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
  2.6-6.6.08, No. 220  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

ASEAN-UN-Myanmar tripartite core group to make joint assessment on cyclone (Xinhua)
2008-06-03
A tripartite core group involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations (UN) and Myanmar is working to make joint assessment on the impact of Cyclone Nargis that devastated Myanmar in early last May, according to state media Tuesday. In preparation to carry out the assessment, the ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ERAT) is providing training for officials from over a dozen Myanmar government ministries, the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said. A series of meetings was held on Monday, participated by Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu, 54 representatives from the 18 government ministries, representatives of ASEAN, resident representative and coordinator of UNDP and Singapore Ambassador Robert Chau, the report added. The Yangon-based tripartite core group was established at an ASEAN-UN international pledging conference held in the former capital late last month as a working mechanism for coordination, facilitating and monitoring the flow of international assistance into Myanmar cyclone-hit areas. U Kyaw Thu acts as chairman representing Myanmar in the tripartite core group. The international pledging conference, attended by 51 countries and 24 UN organizations and international non-governmental organizations, was held to seek further international financial aid commitment for Myanmar's cyclone aid relief and rehabilitation efforts. […]. ^ top ^

China's human rights improvement self-directed (Xinhua)
2008-06-04
China doesn't improve its human rights in response to the presumed will of any country, nor because of any certain activity to be held, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters here on Tuesday. He was responding to a question about whether U.S. President George Bush's attendance at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics would make China concede on human rights issues. We have been committed to improving human rights not on the premise of the will of any nation, group, organization or individual, nor because of a certain activity to be held that makes us concede to the human rights issue," the spokesman said. Qin noted that the government has managed to ensure and improve the human rights of its citizens and made remarkable achievements in this field. China will firmly push forward the human rights cause, he added. He stressed that China advocates that human rights dialogues should be based on equality and mutual respect, and China opposes pressuring and taking double standards to interfere in other countries' internal affairs. Qin mentioned the 14th human rights dialogue between China and the United States held here from May 24 to 28, saying it was "positive" and "constructive." He said the dialogue, touching on freedom of speech and other human rights issues, would be helpful for future discussions and conducive to the healthy and stable development of Sino-U.S. relations. ^ top ^

International aid agencies praise Beijing's response (SCMP)
2008-06-05
International aid agencies pledged to do all they could to help China reconstruct its earthquake-devastated southwest and praised Beijing for its response to the disaster. "The way China has responded to this tragedy has been extraordinary, from government agencies to the military and society as a whole," said Khalid Malik, the Beijing-based head of UN agencies in China. "We are willing to offer all the help we can." Hossam Elsharkawi, head of support operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, added: "China is showing that it is a very capable nation. […]. ^ top ^

China: Blame game pointless in world food crisis (People's Daily)
2008-06-06
A battle of blame, either on emerging economies or biofuel policy of some developed countries, is pointless in the global effort to tackle soaring food prices, China's agriculture minister said here late Tuesday. "It is neither true nor constructive attributing the growing food demand worldwide to the growth of developing countries or to specific policies of some countries," Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai told a world summit on food security hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The three-day summit, which kicked off Tuesday, was called at a time when the world is experiencing a dramatic increase in food prices. Though it was aimed at winning donor pledges for urgent aid as short-term solutions and also generating longer term strategies to safeguard food production, the high-level conference was clouded by quarrels largely between developing and developed nations. While the developed countries blamed increasing demand in emerging economies like China and India for the recent food price hike, the developing countries said the growth of biofuel production, notably in the United States and the European Union, should be responsible. Sun said a FAO study clearly showed that the recent food price hike has not originated from emerging economies. "China and India have usually been cited as the main contributors to this sudden change because of the size of their populations and the high rates of economic growth they have achieved. However, since 1980, the imports of cereals in these two countries have been trending down," the report said. […]. ^ top ^

FM: China's efforts on Darfur "no less than" any other countries (People's Daily)
2008-06-06
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday the country had always made and was making positive efforts on solving the Darfur issue. "China's efforts on Darfur are no worse than and no less than any other country in the world," ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press conference here. His remark came after two senior U.S. officials' comment on China's role on the issue. According to reports, Thomas Christensen and James Swan, deputy assistant secretaries of state for East Asia and Africa, respectively, on Wednesday praised China for its efforts on Darfur issue. They added China could do much more on it. […]. ^ top ^

Fourth round of economic talks to be held in US this month (SCMP)
2008-06-06
China and the US will hold the fourth round of high-level economic talks on June 17-18. The US Treasury Department announced that the discussions would take place at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The US delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has used previous sessions to press Beijing to move more quickly to allow the yuan to rise in value against the dollar. Mr Paulson had hoped to use the new high-level talks, launched in December 2006, to get China to move faster to address contentious trade issues. However, the talks, known as the Strategic Economic Dialogue, have had only limited success so far. ^ top ^

Beijing says yes to Asia-Pacific plan (SCMP)
2008-06-06
Beijing expressed its support yesterday for a proposal to create an Asia-Pacific union designed to boost co-operation in economic, security and political matters. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called for the creation of a body similar to the European Union, saying it would reflect the region's growing importance in the world. He wants the new union to be in place by 2020 and span the Asia-Pacific region, including the United States, Japan, China, India and Indonesia. China backed any proposal seeking to enhance regional co-operation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. Mr Rudd is a former diplomat who speaks fluent Putonghua, and some analysts believe he would not have publicly proposed an Asia-Pacific Community without securing some private backing. "The big key is China," said Alison Broinowski, from the Centre for Asian Studies at Australian National University. "If he has in fact got the Chinese on side with this, then it is a major triumph, if not then it is a very audacious move.". ^ top ^

Border talks likely on Indian official's visit (SCMP)
2008-06-06
India's foreign minister met his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, in Beijing yesterday amid concerns in New Delhi over China's growing clout and alleged incursions along their disputed border. Details of the talks between Pranab Mukherjee and Mr Yang were not immediately available, although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing had said earlier they would touch on border issues. Mr Mukherjee was also due to meet Premier Wen Jiabao and will give a speech at Peking University today before presiding over the opening of a new Indian consulate in Guangzhou .[…]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Children's Day is bitter-sweet in town that lost 300 youngsters (SCMP)
2008-06-02
With a memorial service in one area for victims of a primary school collapse and presentation of new schoolbags for children in refugee camps in another, Children's Day in Dujiangyan was unlike any other in the city's history. Usually a celebration, the day turned to mourning for parents of the roughly 300 students - nearly half the total - who died when Xinjian Elementary School fell. Hundreds of wailing relatives and classmates burned paper money and knelt at the site as funeral music played. Chen Yong and his wife went to where a wall collapsed on their daughter, Chen Yating , while she was in gym class. "This is a tofu project," he said, using a phrase for shoddy construction. "We want to sue the government." Parents held up photos of their children and signs with the different grades and classes so people could gather together. Medical workers aided some who collapsed during the two-hour ceremony, organised by parents and volunteers. […]. ^ top ^

10,000 soldiers search for missing relief helicopter - Operation to find crash site goes into a third day (SCMP)
2008-06-03
The search for a missing quake relief helicopter with 19 people on board lurched into its third day yesterday, with a surge in ground troops scouting for the crash site in Sichuan. The number of soldiers trekking into the rough mountainous terrain near Yingxiu township, the epicentre of the May 12 earthquake, to search for survivors tripled to 10,000, the China News Service reported. Authorities named and gave background details of the five military personnel on board, putting their courage and sacrifice on a par with martyrs. But the 14 civilian passengers remained nameless and were only identified as earthquake survivors from Li county who took the aircraft to go to Chengdu , Xinhua said. […]. ^ top ^

Health ministry dispels fears of epidemics (SCMP)
2008-06-03
Chinese medical teams have fanned out across the earthquake zone, disinfecting makeshift camps and educating survivors, and yesterday the Health Ministry said it could guarantee there would be no epidemics. Where bodies could not be cremated, they had been buried deep underground and far from water sources to prevent contamination, ministry spokesman Mao Qunan said. "Theoretically, when there is a large movement of people, the risk increases for the spread of transmittable diseases," he said on a webcast on the central government's website, www.gov.cn. "We have the ability and the confidence to guarantee there will be no epidemics after the disaster." China has mobilised its military to unblock roads, clear rubble and deliver food, water and tents to millions of people displaced by the May 12 earthquake. Rescuers are racing to drain lakes and set up housing before the summer rainy season begins. A tent city has sprung up in An county, just off a main road running through mountain fields of corn and watermelons. Prefabricated houses are going up, as they are elsewhere, to provide a more long-term shelter away from the stifling heat of leaky tents. The people, mostly farmers from Chaping, very near the epicentre of the quake, have nothing to do. Zhang Zhaohua, 24, was sitting in her tent with her 22-month-old boy. She said the adults could stand the heat and the unusual diet of instant noodles, served morning and night. "It's fine for us, but not for the little ones." The earthquake has gripped China, unleashing a flood of donations and volunteers to help in relief work. Trucks trundle across Sichuan with materials for prefabricated housing. In Yingxiu, dynamite is being used to clear rubble and unsafe buildings. Workers are spraying disinfectant as overcast and muggy weather settles in. "As time goes by, the major killers of inpatients are multiple organ failure and complicated drug-resistant infections, instead of the crush syndrome and acute renal failure in the initial period after the quake," ministry spokesman Mao said. He said that deep burial of the dead in Sichuan had been "scientifically handled" and water sources would not be contaminated. ^ top ^

Court protest by grieving parents (SCMP)
2008-06-04
Parents of children killed when a school collapsed in the May 12 earthquake protested outside a court in Dujiangyan yesterday, as dissatisfaction with the way the government has handled the situation grows. More than 100 parents of students from a high school in Juyuan, a town administered by Dujiangyan, held up photos of their dead children, a participant said. No arrests were made, although police removed some, apparently because journalists were watching. Parents from other areas in the quake-hit region have held protests and memorial ceremonies, but this was the first by these parents. The protest occurred as Li Changchun, a member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, visited Dujiangyan yesterday. Mr Li inspected dams and cultural relics damaged in the quake. The parents had hoped to file a lawsuit at the court yesterday, but they claimed the government had pressured their lawyer into staying away. "Our aim is to use the law," said the father of one of the children killed in the quake. An estimated 260 to 270 students and six teachers died when the school collapsed. Witnesses say three buildings - the oldest dating back to 1988 and a newer wing to 1995 - crumbled when the quake struck. "It is `tofu' construction," the mother of another dead student said, referring to the building's poor quality. "It's the fault of the local officials." Some parents had earlier called for a softer approach, ruling out collective action, but dissatisfaction has been mounting. Not all the parents were involved in the protest yesterday, but most hope to take part in some type of lawsuit. The parents are demanding an investigation and punishment for those found responsible, but talks with local education officials have failed to yield satisfactory results. […]. ^ top ^

Tiananmen kin will drop political claims in return for financial aid (SCMP)
2008-06-04
Beijing said yesterday it had no plans to revise its verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen protests, while a group of relatives who lost family members in the crackdown said they would temporarily shelve their demand for a new verdict in return for much-needed financial support from the government. The remarks by Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang came as authorities stepped up surveillance of outspoken lawyers and dissidents who have spoken out against the government over the 1989 student-led protests. Speaking at a regular press briefing, Mr Qin said the "political incident" that happened 19 years ago was now part of history. "Regarding the political incident that took place at the end of the 1980s, there is already a clear conclusion," he said. Ding Zilin, a retired professor who lost her son in the crackdown and headed the pressure group "Tiananmen Mothers", said yesterday that members were willing to temporarily shelve their demand for a reversal of the official verdict. Speaking on behalf of the 128 parents who lost family members in the crackdown, Ms Ding said they would put their demand aside if the government agreed to provide living support to the parents. She said many of the parents were living in dire conditions, suffering from chronic illness and poverty after losing their family members 19 years ago. "They urgently need help now because many are old and they have no supporting family members," Ms Ding said. "This is why we decided that we could put our demand aside, after a thorough discussion." Ms Ding said the parents still believed that the student-led protest in 1989 was an act of patriotism, but the government called it a "counter-revolutionary", subversive movement. Human rights lawyers and dissidents interviewed yesterday said they faced stepped-up surveillance from the authorities ahead of the sensitive anniversary. Pu Zhiqiang, an outspoken lawyer on human rights issues, said he received a warning. "Last year I went to Tiananmen Square [to pay my respect] and they [police] went with me," Mr Pu said. "This year a plain-clothes policeman told me they won't let me go tonight." He said state security police watched him in the office until late evening, to stop him from visiting Tiananmen Square. Other dissidents including Bao Tong, a former aide to the late Communist Party boss Zhao Ziyang, and prominent intellectual Liu Xiaobo said they had been harassed by police ahead of the anniversary. In New York, the watchdog Human Rights Watch urged Beijing to honour its commitment to improve China's human rights record before the Beijing Olympics, by freeing about 130 prisoners who were jailed in connection with the 1989 movement. For ordinary mainlanders, the sensitive date remained a taboo subject. University students in Guangzhou, many born after the 1989 crackdown, said they didn't care much about the looming anniversary because of the prolonged silence surrounding the event. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese president appoints new ambassadors (Xinhua)
2008-06-05
Chinese President Hu Jintao has appointed seven new ambassadors in accordance with the decisions adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature. Wang Wangsheng was appointed ambassador to the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, replacing Huang Jiemin. Huang Jiemin was appointed ambassador to the State of Kuwait, replacing Wu Jiuhong. Gu Xiaojie was appointed ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, replacing Lin Lin. Lin Songtian was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Malawi. Chen Jianfu was appointed ambassador to the Slovak Republic, replacing Huang Zhongpo. Huang Zhongpo was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Estonia, replacing Xie Junping Lan Lijun was appointed ambassador to Canada, replacing Lu Shumin. ^ top ^

Wen lands on dam of quake lake (China Daily)
2008-06-06
Premier Wen Jiabao landed on the dam of Tangjiashan quake lake in Sichuan province yesterday as water flowed into a sluice built a few days ago. The premier walked out of a helicopter after it landed on the landslide-created dam on the Jianjiang River near Beichuan in Sichuan province to review the situation first hand. The presence of the premier on the dam allayed fears somewhat that the quake lake was about to break its bank. CCTV footage showed Wen standing on the bank of the diversion channel, from where water was flowing, and talking with soldiers and officials. "This is a critical moment for the Tangjiashan quake lake, and the most important thing is to ensure there are no casualties," Wen was quoted by Xinhua as saying. The premier was on his third trip to the quake-hit zone. Rescue workers let the lake water flow into the sluice to prevent the dam from bursting its bank and flooding human habitation downstream. A spokesman for the local disaster relief headquarters had warned late on Wednesday that the quake lake could break its banks because of the aftershocks, and rain in the upper reaches of the river. "Water has been seeping from the dam," he said. […] The death toll in the quake increased by five to 69,127 by noon yesterday, and 373,612 people were injured and 17,918 missing, the State Council Information Office said. Hospitals have treated 97,631 injured, 74,165 of who have been discharged. Relief supplies continued to pour into the quake zone. By noon yesterday, 820,000 tents, 4.71 million quilts, 11.86 million garments, 731,700 tons of fuel oil and 1.54 million tons of coal had been delivered. Domestic and foreign donations had reached 43.764 billion yuan ($6.33 billion) by noon yesterday, and 12.795 billion yuan had been forwarded to the earthquake-affected areas. The National Audit Office (NAO) said yesterday that auditors are checking the use of goods and funds in earthquake relief, and the results will be released to the public around June 20. […]. ^ top ^

Cadres chastised for spreading 'political rumours' (SCMP)
2008-06-06
Communist Party leaders in Guangdong have issued a new circular chastising cadres for spreading "political rumours" and paying lip-service to party discipline and policies, a local newspaper reported. Issued by the Guangdong Discipline and Inspection Commission, the circular said "a minority" of cadres had deviated from the party's basic doctrines and principles to spread "irresponsible comments", the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday. "There are some cadres who pay little attention to policies and instructions issued by the party central and province," the circular said. "They sometimes refuse to implement these policies and orders or just pay lip-service to them. "There are others who cost the party and the state great losses ... through leaking state secrets," it said. "Some are interested in spreading the so-called `gossip' or even political rumours causing bad influence and affecting [national] unity and stability." The circular reminded cadres they must not organise or support any discussions, rallies or public demonstrations on matters that were against the party's basic policies and principles. Moreover, cadres were warned not to violate the party's policies on ethnic minority issues and religions, and said some of their actions had tarnished the "image" of the party and the state. It also asked local disciplinary bodies to "seriously investigate" any violators. The report did not explain what prompted the circular. It did not mention any specific events which triggered the warning. The circular comes, however, after calls to cadres by Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang for "mind emancipation" - a phrase encouraging officials to experiment with new ideas to solve challenges they faced. ^ top ^

Latest craze for ghouls: holidays in hell (SCMP)
2008-06-06
They might call themselves "volunteers". But the earthquake in Sichuan province has created a new breed of mainland traveller: the danger tourist. Although some might be motivated by the desire to help, others are flocking to the disaster zone out of morbid curiosity or for thrill-seeking. At least a million domestic volunteers have gone to Sichuan, mainland media estimates. […]. ^ top ^

Sichuan plans to put limits on journalists (SCMP)
2008-06-06
The Sichuan government is planning to place limits on the number of journalists that news organisations can register to cover the aftermath of the earthquake, in another sign of tighter control over the media. A second batch of press passes would be issued soon - possibly starting in the next few days - and the government would "in principle" limit the number issued, a publicity official said. She said the exact number to be granted to each news organisation had yet to be decided, but the numerical limits would apply to both overseas and domestic media. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing brings in 160 more sniffers (China Daily)
2008-06-04
Some 160 sniffer dogs from across the country are being sent to Beijing to help bolster public security efforts before and after the upcoming Olympic Games. The canines, which will be primarily used to seek out explosive devices and materials, will add to the 44 sniffer dogs already working in the capital. After a one-month intensive training course in Beijing, the canine bomb detectors, are expected to serve at key public places, including Olympic venues, logistics centers, and at the airport and subway stations. Twenty-eight dogs will come from Guangdong province, 20 from Heilongjiang, 17 from Henan, 17 from Guizhou, 14 from Yunan, eight from Gansu and six from Qinghai, according to media reports. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Stone not invited to film festival (China Daily)
2008-06-04
An official from the organizing committee of the Shanghai International Film Festival said yesterday American actress Sharon Stone "is not among the list of guests to be invited". The committee has so far not issued any official statement regarding a permanent ban on Stone, he said. Previously, media reports said the film festival, to be held next week, will ban the actress from attending its events on a permanent basis. "Stone and her films will not appear at the Shanghai International Film Festival, and will never, ever," Tang Lijun, deputy secretary-general of the festival, was quoted as saying on the news website Xinmin.cn last Wednesday. Stone's comment that the Wenchuan earthquake was a result of "bad karma" had caused much dismay. The 50-year-old star of Basic Instinct attended last year's festival as the Image Ambassador for the French cosmetic giant Christian Dior. However, the actress is now likely never to have the opportunity to represent Dior in China, the company's fastest growing market. "Due to customer reaction we have decided to pull her image from all of the department stores and from all of China," Dior China said in a statement released on Thursday. "I will not watch her movies anymore," Wang Yi, 23, who works for an international mining company in Shanghai, said yesterday. "She is totally ignorant of the pain and sorrow the Chinese people have suffered in the disaster. It was simply irresponsible," Wang said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Woman arrested for selling fake Olympic torches in HK (Xinhua)
2008-06-04
Hong Kong customs officers have arrested a 33-year-old woman for selling counterfeit Beijing 2008 Olympic Games torches on an Internet auction site, a government press release said on Tuesday. According to the press release from the Information Services Department of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, undercover officers arranged a transaction with the woman in a subway station Monday and arrested her, seizing a fake torch. They seized another four counterfeit torches in a flat. Two of the torches were made of metal and the rest made of cloth and cotton, the press release said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Strong earthquake hits northern Taiwan (China Daily)
2008-06-02
Local officials say a 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck northern Taiwan, rattling buildings, but causing no damage or casualties. Local weather bureau says the quake struck 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of the northeastern city of Ilan at 12:59 am Monday (1659 GMT Sunday). Ilan is about 44 miles (70 kilometers) east of Taipei. Authorities says the latest quake is not related to the 6.4 magnitude temblor that struck in the Pacific Ocean off of southern Taiwan on Sunday. Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little damage. A 7.6-magnitude quake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people. ^ top ^

Ma shifts from condemnation of crackdown to praise for reforms (SCMP)
2008-06-05
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has praised the mainland for its reforms, in a shift from his previously harsh condemnation of Beijing over its bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square 19 years ago. "Mainland China has made certain progress since it started to open up and reform 30 years ago," said Mr Ma in a statement issued yesterday through the Presidential Office website to mark the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Instead of lashing out at the mainland as he did in the past, Mr Ma simply asked Beijing to "continue to promote freedom and democracy" for the sake of the 1.3 billion mainland people and "paving the way for long-term peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait". He said since the crackdown in 1989, he has either taken part in activities or written articles annually to mark the incident. He stressed his concern about the incident was due mainly to "my concern over whether our mainland compatriots are able to enjoy a life of freedom and democracy". […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

16 Tibetans held on bombing charges (Xinhua)
2008-06-06
Sixteen Buddhist monks have been arrested for allegedly triggering explosions in Qamdo prefecture of the Tibet autonomous region. Chogyal, Tenphel and three other monks of the Wese Monastery allegedly hatched a plot on April 3 to attack key establishments in Mangkam county. At 11:25 pm on April 5, Tenphel and the other three allegedly triggered a blast in a transformer in Gartog township, police said. Chogyal had provided the explosives, detonators and fuses. The five were arrested on May 13. […]. ^ top ^

Tibet activists block Athens IOC gathering (SCMP)
2008-06-06
Greek police yesterday removed Tibetan activists blocking the venue of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) conference in Athens. Police lifted campaigners who had lain down at the entrance to the venue and moved them away. The activists shouted "Shame on the IOC" and "Tibetans are dying". About seven members of the Students For a Free Tibet group, some draped with Tibetan flags, took part in the protest, demanding that the IOC cancel the Olympic torch relay in Tibet and pressure China on human rights. "There is still time to do the right thing and cancel the Tibet leg of the torch relay," head campaigner Han Shan said. Activists have targeted the torch relay ahead of the August 8-24 Games in Beijing to protest against a crackdown in Tibet. Students For a Free Tibet, which disrupted the torch relay at its start in ancient Olympia and other European cities, said the IOC had not exerted any pressure on China or held it accountable for violations. "The Chinese government is betraying the commitments it made to press freedom in its bid for the Games," Han Shan said. The IOC, which has avoided political debate, said the Olympics inevitably brought wider attention to a host country. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama document aims to ease Beijing fears (SCMP)
2008-06-06
The Tibetan government-in-exile has issued a document to clarify that the Dalai Lama supports the Olympics, is not seeking independence, and follows the principle of non-violence. The move was seen as an attempt to ease Beijing's suspicions ahead of the next round of talks between the two sides. It is understood that the five-page document - a compilation of past statements by the Dalai Lama on the three issues that most concern the central government - is to be hand-delivered to state leaders, possibly including President Hu Jintao . The document was issued on Wednesday after a prayer ceremony for the earthquake victims offered by the Dalai Lama and attended by the entire exiled government in Dharamsala. The prime minister of the government-in-exile, Samdong Rimpoche, signed the document. The document, printed on the letterhead of the exile government, is one of a series of goodwill gestures made by the Dalai Lama. The selection of statements in the document was clearly aimed at allaying the worries of Beijing and reassuring mainland leaders that the Dalai Lama had been consistent and sincere in his support for the Beijing Olympics, his desire for autonomy under the framework of the People's Republic of China, and his opposition to violence. Two of the five pages contain statements made by the Dalai Lama in support of the Olympics, including a statement on April 6, when he said: "I feel the Tibetans should not cause any hindrance to the Games. "It will be futile and not helpful to anyone if we do something that will create hatred in the minds of the Chinese people." Pages three and four contain excerpts of statements to show Beijing that the Dalai Lama does not want independence, including an oft-cited statement he made in March 2005. At that time he said: "I once again want to reassure the Chinese authorities that as long as I am responsible for the affairs of Tibet, we remain fully committed to the Middle Way Approach of not seeking independence for Tibet, and are willing to remain within the PRC." Addressing the subject of non-violence, the document includes excerpts from four statements the Dalai Lama made after the March 14 riots calling for Tibetans not to resort to violence. Lawrence Brahm, a writer who attended the prayer ceremony on Wednesday, said the document sought to remove confusion and ease the worries of Beijing. "Beijing keeps saying he is trying to disrupt the Olympics and they said he has been trying to use violence ... So once and for all to stop the confusion, this document has been issued," he said. On Wednesday, an aide to the Dalai Lama said a seventh round of talks between the two sides, scheduled for next Wednesday, had been postponed as the mainland focused on earthquake relief efforts. ^ top ^

Tibetans deny Oslo brokered secret talks (SCMP)
2008-06-06
The Tibetan government-in-exile yesterday denied a newspaper report that Norway had been brokering secret talks between the Dalai Lama and Beijing. Verdens Gang reported that diplomatic efforts had lasted several years and the US was kept informed. "The Norwegian government is helping the Tibetans in many ways for the last many years, including providing development aid in the Tibetan settlements in India, but there is no secret diplomacy," said spokesman Thumpten Samphel. "This needs to be denied in its totality." Norway declined to comment. "It has been a precondition, especially from the Chinese government, that these [meetings] had to be strictly confidential," Verdens Gang said. Senior Norwegian Foreign Ministry officials attended the meetings, it reported. Norway is known for helping in conflicts and organising secret meetings between disputing parties. In 1993, it secretly brokered the now-frayed Oslo peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and in 2002, it helped negotiate a truce in Sri Lanka with the Tamil Tigers.

Eye of the storm - Witness accounts of the recent Lhasa unrest suggest the official version of events is not the whole truth (SCMP)
2008-06-06
Almost three months after Lhasa was rocked by riots that grabbed world headlines, the authorities are trying to ease the Tibetan capital back to a semblance of normality. As part of such efforts, the State Council Information Office this week hosted a group of Hong Kong and Taiwanese journalists in Lhasa. The four-day tour - the second since the riots - ended yesterday. Unlike the first heavily controlled visit two months ago, when only selected media were invited, all Hong Kong media were allowed to join this week's tour. The central government appeared eager to present a picture of normality to the outside world, with the battered Barkhor Square and the Jokhang Monastery, where the riots first started, having opened two weeks ago after two months of closure. The move comes as fresh talks are being planned between the government and the Dalai Lama. But security forces in Lhasa remain wary, with authorities this week reportedly stepping up security in the city with a heavy paramilitary presence for a festival marking the birth of Buddha. Despite the latest press tour, the truth behind the March 14 riots has remained elusive, with foreign media still banned from Lhasa. A tour of the capital during the May Day holiday revealed a more complete picture of the tensions that surrounded the riots. Without the overbearing presence of officials, the South China Morning Post had the opportunity to talk to a number of people from different ethnic backgrounds in Lhasa, including witnesses who saw the first riots start in Barkhor Square and near the Ramoche Temple. The visit also revealed details of the bloody crackdown and shooting by troops and police during the following days and nights. The witnesses, fearing for their safety, agreed to give their accounts of how the violence unfolded only on condition of anonymity. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Inflation in Switzerland reaches 15-year high (People's Daily)
2008-06-04
Inflation in Switzerland reached 2.9percent in May, the highest level since 1993, the official Swiss info news website reported on Tuesday. The inflation increase in May, which exceeded expectations, is largely attributed to high fuel prices, according to the report. Heating oil, for example, cost 16 percent more in May than in April, and consumers are now paying 60 percent more for this basic product than this time last year. The notional upper limit for price stability of 2 percent inflation, set by the Swiss National Bank, has been breached every month this year. The bank will decide on June 19 whether to cut interest rates, possibly making a move to cool the economy, Swiss info said. The country's inflation rate in April was 2.3 percent. ^ top ^

Nation could become top grain importer (SCMP)
2008-06-05
China could be forced to become a major grain importer to feed its increasingly wealthy population at a time of record food prices, a leading environmentalist said yesterday. As one of the world's top grain producers, the mainland imports little wheat or corn. But Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, said it might soon have to buy from abroad as citizens changed their eating habits. Mr Brown, an influential environmental scholar, said 4 billion people worldwide were seeking to switch from grain-based to meat-based diets, which demanded more farm resources. "I don't anticipate much increase in China's grain production and I expect China to move into the international market," he said in Beijing. "If China imports only 10 per cent of its grain needs, it will become the world's largest importer of grain." Dwindling water resources and a fall in crop yields brought on by global warming would also force the world's most populous nation to tap foreign grain markets, he said. China's US$1.76 trillion in foreign reserves would bolster its capacity to import more grain, he added. ^ top ^

Vanke says sorry with 100m yuan (China Daily)
2008-06-06
Shareholders of China Vanke Co, the country's largest publicly traded property developer, have approved a decision to spend 100 million yuan to rebuild homes in quake-stricken Sichuan. The company has been under fire from netizens since the earthquake after Wang Shi, its high-profile chairman, announced the real estate giant would donate 2 million yuan to the quake-hit areas and told his employees not to donate more than 10 yuan. In the face of the ensuing barrage of criticism by the media and netizens, Wang apologized on his blog. At yesterday's meeting, he apologized to shareholders as well: "I want to apologize unconditionally to all shareholders, I won't try to defend myself." Wang also admitted his comments about quake donations have damaged Vanke's brand image and he was sorry for that. As a lesson from this episode, Wang said, Vanke would have a spokesperson in the future and try to desist from doing anything that hits its share prices, as it did this time."If Vanke's performance suffers because of my personal comments, I will resign immediately," said Wang. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Games helping China open up, says IOC chief (SCMP)
2008-06-02
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said the opening of China after the earthquake was "an indirect result of the Olympic Games" being held in Beijing this year. He predicted the Games could help bring more such openness and democratic reforms. "You will see that the Olympic Games will change China," he said. Mr Rogge said the Olympics could contribute to change in China because the media would report freely. "This is something revolutionary for China.". ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Vice president to visit DPRK (China Daily)
2008-06-06
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen from June 17 to 25, announced Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in Beijing Thursday. It is Xi's first oversea trip since he assumed the post of vice president in March, according to Qin. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Horror Storm Leaves Mongolia Mourning (Mongol Messenger)
2008-06-05
Mongolia observed a day of mourning on Saturday (May 31) for the 52 people killed in a heavy snowstorm that devastated seven provinces last week. The storm hit several aimags (provinces) suddenly on May 26-27, leaving hundreds of gers destroyed and thousands of livestock dead in its wake. Of the 52 people killed during the storm, 14 were children, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). “During the storm, a total of 254 people went missing. After the immediate rescue operation, 202 people were found alive and 52 people were found frozen to death, 14 of them were children,” a NEMA press official said. The winds reached speeds of 30-40 meters per second, damaging buildings and infrastructure and causing power cuts in the worst-hit areas. Local authorities are disinfecting and burying dead animals to prevent the outbreak of a veterinarian disease, NEMA said. The Government decided on May 29 to render assistance to the aimags. ^ top ^

Parliament's Final Session Closed (Mongol Messenger)
2008-06-05
The last session of the current State Great Hural (Parliament) finished on June 3, with the long-awaited changes to the minerals law still unapproved. Speaker of the P a r l i a m e n t , D.Lundeejantsan, defended the work of parliamentarians, who are facing election on June 29. “This Parliament worked hard. So much work is done in so little time,” he said. “An irregular session waseven declared to review the proposed amendments to the minerals law. Unfortunately, all parties could not reach common understanding on every articles of the law. ^ top ^

Poverty Reduction Program Begins (Mongol Messenger)
2008-06-05
Millenium Challenge Account Mongolia formally commenced operations last Friday, with a US$285 million package program to reduce poverty by stimulating economic growth. On October 22, 2007, President N.Enkhbayar signed the agreement together with the US President George W. Bush in the White House. Under the program, the country's railway system, the backbone of Mongolia's economy, will receive most of the funding, US$188.38 million. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation is also working with Mongolia to improve the ability of Mongolians to register and obtain clear title to their land, reform the vocational education system to meet market demands, and improve the health and well-being of the labor force by reducing non-communicable diseases and injuries. ^ top ^

 

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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