campaign said protesters in Aba county, in northern Sichuan, were killed after security forces fired on a crowd on Sunday. The rights group put the death toll at between eight and 30, but that could not be confirmed. Sichuan's capital of Chengdu tightened security in its Tibetan quarter and around a major public square yesterday. A combined force of police, riot police and soldiers blocked off access to vehicles to what residents call Tibet Street, a network of streets around the Wu Hou Temple. Police could not be reached to comment on reports of a protest, but a source close to the government said the city was on high alert. ^ top ^

Beijing turns up heat on Dalai Lama - Wen calls exiled Tibetan leader a hypocrite and says unrest is aimed at sabotaging the Olympics (SCMP)
2008-03-19
Beijing stepped up the rhetoric against the Dalai Lama yesterday in the wake of violent protests in Lhasa. Premier Wen Jiabao denounced the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as a hypocrite and said he had instigated the worst anti-Chinese riots in two decades. He said the spiralling unrest had been "engineered by the Dalai clique" and was aimed at sabotaging the Beijing Olympics. […] Speaking at his press conference following the close of the annual National People's Congress meeting, […] He called the Dalai Lama's denial he had any role in the violent protests "hypocritical lies". "There is ample fact and plenty of evidence proving that this incident was organised, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," he said. "They tried to stage such appalling incidents in Lhasa and similar incidents in other parts of China, and in the international arena they also try to organise mobs to storm Chinese diplomatic missions overseas. I would like to ask the question: are all these activities nothing to do with the Dalai Lama?" Asked to comment on calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Mr Wen reiterated the government's stance that Beijing's door for negotiations was open, as long as the exiled spiritual leader gave up his proposition for Tibet independence first. Speaking in Dharamsala, India, following Mr Wen's speech, the Dalai Lama said that independence for Tibet was "out of the question". The Dalai Lama urged Tibetans to show restraint. He said that "if things become out of control" his "only option is to completely resign". […] But he would not accept that the Dalai Lama was only seeking a high degree of autonomy for Tibet. "When we watch the Dalai Lama, we should not only look into what he says but also watch what he does. "[The unrest] has revealed that consistent claims made by the Dalai clique that they pursue no independence but peaceful dialogue are nothing but lies." He also dismissed calls for a boycott of the Beijing Games, insisting the event should not be politicised. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the Dalai Lama should be tried for his alleged role in the violence. "I feel at least he should be put under moral trial," Mr Qin said. Mr Wen said a guided tour of Lhasa would be organised for overseas media. The government banned overseas media covering the riots. "The situation is basically returning to normal and streets are quiet and calm," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Crime involving Tibetan attacker adds to the tension in Chengdu (SCMP)
2008-03-19
An ethnically linked crime has put Chengdu on edge, as the southwestern city remains on high alert after violent protests in neighbouring Tibet and other parts of Sichuan province. According to witnesses, a Tibetan man stabbed two passers-by, a man and a young boy, yesterday morning. A member of the neighbourhood committee overseeing Dianxin Road, where the alleged incident took place, said more than 10 policemen subdued the man without firing their weapons. A series of photographs posted on the internet claiming to be of the incident showed a man in a white shirt and dark trousers holding a machete while surrounded by several police officers. Internet postings claimed the two victims were killed, but some witnesses rejected those claims. Police declined to comment and the Huaxi hospital, where the victims were taken, could not be reached. By late afternoon, most police and vehicles had withdrawn after blocking off the street. Yesterday, a combined force of police, riot police and soldiers continued to patrol the city's main square and blocked vehicles from the Tibetan quarter. A source close to the police confirmed that officers had been on high alert for the past 72 hours, some not even returning home for the past few days. Chengdu is also believed to be reinforcing forces in Tibet, with a convoy of hundreds of trucks carrying soldiers sighted by witnesses on the major road linking Sichuan to the western region early on Monday morning. […]. ^ top ^

Hundreds denounce crackdown at IOC's Swiss office (AFP)
2008-03-19
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered yesterday at the seat of the International Olympic Committee in the Swiss city of Lausanne to denounce the crackdown in Tibet. The demonstrators, many holding banners and Tibetan flags, arrived with a police escort. The procession was led by monks in traditional robes. One banner read, "Stop Killing in Tibet", while another said, "Mr Rogge, your silence kills Tibetans" - a plea to IOC president Jacques Rogge. Lausanne police put the number of demonstrators at about 450. ^ top ^

UN chief urges officials to show restraint (AFP)
2008-03-19
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has called on authorities to show restraint in handling protests in Tibet and urged all concerned "to avoid further confrontation and violence". Mr Ban said on Monday that the unrest in Tibet had not come up in his talks with the 15 Security Council ambassadors at a lunch meeting. "I am closely monitoring the situation," he said, adding that he had met Beijing's ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya , and expressed concern about the violence in Tibet. ^ top ^

Officials keep silent on reports of dead protesters in Gansu (SCMP)
2008-03-20
Riots have broken out in Tibetan-populated areas in Gansu this week, officials admitted yesterday, but they declined to confirm overseas reports that more than a dozen protesters had been killed there. "Riots broke out continuously in recent days in Xiahe, Luchu and Machu counties," said Zhang Yusheng, a government spokesman. "A small number of unlawful elements used violent means to carry out looting and destruction of shops, schools, hospitals and government buildings. "They caused serious damage to social stability and people's lives and property." The spokesman said police exercised "maximum restraint" in quelling the unrest but did not give any details of casualties. But the Free Tibet Campaign, a London-based group, said at least 12 protesters were shot dead in Machu county while clashing with security forces. Beijing says 13 civilians were killed in riots that started in Lhasa last week. Mr Zhang also blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest - a charge that has been denied by the Tibetan spiritual leader, who said yesterday that he remained committed to dialogue with Chinese leaders. […] The Gansu reports indirectly confirmed that protests continued to spread from Lhasa to Tibetan-populated areas in provinces such as Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu. Chinese officials have repeatedly said the riots had been quelled and contained. Yesterday, Canadian television network CTV broadcast footage of Tibetans - some on horseback - protesting in an unidentified town in Gansu, demanding independence for Tibet. They galloped into the town and stormed government buildings. One section of the video showed them tearing down the Chinese flag and hoisting the Tibetan flag. There was no footage of retaliation by authorities, but fleeing Tibetans could be seen covering their faces after policemen apparently fired tear gas to disperse them. Yesterday, Britain's The Times reported that a homemade bomb was thrown at a paramilitary police vehicle in Lhasa on Tuesday. The report said it was not clear how many policemen were hurt but quoted local residents saying four had been killed. Yesterday, Xinhua quoted Raidi, a former vice-chairman of the National People's Congress, as saying foreign news coverage of the riots that gripped Lhasa last week was "outrageous and ill motivated". "Some western media purposely distorted the facts and viciously described a severe crime as a peaceful demonstration, so as to slander our legitimate efforts to maintain social stability as a violent crackdown," he said. ^ top ^

Tibetans continue to defy China crackdown (CNN)
2008-03-20
New video from China suggests that security forces have yet to gain complete control of Tibet and neighboring provinces which have suffered eruptions of anti-Chinese violence since last week. Film of a crowd - some on horseback - attempting to storm a government building has been shot by a Canadian television crew that managed to gain access to a Chinese town in Gansu province despite attempts by Chinese authorities to keep foreign media away from the region. Meanwhile UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says he is ready to talk to the Dalai Lama if the Tibetan spiritual leader renounces violence and demands for Tibetan independence. Brown said he spoke with Wen on Wednesday, pressing his government for constraint in dealing with the protesters. But Chinese officials hold firm in their stance that the Dalai Lama masterminded the violence to undermine the Beijing Olympics and that he has demanded Tibetan independence. Wen on Tuesday called the Dalai Lama's renunciations "nothing but lies." The Dalai Lama, who threatened Tuesday to resign as leader of Tibet's government-in-exile if the violence got out of control, met Wednesday with leaders of several Tibetan activist groups. The younger activists, in defiance of their pacifist spiritual leader, demand Tibetan independence and are hoping to derail the Beijing Olympics. The head of the Beijing Olympics said efforts by Tibetan activists to promote an international boycott of the Summer Games are "doomed to failure." He also rejected demands by Tibetan activists that the Olympic torch relay be routed away from Tibet. Members of the Canadian TV crew reached the town in Gansu province, near the Tibet border, where they videotaped hundreds of angry protesters attempting to storm a government building. Led by several dozen villagers on horseback, about 1,000 people rushed toward the facility only to be turned back by 100 Chinese soldiers who were inside, according to Canadian TV correspondent Steve Chao. The video showed women and children among the charging throng. After they were repelled, the villagers ran to a nearby school where they tore up a Chinese flag and replaced it with the Tibetan flag. That section of Gansu province is part of historical Tibet, but it is not inside what is now known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Tibetan monks at a monastery in Sichuan province -- another neighboring Tibet -- sent word to exiled monks at a branch of their monastery in Dharamsala, India, that two monks were arrested after they e-mailed photographs of monks killed in protests to the news media. Internet and phone service has since been interrupted to the Amdo Ngaba Kirti Monastery in Ngaba County, the exiles told CNN. The exiled monks said lay people in that area reported that the monks there have been ordered not to congregate for prayers on Thursday, a move they fear is a sign of an oncoming crackdown against the monastery. Chinese officials hold firm in their stance that the Dalai Lama masterminded the violence to undermine the Beijing Olympics and that he has demanded Tibetan independence. Wen on Tuesday called the Dalai Lama's renunciations "nothing but lies." In a statement issued Wednesday, the Chinese Embassy in Washington accused some monks of inciting "beating, smashing, looting and burning sprees" in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa. […] U.S. Secretary Condoleezza Rice recently renewed her call for such talks and the British prime minister joined the push Wednesday. "I spoke to Premier Wen of China this morning and I made it absolutely clear that there had to be an end to violence in Tibet," Brown told Parliament Wednesday. "The premier told me that subject to two things the Dalai Lama has already said -- that he does not support the total independence of Tibet and that he renounces violence -- that he would be prepared to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama," Brown said. It was not immediately clear if this meant the Chinese leader was ready to start that dialogue anytime soon, given Wen's recent rejection of the Dalai Lama's renunciations. The Chinese premier's refusal to accept his proclamations caused the Dalai Lama to respond with incredulity Tuesday at a news conference in Dharamsala, northeastern India, where he presides over the Tibetan government-in-exile. "The Chinese prime minister accuses me of all these things I said," he said. "Absolutely not. Prime minister come here and investigate thoroughly all our files, or record my speeches. Then the prime minister will know how much is distorted by local officials." The Dalai Lama also said that would remain spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, but said he is prepared to relinquish his leadership role in the government-in-exile if violence persists in Tibet. "If things go out of control then my only option is to completely resign," he added. The Dalai Lama met with leaders of Tibetan exile groups Wednesday gain their support for his "middle way" strategy of asking for autonomy -- not independence -- and renouncing violence. But many of the younger activists, most of whom were born in exile and have never been allowed to visit their homeland, insist total independence from China must be their goal. […]. ^ top ^

Huis-Clos (Papiers de Chine)
2008-03-20
Notre reportage dans la province du Gansu samedi matin, après nous être vu interdire l'entrée au Tibet, a lui aussi tourné court. Nous avons pu passer le premier barrage sur la route du monastère de Labrang où des manifestations éclataient, mais pas le second. Après des heures de vaines négociations au milieu de nulle part avec des hommes en civil et en uniforme, The Telegraph, Reuters et Libération sont arrêtés à leur tour. Rien à faire, personne ne passe. […] Toutes les enclaves tibétaines sont fermées aux journalistes. Des zones interdites où des drames se jouent, sans témoins. Les seules informations distillées aujourd'hui sont celles de l'agence officielle Xinhua et les rares témoignages sont le fait de touristes qui ont quitté Lhassa et qui racontent notamment les exactions commises sur des Chinois. Les témoignages de Tibétains sont plus rares encore. Qu'ils vivent dans la région autonome du Tibet, au Gansu, dans le Sichuan ou au Qinghai, ils ont peur. Internet a été coupé dans plusieurs endroits. Et la seule façon de les atteindre est par téléphone. Mais ils raccrochent à la simple évocation de ces mots: «Quelle est la situation chez vous aujourd'hui?» Un seul finira par articuler: «La situation est compliquée et nous n'avons pas le droit de raconter ce qui se passe vraiment ici.» Ce matin encore, on nous répondait dans un hôtel d'une peti! te ville tibétaine du Sichuan qui abrite un grand monastère mais où aucune manifestation n'a été signalée: «Vous ne pouvez pas venir ici non, en tout cas pas avant deux semaines. Ce sont les ordres du gouvernement». Hier soir, le gouvernement tibétain en exil annonçait la mort par balles de 19 manifestants tibétains dans la ville de Machu dans la province du Gansu. Les journaux chinois n'en font évidemment pas mention ce matin et se bornent à rappeler que «la situation est sous contrôle» mais que les actes des émeutiers «ont troublé gravement l'ordre social» et «ont mené à de lourdes pertes humaines et matérielles». […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Few companies apply for patents (China Daily)
2008-03-18
Only 26,000 large industrial companies in China applied for patents from 2004 to 2006, statistics show. The National Bureau of Statistics released the statistics on Monday. This accounts for only 8.8 percent of the total number of large industrial companies in China. Urging domestic companies to pay more attention to their own intellectual property rights, the statistics showed that among nearly 300,000 large companies in China, only 73,000 have registered their trademarks. […] According to the statistics, 20.7 percent of the large industrial companies have internal protection systems to keep technical secrets safe and 34.8 percent of them have own brands with full intellectual property rights. One finding from the statistics has attracted researchers' attention: 20.8 percent of the companies invested in by Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan capital and 20.6 percent of the joint ventures with foreign investors applied for patents in 2006, lower than the ratio of the domestic companies of 27.5 percent.[…]. ^ top ^

Wen: China worried about US financial woes (China Daily)
2008-03-19
[…] "We need to blaze a trail in between (curbing inflation and nurturing economic growth)," Wen [Jiabao said on Tuesday in Beijing ]said after the conclusion of the first session of the 11th National People's Congress, the parliament. Wen was reappointed China's primer minister on Sunday, after his administration attained an eye-catching annual double-digit GDP growth for China in his first term. […] Wen's administration has set "two prevents" when mapping out this year's economic policies: to prevent the fast-growing economy from being overheated, and keep structural price rises from turning into significant inflation. Facing a big squad of press corps at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wen noted the worsening conditions brought about by the US subprime debacle, which has spawned a free fall in the value of the US dollar, slammed stock markets worldwide and fed into a surge in oil prices. "I am closely watching and feel deeply worried about the global economic situation, especially the US economy," Wen said. "What concerns me is the continuous depreciation of the US dollar and when the dollar will hit bottom." […]. ^ top ^

China raises deposit reserve requirements by 0.5% (China Daily)
2008-03-19
China's central bank decided on Tuesday to raise the deposit reserve requirement ratio of commercial banks to a record high of 15.5 percent, the second such move this year. The move was to further strengthen regulation of liquidity in the banking system and lead bank loans to increase in a reasonable way, said a statement on the website of the People's Bank of China (PBOC). […]. ^ top ^

China Mobile reports 32% rise in 2007 net profit (China Daily)
2008-03-20
China Mobile, the nation's top wireless operator, said Wednesday that 2007 net profit surged 31.9 percent from a year earlier on fast growth in the number of its subscribers. […] "China Mobile continued to open up the rural market last year," said company president and CEO Wang Jianzhou. "The rural market has become a key source of new subscribers and an important impetus behind revenue growth." More than half of the new subscribers were from the countryside, according to the company's mid-year report. Value-added services, such as polyphonic ring-back tones and multimedia messaging, also maintained strong growth last year, generating 25.7 percent of the total revenues. China Mobile said it would develop more such services to fuel its future development. China's fast economic growth, rising consumer spending and sustained development of the rural areas would translate into huge demand for telecommunications services and provide China Mobile with vast markets and new opportunities, it said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Avian flu

China's Guangdong reports poultry bird flu outbreak (Xinhua)
2008-03-17
An outbreak of bird flu in poultry has been reported in south China's Guangdong Province, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said on Sunday. The National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory confirmed the case, which occurred at a market in Liwan District of Guangzhou City on Thursday. It was caused by the highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype of the avian influenza virus, the MOA said. The disease, which killed 114 domestic fowl and led to the culling of another 518, was brought under effective control after the MOA and provincial government took timely emergency measures. It was China's fifth bird flu outbreak in poultry this year. Others included one in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, two in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region and one in the southwestern Guizhou Province. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Torch route tweak still possible (SCMP)
2008-03-20
Authorities in Beijing have not ruled out changing the Olympic torch relay route to avoid Tibet , although Games' organisers were hopeful yesterday this would not be necessary. "We firmly believe that the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region will be able to ensure the stability of Lhasa and Tibet, and also be able to ensure the smooth passage of the torch relay in Tibet," Jiang Xiaoyu , a vice-president of the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Bocog) said in Beijing yesterday. "[But] according to the IOC rulebook, it's legitimate to make changes to some legs, or even cancellations, in the event of untoward incidents," Mr Jiang added. "Whatever happens, we will ensure the information flow is transparent and smooth." […] Despite the potential bad publicity generated by the flame's passage through areas with large Tibetan populations, observers say the central government and Olympic sponsors will probably face bigger headaches in the relay sections outside China. "The bigger concern... is about what will be going on outside China. [There are] plenty of cities on the overseas route known as hotbeds for protests which could engender much more trouble than in Tibet and Qinghai ," a Beijing-based sports marketing consultant who has advised Olympic sponsors said. […]. ^ 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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