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
  25.8-29.8.08, No. 231  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

Outlook

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Foreign Policy

Diversion ahead - Central Asia's key gas suppliers see China as an alternative to Russia following the crisis in Georgia (SCMP)
2008-08-25
In the fallout from the confrontation between Russia and Georgia in the Caucasus, China is likely to gain a significant bonus in the drive to buttress its energy security by importing natural gas from nearby countries in Central Asia. Although restrained by a fragile ceasefire brokered by France and agreed by Moscow and Tbilisi, the recent fighting has cast a shadow over Georgia's reliability and future role as an energy corridor bringing gas to Europe from the petroleum rich Caspian Sea and Central Asia, without passing through Russia or Iran. Reflecting this concern, BP announced on August 12 that it had shut down an oil pipeline that runs through Georgia and stopped pumping gas into another pipeline transiting the country, both as a precautionary measure.Normal flow in the gas pipeline was resumed two days later. But the oil pipeline to Supsa, on Georgia's Black Sea coast, remained shut, as did a much bigger oil pipeline from Azerbaijan on the Caspian to Turkey via Georgia. It was closed earlier in the month after a fire on its Turkish stretch, blamed on Kurdish separatists. This Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is also operated by BP and carries about 1 million barrels of Caspian crude oil per day, mainly to Europe. After seeing Russian readiness to use force and the west's inability to counter the military incursion into Georgia, the three key Central Asian gas suppliers, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are expected to turn to China, instead of Europe, as their main alternative gas market to Russia. Together, the proven gas reserves of these three central Asian republics total more than 6.3 trillion cubic metres, far behind Russia's 44.6 trillion cubic metres, but enough to put Central Asia into the world's top dozen sources of gas - a less-polluting fossil fuel than coal or oil. Because of a well-established pipeline network connecting the Central Asian republics to the former Soviet Union, Russia is still by far the most important market for their gas. […] The European Union was planning to break this dependence by importing Azeri and Central Asian gas through a trans-Caspian undersea pipeline bypassing Russia and connecting with another new pipeline to Western Europe via Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The network was to be completed by 2013. However, analysts doubt that it will proceed. Raising capital to finance the project, always a problem, will be much more difficult now. The trans-Europe Nabucco venture already lags well behind rival Russian and Chinese pipeline projects. […] Last December, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan finalised an agreement to build a new export pipeline to carry 20 billion cubic metres of gas along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea into Russia. They also decided to modernise and expand the main Soviet-era gas pipeline from Central Asia to Russia. Last month, Moscow offered to pay Turkmenistan European-equivalent prices for the 50 billion cubic metres of gas it sells to Russia annually. Meanwhile, a plan backed by the United States to pipe Turkmenistan gas across Afghanistan to Pakistan and India has lapsed because of spreading conflict in Afghanistan and instability in Pakistan. When these various pipeline projects were being advanced as serious competitors to one another, the main question was whether Turkmenistan had enough gas to supply Russia, China, Europe and South Asia. […]. ^ top ^

"Hu Jintao backs Russia's right to host Winter Olympics" (China Daily)
2008-08-27
President Hu Jintao has backed Russia's right to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in the face of international pressure over recent events in Georgia. "We want to assure (Russia) that China will firmly support it to host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi," Hu told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when they met in the Tajik capital before the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) summit. Some Western politicians have said Russia has no right to host the Winter Olympics because it recognized two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independence states. But Hu said China not only supported Russia's rights, but also was ready to provide organizational and security help to make the Winter Games a success. In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry Wednesday expressed "concern" over the latest development in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Spokesman Qin Gang said: "We know the complicated history and reality of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia issues "In accordance with China's consistent and principled stance on such issues, we hope the relevant parties would resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation." Yesterday's meeting between Hu and Medvedev was their second in less than two months. Their first meeting was on the sidelines of the outreach session of the G8 Summit in Japan on July 9. […]. ^ top ^

China, Tajikistan reach broad consensus on furthering bilateral cooperation (People's Daily)
2008-08-28
China and Tajikistan have reached broad consensus on deepening bilateral cooperation in politics, economy, trade and their efforts to combat terrorism, according to a joint statement issued here Wednesday following a meeting between the presidents of both countries. According to the statement, the two sides agreed that the Chinese-Tajik Good-Neighborly and Friendly Cooperation Treaty signed last year forged a solid legal basis for the development of bilateral ties. Both sides spoke highly of the current development of bilateral ties and believed the rapid development of cooperation in various fields has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples. They also made a commitment on furthering exchanges and cooperation between China's National People's Congress and the Tajik Parliament, as well as among special committees and friendly groups, in order to improve the legal basis for bilateral ties, consolidate traditional friendship and enhance understanding between the two peoples. The two sides hailed the settlement of border issues and pledged to seek long-term peace. They also voiced mutual support for important issues concerning each others' sovereignty and territorial integrity. […] The statement has Tajikistan reiterating its adherence to the one-China policy, saying Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The two sides held the point that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has developed smoothly and become an important platform for member states to deepen neighborly ties on the basis of mutual trust and benefit. […]. ^ top ^

China, Kyrgyzstan vow to enhance cooperation in various fields (Xinhua)
2008-08-29
Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Kyrgyz counterpart Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Thursday agreed to promote cooperation of the two countries in various fields. […] China attaches great importance to its ties with Kyrgyzstan and regards Kyrgyzstan as an important partner in Central Asia, he added. Hu urged the two sides to well implement bilateral cooperative programs in the building of roads and railways, and to promote business at land ports to deepen bilateral trade and economic cooperation. The president said China is also willing to strengthen security cooperation with Kyrgyzstan. […] After paying a state visit to Tajikistan and attending the SCO summit, Hu would fly to Turkmenistan on Thursday night. […]. ^ top ^

China secures US$3b oil deal to develop Iraqi field (SCMP)
2008-08-29
China has continued its push to secure oil and gas resources overseas by sealing a deal with Iraq worth about US$3 billion. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang confirmed yesterday that a deal had been concluded by the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation to develop the Ahdab oil field south of Baghdad. "The co-operation between the relevant oil companies from China and Iraq is mutually beneficial," Mr Qin said after the Iraqi embassy announced the deal. "It will be conducive to the economic development of Iraq and will meet China's demands in the oil field, as well, and is also conducted according to market rules and will not harm any interests of any third parties." […]. ^ top ^

SCO: Solve problems by dialogue (China Daily)
2008-08-29
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders Thursday agreed that attempts to solve a problem through use of force would never work, and instead it would hinder a comprehensive settlement. A comprehensive solution to existing problems can only be found by considering the interests of all the parties and including them in the negotiation process, the leaders said. A joint declaration at the end of the SCO summit in the Tajik capital said that attempts to strengthen a country's security at the expense of others' was not conducive to maintaining security and stability across the globe. The SCO members expressed deep concern over the South Ossetia issue, and urged all the parties involved to resolve it peacefully through dialogue. The leaders welcomed the six-point proposal, reached in Moscow on Aug 12, to resolve the issue, and praised Russia for its positive role in promoting peace and cooperation in the region. On prevention of conflicts, the SCO leaders vowed to abide by the UN Charter and relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the basic norms governing international law. The UN Security Council, entrusted with the major responsibility of safeguarding world peace and security, should play a leading role in this regard, they said. The declaration was signed by presidents Hu Jintao, Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Nursultan Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan), Kurmanbek Bakiyev (Kyrgyzstan), Emomali Rakhmon (Tajikistan) and Islam Karimov (Uzbekistan). Leaders of SCO observer countries, Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan, attended the meeting too. The SCO leaders' joint communiqu said the Treaty on Long-term Good-neighborly Relations, Friendship and Cooperation, signed in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek last year, is very important for strengthening cooperation to tackle new challenges and threats. […] The SCO members signed treaties on holding anti-terrorism drills, and the crackdown on arms and ammunition trafficking. On the promotion of international exchanges, the leaders agreed to boost SCO's cooperation with India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan by taking their interests into account. They decided to set up a special team to consider the expansion of the SCO, too. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Typhoon Nuri brings downpours to south China (People's Daily)
2008-08-24
Downpours brought by Typhoon Nuri swept south China's Guangdong and Guangxi from Friday to Saturday, but no casualties have been reported. From 8 a.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Saturday, rainstorms accompanied by winds of up to 68 km per hour, hit the southeastern areas of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with the biggest precipitation of 350 mm in Beiliu County, according to the regional meteorological station. Heavy rain was forecast to continue in the region on Sunday and Monday. […] In a farming yard in Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital, 186 tourists, including 55 foreigners, were evacuated to safe areas by police after the wooden house where they stayed were damaged by strong winds with power cut off. ^ top ^

Quake toll in southwest China's Yunnan rises to five (Xinhua)
2008-08-26
The quake death toll in southwest China's Yunnan Province has risen to five with two further deaths reported, the provincial authorities said on Monday. […] Yingjiang was hit by a magnitude-5 tremor at 5:35 a.m. on Wednesday, followed by quakes with magnitudes 4.9 and 5.9 on Thursday. Twenty-nine people were seriously injured and 98 slight hurt. The tremors destroyed 31,000 residential buildings and damaged 130,000 others. forcing the evacuation of 125,000 people in DehongDai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture and Baoshan City. Tents, quilts and clothing had been allocated to the worst-hit areas, said Wang Shufen, the Yunnan Civil Affair Department chief. […]. ^ top ^

All schools in quake zone to resume classes next month (Xinhua)
2008-08-26
All primary and secondary schools in areas badly devastated by the May 12 quake in southwest China will be able to resume classes on Sept. 1, China's education authority announced on Monday. […]. ^ top ^

President promises to continue reforms (SCMP)
2008-08-27
China would remain committed to the economic reform and openness it adopted three decades ago, President Hu Jintao pledged yesterday. In a speech to business groups on the second day of his visit to South Korea, Mr Hu noted that this year was the 30th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's reforms, which have brought the nation unprecedented prosperity. "China's development over the past 30 years was thanks to its policy of reform and openness," he said. "Its future development should also be based on reform and openness. The Chinese people will persist in their efforts to push through with reform and openness and to speed up the modernisation of socialism." He cautioned that China had a long way to go to achieve modernisation and prosperity benefiting all, saying efforts needed to continue for a long time. Mr Hu said China was inextricably bound to the rest of the world. "At a time when globalisation is deepening and scientific and technological innovation is speeding up, the connection between the future of China and that of the rest of the world is becoming ever stronger." China, he said, would "continue following the path of peace and development, carrying out its policy of openness aimed at mutual prosperity, and pursuing peace and co-operation". "The Chinese people, together with the world's people, want to push forward for the building of a world that will prosper in harmony and peace.". ^ top ^

11 workers die in plant blast (China Daily)
2008-08-27
Explosions at a chemical plant in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region killed 11 workers yesterday. Fifty-seven others are in hospital and eight are missing, the Xinhua News Agency said. […] "The explosions hampered firemen from putting out the blaze. There was also the risk of toxic gases escaping such as ammonia and formaldehyde," Ma Dewen, a fireman, was quoted by Xinhua as saying. […]. ^ top ^

20 confirmed dead in S China chemical plant blast (Xinhua)
2008-08-28
Twenty people were confirmed dead from Tuesday's explosion at a chemical plant in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, rescue headquarters said on Wednesday. […]. ^ top ^

Lawmakers call for right to privacy to be tightened (SCMP)
2008-08-28
The right to privacy has come under scrutiny on the mainland, with legislators discussing tougher criminal penalties for officials caught disclosing citizens' personal information. One legislator has also called for greater punishment for online invasions of individuals' privacy. […] The issue came up this week as the National People's Congress Standing Committee met in Beijing. Legislators debated whether to amend the law, to allow the fining and up to three years' imprisonment of staff at government agencies and other bodies who sell or illegally supply personal data acquired through their job. Anybody found stealing, trading or acquiring such information through other means would face similar penalties if the proposal were adopted, according to Xinhua. […] Mainland media have been focusing on rising public concern about netizens invading the privacy of others by releasing personal information onto the internet, especially through popular online search engines. […] Popular search engine Renrou, whose name literally means human flesh, differs from traditional search engines in that it allows a person to draw on the knowledge of tens of thousands to answer a question. The searches have resulted in many cases where the exposure of personal information has led to suicide, physical harm or anguish. The latest high-profile example involved attempts to track down the missing father of Olympic shooting champion Guo Wenjun, who was quoted as saying in a post-match interview that it was her dream to find her father, whom she had not seen for a decade. That prompted thousands of people to start a campaign to uncover information about Guo to try to find her father. Guo's family has since pleaded with the public to stop the search. They said Guo did not authorise the effort and the search campaign had seriously affected her relatives. "Through human flesh search engines, citizens' names, home addresses and personal telephone numbers are released on the internet", the People's Daily quoted Mr Zhu as saying. "Without regulation, this will cause a serious infringement of people's basic rights.". ^ top ^

Government approves three-year rebuilding plan for China's quake zone (Xinhua)
2008-08-28
The Chinese government has approved a plan to restore normal life and production over the next three years in the areas devastated by the May 12 earthquake. The State Council approved the general plan in principle at a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao and attended by executive members of the Cabinet on Wednesday. The National Development and Reform Commission had prepared and revised the plan after seeking public opinions. The general plan was designed as the basis for reconstruction and for accelerating economic and social development, the meeting heard. It stipulates that basic living conditions and economic and social development will be restored to pre-quake levels or higher. The plan sets principles for rebuilding urban and rural areas, restoring industries and relocating the populations in these areas. It sets clear requirements and policies on construction of houses. The reconstruction will be integrated with urban and rural reforms as well as rural development and poverty-elimination programs, by rebuilding facilities for production and housing in rural areas and building up production bases for grain, edible oil and commercial crops. Public education, science and research, medical service, culture and sports, natural heritage, employment, and social security facilities will be rebuilt in accordance with the planning and populations. Communications, telecommunications, energy and water infrastructure will be restored in accordance with geological and geographical conditions and the requirements for economic and social development. Some companies will be rebuilt on their original sites and encouraged to develop industries with local specialties and advantages, while others would be relocated or closed. […]. ^ top ^

Foreigners face new traffic rules (People's Daily)
2008-08-29
Police may prohibit foreigners involved in traffic accidents from leaving the country until the cases are settled. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said on Wednesday this new authority has been added to the Provisions on the Procedures for Handling Traffic Accidents, and will take effect in January. However, it will be subordinate to the Regulations of China Concerning Consular Privileges and Immunities as well as other international conventions and agreements signed between China and other countries and international organizations, the MPS said. Wang Qiang, an official with MPS's traffic management bureau, said the provision conforms to international practices. […]. ^ top ^

Three killed in Xinjiang attack on policemen (SCMP)
2008-08-29
At least two policemen and an assistant were killed and several others wounded when they were ambushed by Uygur attackers in Jiashi county, Xinjiang, on Wednesday. It was the fourth attack against security forces in Xinjiang in the past month - apparently indicating authorities have not yet been able to stop violence in the region, where Turkic-speaking Muslim Uygurs make up a majority of the population. […] Activist Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the German-based World Uygur Congress, said witnesses had heard "fierce gunfire" but did not give any details. A cadre with the Kezleboy town government, which is under the administration of Kashgar, confirmed the violence but denied any gunfire had taken place. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

More gas for HK in deal with mainland (SCMP)
2008-08-29
Hong Kong and the mainland signed a new energy deal yesterday that guarantees continued supplies of natural gas and nuclear power for 20 years and holds out the prospect of cleaner air and cheaper electricity. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

50 years has been wasted, says Ma in cross-strait peace appeal (SCMP)
2008-08-25
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has called on Beijing to seize the historic opportunity of cross-strait reconciliation to promote peace with the island. In yet another olive branch extended to Beijing, Mr Ma said yesterday the two sides had wasted 50 years to learn the painful lesson that only peace could achieve a win-win situation across the Taiwan Strait. "There are no winners in war, which only brings regrets," he said while attending the 50th anniversary of a fierce battle on Quemoy, or Kinmen, a fortified island cluster just kilometres off the mainland's southeastern coastal city of Xiamen. Communist troops fired more than 500,000 shells on Quemoy and several other islets from Xiamen in a 44-day bombardment beginning on August 23, 1958. The shelling killed more than 600 Taiwanese soldiers and civilians, injuring over 2,600. "We cannot repeat these regrets. Looking back on the past 50 years, we can see that Taiwan and the mainland can have war or peace, can fight or compete, can close the door or carry out exchanges," he said, adding there was no need for the two sides to learn their lesson with "terrible price". […]. ^ top ^

China rebukes proposal on Taiwan's participation in UN agencies (China Daily)
2008-08-29
China on Thursday rebuked the proposal by a few countries on Taiwan's participation in the United Nations specialized agencies, saying it infringed upon its sovereignty and territorial integrity. "The proposal by Gambia, Nauru and others countries attempts to create 'two Chinas' or 'one China, one Taiwan,' infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and intervenes in China's domestic affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press conference here. "The Chinese government and people firmly oppose it." Qin said the United Nations and specialized agencies were joined by sovereign states. He added there was only one China in the world, while Taiwan was a part of China. Hailing the good momentum of the current relations across the Taiwan Strait, he said any move that created two Chinas or one China, one Taiwan would cast shadow on the development. He urged those countries to abide by the UN charter, not to make obstacles for the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, and support the Chinese government's efforts on that. Qin said China paid great attention to the benefits of its 23 million Taiwan compatriots. The issue of Taiwan's participation in international organizations should be solved by Chinese across the Strait via consultation. "We believe that so long as the two sides of the Strait make common efforts in the spirit of setting up mutual trust and seeking common points while reserving difference, a way can be found.". ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Beijing promises funds for Tibet (SCMP)
2008-08-25
Beijing has vowed to step up economic support for Tibet, which has yet to recover from mass anti-government protests early this year, in its latest bid to woo Tibetans. Tibet Autonomous Region government vice-chairman Hao Peng said Beijing had recently issued a new policy document renewing its support for Tibet's socioeconomic development. Beijing would provide funds to help Tibet restore its shattered tourism sector, repair public service facilities and build many infrastructure projects in the region, Xinhua said. The report did not go into details. Mr Hao was quoted as describing the new policies as "having exhibited yet again the particular attention on Tibet by the Communist Party and the State Council". Analysts said economic leverage had long been used to dilute political disputes over Beijing's rule in Tibet and enhance the legitimacy of its control of the Himalayan region. At least eight small protests have taken place in central Beijing this month despite tight security to ensure a worry-free Olympics. The Himalayan region was rocked by violent protests in March, prompting a global outcry over Beijing's tight grip on Tibet and protests, which had a major impact on the international part of the Olympic torch relay. Amid mounting pressure before the Games, Beijing agreed to hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. Beijing has opened the first rail link on the Tibetan plateau and built hydropower projects, roads and airports in the past decade to bolster its support for the poverty-hit region. The central government vowed last year to invest in 180 infrastructure projects in Tibet, with investment of 110 billion yuan (HK$125.8 billion) earmarked by 2010. ^ top ^

Two thousand evacuated after quake in Tibet (Xinhua)
2008-08-27
About 2,000 people were safely evacuated from their homes after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region late on Monday. […] But cracks appeared in 42 residential buildings, said Tan Yungao, the regional civil affairs department's deputy director. The quake also damaged 54 rooms in primary and middle schools. The official said the affected area was in urgent need of tents and quilts. Some 400 tents, 3,500 quilts and clothing were being transported to the area. […]. ^ top ^

China launches new attack on Dalai Lama's "lies" (Reuters)
2008-08-28
China launched a new attack on exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday, denouncing what it said were his "lies" about Tibet and saying the region would never become independent. The Dalai Lama earlier this month criticised some aspects of Chinese rule over Tibet, which he fled in 1959 after an abortive uprising. He told Le Monde newspaper during a visit to France that Chinese troops had fired on protesters in eastern Tibet on Aug. 18, and that 400 people had been killed in the Lhasa area alone since protests against Chinese rule broke out in March. But an opinion piece carried by China's official Xinhua news agency said the more "lies" the Dalai Lama told, the less he would be believed. "The larger a balloon is blown, the easier it will be to pop. The more shocking the lies, the easier it will be to expose them," Xinhua said. China's crackdown on protests in Tibet in March drew widespread international criticism. China accused the Dalai Lama and his allies of orchestrating the trouble, and of trying to derail the Beijing Olympic Games. The Dalai Lama denied the allegations, saying that he supported the Olympics and that the Chinese people deserved to host them. "The Beijing Olympics let the whole world better understand a modern China which is open, developing and self-confident," Xinhua said. "Conversely, there are fewer and fewer viewers interested in the Dalai's political performances in international society, even including in some Western countries," it said. China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since its troops marched into the remote Himalayan region in 1950. […] "The Chinese government ... hopes he realises his errors and amends his ways on the evil road of plotting splittism," it said. "Tibet independence has no future, and neither does splittism," it said. The Dalai Lama says he does not seek independence for Tibet, only broad autonomy. An aide said in India on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama is exhausted and had cancelled two foreign trips to rest and undergo medical tests. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama admitted to hospital (BBC)
2008-08-28
The 73-year-old exiled Tibetan spiritual leader had cancelled all his international trips on Wednesday saying he was suffering from exhaustion. A spokesman said the ailment had not yet been diagnosed but it appeared there was no cause for concern. […] His spokesman, Tenzin Taklha, told the AFP news agency: "There is nothing major to feel concerned about. But he has been admitted to the Lilivati Hospital in Mumbai because he was feeling some discomfort in his abdomen. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Mundell: RMB should be gradually stabilized (Xinhua)
2008-08-24
The exchange rate of the Chinese yuan against the dollar should be stabilized gradually in period of time, said Nobel economics laureate Robert Mundell Saturday. Mundell, who is dubbed "father of the euro" made the remarks when addressing a conference that drew 15 Nobel prize winners in economics and nearly 300 other famed economists worldwide in the German resort of Lindau from Wednesday to Saturday. Mundell said he has learned that many businesses are on the verge of collapse during his recent tour to China's Dongguan, a major manufacturing base in southern China. That was largely the result of RMB's dramatic appreciation against the dollar over the past year, Mundell added. He also noted that a rising RMB has taken a toll on these Chinese manufacturers whose profit margin has virtually been very meagre in the international industrial chain. The exchange rate of RMB should be stabilized gradually, he emphasized. On the current inflation in China, which has been higher than previous years, Mundell said it is a normal result of years of two-digit economic growth. […]. ^ top ^

Bank of China denies supporting terrorists (China Daily)
2008-08-28
Bank of China (BOC), China's third-largest commercial lender by assets, has denied accusations that it transferred money to terrorist groups, and has said it will defend itself against a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles. On Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that more than 100 victims of terrorism in Israel had filed a lawsuit against the BOC demanding the institution stop transferring money to terrorist groups. The suit accuses the bank of putting through dozens of wire transfers totaling several million dollars to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and ignoring Israeli demands to desist, AP said. […] The bank has always abided by rules set by related industry supervisors and regulators in China and abroad, and its internal anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist policies also ban financial services for terrorist organizations, he said. BOC will clarify the facts through legal procedures, and reserves the right to file a counter-lawsuit and to adopt any other necessary legal measures, Wang said. "We believe the American court will make a just verdict on the case according to law and the facts," he said. The Chinese government always attaches importance to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, he said. The country's first anti-money laundering law took effect last year. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

Dream Finale (SCMP)
2008-08-25
In a blaze of fireworks and national pride, a boisterous Beijing waved goodbye to the Games of the XXIX Olympiad last night. Tears of joy. Sighs of relief. Pumping fists. Screams of exhilaration. A 17-day journey full of agony and ecstasy ended at the National Stadium, or "Bird's Nest", in a glittering celebration that was a uniquely Chinese mosaic of song, dance and colour that exploded energetically against traditional "auspicious cloud" motifs on the stadium's floor. Almost 100,000 enthusiastic spectators and athletes packed the stadium to say farewell. They watched raptly as the Olympic flag was lowered, the flame extinguished and the flag passed to London, where the Games are set for 2012. It was a climactic conclusion and a dazzling show of national pride for the host nation, which may have even shocked itself by scooping up a record 51 golds - well ahead of the second-place United States, with 36. China won a total of 100 medals in a dizzying array of sports - from gymnastics and diving to boxing and sailing. The Americans won the most medals overall with 110, however. "[It's] a major historic breakthrough," read a congratulatory message jointly sent by the top Communist Party leadership and the government. "The motherland and the people are proud of you ... [you] have won immense glory for your country and people." […] The world is now waiting to see whether the Beijing Games will be distinguished by their ability to transform the country. ^ top ^

IOC chief: Beijing Olympic Games "truly exceptional Games" (Xinhua)
2008-08-25
The Beijing Olympic Games are "truly exceptional Games," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge at the Games' closing ceremony staged in the National Stadium in northern Beijing on Sunday night. He repeated the words in French. "Through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world. Athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees came to these dazzling venues and awed us with their talent," Rogge said in his closing speech. […] Rogge expressed best wishes for the athletes who will participate in the upcoming Paralympic Games, scheduled for Sept. 6-17. "They also inspire us." He also thanked the people of China, all the volunteers and the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Summer Olympics. At the end of his speech, Rogge declared the closing of the Beijing Games in French, and called upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in London to celebrate the 30th summer Olympic Games. ^ top ^

Foreign reporters pack their bags - and may be leaving a changed China behind (SCMP)
2008-08-25
After two weeks basking in worldwide media attention - good and bad - Chinese authorities can finally breathe a sigh of relief as more than 20,000 international journalists return home as the Olympics end. But questions linger about whether the authorities have learned from their crash course in public relations during the Games, and whether Beijing will continue to allow free reporting by overseas media after the Paralympics close on September 17. Just before the Games, Liu Binjie, director of the General Administration of Press Publication, said China's "open-door to the foreign media will not close after the Games", hinting at a continuation of a policy that allowed greater media freedom in the run-up to and during the Olympics. Under the policy, introduced at the beginning of last year, overseas reporters may freely conduct interviews on the mainland as long as they have interviewees' consent. Before its introduction, journalists in theory had to obtain government approval for interviews. But despite the new policy, journalists reported being harassed or detained for covering demonstrations and issues that Beijing considers negative. Reporters Without Borders said at least 22 foreign journalists were attacked, arrested or otherwise obstructed during the Games. The Foreign Correspondents Club of China said it had recorded more than 30 cases of interference since July 25, when the Main Press Centre officially opened. Of these, 10 involved violence, and eight involved damage to equipment or destruction of photographs. However, the relative freedom was not enjoyed by domestic media. During the Games period, many media were required to report only positive and "harmonious" stories. […]. ^ top ^

Paralympic ticket sales going well: Official (China Daily)
2008-08-26
Tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Paralympics and associated sports events are selling well, a senior official from the Games' organizing committee said over the weekend. "So far, more than 480,000 tickets for have been sold, 32,000 of them to disabled spectators, their families and friends," Tang Xiaoquan, executive vice-president of BOCOG and vice-president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation told a press meeting on Sunday in Beijing. Of the total 1.66 million tickets available for the Paralympics, the best seats will go to disabled spectators, Zhao Chunluan, chief of the Beijing Disabled Persons Federation, said. […]. ^ top ^

Swiss media praise Beijing Olympic Games (People's Daily)
2008-08-26
Swiss media have highly praised the organization work of the Beijing Olympic Games, saying the Games presented a modern and high-efficient China to the world. The success of the Games deepened the world's impression of "brand China", and Chinese enterprises will benefit the most, said Swiss news agency ATS. […]. ^ top ^

Flame ignited with Paralympic spirit (SCMP)
2008-08-29
The Paralympic flame was ignited yesterday in Beijing, a city still in the grip of a hangover from the just-ended Olympic Games. Premier Wen Jiabao lit a cauldron in a formal ceremony at the capital's landmark Temple of Heaven, marking the beginning of a 10-day Paralympic torch relay that will visit 11 mainland cities before returning to Beijing in time for the opening ceremony on Saturday, September 6. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Hu: Let's take Six-Party Talks ahead (China Daily)
2008-08-26
President Hu Jintao and his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Lee Myung-bak have agreed to expand cooperation in political, economic and other fields, including the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Hu, who reached Seoul Monday, said: "We agreed to make joint efforts to ensure the Six-Party Talks enter a new phase." Speaking at a joint press conference with Lee after their meeting, Hu called for the "full implementation" of the second phase of the Korean denuclearization process. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has to disable its nuclear facilities and declare its programs in the second phase. […] Lee told Hu about Seoul's "endeavor" to develop ROK-DPRK relations on the principle of "co-existence and co-prosperity to realize permanent peace and a common economic community". Hu and Lee agreed to have frequent exchange visits by senior officials and hold the first high-level strategic bilateral talks later this year, a joint statement said. […] The ROK hopes to intensify dialogue with China in diplomacy, security, politics and defense, and push forward cooperation in trade, finance and investment, Lee said, asserting that his country would always follow the one-China policy. Officials of the two countries inked cooperative deals on energy conservation, high-tech, and education after the meeting. Hu's two-day visit to the ROK is his first stop on a three - country tour. His second halt will be in Dusahnbe, capital of Tajikistan, where he will attend the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, after which he will fly to Turkmenistan. ^ top ^

DPRK suspends disablement of nuclear facilities (China Daily)
2008-08-27
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced on Tuesday it has halted disabling nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, the official KCNA news agency reported. The DPRK will "consider soon a step to restore the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon to their original state," the KCNA quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying. The measure, a reaction to the impasse of the six-party nuclear talks, took effect on Aug. 14, he said. The United States and the DPRK can't agree on ways to verify the nuclear declaration that the DPRK submitted in June as part of a six-nation disarmament deal. The United States has said it will wait until a verification mechanism is in place before it considers taking the DPRK off its terrorism blacklist. The DPRK spokesman rejected the verifying measures as short-noticed on-site inspection, saying that "the US is gravely mistaken if it thinks it can make a house search in the DPRK as it pleases just as it did in Iraq.". ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

After Two Month Standstill, Mongolian Parliament May Begin Work (Mongol Messenger)
2008-08-28
Democratic Party officials have stated that it will end its boycott and allow newly elected Members of Parliament to take the oath of office. The decision ends two months of political uncertainty. Currently 69 out of 76 parliamentary seats have been decided. According to the Democratic Party, the new Parliament session could begin as early as today. Previously, DP Members of Parliament said they would continue to boycott Mongolia's government until the Head of the General Election Committee, B. Battulga, submitted election results collected on July 10. […] However, results for three seats members from Dornod aimag and four from Bayangol district in Ulaanbaatar are still pending. J.Nergui, the head of Parliament's Press Office, said that the election districts, not the GEC, must resolve those elections and that it is not clear when they will reach a decision. Battulga said that the confirmed members of parliament should swear the oath of office and then address the tasks at hand, including the DP's call to dismiss Battulga from the GEC chairmanship. It appears that this scenario will play out. […] Last Monday, President N.Enkhbayar tried for the fourth time to begin a new parliamentary session. However, all DP parliamentary members except E.Bat-Uul and B.Batbayar were absent. The two politicians have asked their fellow party members to join them and end the boycott. This week their requests may not have fallen on deaf ears. Negotiators from the two rival parties reached agreements about what they will discuss when the parliamentary session begins, so many hope that work can begin quickly. October's provincial elections are approaching and an established national government will likely make running those elections easier. […]. ^ top ^

Earthquake's Vibration Here (Mongol Messenger)
2008-08-28
An earthquake was felt in Ulaanbaatar on Wednesday around 9:35 am. The 6.3 scaled earthquake occurred 65 kilometers from Russian Irkutsk. The Geophysical Research Center at Mongolia's Academy of Sciences are said to provide more detail in the coming days. ^ top ^

German President to Visit (Mongol Messenger)
2008-08-29
The President of Germany Horst Koehler along with his spouse Eva Luise Koehler will pay a state visit to Mongolia at the invitation of the President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar on September 4 to 6. ^ 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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