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
  28.4-2.5.08, No. 215  
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Table of contents

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Foreign Policy

Rogge tells West: Be fair with China (China Daily)
2008-04-28
The West must stop hectoring China over human rights, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge has told a leading British newspaper."You don't obtain anything in China with a loud voice," Rogge told Saturday's Financial Times. "That is the big mistake of people in the West wanting to add their views. "It took us 200 years to evolve from the French Revolution. China started in 1949," Rogge added, noting that was a time when Britain and other European nations were also colonial powers, "with all the abuse attached to colonial powers". "It was only 40 years ago that we gave liberty to the colonies. Let's be a little bit more modest. "Rogge said the IOC always believed awarding the 2008 Games to Beijing would "open up China", and that in time, this would happen."The Games we believe, over time, will have a good influence on social evolution in China, and the Chinese admit it themselves," he said. Rogge questioned whether media attention on Tibet would be as strong if the Games were not taking place in Beijing. "I wonder if Tibet would be front page today were it not that the Games are being organized in Beijing. It would probably be page 4 or 5," he said. "To keep face (in Asia) is of paramount importance. All the Chinese specialists will tell you that only one thing works - respectful, quiet but firm discussion." Rogge said his relations with Beijing were excellent, although "they have their priorities and we have ours".He noted that Beijing has made progress in two policy areas - a media law providing 25,000 foreign media access during the Games, and environmental measures to tackle the city's chronic pollution problems. Rogge said China had given significant ground to the IOC by opening access to foreign media for the Olympics, which he expected to be extended beyond 2008 and believed would be a key factor in the social evolution of the country. The Games would continue to be awarded to cities with the best technical bids, and are for the benefit of athletes rather than for international political evolution, he said. ^ top ^

Anti-Beijing protests won't affect Hu visit, says Tokyo (SCMP)
2008-04-29
Japan said yesterday that it did not expect anti-Beijing protests during its leg of the Olympic torch relay to affect a landmark visit next week by President Hu Jintao. Protesters hurled rubbish and flares last Saturday as the Olympic torch passed through the mountain resort of Nagano, where brawls between Chinese supporters and protesters left four people injured. "I don't think that the torch relay would have any effect on the visit to Japan," chief government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura said of Mr Hu's trip. Mr Machimura said the government did not think there was any "grave disruption" to the relay. Mr Hu is scheduled to visit on May 6-10, marking the second visit by a Chinese president to Japan and the first such trip in a decade. ^ top ^

Carrefour 'committed' to China market (China Daily)
2008-04-29
Amid the controversy surrounding the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay, French retail giant Carrefour said for the first time that it remains committed to the Chinese market and will continue with plans to expand in the country. In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Eric Legros, the French company's China president and CEO, also reaffirmed the company's full support of the Beijing Olympics and denied allegations of its involvement in the country's internal politics. He expressed regret over the incident in Paris earlier this month, where the torch relay was marred by the violent activities of Tibetan separatists. Attempts to rob the torch from disabled Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing infuriated Chinese who later called for a boycott of the French supermarket chain during the upcoming May Day holidays. "We feel really sorry about what happened in Paris," Legros said. "It's a shame that in France the Olympic torch was not greeted with passion. We apologized, our ambassador in China apologized and French President Nicholas Sarkozy invited Jin Jing to revisit France." In a letter delivered last week, Sarkozy invited Jin Jing, who protected the torch from a Tibetan separatist's attempt to snatch it during the relay, to visit France again to "make up for the pain" she suffered. Legros' reassurance comes at a time when anti-France tension continues to run high among Chinese. In a bid to show its support for the Beijing Games, Carrefour said it is putting out large-sized advertisements in major domestic newspapers to convey its good wishes for the capital. Carrefour, which made its first foray in the China market in 1995, employs more than 45,000 local employees, accounting for 99 percent of its total staff. With 112 stores on the Chinese mainland, the company has reported annual sales of nearly 30 billion yuan ($4.28 billion) in China, with 99 percent of its products made in the country. Legros said the company will open more than 20 stores on the mainland this year and hire about 8,000 Chinese. Rather than a wholly French-owned company, Legros said a great number of Carrefour's stores in China are joint ventures in which Chinese partners hold a share of between 30 and 40 percent. The company has been supporting the nation's efforts to promote energy-saving measures and food safety, Legros said. "We have followed the Chinese policies with various projects, and did our best to bring our expertise and technology to the China market in the past years by training and promoting young Chinese managers. I believe someday our China president will be a Chinese rather than a French," he said. "We hope we can turn over the unhappy page and come to the next chapter of friendship, and work hard to serve Chinese customers." […]. ^ top ^

President to visit Japan next week (China Daily)
2008-04-30
President Hu Jintao will start a five-day visit to Japan next Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday - signaling a further warming of relations. The visit will be the first by a Chinese president in 10 years and "we hope we can enhance mutual political trust and pragmatic cooperation through the trip," spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular briefing. She said Hu will meet Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. "China is keen to work together with Japan to further promote relations," Jiang added. Japanese media have given extensive coverage to Hu's impending visit; and Kyodo news agency reported earlier this month that the president is scheduled to play pingpong with Fukuda in Tokyo-based Waseda University after delivering a speech there. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Virus kills 19 children (SCMP)
2008-04-28
Nineteen out of 789 children infected with gastrointestinal virus EV71 in Fuyang, Anhui province, have died since March, Xinhua reported yesterday. Several city hospitals had received patients, most of whom had a fever or a rash on their hands and feet. A few suffered serious brain, heart and lung damage. A total of 204 patients remained in hospital. Among them, 18 were in serious condition. A team of health experts has been sent to the city to investigate. ^ top ^

Death toll rises to 60 in east China train collision (People's Daily)
2008-04-28
The death toll has climbed to over 60 and more than 400 were hospitalized after an early Monday train collision in east China's Shandong Province, railway authorities confirmed. The Jinan Railway Bureau based in Shandong said 57 people were killed on the spot and three died at hospitals. […] The casualties were from two passengers trains, one of which was en route from Beijing to Qingdao, a famous summer resort in Shandong and venue of the Olympic sailing competition, and the other, from Shandong's Yantai to Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu Province. […] The city government of Zibo has sent a 1,500-member strong team to help and console the victims' families. Nine hotels and 34 rescue centers have been reserved for the victims' families. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing moves to increase shipment of grain to south (SCMP)
2008-04-29
The central government will accelerate the shipment of grain from the northeast to the country's south to ease supply imbalances and stem price rises, the Ministry of Railways said. The ministry has ordered railway authorities in the northeast to improve efficiency and send 10 million tonnes from May 1 to June 30, Xinhua reported yesterday. The efforts come amid a global food crisis. World Bank president Robert Zoellick and International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn recently warned that rising prices could trigger upheavals and war among some poor countries, and called for global action to avert the crisis. The global prices of key grains - rice, wheat, corn and soya beans - have been rising steadily since 2005. Fears are rising that soaring food prices worldwide will hurt the poor on the mainland, though Premier Wen Jiabao recently said the country had abundant grain reserves to meet the rising demand from its 1.3 billion people. Although the mainland is basically self-sufficient in rice and wheat, there is a sharp gap between demand and supply in the south, where Guangdong is facing the biggest grain deficiency in the country. […]. ^ top ^

At least 70 killed as trains collide (China Daily)
2008-04-29
Two passenger trains collided in Shandong province early yesterday morning, killing at least 70 people and leaving 416 injured - 51 seriously - as carriages derailed and toppled into a ditch, railway authorities said. Officials said the accident was caused by "human error" and ruled out terrorism. The accident was the worst in the country since 1997 when 126 people were killed in a train crash in Hunan province. The Jinan Railway Bureau said yesterday that 57 people were killed on the spot and the others died at hospitals. Ministry of Railway spokesman Wang Yongping said the death toll could rise. Among the injured were four French nationals, all of whom have been hospitalized with bone fractures, a spokesman for the provincial foreign affairs office said. The accident occurred near Zibo - 70 km east of the provincial capital Jinan - at 4:43 am when the Beijing-Qingdao train, T195, derailed. It was hit by a train coming in the opposite direction, coded 5034, from Yantai to Xuzhou in Jiangsu province. One passenger on T195, surnamed Zhang, said she felt like riding a "roller coaster". "Many people fell on me and hot water poured out of their thermos flasks," she said. Nine T195 carriages toppled and caused the other train to veer off its track too, toppling five carriages. Although investigations are continuing, some investigators said T195 was traveling at 131 kph when the accident occurred, far in excess of the speed limit of 80 kph. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao issued directives that all-out efforts be made in rescuing and treating the injured. Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun and head of the State Administration of Work Safety Wang Jun arrived at the site to oversee the rescue work. The Ministry of Railways has expressed condolences to the victims. The accident disrupted two-way traffic on the Jinan-Qingdao Railway, a 384-km pivotal rail link between the two big cities in Shandong. Thousands of passengers were stranded at stations in the province and authorities arranged buses to relieve the pressure. Cranes and forklifts were sent in at midday to remove the wrecked cars and damaged cross-ties from the rails. By 5 pm, more than 1,000 workers were still repairing the line. The Ministry of Railways said it expected to restore service at about 8 am today. This is the second major railway accident in Shandong this year. In January, a high-speed train from Beijing to Qingdao knocked down a group of railway workers, leaving 18 dead and nine injured. The workers were re-laying the tracks when the train ran into the work site in Anqiu. China had raised train speeds six times as of April 2007, with railways allowing a speed of more than 200 km per hour on 6,227 km of track. ^ top ^

Intestinal virus sickens 1199 children, kills 20 (Xinhua)
2008-04-29
A total of 20 children have died and 1179 others fallen ill in an outbreak of a lethal intestinal virus in Fuyang City, east China's Anhui Province, since March. The enterovirus 71 has sickened a total of 1,199 children and kills 20 of them by Sunday night, the municipal government of Fuyang said Monday night, quoting statistics from local hospitals and center for disease control. By Sunday night, 341 children remain in hospital for further medical observation, of whom, 27 are said to be in critical conditions and 8 terminally ill. Hospitals in Fuyang, in northwest Anhui, started to take in children with fever, along with blisters, ulcers in the mouth, or rashes on the hands and feet,in early March. Some of the victims were diagnosed with brain, heart and lung damage. All of the victims were aged below six, of whom, the majority being children under the age of two. Enterovirus 71 can cause hand, foot and mouth disease which usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters of ulcers in the mouth and on the hands and feet. It may cause high fever, meningitis, encephalitis, pulmonary edema and paralysis in a small number of children. Paralysis is more common in children under 2 years of age and meningitis is more common in children from 2-5 years of age, said Yang Weizhong, deputy chief of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections could lead to high mortalities in serious cases and neither vaccine nor therapeutic treatment is available. ^ top ^

Freed child slaves refuse to go home (SCMP)
2008-04-30
Hundreds of freed child labourers illegally sold by overseers from Sichuan to factories in Dongguan, Guangdong province, have refused to leave the plants despite the brutal conditions, according to mainland media. "I don't want to go home. My parents have already sold me to the overseers," a tearful teenage girl named Luo Siqi was quoted as telling a police officer in a report in the Southern Metropolis News yesterday. About 40 children resold to another electronics manufacturer in Dongguan to evade a police crackdown said they were looking forward to working in new "profitable jobs" that paid 3 yuan (HK$3.34) an hour with mandatory overtime. The report said thousands of children from remote Liangshan county in Sichuan province had been sold to Guangdong factories during the past five years. The children were abused and forced to work under slave-like conditions for 12 hours a day, almost every day. Most children were from ethnic minorities and aged between nine and 15. [..] Hou Yuangao, a researcher at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, said dire poverty in the country's ethnic minority regions was the main reason for the trade. "You may think it's untenable for children to work 13 to 14 hours a day, but about 300 yuan sent by the overseers to their parents can save the entire family from starvation," Mr Hou was quoted by the Southern Metropolis News as saying. In Liangshan, the mother of one abducted child said she was pleased to know that her son was working in an electronics factory in Dongguan. "My son was kidnapped in December last year ... I'm glad to know he can eat cooked rice every two to three days," the malnourished mother was quoted as saying. ^ top ^

China opens one of world's largest bridges (China Daily)
2008-05-01
China Thursday inaugurated one of the world's longest bridges, which will provide an important new route into Shanghai, Chinese media said. Presented as the "world's longest sea bridge", the 36-kilometre (22-mile) structure connects Jiaxing city near Shanghai to the port city of Ningbo in the eastern province of Zhejiang. […] The 11.8 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) bridge cuts the length of the road trip from Shanghai to Ningbo by 120 kilometres, the official Xinhua news agency said.Construction of the six-lane bridge started in November 2003 in an effort to reduce traffic congestion in the booming area, Xinhua said. […]. ^ top ^

Investigation confirms use of child labor (China Daily)
2008-05-02
Guangdong authorities have inspected more than 3,600 businesses in Dongguan - at the centre of a child labor scandal - after children were found working in the city's factories, local officials said. More than 1,000 children, aged between 9 and 16 from poor families in Liangshan, Sichuan province, have been lured to work as cheap labor in Dongguan, the Southern Metropolis newspaper reported on Monday. The Dongguan government had investigated more than 3,600 companies that employ 450,000 people between Monday and Wednesday, but found that only a few small companies and workshops had hired children, a local government official said. "In the factories we inspected, we did not come across any large-scale use of child labor," Li Xiaomei, deputy mayor of Dongguan, told a press conference on Wednesday. […] "The government has a clear cut attitude toward the illegal use of child workers, and we will resolutely crack down on it." The government will fine violators up to 50,000 yuan ($7,200), she said. […]. ^ top ^

Hainan has 'secret nuclear submarine base' (SCMP)
2008-05-02
China has built a major underground nuclear submarine base on the southern tip of Hainan island, London's The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday. The newspaper said Jane's Intelligence Review, a respected defence periodical, obtained satellite images of the base, adding that the photos were the first confirmation of its existence. “Satellite imagery, passed to The Daily Telegraph, shows that a substantial harbour has been built which could house a score of nuclear ballistic missile submarines and a host of aircraft carriers,” it said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

More than 200 countries and regions support Chinese Olympic Committee (Elite Reference)
2008-04-25
On April 16, Dong Jinyi, the Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland, was interviewed by Swiss media, as he debated with Fehr, President of the Tibet Intergroup of the Swiss Federal Parliament, on the Tibet issue. Dong said that 205 countries and regions will participate in the Beijing Olympic Games, making it the Games with the most number of participating countries and regions in Olympic history. On Fehr's point that China discriminates against minority nationalities, Dong retorted that contrary to inaccurate reports in the western media, the Chinese people can see for themselves the improvement in the human rights situation in the country. Since 1979, the Dalai Lama has sent more than 20 delegations, which included many of his close relatives, to China. The root cause for there being no progress after so many contacts is that the Dalai Lama is not sincere. And he has proved this by not giving up on his 'Tibet independence' stand, Dong added. ^ top ^

Beijing plays PR game with Tibet talks offer (SCMP)
2008-04-28
Beijing's sudden announcement on Friday that it was prepared to meet the Dalai Lama's representatives "in the coming days" has drawn swift praise from western leaders but also scepticism over its motives from some overseas analysts. While Beijing insists it extended the invitation "in view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side to resume talks", the overseas analysts have largely concluded that the decision was made in response to growing calls from the west for Beijing to talk to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. The brief announcement by Xinhua came after weeks of the official media accusing the Dalai Lama of instigating the riots in Lhasa. However, Beijing does not appear to have toned down denunciations of the so-called "Dalai clique" at all. The propaganda machine continued to carry angry criticism over the weekend. What are the country's leaders up to? It is interesting to note that the announcement was made during a visit by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso after his meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Mr Barroso, who along with other world leaders has urged Beijing to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama, was obviously pleased and welcomed the talks. The praise for Beijing's decision came swiftly from Washington, Tokyo, Berlin and Paris, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Many analysts have drawn the obvious conclusion that Beijing's decision was prompted by its eagerness to ensure the Olympics are a success and go smoothly. That is only part of the story. The shift was more driven by the leaders' concerns that China's overall political and even economic relations with the west - the United States and the European Union in particular - would be seriously affected. By offering to meet the Dalai Lama, Beijing can reassure western leaders and give them some room to deal with the mounting pressure and criticism from the various human rights groups and media on their home fronts. Naturally, it is overly optimistic to expect any concrete results from the forthcoming meeting between Beijing officials and the Dalai Lama's representatives because of the current tensions. […]. ^ top ^

Tibetan Freedom Torch arrives at Matterhorn (SCMP)
2008-04-29
A global torch relay organised by Tibetan groups protesting against Beijing arrived on Europe's most iconic mountain last Friday. The Tibetan Freedom Torch was lit beneath the 4,478-metre Matterhorn in Switzerland in a symbolic tribute to Mount Everest. "There is no need to take this torch on to Everest," Tibetan spokesman Wangpo Tethong said. Organisers from more than 150 pro-Tibet groups worldwide had wanted the International Olympic Committee to divert the route of the official torch relay. ^ top ^

Beijing warns Dalai Lama over sabotaging Olympics (SCMP)
2008-04-30
Beijing warned the Dalai Lama on Tuesday to stop sabotaging the Olympics, sparking an angry reaction from Tibetan leaders who said more than 200 people had died in the Chinese crackdown on unrest. Authorities told the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader that, for planned new talks between the two sides to succeed, he must end the protests in his homeland that erupted last month and shone the Olympic spotlight on China's rule of Tibet. But with just over 100 days to go to the Beijing Olympics, the Tibet crisis and a host of other controversies continued to frustrate the nation's communist rulers. The Tibetan government-in-exile responded to the latest comments from Beijing by insisting repressive Chinese policies in Tibet were the root cause of the unrest. And later on Tuesday a representative of the Dalai Lama said the spiritual leader was yet to receive an invite from Beijing for talks. The government-in-exile's spokesman, Thubten Samphel, also said the number of people believed to have died in the Chinese crackdown on the unrest had risen by around 50 to 203. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Tuesday the Dalai Lama should “cherish” China's offer to re-open talks, as she restated her government's many conditions for dialogue. “[He should] take concrete measures to stop his criminal acts of violence, stop his sabotage of the Beijing Olympics and his separatist activities, so as to create conditions for the next step of talks,” she said. However, Dalai Lama representative Jampal Chosang told reporters in Paris on Tuesday he had not received an invite for talks. “China announced, via its official press agency, that Beijing wished to hold dialogue with a representative of the Dalai Lama,” he said. “That announcement was made on Friday.... To-date, we have not received a letter of invitation from China. “Until we receive an invitation, our representative cannot reply,” he added. Mr Chosang was speaking after addressing the foreign affairs commission at the French parliament on unrest in Tibet. ^ top ^

Judges and lawyers: Rioters in Lhasa unrest receive fair trial (Xinhua)
2008-05-01
Lhasa - Thirty people jailed for their involvement in the March 14 riot in Lhasa, Tibet, have received fair trials, lawyers and judges said on Thursday. Three were sentenced to life and the others received terms ranging from three to 15 years, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Lhasa, which passed down the sentences at a public court session on Tuesday in the autonomous region. […] The trials from April 21 to 25 for the 30 suspects strictly followed the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China and the Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, said Cao Qing'an, Lhasa Intermediate People's Court vice president, in an interview with Xinhua.[…]. ^ top ^

Dalai clique unqualified for talking about human rights (China Daily)
2008-05-01
The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has published a signed article that said the Dalai Lama has no right to talk about human rights issues. The article, entitled "The 'Tibet Issue' has nothing to do with human rights," was written by the paper's columnist He Zhenhua, who has recently published numerous articles criticizing the Dalai Lama and supporting patriotism among Chinese readers. According to He, the old Tibet, under the rule of the Dalai clique, practiced the notorious political system of slavery, by dividing Tibetans into different classes. There was a small group of slave owners, who accounted for merely 5 percent of the total Tibetan population at that time, reigning over the rest of the Tibetans. […] It advised the Dalai clique to take care of its own human rights problems, referring to the living conditions of exiled Tibetans in India. Most exiled Tibetans live in the slums of Dharmsala, the "capital" of the "Tibetan government-in-exile," in India, and they have to hand over "independence donations" to the "government-in-exile," the article said, without elaborating. The exiled Tibetans, who are suffering from linguistic and emotional barriers, enjoy no human rights at all, it claimed. The article cited the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" to support its view, to deny the claims of the Dalai clique and assert that Tibetans have enjoyed their rights since the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Facts and figures about China-EU trade (People's Daily)
2008-04-28
The European Union has been China's largest trading partner since 2004. For EU, China is the second largest trading partner and the fastest growing export market in the world. And EU is China's largest source of technical imports and the fourth biggest source of foreign direct investment. Trade between China and EEC (European Economic Community) stood at merely 2.4 billion USD in 1975 when China and EEC established diplomatic relationship. In 2007, bilateral trade between China and the European Union reached 356.15 billion USD. The increase has been more than 20 percent annually since 2003. China has a surplus of 134.23 billion USD in the trade with EU in 2007, which accounts for 51.2 percent of China's total trade surplus. Of the surplus in the trade with EU, 61.9 percent comes from foreign-funded businesses in China with 19 percent from European companies in China. […]. ^ top ^

Experts: China should still be alert to impact of U.S. credit crisis (People's Daily)
2008-04-28
China should still be alert to the credit crisis starting in the United States more than one year ago that has afflicted the Chinese financial sector and export, Ou Minggang, deputy editor-in-chief of Chinese Banker magazine, said on Saturday. Ou told Xinhua during an interview that domestic banks and other financial institutions bear the brunt of the widespread U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, as those agencies' asset value and book earnings would dip to some extent. "Currently the impact on domestic financial institutions is still limited," he said. […] Ou said, "The crisis also made Chinese financial supervision regulators face up to the challenges of balancing financial innovation and risks, which requires them to push forward the reforms in the country's financial system in a more cautious manner." […]. ^ top ^

Regulator says to curb over-speculation in IPO sales (China Daily)
2008-05-01
The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has pledged to curb the excessive speculation in the share sales of the initial public offerings (IPOs). CSRC chairman Shang Fulin said that further steps would be taken to improve the IPO price bidding mechanism and rationally allot the proportion of the IPO issue for on-line and off-line subscriptions.The current rules on IPO share sales have long been under attack, as the institutional investors can order for both on-line and off-line proportions, while the individuals are limited to on-line. IPO share sales are often hundreds times over-subscribed in China, as investors rush to cash in on the certain gains on their debut on the stock exchanges. […]. ^ top ^

Economic boom to last until at least 2020 (China Daily)
2008-05-01
The cycle of economic boom in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, would last until at least 2020, said an expert with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic planner. The cycle, which started in 1978 when the reform and opening-up drive was launched, saw the country's economy grow 9.88 percent annually during the past 30 years, said Chen Dongqi, vice president of the NDRC's Academy of Macroeconomic Research. […] "(We) don't need to worry about the long-term economic boom just because of the short-term impact," he said. "The growth will be robust at least till 2020, especially in regions such as the West and the Beibu Bay Economic Zone in Guangxi. "The economy is rather dependent on exports, but we still have huge room to deepen and expand the opening-up," he noted. "The investment in the rapid urbanization process will also be a strong driver behind the economic growth." The expert added the rapidly growing tertiary sector and an increasingly larger proportion of the new workforce would also make bigger contributions to the economic boom. ^ top ^

Chinese banks report lowest ever NPL ratio in 2007 (People's Daily)
2008-05-02
The non-performing loans (NPL) ratio of Chinese commercial banks fell to its lowest-ever level of 6.2 percent in 2007, according to the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). The ratio was 0.93 percentage points lower from a year earlier, the CBRC said on its website. Total assets of the banking sector were 52.6 trillion yuan (7.5trillion U.S. dollars), an increase of 19.7 percent, or 8.6 trillion yuan, from a year ago. […] The regulator, however, admitted banks were faced with challenges this year, including the U.S. credit crisis, slowing economic growth and rising inflationary pressure. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Protests over media coverage in LA, Vancouver, Stockholm (SCMP)
2008-04-28
Protests by overseas Chinese against what they perceive as anti-China bias in western media reports on Tibet and the Olympic torch relay continued worldwide, with thousands turning out in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Stockholm over the weekend to support Beijing. Some 5,000 Chinese in San Francisco and nearby areas staged a two-hour rally in front of a CNN office on Saturday to protest against controversial remarks made by a commentator on the television network. The protest, said to be one of the biggest by Chinese in San Francisco, called for CNN commentator Jack Cafferty to be fired and for a sincere apology from CNN to ethnic Chinese everywhere, Xinhua said. […] In Vancouver, about 5,000 Chinese-Canadians gathered downtown to support the Beijing Olympics and protest against "biased coverage" by western media on Tibet, Xinhua said. Thousands also took to the streets of Stockholm on Saturday to support the Games. The protests around the world are a rare show of nationalism from Chinese living outside the country, who are generally known for their apolitical attitude. Anti-Japanese protests on the mainland in 2005, for instance, generated huge crowds there, but were largely ignored by overseas Chinese. ^ top ^

Beijing on track 100 days before Games (Xinhua)
2008-04-30
With 100 days to go from Wednesday before the curtain rises on the 2008 Olympic Games, the organizers are busy fine-tuning for perfect staging of the world's sporting spectacle. Construction of venues, easing the city's traffic congestion and efforts to clean up the air are all on target for the Aug. 8-24 event, and International Olympic Committee officials have repeatedly voiced confidence that the athletes were going to experience a top class Games here this summer. […] The National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest for its giant latticework structure of metal girders, opened and hosted its first official event on April 18 - a race-walking meet, putting an end to the city's massive construction campaign that kicked off in December 2003. […] Since being awarded the 2008 Games seven years ago, Beijing has engaged in an aggressive effort to clean up its toxic haze. The city has spent nearly more than 15 billion U.S. dollars on anti-pollution measures such as moving factories, adding subway lines, upgrading boilers and converting coal-heated homes to electric. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing Olympic torch relay kicks off in Hong Kong (People's Daily)
2008-05-02
The 20th leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay started in Hong Kong SAR at 10:28 a.m. local time on Friday. Lee Lai-shan, Hong Kong's first ever Olympic gold medalist, was the first runner. She was followed by Olympic table tennis stars Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak and Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau. "Today, the Olympic torch relay resumes on Chinese soil after its global journey across five continents. It is a great and solemn honor for Hong Kong, Asia's world city, to be the first city in China to welcome back the Olympic flame on behalf of our proud nation," said Donald Tsang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, before he handed the first torch to Lee. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing imposes broader smoking ban ahead of Olympics (Xinhua)
2008-05-02
In effort to create a smoke-free Olympics, Beijing on Thursday expanded its non-smoking policy in more public places to cover a range of areas from hotels to parks. Following a regulation implemented in 1996, the measures have been expanded to include fitness centers, cultural relic sites, offices, meeting rooms, dining halls, toilets, and aisles and lifts in buildings belonging to government or private institutions. In addition, restaurants, Internet cafes, parks, waiting halls in airports, railway stations and coach stations are also required to provide separate smoking and non-smoking areas. […] People caught smoking in forbidden areas will be fined 10 yuan (1.4 U.S. dollars), while enterprises and institutions that violate the rule face fines ranging between 1,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan. […]. ^ top ^

Protesters in six cities decry Carrefour - Students rally, but many shoppers continue to use French chain stores (SCMP)
2008-05-02
Protests against French retailer Carrefour took place again yesterday in several mainland cities, despite tentative government moves to cool the anti-foreign sentiment of recent weeks. Demonstrations of varying sizes were reported in at least six cities - Changsha , Jinan , Fuzhou , Shenyang , Beijing and Chongqing , Xinhua and witnesses said. Hundreds of people were involved. Protesters took advantage of good weather and the public holiday for Labour Day. Some activists had called for both a boycott of Carrefour and demonstrations against the west, but many shoppers chose to patronise Carrefour anyway, showing the protest movement does not have universal support. Carrefour has more than 115 stores in 40 mainland cities. […]. ^ top ^

 

Irene Frei
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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