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
  15.9-19.9.08, No. 234  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese vice premier leaves for China-U.S. JCCT meeting (Xinhua)
2008-09-14
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan left here Sunday night for the upcoming 19th meeting of the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). The one-day meeting is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles on Sept. 16. The meeting will also mark the 25th anniversary of the China-U.S. JCCT, a high-level government-to-government dialogue, seeking to open market opportunities and resolve trade disputes. Wang will co-chair the meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese president sends message of condolences over plane crash in Russia (Xinhua)
2008-09-15
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday sent a message of condolences to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev over the plane crash which killed more than 80 people on board. […] A Russian Boeing-737 airliner went down at about 3 a.m. (2300 GMT Saturday) Sunday in a patch of wasteland on the outskirts of the Russian city of Perm in the central Ural mountains, killing at least 81 passengers and six crew members. ^ top ^

Growing China-Japan ties tops forum's agenda (China Daily)
2008-09-16
The resignation of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will not affect the promotion of Sino-Japanese relations, a minister with the Japanese government said Monday. "I firmly believe the newly elected leaders will lead Japan to further promote our relations with China," Hiroya Masuda, minister of internal affairs and communications, said at a welcoming ceremony at the start of the fourth Tokyo-Beijing Forum. The meeting, which opens on Tuesday, will involve dialogue between the two neighbors at the highest level, and comes in the wake of the changes to the Japanese government. More than 100 political, business and academic leaders from both countries will discuss ways to develop bilateral relations in terms of political dialogue, economic cooperation, media exchanges, food safety, environmental protection and disaster relief. Several Chinese government ministers, including Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office, and former Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing are at the forum. […]. ^ top ^

4th Beijing-Tokyo Forum held in Tokyo (China Daily)
2008-09-16
The Fourth Beijing-Tokyo Forum began its plenary meeting Tuesday in Tokyo.

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai made speeches on behalf of the Japanese and Chinese governments respectively at the start of the meeting, stressing concerted efforts to push forward bilateral relations. The three-day forum opened with a dinner party late Monday. In their speech at the party, Hiroya Masudan, Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications, and Wang Chen, head of the State Council Information Office of China, lauded the role the forum has played in the development of bilateral ties and wished it a success. The annual forum, co-sponsored by China Daily and the non- profit Japanese organization Genron NPO, is held alternately in Beijing and Tokyo. The first Tokyo-Beijing Form took place in Beijing in August 2005. ^ top ^

China, U.S. achieve positive results at bilateral trade talks (Xinhua)
2008-09-17
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan announced Tuesday that positive results had been achieved at a one-day China-U.S. trade meeting here, saying China stands ready to work with the U.S. to further expand bilateral economic and trade ties. "China-U.S. economic relation is not only important for our two countries, but important for the whole world," […] "The Chinese government has always been attaching great importance to consolidating and developing China-U.S. economic relations, and we have done a great deal of work in terms of promoting trade balance and strengthening intellectual property protection," said Wang. The Chinese vice premier co-chaired the one-day meeting with U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab. Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer also attended the meeting. Wang said the meeting has secured mutually beneficial win-win results, […] "The U.S. is today China's No.1 export market, and China the U.S.' No. 3 export market. The relation is growing so fast, so quickly, probably unique in history. And we manage this," said Gutierrez.[…] During Tuesday's talks, the two sides reached consensus on a wide range of issues, including intellectual property protection, medical equipment acquisition and information security, officials said. Ahead of this, five bilateral agreements were signed by senior officials from the two sides in areas like agricultural cooperation, food safety, trade statistics and rural information and communications technology development. The Chinese side also announced to lift bird flu-related ban on poultry products from seven U.S. states including New York, and conditionally resume imports of American beef, while the U.S. side expressed its stance against trade protectionism and promised to push for the lifting of trade barriers against some Chinese products like see food, fruit and woodcraft […]. ^ top ^

China to reinstate visa-free facility for Singaporean (Xinhua)
2008-09-18
With effect from Sept. 19, Singaporeans who intend to travel to China for 15 days or less will no longer require a visa, Singapore's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement the ministry and Singapore's embassy in Beijing have been informed by the Chinese authorities that China will reinstate the visa-free facility, which was suspended from July 1 this year. The move was part of security measures for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. ^ top ^

Premier Wen to attend 2008 Summer Davos in north China (Xinhua)
2008-09-19
The 2008 Summer Davos will be held in north China's Tianjin Municipality, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is to deliver a speech at the opening ceremony. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu made the announcement at a regular press conference here on Thursday. The Summer Davos, also known as the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, is held annually in China. The first session was held in Dalian of the northeastern Liaoning Province last September, attracting nearly 2,000 participants. The current session is to last from Sept. 27 to 28 in Tianjin's Binhai New Area, a pilot reform zone. ^ top ^

FM: China supports UN observer mission in Georgia (Xinhua)
2008-09-19
China supports the UN observer mission in Georgia in the performance of its duties, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a press conference here on Thursday. She said the mission, since its establishment, had played an important role in maintaining peace and stability in Abkhazia. […] As for proposals that the UN send peace-keeping forces to South Ossetia, Jiang said China has noted the situation and will consider it. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China reports 432 infants with kidney stones, production of Sanlu halted (People's Daily)
2008-09-14
North China's Hebei provincial government has ordered a halt of production of the Sanlu Group, the producer of the contaminated milk powder that initial investigation shows caused kidney stones of at least 432 babies. Relevant authorities of the Central Government have ordered stopping sales of all Sanlu brand baby milk powder on the market and tightening checks on feedstuff, raw milk, and the processing, wholesale and sale links, Gao Qiang, a senior official of China's health ministry, said at a press conference here on Saturday. "It is a severe food safety incident," said Gao Qiang, referring to the baby milk powder contamination case involving the Sanlu Group. […] According to Gao, Sanlu Group had got complaints about its baby milk powder in March and then confirmed the problems through an internal company investigation. It also took actions to recall some of these products. However, for a long time after that the group didn't report it to the government nor did it reveal the information to the public. "Sanlu Group should take a large part of responsibility in the case," said Gao. The country reported 432 sick babies suffering from kidney stones as of Friday, he said. The State Council, or the Cabinet, has decided to launch a nationwide checkup on all the country's baby milk powder producers and the results will be announced to the public, according to Gao. "Substandard milk powder will be recalled and banned for sale," Gao said, citing the orders given by the Cabinet. […] The Ministry of Health, along with other ministries and the Hebei Provincial Government will make in-depth and serious investigation into the reasons and responsibilities of this food safety accident, according to Gao. "For those people who proved to be responsible for the accident, they will be seriously dealt with," he added. "We will sum up experiences and lessons learned from this accident and find loopholes in the country's food quality supervision." Gao said they are now investigating how the melamine was added into the raw milk. So far, a total of 19 people related have been detained. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese political advisors celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival (People's Daily)
2008-09-14
The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body, celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival on Saturday night. Jia Qinglin, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, attended the gathering for the festival, which falls on Sunday, together with more than 400 political advisors and people from all walks of life. […] The Mid-Autumn Festival, along with the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, are traditional Chinese festivals for family reunions. ^ top ^

Half a million evacuated as Sinlaku approaches E China (Xinhua)
2008-09-16
About half a million people in east China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces have been evacuated as tropical storm Sinlaku, which was weakened from a typhoon on Monday morning, was approaching. […]. ^ top ^

Two held for Sanlu-brand baby milk food scam (China Daily)
2008-09-16
Two brothers who sold about 3 tons of fresh milk to the Sanlu Group a day were arrested in Hebei province on Sunday because their product was adulterated. Sanlu, a leading baby milk food producer, is in the grip of a scandal after its contaminated products have caused the death of two infants. Altogether, 1,253 infants across the country have been diagnosed with the ailment after drinking Sanlu milk. […] The brothers, surnamed Geng, and residents of Zhengding county in Shijiazhuang, face charges for producing and selling toxic and hazardous food, Shi Guizhong, spokesman for the Hebei provincial public security bureau, said Monday. Under the Criminal Law, the heaviest penalty for such a crime is death. Shi said the Geng siblings had been running a private milk collection center since May 2004, when they signed a supply contract with Sanlu, based in Shijiazhuang, provincial capital of Hebei. The elder Geng, 48, began mixing melamine, a chemical banned for use in food processing, with milk at the end of last year. Melamine, often used in the plastic and other industries, can get around factory quality tests if it is added to fresh milk and can make milk appear rich in protein, experts said. Geng began mixing the chemical because he suffered a huge loss after Sanlu rejected its supplies several times for they failure to meet its standards, Shi said. He has confessed to the crime and said "his family never drank the contaminated milk", and he was aware that he was deceiving Sanlu by mixing the chemical, Shi said. Asked if he knew the consequences of such an act, Geng said: "I've never asked and never thought about it. I only know it's bad for health." The Geng siblings are the first to be arrested, and were among the 19 people detained by police for their alleged involvement in the adulteration scandal. Like the Geng brothers, 16 of the other detainees are from private milk collecting centers. The last one is suspected of selling melamine illegally. […]. ^ top ^

Energy demand may ease by 2018 in China (China Daily)
2008-09-16
China's rapidly rising energy demand may ease off by 2018 when the nation is expected to have basically realized its industrialization and urbanization, according to a senior analyst. Speaking to China Daily, Chen Jiagui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also warned of a "severe energy supply shortage" China may encounter if this coal-dependent country fails to accelerate its exploration of coal reserves and other energy sources. "We will encounter another decade of a tight energy supply-demand balance," Chen said. "Total energy consumption will continue to rise at a faster pace in China because more provinces will accelerate their industrialization," Chen said. Compared with international standards, out of China's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, 24 have yet to become fully industrialized. In China's energy consumption mix, industrial development accounts for 70 percent. "At the early stage of industrialization, provinces will unavoidably consume more energy as they have to take off by developing heavy industry," Chen said. In addition, energy demand will be intensified, Chen added, as more rural Chinese become urban residents. The country aims to increase its urbanization rate to 60 percent by 2020 from the current 45 percent. […]. ^ top ^

Fears number of infants in tainted-milk scandal will rise - More sick babies expected as parents rush to check children (SCMP)
2008-09-17
Officials are increasingly worried that the number of infants poisoned by milk powder tainted with melamine will escalate sharply as the search for victims widens. The Ministry of Health put the number of babies diagnosed with kidney illnesses at 1,253 yesterday, with at least two dead and more than 50 in a serious condition after drinking the baby formula produced by the Sanlu Group. Most have developed kidney stones after ingesting melamine, a banned chemical that is added to milk before processing to fool inspectors testing protein levels. […] Sanlu, 43 per cent owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, dominates the infant formula market in rural areas, where farmer and migrant workers often find milk powder is easier than breastfeeding. […] Beijing has called the poisonings a "level one" food safety incident and formed an emergency team to grapple with the fallout, Xinhua reported. […] Chinese officials acted last week only after the New Zealand government contacted Beijing, New Zealand's prime minister, Helen Clark, said on Monday. State media reported yesterday Hebei police had arrested two more suspects, bringing the total held to four, and promised more arrests would follow. […]. ^ top ^

Journalist ponders suing portal over blog entry deletion (SCMP)
2008-09-17
A mainland reporter who blew the whistle on Sanlu is considering suing internet portal Tianya.cn after his blog entry recounting his struggles to report the scandal were deleted. In his blog posting on Sunday, Jian Guangzhou, who works for the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post, said he was not the first to link babies developing kidney stones to tainted milk formula, but he was the first to identify the Sanlu Group and its products on Thursday in his newspaper report of 14 sick babies in Gansu province. His post first appeared on Tianya.cn on Sunday and he recounted his fear of a backlash over naming Sanlu, his struggle with his own conscience and the ensuing battle with Sanlu management. The entry was quickly picked up by other media outlets before it was removed yesterday. His blog was also partially inaccessible. […] Tianya.cn was not available for comment, but the struggle with censorship and interests of big corporations have underscored the dilemma journalists face either to be truthful to themselves and journalistic ethics or to toe the official line. […] Jian added that he suspected the deletion of his post also had something to do with a blog posting yesterday questioning the ethics of mainland search engine Baidu after it was revealed that Baidu had charged some big corporate names such as dairy producers Yili and Mengniu 5 million yuan (HK$5.7 million) each to screen out "negative news". But Baidu said it had refused to do so for Sanlu when earlier approached by the dairy producer. Likening Baidu to "an online mafia" in his recent posting, Jian questioned the company's ethics in collecting money tantamount to "protection fees". ^ top ^

Ample opportunities for public to sue for damages: lawyers (SCMP)
2008-09-18
A sudden expansion in the number of melamine-tainted milk powder brands should not pose legal complications for the mainland's worried consumers, but the road to compensation is still far from smooth, lawyers said yesterday. Vice-Minister of Health Ma Xiaowei said on Monday that "responsible units" for the crisis would pay compensation according to the law once investigations were over. He did not specify whether those units were government or corporate, or both. The head lawyer of the Beijing Consumers' Association legal team, Qiu Baochang said that under existing laws a company could be fined up to five times the price of a faulty product, meaning that Sanlu could face a 200 million yuan (HK$227.7 million) fine for its 700 tonnes of tainted milk formula. But Mr Qiu said administrative penalties should be imposed only after the company had satisfied civil claims. […] The mainland's two biggest milk product brands, Mengniu and Yili, issued statements yesterday promising to take action about their problematic infant formula. However, only Mengniu promised compensation. Sanlu has so far remained silent on the matter. Meanwhile, despite possible loopholes in the government's quality control system, bringing administrative claims against the administration could be difficult because neither the exclusion of melamine as a substance for testing, nor the application of the exemption system, pointed to a specific dereliction of duty, Mr Qiu said. More than 70 lawyers are offering free legal advice to consumers, and more than 500 infants' families have sought help, suggesting an interest in suing the dairy companies and vendors. […]. ^ top ^

'Re-education' drive launched after attacks during Olympics (SCMP)
2008-09-18
The tense, far-western region of Xinjiang will conduct a "re-education" drive against separatist unrest in the wake of attacks during the Olympics, says its party chief, who vows pre-emptive attacks on enemies. Wang Lequan, the hardline Communist Party boss, told officials that a sweeping propaganda campaign was needed to fight separatism in Xinjiang, where mostly Muslim Uygurs have bucked at Chinese influence and religious controls, the Xinjiang Daily reported yesterday. The re-education campaign would seek to strengthen "identification with the Chinese nation and Chinese culture", Mr Wang said, promising measures to spread teaching in Putonghua among Uygur children. Religious activities must also be carefully policed, he said. "Our region has constantly been a smokeless battleground in the ideological sphere," he added. ^ top ^

Has there been a cover-up, WHO asks (SCMP)
2008-09-19
The World Health Organisation has called for Beijing to find out why it took months for the tainted milk powder scandal to become public. While praising its response since news of the contaminated products broke last week, WHO China representative Hans Troedsson said the authorities must determine why reporting systems appeared to have initially failed. The government "must find out if this was deliberate or due to ignorance", Dr Troedsson said. "If due to ignorance, they need to make sure authorities are better educated next time. But if this was deliberately not reported, that is a serious thing and must be addressed to make sure it is not repeated." Dr Troedsson said he understood that the government was investigating the issue. He praised the tightened supervision of dairy products nationwide. "Overall, I am very pleased. I think they have responded in a very good way," he said. Reports of the problem surfaced only last week. […]. ^ top ^

Payouts for Shanxi victims (China Daily)
2008-09-19
The Xiangfen county government has so far paid more than 11 million yuan ($1.6 million) in compensation to victims of the Sept 8 mudslide tragedy, which killed 260 people. Relatives of each victim received 200,000 yuan, a spokesperson for the rescue headquarters, told the website People.com.cn yesterday. Those who were disabled in the accident will get 150,000 yuan each, plus a subsidy of 300 yuan per month. Others will receive 100,000 yuan with a 200 yuan subsidy, and 50,000 yuan with a 100 subsidy, depending on the extent of their injuries. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK stocks nosedive to 23-month low amid global turmoil on Lehman Brothers (Xinhua)
2008-09-16
Hong Kong's benchmark Hang SengIndex plunged over 1,000 points to their lowest close in nearly 23months Tuesday, tracking U.S. and regional stock markets, amid worries of a global financial turmoil after investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection. The benchmark Index plunged 1052.29 points, or 5.44 percent, to close at 18,300.61 Tuesday, its lowest closing level since Oct. 27, 2006, when it settled at 18,297. Turnover rose to 88.42 billion HK dollars (11.37 billion U.S. dollars) from last Friday's 57.77 billion HK dollars (7.42 billion U.S. dollars). The local market closed for a three-day holiday from last Saturday to Monday. ^ top ^

Somali pirates hijack Hong Kong ship, 24 Chinese crew aboard (Xinhua)
2008-09-19
Armed Somali pirates hijacked Wednesday a Hong Kong bulk carrier with 25 crew members, 24 of them Chinese, off the Somali coast, the Chinese embassy in Nairob confirmed. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau 'preparing to enact security bill' (SCMP)
2009-09-15
Macau is preparing a bill to enact the controversial national security law and may table it to legislators by the end of the year, sources say. Given the expected lack of opposition, there might not be any public consultation before the bill was submitted to the Legislative Assembly, which begins the new legislative year tomorrow, a government source said. Hong Kong and Macau have the same Article 23 in their Basic Laws. Under their mini-constitutions, both cities must legislate against treason and subversion, based on the article, though no specific timetable has been given. An Article 23 bill was introduced in Hong Kong in 2002, but triggered a protest by half a million people in July 2003, forcing the legislation to be shelved indefinitely. Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah said in November that the government planned to complete the legislation by next year. […] His comments aroused concerns that Hong Kong might be under pressure to revive its own security legislation. An analyst said the Macau government had kept quiet about Article 23 this year for fear of affecting the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong. It is believed that debates on the issue could have given ammunition to the pan-democrat camp during the election campaign. A source said Mr Ho would not touch the issue unless pressed by Beijing to enact the security law. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Typhoon Sinlaku hits Taiwan, 13 injured, 782 affected (Xinhua)
2008-09-15
Typhoon Sinlaku, the 13th tropical storm so far this year in China, injured 13 people when it hit northeastern Taiwan at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday. The typhoon landed in Yilan County, Taiwan, with winds up to 45meters per second, monitored by the Fujian provincial meteorological observatory at 5:00 a.m.. More than 130,000 households suffered a power blackout, and 800lost their water supply, which has yet to be reconnected. A total of 32 shelters have been built for 782 typhoon victims, local authority said. […] Work and schools were suspended in 21 counties and cities on the island on Sunday. For the Taiwanese, this is the third time for them to encounter a typhoon while celebrating China's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in the past 18 years. […]. ^ top ^

Taiwan's UN bid rejected (China Daily)
2008-09-19
The General Committee of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly decided on Wednesday not to include the issue of "Taiwan's participation in the activities of UN specialized agencies".The "proposal" was submitted by Nauru, Gambia and some other countries. China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya said the UN special agencies have resolved the issue of China's representation in the world body in accordance with the UN Charter and Resolution 2758. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Highway construction resumes for China's last road-less county in Tibet (Xinhua)
2008-09-16
Workers began digging a tunnel through a snow-covered mountain in Tibet Autonomous Region on Tuesday, marking the resumption of a road construction project for China's last road-less county. A team of several hundred experienced technical staff dispatched from an armed police unit were boring a 3.3-km tunnel through the Galung La mountain, which has an average altitude of about 5,000 meters in Tibet's Nyingchi Prefecture, team leader Liu Genshui said. More than 20 advanced pieces of machinery were being used to dig the tunnel, part of the 117-km highway project. "The tunnel construction is the most difficult phase for building a highway to Medog County," he said. "But we will try to finish the project as soon as possible." Situated at Tibet's border with India and nestled among snow-capped mountains, Medog is the last of the country's 2,100 counties to be connected via a highway. The construction poses a number of engineering challenges as the county sits on the Himalayan fault line where there are many earthquakes and landslides, experts said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China cuts rates, lowers reserve ratio (China Daily)
2008-09-16
China's central bank Monday cut the cost of bank loans, the first time since 2002, and lowered the proportion of money lenders must have as reserves, the first such move in nine years, to keep the economy from sliding further. The benchmark lending rate will be lowered by 0.27 percentage point to 7.20 percent from Tuesday, but the interest rate of deposits remains unchanged. The 1 percentage point cut from the reserve requirement ratio of 17.5 percent does not apply to the five biggest banks and the Postal Savings Bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said on its website. And banks in areas hit by the devastating May 12 earthquake will have their ratio cut by 2 percentage points. These changes will come into effect from Sept 25. "The adjustment is directly related to the macro-economic data for August," said Zhang Jun, director of Fudan University's China Center for Economic Studies. The figures for the economy in August, released last week, showed a drop in consumer inflation but a rise in factory gate cost (or producers price index, PPI), a weakening industrial output and falling imports. All these indicate "downside economic risks", Zhang said. The rising PPI and falling consumer price index (CPI) rate mean corporate earnings would suffer as costs rise, and that would ultimately hurt economic growth, Liu Dongliang, economist with the China Merchants Bank, said. "The country is facing the danger of an economic downturn." The government adopted tightening measures in the second half of last year to prevent the economy from overheating and keep the CPI from rising out of control. […] Now the economy faces a slowdown at home and is already feeling the winds of the US financial turmoil. […]. ^ top ^

Stocks slump 4.47% in global battering (Poeple's daily)
2008-09-17
Hit by the latest ripple effect of the US financial crisis, the benchmark index tumbled 4.47 percent to 1986.64, dipping below 2000 points for the first time in 22 months. The Shanghai Composite Index plunged 93.04 points, and the smaller Shenzhen Component Index dropped 61.46 points, or 0.89 percent, to end at 6873.61. Turnover on the two bourses was 47.3 billion yuan, up 42.5 percent from last Friday. Total market capitalization shrank 3.7 percent to 12.9 trillion yuan yesterday. The index was dragged under the 2000-point barrier by a sharp fall in bank shares. Analysts said fallout from the failure of Lehman Brothers and the fire sale of Merrill Lynch has unnerved investors, who began dumping bank shares at the opening bell. "The US stock market turmoil overnight dampened Chinese investor confidence and knocked the emerging financial markets," Zhu Haibin, an analyst at Essence Securities, said. ^ top ^

3 Chinese commercial banks hold Lehman-related bonds (China daily)
2008-09-18
At least three large Chinese commercial banks have disclosed their exposure to the worsening U.S. financial crisis through bonds issued by investment bank Lehman Brothers, which has filed for Chapter 11 protection. China Merchants Bank Wednesday said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange that it holds 70 million U.S. dollars of Lehman Brothers bonds, of which 60 million dollars is senior debt and the rest subordinated debt. The bank also said it has not made special provisions for the book losses on those bonds and will evaluate their potential risks and disclose further details at a later date. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country's largest State-controlled commercial bank by assets, holds 152 million dollars in bonds issued by, or linked to, Lehman Brothers. […] BOC holds 75.62 million dollars in bonds issued by the ailing U.S. investment bank. It also loaned 53.2 million dollar to Lehman Brothers and its subsidiaries. BOC was reportedly listed as an unsecured creditor in documents filed by Lehman Brothers at the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York. Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 protection after efforts to find a buyer collapsed last Sunday. Rising concern about the ripple effect of the deepening U.S. financial crisis plus the gloomy outlook for China's banking sector has pushed down the prices of Chinese commercial banks' shares in the past two trading days. Shares in China Merchants Bank Wednesday dropped 9.96 percent to 14.47 yuan apiece. With its 11 percent plummet on Tuesday, China Merchants Bank has fallen a total 18.9 percent over the past two trading days. Bank of China has dropped a total of 14.8 percent from last Friday to close at 2.97 yuan. […] Jing Ulrich, chairwoman of China equities at JPMorgan Securities, yesterday told China Daily: "As China's financial market is not fully opened yet, the problem of Lehman Brothers is expected to have only an indirect impact on China's financial sector. An individual Chinese bank's exposure to the U.S. financial crisis should be seen in the context of its total assets.". ^ top ^

China cancels stamp tax on stock purchase to support equities market (Xinhua)
2008-09-19
China decided on Thursday to scrap the stamp tax on stock purchase, effective on Friday, in a move to boost the equities market after domestic stocks fell for third consecutive day since Tuesday. With the authorization of the State Council, China's Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation said they decided to cancel the share trading stamp tax on stock purchase while the stamp tax on share selling remained unchanged at 0.1 percent. The cancellation came hours after Chinese stocks tumbled 1.72 percent on Thursday, amid the current global financial turmoil. It was the first time since 1991 authorities had levied an unilateral stamp tax on stocks trading and the second time this year they had adjusted the stock trading stamp tax. On April 24, it cut the tax from 0.3 percent to 0.1 percent amid falling share prices. […] The latest stamp tax cut is a signal that the government will continue developing the capital market to boost the economy," Guo said. The cut would also result in an even lower stamp tax revenue which had dropped by nearly 9 percent in August from a year earlier. In addition, the country's tax revenue growth declined 31.9 percent last month, according to the Ministry of Finance (MOF). "But the move will boost market sentiment and restore investor confidence. This will help companies grow in the long run and bring more tax revenue for the country," said economist Bai Jingming with the MOF. ^ top ^

Regulators seek domestic banks' foreign investment details (China Daily)
2008-09-19
Financial regulators have asked domestic financial institutions to submit detailed records of their investments in US and European financial assets to ascertain the full extent of their exposure to the US financial crisis. The China Banking Regulatory Commission, China Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission reportedly made the request to financial institutions under their supervision. At least six Chinese commercial banks have reportedly disclosed their holdings of bonds issued by US investment bank Lehman Brothers, which has filed for bankruptcy protection. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has said it holds $151 million in bonds issued by or linked to Lehman. China's largest State-controlled commercial bank in terms of assets is known to have the highest exposure to securities associated with Lehman. On Tuesday, China Merchants Bank said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange that it holds $70 million worth of Lehman bonds, out of which $60 million is senior debt and the rest subordinate bonds. A day later, Bank of China said it holds Lehman bonds worth $75.62 million, and has lent out $53.2 million to Lehman and its subsidiaries […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing Olympics

UN: Beijing Paralympics boost China's cause of the disabled (China Daily)
2008-09-16
"The Beijing Paralympics has boosted China's cause of disabled people," Khalid Malik, the United Nations (UN) resident coordinator in China, said on Monday morning. It leaves a legacy and promotes social awareness for the disabled," the Pakistani said. "The Beijing Paralympics demonstrates the abilities of the disabled people, and evokes social respects for them. There is no magical program to solve the problems of people with disabilities in a one time, one program, but China has done a lot consecutively during the past decades." […] The UN highly appreciates the tremendous leadership efforts of China in this regard," said Malik. "The entering into force of the convention has proved again China's intensive concentration in advancing human rights for all and development for all." The newly-amended Law on Protection of the Disabled of China, which took effect on July 1, added details about financial support, medical care and rehabilitation services for the disabled, along with preferential policies on jobs and taxation. Chen Ya'an, a China Disabled Persons' Federation official, pointed out 75 percent of the country's disabled were in rural areas. He said the federation would provide them with financial and technological support to help establish their own businesses, such as family workshops, farming and animal production. ^ top ^

Chinese ambassador to UK: Olympics bring China and West closer (People's daily)
2008-09-18
Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom Fu Ying said on Wednesday that China's relations with the West has been much improved through the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. […] Fu said that, noticing the change of some Western journalists' attitude to the Games, she was confident "that China's relations with the world, especially with the West, has made a large step forward through the Olympics." Fu said that she invited some British journalists to lunch in June in Beijing and they had lots of complaints, being asked what they felt about the Olympic Games. "But towards the end of the Olympics, I found they were much more relaxed, much more confident about the Beijing success. And they are also able to transfer the message to the world." The ambassador, who accompanied British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to Beijing for the Games, believed that the Olympics made the Chinese people know better of the world while the journalists coming to the Olympics also introduced China to the world. […] "The Water Cube will become an aquatic park while the Bird's Nest is probably to be the home ground of Beijing Guoan football team." […]. ^ top ^

With burst of pride, China closes the Paralympics (SCMP)
2008-09-18
Amid fireworks, tears and pride, the curtain fell on the 12-day Paralympics last night at the iconic "Bird's Nest" National Stadium. The head director of the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympics, Zhang Yimou, again adeptly combined bright colours, traditional Chinese music, dance and a sky full of fireworks to create a finale of romance and fairy tales. The spectacular finish capped a competition in which China again finished first in gold medals. The host country's squad of 332 athletes cemented China's position as a Paralympic superpower by ending the event with 89 golds and 211 medals, more than double second-placed Britain's total on both counts. In a letter of congratulations, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the central government hailed the result as historic. "You have finished first in both the gold medal and total medal counts, accomplishing a historical breakthrough, winning great honour for the motherland ... and making an important contribution to the target of `Two Games with Equal Splendour', " the letter said. […] For China's leaders, the Paralympics closing ceremony may have signalled a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that the Games were largely free of incident, the feared boycott did not materialise and their athletes put the nation at the top of the medal count. Only the baby formula scandal detracted from the fortnight, undermining the government's efforts to project an elevated image of openness, confidence, respectability and most of all, legitimacy. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Parliament approves law on government structure (Mongol Messenger)
2008-09-18
Mongolia's parliament approved on Tuesday evening a draft law on government structure and its composition at its first discussion. A new government will be consisted of Prime Minister, First Deputy Premier, Deputy Premier, Chief of Cabinet Secretariat and 11 ministers. Previous government has a total of 16 members including Prime Minister, Deputy Premier, Chief of Cabinet Secretariat and 13 ministers. In addition, there were 13 ministries in the previous government. The new government will have 11 ministries. Ministries of general functions are Foreign Affairs, Justice and Internal Affairs and Finance. Other eight ministries will be of special functions. They include Ministry of Infrastructure, Construction and Urban Development, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Industry, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Mineral Resources. ^ top ^

EU troika representatives to visit Mongolia (Mongol Messenger)
2008-09-18
Representatives from the European Union Troika will visit Mongolia on September 22, 2008. This visit is the second official visit by EU Troika to Mongolia. The Troika's first visit was made in 2006. The EU Troika will be represented by French Ambassador to Mongolia Patrick Chrismant, Czech Ambassador to Mongolia Vaclav Jilek, and Head of the EU's Department in charge of China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia Mr. France Jessen on behalf of the European Commission. During the visit, EU Troika will be called on President of Mongolia N. Enkhbayar and meet with Foreign Minister of Mongolia to hold a dialogue and talk. ^ top ^

Parliament delegates from Thailand visits Mongolia (Mongol Messenger)
2008-09-18
Secretary General of the Parliament Office of Mongolia Mr. D.Sandagdorj received a delegation headed by Deputy Secretary-General, Secretariat of the Senate of the National Assembly of Thailand Mr. Suchata Youyod who is paying a visit to Mongolia. At the meeting, Mr. Sandagdorj said that inter-parliaments relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Thailand have been actively developing. He briefed about the results of parliament election held in last summer, introduced about structure and organization of the Mongolian Parliament office. Mr. Sandagdorj emphasized he importance of paying more attention to promote and boost bilateral relations and cooperation, especially, inter-parliament relationship and exchange of parliament representatives. Mr. Suchata Youyod expressed his satisfaction for the successful development and promotion of bilateral relations and inter-parliament cooperation and invited Mongolian delegates of Parliament Office to visit Thailand. The two dignitaries noted the importance of exchanging representatives in order to enhance bilateral cooperation. ^ top ^

Mongolian troops will return (Mongol Messenger)
2008-09-18
ON September 18, the last contingent of Mongolian troops serving in Iraq—at Camp Echo under a Polish-led multinational peacekeeping division in Iraq—will return to Ulaanbaatar. ^ 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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