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
  26.5-30.5.08, No. 219  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

ASEAN-UN summit opens in Myanmar for more cyclone relief aid (Xinhua)
2008-05-26
An international pledging conference, co-organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations (UN), opened at the Sedona Hotel here Sunday to seek further international financial aid commitment for Myanmar's cyclone aid relief and rehabilitation efforts. Myanmar Prime Minister General Thein Sein, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo delivered speeches at the conference also attended by delegates from 52 UN and ASEAN member states as well as those from 24 UN agencies, international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations totaling over 360. The pledging conference came after Surin and Ban visited Myanmar during this week. Ban's two-day tour on Thursday-Friday had taken him to two cyclone-devastated areas in the Ayeyawaddy delta. Ban called on the international community to extend more humanitarian assistance to Myanmar to make more commitments and help Myanmar resettle in post-disaster period. At the conference, Thein Sein expressed welcome over the international aid and assistance rendered for the country's relief and rehabilitation efforts, reiterating that the country welcomes aid workers from all countries and the aid supplies be delivered by civil vessels to Yangon Port. He estimated the damage and loss caused by the storm at 10.7 billion U.S. dollars with 5.5 million people affected. The conference focused on immediate aid and then looked into medium- and long-term needs. The co-convenors called on the international communities to rise to the occasion and translate their solidarity and sympathy into concrete commitments to help the Myanmar people emerges from the tragedy and rebuild their lives. During Ban's last meeting with Myanmar top leader Senior-General Than Shwe in Nay Pyi Taw, a breakthrough was brought about that Myanmar agreed to admit all countries' aid workers into cyclone-ravaged areas and join relief and resettlement efforts as well as to use Yangon International Airport as a logistic hub for distributing the aid supplies. Earlier in the week, Surin came to Yangon with ASEAN's lead in coordinating and liaising with the UN system and international community in assisting Myanmar to recover from cyclone Nargis following a decision at Monday's Special Meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Singapore to establish an ASEAN-led coordinating mechanism, chaired by Surin. ^ top ^

Russia, China key to global security: Medvedev (China Daily)
2008-05-26
Russia and China, as two big powers, are key to maintaining global stability, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, adding that he would work together with Beijing to fulfill their responsibilities. "I told Chinese leaders yesterday that Russian-Chinese relations are a major factor in global security, without which the main decisions in international cooperation are impossible," Medvedev said during a speech at the prestigious Peking University (Beida). It was the first speech to a foreign audience by the new Russian president after he took office on May 7. "I will say frankly that some don't like to see such strategic cooperation between our countries, but we understand that this cooperation is in the interests of our peoples, and we will try our best to strengthen it whether others like it or not." Russia and China, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have a special responsibility for the future of the world, said Medvedev. "Our cooperation should be continuous, and not directed at a third party. We need to achieve global balance and ensure that all countries achieve continuous and stable development." Both countries should also strengthen energy cooperation and make full use of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to achieve the goal, said the president. He stressed that both nations join hands in technological innovation to make a tangible contribution to global challenges, including affordable energy resources, poverty relief, stabilizing global financial markets and food security. […] President Hu Jintao met Medvedev on Friday, and accepted his invitation to visit Russia in 2009. A Sino-Russian joint communique on the meeting between the two heads of state was made public on Saturday. The two sides agreed to continue bilateral cooperation in energy, science, information, transportation, finance, environmental protection, education, health, culture, sports and tourism. Medvedev left for home on Saturday night. […]. ^ top ^

30 cities worldwide to hold vigils marking June 4 crackdown (SCMP)
2008-05-30
People in 30 cities around the world will hold candle-light vigils outside Chinese embassies next week to commemorate the June 4 crackdown in Beijing 19 years ago. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said 11 cities including Hong Kong, Macau, Los Angeles, Seattle, Toronto, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Hamburg and Auckland had announced details of the vigils. They will be held between Sunday and Wednesday. The group said Taipei, New York, Washington, Bangkok, Seoul, London, Paris and other cities would soon join the movement. Former student leader Wang Dan will give a talk on "democracy and nationalism" at Toronto's vigil on Sunday. The rights group said dozens of dissidents in Beijing and Guizhou would also try to organise events at homes on June 4. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Man accused of faking Red Cross document (SCMP)
2008-05-28
Police in Heilongjiang arrested a man who faked Red Cross donation information to cheat the public, Xinhua said. The man in Mudanjiang city used graphic-altering software to change the content of a Chinese Red Cross Foundation online donation form. He changed the bank account of the foundation to his own and circulated the form on the internet. The man was arrested on Thursday after police received a tip-off. It was not clear now much he had managed to swindle. The report said police confiscated his computer and an ATM card. ^ top ^

Heavy flooding kills 53 in (China Daily)
2008-05-29
Fifty-three people have died in accidents triggered by torrential rains over the past week in China, while another 28 were missing and 4,000 were stranded by floods. The southwestern Guizhou Province was the worst hit, with 36 people killed by flash floods and 14 missing, followed by Hunan with seven deaths, Guangxi with four, Hubei and Jiangxi with three each, according to reports from various localities. Tents, quilts and clothes have been sent to Wangmo County in Guizhou, which was severely hit by rain and floods. About 46,000 people in the county were affected, including 11 deaths, eight missing and 14 injured. Hundreds of buildings were buried by landslides or inundated by floods, officials with the provincial government said. The extreme weather also cut off highways and damaged telecom facilities in Wangmo. In the central Hubei Province, where three people were killed by the strong lightning, 49 cities and counties were hit by the continuous rains. In Changyang County, the rainfall reached as much as 116 millimeters. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing pollution top of scale (SCMP)
2008-05-28
Pollution levels in Beijing hit the top of the scale yesterday, just 73 days before the Olympics, prompting a government warning for residents with respiratory problems to stay indoors. "Sensitive individuals should avoid going outdoors," the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said on its website, announcing that air quality was at "hazardous" level five, the worst grade. The main pollutant was suspended particulates. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK, Dubai sign MOU to bolster cooperation in finance (People's Daily)
2008-05-27
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Dubai International Financial Center Authority have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost cooperation in finance, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said Monday. The MOU, signed on May 20, sets out the framework agreed between the two organizations regarding cooperation, communication and information sharing in financial development, particularly the development of Islamic finance. They will exchange advice on the development of legal and regulatory frameworks and the standardization and harmonization of relevant standards, promote training and educational programs and facilitate dialogue with Sharia scholars. The two organizations will also explore ways to foster cross- border Islamic finance, including the trading of sukuk, or securities that comply with the Islamic law and its investment principles, and other Sharia-compliant financial instruments. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

First leader of ruling KMT in 60 years visits Nanjing - Mainland and Taiwan express hope for era of co-operation (SCMP)
2008-05-27
The chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Wu Poh-hsiung, arrived in Nanjing yesterday afternoon at the start of a six-day visit to the mainland, seen as beginning a new era of cross-strait rapprochement. Mr Wu, the first leader of a KMT in power in Taiwan to visit the mainland in 60 years, called for the two sides to seek consensus to pave the way for peace between the island and the mainland. "I hope our two sides can set aside disputes, create a win-win situation, and shelve differences in order to achieve cross-strait peaceful development under the 1992 consensus," he said after arriving at Nanjing airport with his 16-member delegation. They were greeted by about 50 mainland officials, including the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, Chen Yunlin. Mr Wu, who is expected to meet President Hu Jintao tomorrow for talks, said he decided to make Nanjing the first stop of his landmark visit because the eastern city used to be the site of the KMT government. […]. ^ top ^

Pundits query depth of the new cordiality - Taipei-Beijing rapprochement fails to dispel doubts over diplomacy (SCMP)
2008-05-29
A meeting of top-level leaders in Beijing yesterday gave a dramatic boost to long-soured relations across the Taiwan Strait, but some analysts remained doubtful that the two sides could resolve their political differences - especially over sovereignty. The historic opportunity for cross-strait rapprochement was created when the mainland-friendly KMT returned to power on the island in March. During yesterday's meeting, KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung and his Communist Party counterpart, Hu Jintao , vowed to make use of the "new situation" to improve ties. Pundits said that while the two sides were expected to have a friendly engagement in the short-term, it was inevitable that they would eventually touch on thorny political issues, including disputes over diplomacy and sovereignty. "Whether there will be any conflict between the two sides over diplomatic issues, and whether they can compromise on these issues, is something worth watching," said Tung Chen-yuan, a professor at the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University. Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, is tipped to visit Latin America this year, and it remained to be seen whether Beijing would protest against his transit stay in the United States, as it did with his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, Dr Tung said. Another point of interest, he noted, was to what extent Beijing would consolidate its goodwill gesture towards Taiwan: that is, whether talks would resume soon between Taipei's government-funded Straits Exchange Foundation and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats). […]. ^ top ^

Cross-strait dialogue to resume in two weeks - Taipei, Beijing officials to open talks on June 11 (SCMP)
2008-05-30
Taiwan and the mainland are to resume talks in Beijing on June 11 after a decade of hostility finally gives way to reconciliation. The news came a day after President Hu Jintao and Taiwan's Kuomintang chairman Wu Poh-hsiung agreed in a historic meeting in Beijing on Wednesday that the two sides should resume talks as soon as possible to improve relations. Beijing was swift to respond. The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats) invited its Taiwanese counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), to resume talks in two weeks. "We received the letter at 7am, inviting us to send a delegation to Beijing for talks from June 11 to 14 on issues concerning the launch of weekend cross-strait charter flights and Taiwan visits by mainland tourists," said SEF chairman Chiang Pin-kung. He said he immediately sent a letter back to Arats saying he and his deputy, Kao Koong-lian, would lead a delegation to Beijing for talks on the two issues. Under the plan, officials from the two sides at the vice-secretary-general level will hold preliminary talks on June 11, followed by secretary-general-level officials on June 12. Mr Chiang and his mainland counterpart would sign an agreement on June 13. SEF and Arats were set up in 1991 to represent their governments in the absence of formal ties. Cross-strait talks were suspended in 1999 by Beijing in retaliation to then-president Lee Teng-hui's redefinition of cross-strait relations as "special state to state" - seen by the mainland as a pro-independence move. Relations grew worse after independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections in 2000 to end more than five decades of KMT rule in Taiwan. The resumption of talks came after Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT won Taiwan's presidential election in March. Mr Chiang said he hoped the talks would help realise two of Mr Ma's policies: weekend flights to the mainland and approval for mainland tourists to visit Taiwan from July 4. Arats is expected to reorganise its board on June 3 with the appointment of a new chairman to succeed the late Wang Daohan Chen Yunlin , director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the mainland's State Council, is expected to fill the post vacated when Wang died in 2005. Meanwhile, in a symbolic gesture of unity, Mr Hu proposed that mainland and Taiwanese athletes carry the Olympic torch together in Beijing's opening ceremony, Taiwanese media reported yesterday. Mr Hu reportedly made the proposal on Wednesday to Mr Wu. Taiwan with the pro-independent DPP government in power spurned a mainland proposal last September for the Olympic torch to pass through Taipei, saying it was a move by Beijing to place the island on the same international footing as Hong Kong or Macau. Mr Hu's proposal, if accepted, could mark the significant change of attitude from Taipei as ties cross the strait grow warmer. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China opposes British PM's meeting Dalai Lama (People's Daily)
2008-05-26
China on Saturday expressed strong discontent and resolute opposition to the arrangement of a meeting between the Dalai Lama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. "This interferers in China's internal affairs, and gravely hurts Chinese people's feelings as well, " said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in a press release. The British side, in regardless of China's serious concern, allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Britain, meet Brown and other political figures, and testify before a British parliamentary hearing on China's human rights recently, Qin said. The spokesman said Tibet is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory, and China opposes any country, organization or individual to use Dalai Lama to interfere in its internal affairs. Qin said the British government has pledged not to support "Tibet independence". "We urge Britain to honor its commitment and do more to help the long-term development of Sino-British relations and safeguard the general situation of the relationship," Qin said. ^ top ^

 

Earthquake

Strong aftershock destroys 71,000 homes, 2 killed (China Daily)
2008-05-26
A powerful aftershock destroyed tens of thousands of homes in China on Sunday, killing two people and straining recovery efforts from the country's worst earthquake in three decades. More than 480 others were injured. Meanwhile, soldiers rushed with explosives to unblock a debris-clogged river threatening to flood homeless quake survivors. The aftershock measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale is the strongest since the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan County quake on May 12, and like the original quake, was felt across China. The new tremor killed two people and injured more than 480 others, 41 seriously, the Xinhua News Agency said. Some 71,000 homes that had survived the original quake were leveled, and another 200,000 were in danger of collapse from the aftershock that caused office towers to sway in Beijing, 800 miles away. Before the aftershock, the confirmed death toll from the disaster had risen to 62,664, with another 23,775 people missing. Premier Wen Jiabao has warned the number of dead could surpass 80,000. […]. ^ top ^

One-child policy eased for parents of dead, disabled (SCMP)
2008-05-26
Chengdu, the capital of stricken Sichuan province, is to allow families who lost their only child in the earthquake to have another, official media reported. Parents whose only child was disabled in the quake can also apply for the right to have another, provided the disability is serious enough. The Chengdu Evening News revealed the policy, citing a circular issued by the Population and Family Planning Commission of Chengdu. The commission asked staff to promptly inform qualified families of the policy to make them aware of their rights. But it did not offer specific standards for measuring the level of disability. It promised to offer technical support to qualified parents if they had difficulty with natural conception, without elaborating. Those who decide to adopt earthquake orphans and do not yet have their own child are still qualified to have another and enjoy preferential policies normally granted to one-child families. Parents who lost their only child, or whose only child became seriously disabled in the quake, and where one of the parents is 50 or over, will each receive an allowance of 600 yuan (HK$675) a year. The commission added that farming couples whose only child was killed or seriously disabled, and where one of the parents was 50 or above, would enjoy the same treatment as their urban counterparts. It said punitive charges for families who had violated the one-child policy would be suspended if their children were injured or disabled, or if their houses had been seriously damaged. In families who had more than one child but only one survived, the usual fine and surcharge would not apply. But fines and surcharges already paid would not be refunded. […]. ^ top ^

Parents of victims demand justice over 'shoddy' school construction (SCMP)
2008-05-26
About two dozen parents of children killed in the earthquake staged a rare protest yesterday, demanding justice over shoddy school construction they blamed for the deaths of their children. The parents, many clutching framed photographs of their dead offspring, held the demonstration on a road leading out of the devastated town of Mianzhu. "We are complaining about the shoddy quality of school buildings and we need justice from the government," said Yang Fuyong, 38. Mr Yang's daughter, Guiyun, who was in sixth grade, was one of 129 pupils he said were killed when a primary school collapsed in the nearby town of Wufu. Several police officers in the area made no attempt to thwart the protest. The parents later headed by bus to the city of Deyang to take their complaints to local government officials. The government says more than 85,000 people were killed or left missing by the May 12 quake. The Beijing News reported previously that 9,000 teachers or schoolchildren were among the dead and missing. A large number of schools collapsed even though some neighbouring structures remained standing, adding to suspicions that corrupt practices had left children at risk. The government has vowed to punish anyone responsible for substandard construction at schools. ^ top ^

More relief materials are needed (China Daily)
2008-05-27
More medical personnel should be sent to the quake zones, along with urgently-needed medical supplies, tents and temporary housing units, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said at a meeting yesterday. Local authorities should mount all-out efforts to prevent disease outbreaks, and guard against quake-induced disasters, such as aftershocks and flooding, it said. Efforts to search for survivors should continue, but there should be more focus on resettlement and reconstruction, the political bureau said, urging the whole nation to help. "The country should maintain economic development and social stability while engaging in quake relief work," it said. "Quake relief is still at a crucial stage", and the government should stick to a "people-first" policy, it said. […] The death toll from the quake rose to 65,080 by noon yesterday, with 360,058 injured and 23,150 missing, according to the Information Office of the State Council. Domestic and foreign donations reached 30.9 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) by noon yesterday, the information office said. […] As of noon yesterday, 182 aftershocks measuring magnitude 4 or above had been monitored in Sichuan, according to the China Seismological Bureau, including 28 aftershocks measuring above magnitude 5. The strongest aftershock was of magnitude 6.4 on Sunday afternoon, centered on Qingchuan county, which killed at least 8 and leaving more than 900 injured. About 14.38 million people have been relocated since May 12. Hospitals have admitted 83,527, of whom 53,247 have been discharged. Meanwhile, almost 500,000 tents have been delivered to quake-affected areas, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. […]. ^ top ^

Pledge to act on shoddy schools - Education ministry refuses to give toll (SCMP)
2008-05-27
The Ministry of Education pledged yesterday to crack down hard on anybody responsible for shoddy school buildings in the wake of the May 12 earthquake but refused to say how many staff and students died in the flimsy structures. Spokesman Wang Xuming said the ministry had ordered safety assessments of all school buildings on the mainland, with special focus on buildings in quake-affected areas. "The ministry plans to work with construction administrations to organise experts to assess school buildings in quake areas, and immediately stop the use of substandard or dangerous classrooms," Mr Wang said. He said the cost of evacuating and relocating the students would "be undertaken by educational administrations at various levels and by the central government". Mr Wang said regulators were working on new construction standards for greater quake resistance, based on the principle that all new classrooms should be built to higher standards than civic buildings. The ministry has also drafted a temporary classroom plan for students and teachers to resume classes in shelters and tents. […]. ^ top ^

Vaccines sent to avert epidemic (SCMP)
2008-05-28
A massive supply of vaccines has been sent to the earthquake disaster zone to prevent a possible epidemic, but authorities say no major outbreak has occurred so far. Ministry of Health spokesman Sun Jiahai said the authorities planned to finish hepatitis A and encephalitis B vaccinations for high-risk groups by the middle of next month, and to stock up on 100,000 vaccines against cholera, 20,000 against rabies and 30,000 for measles, mumps and rubella. Qi Xiaoqiu, director of disease prevention and control at the Health Ministry, said no epidemics had broken out so far, but there were increasing reports of fever and diarrhoea. Mr Qi said survivors were vulnerable to diseases due to poor hygiene, the hot weather and their weakened immunity. "The immune systems of the local people have been weakened, so they will become more vulnerable to epidemics," he warned. Mr Sun said the government had sent 91,298 medical personnel to the region for disease monitoring and control, and all counties, towns and villages had received medical relief. […]. ^ top ^

Collapse of schools to be probed (China Daily)
2008-05-30
The national quality watchdog yesterday warned of "severe punishment" to anyone found responsible for the collapsed school buildings in the May 12 quake. "It is regretful to see so many young students die ... and inspection teams have been sent to the disaster-hit areas to take samples of school debris," Zhi Shuping, deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), told a news briefing organized by the State Council Information Office. Zhi said the investigations had so far yielded no results, but "if they show quality problems do exist, we'll deal with those responsible with zero tolerance. We will give the public a satisfactory answer." Earlier this week, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Ministry of Education ordered thorough investigations into why so many school buildings collapsed in the quake. Many children - official figures are not available - were crushed to death in collapsed buildings. Some parents have blamed the tragedy on shoddy construction quality because many buildings nearby remain standing. […] The AQSIQ yesterday also promised swift and severe punishment for suppliers seeking to profit from the massive reconstruction with sub-standard goods. Zhi said the AQSIQ would keep a close eye on reconstruction. "Our focus will be on construction materials, such as steel bars or cement," he said. Wang Xuming, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, said higher quake-resistance standards are being considered for school buildings during reconstruction. "A fundamental rule is that school buildings should have higher standards than normal buildings," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Japanese aid flights welcomed by Beijing - Wartime memories cause public unease (SCMP)
2008-05-30
Beijing has welcomed an offer from the Japanese military to help with quake relief operations, despite strong public concerns about allowing the former enemy back on Chinese soil. Japan said that in response to a request from Beijing on Tuesday, it would consider sending some military aircraft, possibly C130 Hercules transport planes, to fly relief supplies such as tents and blankets to mainland airports. If agreement is reached, it would be the first time Japanese military aircraft have landed on mainland soil since the second world war. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday China would welcome any country willing to send military personnel for quake-relief purposes. "If the Japanese Self-Defence Forces are ready to provide assistance, the details will be discussed by the two countries' defence authorities," he said. But Mr Qin would not confirm if Beijing made the request for help. "Many countries have offered to provide relief materials and to airlift them with military aircraft. Even if the donor countries are willing to do so, they still have to wait for the recipient country's response." Tomohiko Taniguchi, deputy press secretary for Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the foreign ministries in both countries were "closely engaged" in consultations on the matter. […]. ^ top ^

Chengdu area safe despite aftershocks, Sichuan expert says (SCMP)
2008-05-30
Persistent fears of huge aftershocks in Chengdu have prompted the provincial government to again issue a statement that serious damage is unlikely to be done to the area. The biggest tremor that could possibly occur in the long term would be of magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale, and the impact would be limited to the quake zone, said Cheng Wanzheng , director of the Institute of Earthquake Sciences under the Sichuan Seismic Bureau. […] But one detail was missing from the statement: the size of the quake zone. So far, scientists have been unable to determine how big the area is because it has been expanding northeast since the main tremor hit on May 12, and it shows no sign of stopping.[…]. ^ top ^

Fashion house Dior dumps Sharon Stone over 'karma' remark (SCMP)
2008-05-30
American actress Sharon Stone's repentance over her remark that the Sichuan earthquake was a result of Chinese people's "bad karma" has done little to salvage her career. French fashion and cosmetics house Christian Dior announced yesterday that it would stop all business activities and promotions in China featuring Stone because her remarks had produced a negative effect in society. Stone models for Christian Dior's beauty products. The luxury-goods giant also expressed "deep regret" to the Chinese public over Stone's remarks. Shortly before being dumped by Dior, the 50-year-old actress issued a public apology, in which she described her karma remark on the earthquake as inappropriate. "Due to my inappropriate words and acts during the interview, I feel deeply sorry and sad about hurting Chinese people," she said. "I am willing to take part in the relief work of China's earthquake, and wholly devote myself to helping affected Chinese people." The actress also said she had worked in international charities for the past 20 years and wanted to help Chinese people. She said during an interview at the Cannes Film Festival last week that the earthquake might have been the result of karma for how the Chinese treated Tibetans and the Dalai Lama. "I am not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else. And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened, and then I thought, is that karma, when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?" Stone's apology, however, failed to calm public indignation on the mainland. Zhang Fan, an office worker in Shanghai, said: "Her apology is useless. She has already hurt the feelings of the Chinese people." […]. ^ top ^

More countries offer aid, messages of condolence (SCMP)
2008-05-30
More countries have sent messages of condolence and aid to China in the aftermath of the quake, the Foreign Ministry said. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari recently offered his condolences, while the Peruvian parliament passed a motion to offer condolences to the central government and Chinese people over the quake, and express its support for the quake relief efforts. Meanwhile, Vietnam has donated US$200,000 (HK$1.56 million), 150 tents and 10,000 cans of milk power, and the Philippines has pledged aid worth US$100,000. Luxembourg will provide an additional 250,400 euros (HK$3.06 million) in aid, including 50,000 euros in cash and 2,150 tents. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Earthquake shakes tourism industry (People's Daily)
2008-05-27
The 8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Sichuan province on May 12 would seriously hamper tourism in affected regions in the short term, industry insiders have said. […] Shanghai Spring International Travel Service spokesman Zhang Lei said: "We haven't yet calculated the economic losses caused by the quake, but I'm sure they will be huge."Sichuan-bound excursions are among the most popular of the firm's travel packages, generating about 10 percent of its total domestic travel revenue. "Given the difficulties of restoring the damaged infrastructure, it would be difficult to resume trips to Sichuan in the short term, even if the CNTA were to allow us to organize them," Zhang said, adding that many tourists would be reluctant to visit affected areas for some time because of the "psychological shadow" cast by the disaster. […] ut despite the recent setbacks, analysts and industry insiders remain confident in the Chinese travel industry's long-term prospects. "The negative impact of natural disasters is temporary," Guojin Securities' Tang said. "Over the long term, China's travel industry would still undergo fast growth driven by rising incomes. We would not change our long-term ratings of the industry.". ^ top ^

Foreign-funded firms contribute billions (SCMP)
2008-05-28
Foreign-funded companies on the mainland have contributed 2.9 billion yuan (HK$3.26 billion) in disaster relief, the Ministry of Commerce said. This included 2.42 billion yuan in cash and 482 million yuan worth of food, medicines, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, digging devices and lighting equipment. The figures were based on rough statistics up to Monday. The ministry also said 18,326 businesses in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces and Chongqing municipality, which were affected by the earthquake, had resumed operation by Monday. This included 699 wholesale outlets and 17,627 retailers and other enterprises. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Tibet's torch relay reduced to one day - Flame's visit cut from three days as earthquake forces a change to schedule (SCMP)
2008-05-26
The Olympic torch's trip through Tibet next month will be shortened from its original three days to just one as part of route changes prompted by the earthquake, Beijing Games organisers said yesterday. "The change is due to the Sichuan earthquake's impact on the rest of the relay. Because of this, the sacred flame will only pass through [the Tibetan capital] Lhasa for one day," said Li Lizhi, an information officer with the Beijing Olympics. "It will probably be in Lhasa on June 18, but we are waiting to confirm that." The Olympic torch had been scheduled to travel south of Lhasa on June 19 before spending two days in the Tibetan capital, where fierce rioting against the central government erupted in March. China called three days of national mourning last week - during which the torch relay was halted - and has made various adjustments to make up for those lost days. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese army prepares anti-terrorist team for Olympic Games security (Xinhua)
2008-05-27
An anti-terrorist special team consisting of engineers and experts will shoulder the security work for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, according to the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The team from the PLA's engineering troop will be responsible for security checks, emergency rescues and anti-terrorist technology applications during the August Olympiad. In addition, 10 engineering experts in anti-terrorist technology have been selected to provide technical support and information for the security troops during the Games. […]. ^ top ^

'Offensive' disability guide to be amended (SCMP)
2008-05-30
Red-faced organisers of the Olympics and Paralympics are rewriting instructions for volunteers because the existing manuals caused offence to disabled athletes and supporters. Chapter 6 of the English-version "Paralympics Volunteer Skills" manual advises 100,000 volunteers that "some physically disabled are isolated, unsocial, and introspective; they usually do not volunteer to contact people. They can be stubborn and controlling; they may be sensitive and struggle with trust issues". The chapter is a direct translation of the Chinese version and has upset Hong Kong and international disabled groups - forcing the chief of the Beijing Paralympic Games, Zhang Qiuping, to order the Games' official website version to be pulled. "Probably it's a cultural difference and mistranslation," Mr Zhang said yesterday. "The training department and volunteer department made this training guide with the purpose of providing better service."As to the problems ... the guide used inappropriate language to describe people with disabilities, [and] we've already asked the author to modify the relevant content." But critics demanded an apology from the Games' organisers, Bocog, as well as a total "revision" of the manuals. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

ROK seeking to upgrade ties with neighbor (China Daily)
2008-05-27
Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak's visit to China is aimed to upgrade bilateral relations and will dispel suggestions that he views China second to traditional allies the United States and Japan, ROK's ambassador has said. "China and ROK both have seen a new leadership this year. Thus the main purpose of President Lee's visit at this time is to demonstrate he attaches great importance to our bilateral ties and that he is trying hard to bring it to a higher level," Shin Jung-seung told China Daily on Friday. Lee's four-day China trip, beginning today and following his visits last month to the United States and Japan, is widely seen as an important leg of his tours to Seoul's key diplomatic partners. However, Shin said it makes no sense to hype the sequence of Lee's visits. "Sequence is not that important. What really makes sense is that our new president will finish visiting the United States, Japan and China, all key partners to Seoul, in a short time after taking office," the ambassador said, adding the sequence is determined by arrangements of every country. Lee's visit will be a highly business-focused trip, accompanied by a delegation of 38 businesspeople. His itinerary in China includes talks with leaders, a speech at Peking University, visits to selected ROK firms and meeting representatives of ROK residents. About 800,000 ROK nationals live in China, the embassy said. Lee will also visit Qingdao, Shandong province, which is home to more than 5,000 ROK firms. China is ROK's top trading partner, with bilateral trade of $160 billion last year. The businesspeople are scheduled to meet their Chinese partners to discuss cooperation on energy, finance, mobile communications and service, ROK media said. Topics on the agenda also include the difficulties facing ROK companies in China, enlivening of investment, a bilateral FTA agreement and joint exploitation of third-country markets through technology cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Trade Meet (Mongol Messenger)
2008-05-27
On May 26, a Mongolia-Singaporean business meeting was held in Singapore. The meeting was organized by the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency (FIFTA) and the Mongolian Embassy in Singapore. Around 80 Singaporean business representatives from tourism, finance, construction, light industry, and high-tech production sectors participated in the meeting. ^ top ^

26 Frozen to Death in Sudden Snowstorm (Mongol Messenger)
2008-05-28
An unexpected heavy snowstorm hit Mongolia's eastern provinces early this week, forcing the National Emergency Management Agency to call an urgent meeting on May 27 to assess the situation it declared a “disaster.” The agency announced on Wednesday that 92 people, out of 164 people missing in the snowstorm, were found after taking immediate rescue and search operations. There are still 51 people missing. “But unfortunately 26 people were found frozen to death. The rescue is still going,” an agency official said on Tuesday. “Some of the missing people are believed to be small rural children driving their livestock in remote areas.” According to the agency, the speed of the snowstorm reached 32-40 meters per second in the Khentii and Sukhbaatar aimags. The storm also covered certain parts of the Tov and Dornogobi aimags. Dozens of gers were demolished and the roof of a cultural center of Baruun Urt city, a center of Sukhbaatar aimag, was swept in the storm. Baruun Urt has had no electricity since May 26. Due to the storm, a serious breakdown occurred in eight meteorological stations located in Khentii, nine stations in Sukhbaatar, and nine stations in Dornod, which resulted loss of communication with the central meteorological institute. The Prime Minister of Mongolia S.Bayar, who was visiting Sukhbaatar aimag and was scheduled to return Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday, was entrapped in the snow until Wednesday. A number of international and domestic flights at the Chinggis Khaan International Airport were delayed on Monday. ^ top ^

New Oil Refinery (Mongol Messenger)
2008-05-28
The Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean Golden Bridge and ENE Global companies on building an oil refinery plant in Mongolia.

 

Patricia Straessle
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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