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
  12.1-16.1.09, No. 251  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China offers quake relief aid to Costa Rica (Xinhua)
2009-01-12
Beijing - The Chinese government would provide 100,000 U.S. dollars to Costa Rica in emergency quake relief aid, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Monday. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Costa Rica's mountain villages 35 km northwest of the capital of San Jose on Jan 8. The quake has killed at least 18 people and dozens more are missing, according to media reports. ^ top ^

Chinese special envoy calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza (Xinhua)
2009-01-12
Cairo - China's special envoy on the Middle East issue Sun Bigan on Monday called on all concerned parties to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution 1860 and cease all military actions immediately and take measures to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Sun made the remarks when meeting with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa in Cairo on Monday morning. During his meeting with Moussa, Sun Bigan put forward Chinese government's five standpoints on current Middle East situation. 1. We call on all parties concerned to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution 1860, and cease all military actions immediately to avert more casualties. 2. Measures should be taken to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. […] 3. Parties concerned should establish, through negotiation, a ceasefire monitoring mechanism in Gaza and work to create durable security and stability there. 4. The Palestine-Israel peace talks should resume at the earliest time, and efforts should be made to seek solution to issues related to the final status of Palestine on the basis of mutual-trust, so that an independent Palestinian state will be established as early as possible and the "two states" of Palestine and Israel will co-exist peacefully. 5. The international community should increase mediating efforts for peace and promote a comprehensive, just and durable settlement of the Middle East issue. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing in 45b yuan global media drive - State giants to lead image campaign (SCMP)
2009-01-13
The central government is preparing to spend 45 billion yuan (HK$51 billion) on the overseas expansion of its main media organisations in an aggressive global drive to improve the country's image internationally. The three state media giants - Central China Television, Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily - could each get up to 15 billion yuan if they came up with "worthwhile projects" to enhance their global influence, a well-positioned source said. […] The expansion plans also come as many Chinese propaganda officials have used various occasions to stress the need to improve international efforts to "better convey a good image of China to the world". Renmin University journalism school dean Yu Guoming said the plans were due to ideological shifts by some senior state officials prompted by the protests and conflicts encountered during last year's Olympic torch relay. "The embarrassing image revealed in western media made Chinese officials realise that while China's economy has a great presence in the global economy, China's voice and cultural influence have not achieved a decent position," Professor Yu said. […]. ^ top ^

China's Gaza role (SCMP)
2009-01-13
The year has opened with an international challenge for China. Following Israel's invasion of Gaza, how will China stand up for Arab and Islamic people? They are now wondering: where is China's historic and traditional solidarity with underdeveloped nations? In capitals across the world, massive protests have erupted against Israel's unilateralist invasion of Gaza - supported only by Washington. In Beijing, no voice is heard. […] Palestinians remember how Arab and Islamic nations once stood steadfast behind China to support its seat on the UN Security Council. China should remember who its friends are. It has a responsibility to stand up for the developing world, and for global peace. But China cares only about mercantile interests, discarding any role that would require a moral or political stance. Some admire China's trade diplomacy of "doing business with everyone", seeing it as pragmatic. Others criticise it. The Arab world is beginning to feel discouraged by China's lack of backbone. […] Outrage is underscored by the fact that, following the tragic earthquake in Sichuan last year, Palestinian and Arab expatriates living in two cities alone - Guangzhou and Yiwu - donated more than US$2 million. However, when Israel invaded Gaza, China - the world's fastest-growing economy and emerging superpower - gave a measly US$1 million in humanitarian aid. […] Yet China instead meekly calls for "both sides" to cease fire. […] The Arab world expects Beijing to stand by it. But China refuses to do anything, thinking money alone can buy off the Arab world. […]. ^ top ^

China becomes formal member of Inter-American Development Bank Group (Xinhua)
2009-01-13
Washington - China joined the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), the most important regional development institution in Latin America and the Caribbean, here Monday. […] "China is the largest developing country, and Latin America is the most important developing region in the world," he said. "Bringing these two together for high-level, broad-based and high-quality cooperation is in alignment with the trend of the times and the development needs of the two sides." […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets former U.S. president Carter amid anniversary celebrations (Xinhua)
2009-01-13
Beijing - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday met with a high-profile U.S. delegation on the sidelines of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties. "The establishment of China-U.S. relations 30 years ago ushered in a new era. The leaders and people of the two nations who made important contributions to this milestone will go down in history," Wen told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led the delegation. […]. ^ top ^

China gives Uganda $77 mln aid to boost development (People's Daily)
2009-01-14
Entebbe - The Chinese government has offered 77 million U.S. dollars to Uganda in a renewed bid to boost the East African country's development, the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi revealed after signing aid agreements here on Tuesday. The low interest aid package signed between the two governments included a framework agreement on provision of a concessional loan for the construction of e-governance project worth 60 million dollars and procurement of engineering equipment for Kampala City Council worth ten million dollars. The other package is a seven million dollar economic and technical cooperation agreement on the construction of a hospital and government offices. […]. ^ top ^

Iran, China sign oilfield development deal (Xinhua)
2009-01-15
Tehran - Iran and China signed a 1.76 billion U.S. dollars deal here on Wednesday for the initial development of Iran's North Azadegan oil field, the official IRNA news agency reported. […] The North Azadegan oil field which located in Iran's western province of Khuzestan has an estimated reserve of six billion barrels of oil and can produce 75,000 barrels per day for 25 years, Nozari was quoted as saying. Under the deal, CNPC is committed to developing the oil field in two phases, IRNA said. Oil output of the North Azadegan oil field will reach 150,000 barrels per day when both the two phases of the project are finished, Nozari added. […] The period for the development and reimbursement for the first and the second phase of the field would be about 12 and 17 years, Nozari said. ^ top ^

China vows unchanged policies on developing ties with EU (People's Daily)
2009-01-15
Beijing - China vowed Thursday to continue its policies on relations with the European Union (EU) to achieve a stronger, comprehensive strategic partnership. "The mainstream of China-EU ties is good, and we haven't changed our policy of further promoting a comprehensive strategic partnership," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press briefing. China-France ties soured after French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama early last month, and the annual China-EU summit was also postponed. […] Tomas Pojar, the first vice foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency, is scheduled to arrive in Beijing next Monday for the fourth China-EU strategic dialogue. Jiang said the two sides would exchange views on China-EU relations and other international and regional issues of common concern. "We expect the dialogue to enhance mutual trust, expand common ground and deepen cooperation in a bid for the long-term, sound, stable progress of China-EU ties," Jiang said. ^ top ^

Chinese president accepts credentials from 10 ambassadors (Xinhua)
2009-01-15
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao accepted here Thursday credentials presented respectively by ambassadors to China from Pakistan, Brazil, Switzerland, Croatia, Armenia, Kenya, Jamaica, Montenegro, Morocco, and Latvia. Montenegrin ambassador Ljiljana Toskovic is the country's first ambassador to China. The other nine new ambassadors include: M. Masood Khan from Pakistan, Clodoaldo Hugueney Filho from Brazil, Blaise Godet from Switzerland, Ante Simonic from Croatia, Armen Sargsyan from Armenia, Julius Lekakeny Ole Sunkuli from Kenya, Earle Courtenay Rattray from Jamaica, Jaafar Alj Hakim from Morocco, Ingrida Levrence from Latvia. ^ top ^

China, Zambia sign assistance package (Xinhua)
2009-01-15
Lusaka - China signed a package of assistance agreements with Zambia here on Thursday, providing the southern African country with fresh Chinese grants and loans. According to the agreements, the package is to fund projects including the construction of a modern stadium, an international conference center and a government complex building. Also as part of the agreements, teams of Chinese experts will be sent to help unleash Zambia's agricultural potentials. Speaking at the signing ceremony, visiting Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the assistance package is yet another testimony of China's commitment to its African friends. […]. ^ top ^

China to push Africa ties in 2009 (People's Daily)
2009-01-15
Beijing - China will work with Africa to promote the strategic partnership of cooperation on the basis of sincere friendship, equality, reciprocity and common development, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday. […] "The traditional friendship between China and Africa has developed over half a century and has become an important cornerstone of China's foreign policy," she said. At the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2006, Chinese President Hu Jintao listed eight major moves China would take to development relations, which covered China's assistance to Africa, preferential loans and credits, the building of a conference center for the African Union, the canceling of debts, further opening-up of China's market to Africa, the establishment of trade and economic cooperation zones in Africa, and the training of African professionals. […]. ^ top ^

European Commission arranges 100 mln euros for projects of cooperation with China (Xinhua)
2009-01-15
Beijing - The European Commission will arrange 100 million Euros for projects of cooperation with China this year, Serge Abou, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Commission to China, said Thursday. "At the end of last December, the European Commission approved a large number of projects of cooperation with China, worth 80 million Euros. And another 20 million Euros will to be approved in January," said Abou. According to Abou, the new projects include cooperation in energy, environment protection, civil aviation, exchange of students, among others. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

60 arrested over melamine-tainted Sanlu milk powder (People's Daily)
2009-01-11
Sixty suspects have been formally arrested over the melamine-tainted Sanlu milk powder that caused urinary problems such as kidney stones in thousands of babies in China last year. "Twenty-one of them went on trial between Dec. 26 and 31, including four executives of Sanlu Group," said Zhang Deli, chief procurator of the Hebei Provincial People's Procuratorate. "The court will announce the verdicts soon," Zhang told the ongoing annual session of the Hebei Provincial People's Congress. […] From Aug. 2 to Sept. 12, Sanlu Group produced 904 tonnes of melamine-tainted baby formula powder and sold 813 tonnes of the tainted products, making 47.5 million yuan (6.9 million U.S. dollars). The Ministry of Health said it was likely the tainted milk scandal with Sanlu Group at its center killed at least six babies. Another 294,000 infants suffered kidney stones and other urinary problems. […]. ^ top ^

Nearly half of farmers can't prove land rights - Sino-US study reveals rural reform hurdle (SCMP)
2009-01-12
Nearly half of the mainland's farmers have no legal documents to prove their land rights, a Sino-US joint study has found, revealing what could be a major hurdle to Beijing's ambitious rural land reform. The finding appears to contradict the central government's assertion that 90 per cent of farmers have obtained certificates for their contracted farmland. If the study is indicative of the whole country, it means trouble for law changes that allow farmers to lease their contracted land or transfer their land-use rights, moves aimed at doubling rural incomes by 2020. The survey, conducted by the Rural Development Institute partners at Michigan University in the United States and China's Renmin University, found that only 59 per cent of interviewees had received certificates or contracts relating to their land rights, according to mainland magazine Caijing. […]. ^ top ^

Party boss tells Xinjiang police to be ready to block unrest (SCMP)
2009-01-13
The top Communist Party official overseeing Uygur-populated Xinjiang has called on the armed forces deployed in the troubled region to be prepared to safeguard social stability and to counter potential unrest. The autonomous region's party secretary, Wang Lequan, told a conference bringing together all senior armed police officers in the region that the Xinjiang contingent of the People's Armed Police had been upgraded to a full army-level unit, meaning it would enjoy more power and resources, China News Service reported yesterday. Mr Wang warned that at a time of complex global and domestic problems, which would probably translate into an atmosphere of general uncertainty for Xinjiang, the mission of ensuring stability in the region had become more onerous as the "three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism" appeared to be preparing to launch another round of attacks. […]. ^ top ^

Mainland raises melamine illness tally to 296,000 (SCMP)
2009-01-13
A total of 296,000 mainland children fell ill from consuming dairy products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, up 2,000 from the previous official count. The Ministry of Health said at a briefing that 52,898 babies had been treated in hospital for kidney problems caused by the toxic ingredient in powdered milk formula - a scandal that broke on the mainland in September, though earlier reports were suppressed. The ministry said last month that 294,000 infants had been made ill by melamine, which was added to dairy products to boost apparent protein levels. ^ top ^

Security panel chief warns of more unrest and social tension (SCMP)
2009-01-13
The Communist Party is bracing itself for a year of unrest and social tension in the face of the sharp economic slowdown and mounting discontent over social injustice. Chen Jiping, director of the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security, told official magazine Outlook Weekly the panel had a "sacred mission" to create a joyful and harmonious atmosphere for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in October. He described the mission as "an arduous task" and predicted the country would see more mass protests in coming months. "The year of 2009 is the year when China faces the greatest difficulties and most severe challenges in economic development since the turn of the century," he told the magazine. To meet the rising threats, the authorities would turn some of the temporary security measures during the Beijing Olympics into permanent systems, such as the neighbourhood watch programme, he said. […]. ^ top ^

China plans 9 billion-yuan aid for the impoverished (People's Daily)
2009-01-13
Beijing - China announced on Tuesday an aid package totaling 9 billion yuan (1.32 billion U.S. dollars) for the country's needy people two weeks ahead of its traditional Lunar New Year. About 74 million Chinese receiving the minimum living allowances or the "five guarantees" (namely food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses provided by local governments to those without relatives or employment), would receive a one-off payment of 100 yuan if they live in the countryside and 150 yuan if they live in the cities. […] The payment would be made from the central budget before the Chinese Lunar New Year, one of the most important occasions for family reunion in the country. This year's Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 26. […] The average annual net income for rural workers in China is 4,140 yuan in 2007, against 24,932 yuan in cities. At present, about 62 million Chinese receive monthly minimum living allowances from the local governments, while 5.3 million people receive the "five guarantees." […]. ^ top ^

China seizes 84 mln illegal, obscene publications in 2008 (People's Daily)
2009-01-13
Beijing - China confiscated about 83.84 million pornographic, pirated and unauthorized publications in 2008, the national anti-pornography and anti-piracy office said in a press release Tuesday. Law enforcement departments investigated 25,384 cases involving the production, sale and distribution of illegal publications last year, including 328 criminal cases, according to the National Office for Cleaning Up Pornography and Fighting Illegal Publications. It said eight illegal disc production lines were closed and 46,000 shops and 1,420 printing and copying enterprises were shut down. Also, 14,000 illegal websites were closed and more than 490,000 items of "harmful" content were deleted, the release said. […]. ^ top ^

Construction of low-rent housing in China accelerated (People's Daily)
2009-01-13
In 2008, over 3 million low-income urban families fulfilled their dream of settling down, experts at the National Work Conference on Housing and Urban-Rural Development said. According to preliminary statistics, in 2008 a total of 35.4 billion yuan was invested in the low-rent housing construction system, equal to 3.7 times more than the investment in 2007. […] Newly constructed buildings and buildings purchased for low rent housing amounted to 630,000 and 2.49 million families received rent subsidies. This has solved the housing problems of 3.12 million low-income urban families. Recently, construction has begun on 1.3 million affordable houses. ^ top ^

China punishes 15,000 enterprises over pollution in 2008 (Xinhua)
2009-01-14
Beijing - About 15,000 enterprises were punished for pollution last year and nearly 100 people deemed responsible were disciplined, China's environmental regulator told a national environmental protection meeting held here Tuesday. Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian told the meeting that "China made great progress last year in pollution abatement." According to Zhou, 156 projects totaling 473.7 billion yuan (about 69 billion U.S. dollars) were rejected last year because they were deemed to be energy-intensive or highly polluting. Approved projects, numbering 579, will prevent the emission of 468,600 tons of sulfur dioxide and 38,400 tons of chemical oxygen, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Illegal workers identified (People's Daily)
2009-01-15
A total of 377 foreigners were found to be working here last year without the necessary documentation, an official with the exit-entry administration said yesterday. Most of the people simply lacked understanding of China's laws and regulations but some had deliberately tried to get around the system, he said. Several foreigners had entered the country on tourist visas but then started working, some of them as entertainers in bars, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Inspection scheme helps stop forced confessions (SCMP)
2009-01-15
The success of a pilot scheme to inspect detention centres regularly has given new impetus to efforts to stamp out the widespread practice of forced confessions, as reports emerged yesterday of seven police officers arrested over the death of a witness in an investigation. Under the scheme, legislators, political advisers and citizen inspectors already working with the prosecutor's office of Liaoyuan, Jilin province, inspected municipal and county police detention centres to assess conditions. Twenty unofficial inspectors have spoken to 32 detainees during 21 visits since last March and identified areas for improvement that have already been adopted by the city's detention centres, the People's Daily reported. They were initially allowed access to only designated detainees but later talked to random inmates, with the blessing of the Liaoyuan procuratorate and the public security bureau. The report quoted China University of Political Science and Law professor Fan Chongyi, who was involved in the project, as saying that forced confessions had persisted despite government bans. […]. ^ top ^

China shuts down 277 illegal websites in last 11 days (Xinhua)
2009-01-15
Beijing - China's Internet authorities had closed a total of 277 websites alleged to contain pornography by Thursday, the 11th day of a month-long crackdown on "lewd" online content. The campaign has extended to cellphone games, online novels, videos and radio programs. In addition, 145 websites allegedly running illegal advertisements for sex-related drugs and treatments have been penalized, while more than 200 cases of obscene cellphone games and novels have been dealt with. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has urged all telecommunications companies to strengthen management of basic operations and cooperate with the government on the crackdown. […] Public distribution of pornography is illegal in China. Previously, the country had blacklisted 50 websites, including search engines Google, Baidu and MSN China, which were accused of providing obscene content and of being slow to delete erotic materials. […]. ^ top ^

Wary eye cast over 50m bloggers in 'sensitive year' (SCMP)
2009-01-16
The mainland is casting an increasingly wary eye over the internet and its 50 million bloggers amid a year of sensitive anniversaries and job losses that could trigger unrest, analysts and rights groups say. Amnesty International said this week that its website had been blocked on the mainland, and the BBC's Chinese-language internet page was shut last month. Both sites had been reopened during the Beijing Olympic Games. Mainland authorities have also recently shut sensitive domestic websites such as bullog.cn, an influential liberal weblog platform, as well as fatianxia.com, where many legal scholars aired their opinions. Meanwhile, a high-profile crackdown on pornographic websites was launched this month - a drive that analysts said had previously taken place alongside a clampdown on politically sensitive websites. David Bandurski, a researcher for the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, said: "2009 is a year with lots of sensitive anniversaries, and then the economic downturn on top of that is really affecting China. "Controlling the media continues to be a top priority for the [Communist] Party ... but there has been a shift towards the internet as a focus." […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to continue family planning policy (China Daily)
2009-01-15
Beijing - Beijing authorities are likely to continue with its family planning policies at least for the short term, despite concerns over the country's growing aged population, a senior municipal official said. […] Beijing authorities will also introduce measures later this year that include greater penalties for those who break family planning rules requiring most couples to have one child. […] In Beijing, the fine for those who break family planning rules is computed based on the average income per capita, usually about three to eight times of that figure. The per capita income in the capital was 24,725 yuan (3,600 U.S. dollars) for urban residents and 10,747 yuan for rural residents last year, official figures showed. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai 'will maintain GDP growth' (China Daily)
2009-01-14
The city will overcome its economic difficulties and maintain steady GDP growth, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday at the opening of the annual meeting of the municipal people's congress. "The target for GDP growth this year is 9 percent, and we're aiming to keep the unemployment rate under 4.5 percent." […] "We are seeing negative growth on fiscal revenue, industrial output and exports, and there is increasing pressure on employment," he said. "These are hard times for the city, but a slew of policies and measures will help business and boost consumption." Last year, the city's GDP grew 10 percent, 2.6 percentage points less than in 2007, while exports grew 17.1 percent, Han said. […] "In 2009, there will not be any rise in government spending on conferences, receptions, visits abroad or cars," he said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK ranked "world's freest economy" for 15th consecutive year (People' Daily)
2009-01-14
On January 13, the US Heritage Foundation released its 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, with Hong Kong rated the world's freest economy. This is the 15th consecutive year that Hong Kong has taken the first place in this ranking. The Index of Economic Freedom is released every year and is a widely acclaimed authoritative ranking for economic freedom. It monitors and analyzes each economy's relevant figures for ten specific components, including trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, business freedom, monetary freedom and property rights. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Chen denied delay of graft trial (SCMP)
2009-01-16
Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian lost the first battle to clear his name against corruption charges yesterday when Taipei District Court rejected his request to delay a trial scheduled for next week. "The court has decided to reject his request on the grounds that it is only a preliminary hearing and there is a need to speed up the court-hearing procedures," Judge Huang Chun-ming said. […]. ^ top ^

Taipei can't stop PLA ship escorts (SCMP)
2009-01-16
Almost 100 Taiwanese vessels will sail through pirate-infested Somali waters in the next two months, and since these ships will fly foreign flags, the island's government could do nothing to prevent them seeking the mainland navy's help, a senior government official admitted yesterday. Taipei is caught up in an embarrassing situation after the People's Liberation Army said its warships had escorted a Taiwanese oil tanker through the Gulf of Aden. The mission was much trumpeted by Beijing, which sees itself as the sole legitimate protector for all Chinese. Chao Chien-min, vice-chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei, said at least 94 Taiwanese vessels would pass through the troubled waters in the coming months. He said none of them had applied for help from Taiwanese authorities. Asked whether any of these vessels would violate Taiwanese law if they sought the mainland's help, Dr Chao said that since they were registered abroad, they must be considered non-Taiwanese, and Taiwan could do nothing about it. Taipei would turn to "international assistance" if any of its vessels asked the government for protection, Dr Chao said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet proposes setting of "Serfs Emancipation Day" (Xinhua)
2009-01-16
Lhasa -Tibetan legislators proposed Friday to set up a Serfs Emancipation Day that will be remembered on March 28 every year to commemorate the emancipation of millions of serfs in the region 50 years ago. […] The serfs and slaves were freed 50 years ago after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters with assistance from some Western powers. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Economist: China could lose nearly 4 mln jobs in 2009 (Xinhua)
2009-01-11
Beijing - China is likely to lose 3.9 million jobs in 2009 compared with 2007 if GDP growth slows to 8 percent, said Cheng Siwei, a renowned economist here. Cheng, former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said at a forum on capital market on Saturday that one percentage drop in GDP growth may bring a loss of one million jobs. […] The country's four-trillion-yuan (583.9 billion U.S. dollars) economic-stimulus package will boost employment, as unemployment is not only an economic issue but also a social problem, he said. The stimulus plan released in November will provide more job opportunities through investment on infrastructure, according to Cheng. ^ top ^

Wen sees sign of rebound in economy - December performance better than expected, says premier (SCMP)
2009-01-12
Premier Wen Jiabao said the mainland economy performed "better than expected" in December and he believes the world's fourth-largest economy will be the first to rebound from the global financial crisis. […] "There are signs that some economic indicators in December are improving as sales at some companies have started picking up, stockpiles are falling and electricity consumption is rising," he said in a speech published by state media. The accelerated investment of 600 billion yuan involves six major projects, originally approved as scientific and technological investments over the medium and long term. Mr Wen did not specify what the projects were, and it is not known whether they were included in the central government's massive stimulus package revealed in November. […]. ^ top ^

China's natural gas prices set to go up (China Daily)
2009-01-13
Beijing - China will reportedly raise natural gas prices within the year in an effort to ensure healthier profits for the sector, the Shanghai Securities News reported, citing unnamed sources. The country's largest oil and gas producer, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), has suggested that the central government take that route, said the report. "We have suggested accelerating the reform on natural gas pricing system a long time ago, and the government is at present studying the issue," one source with CNPC was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "After the reform, natural gas prices of CNPC, Sinopec and China National Offshore Oil Corp will become almost the same," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Exports see 2nd straight monthly fall (China Daily)
2009-01-13
Exports fell two months in a row for the first time in a decade, reflecting the impact of the global financial crisis on the "workshop of the world". According to Customs figures, to be released today, exports in December dropped 2.8 percent year-on-year, after falling 2.2 percent in November. Imports in December dropped, too, to 21.3 percent year-on-year, after having fallen 17.9 per cent the previous month. But since the drops took place in November and December only, the country will still see an impressive 17.2 percent rise in exports and 18.2 percent increase in imports for the whole of last year. […] Last month, the exports and imports volumes were $111.2 billion and $72.2 billion - and in November, they were $114.9 billion and $74.9 billion. The falling trend in exports is likely to continue in the first two quarters of this year, some Beijing-based trade experts said yesterday. […]. ^ top ^

Growth rate of forex reserve falls (People's Daily)
2009-01-14
The country's foreign exchange (forex) reserve increased by $417.8 billion last year, $44.1 billion less than in 2007, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said yesterday. The central bank also said the supply of money and loan growth picked up in December, reflecting the government's effort to boost the economy through proactive fiscal and moderately loose monetary policies. The country's forex reserve increased by less than $45 billion in the fourth quarter to $1.95 trillion by the end of 2008, a PBOC report said. The reserve growth slowed over the months last year. The total reserve was up 27.34 percent over 2007, the lowest rate since 2001.The growth rate from January to September was 32.92 percent and that from January to June 35.37 percent. The fall in the growth rate is the result of a shrinking trade surplus and a possible slowdown in the inflow of "hot money", analysts said. […]. ^ top ^

China revises 2007 GDP growth rate to 13% (Xinhua)
2009-01-14
Beijing - China has revised the growth rate of its gross domestic product (GDP) for 2007 to 13.0 percent from 11.9 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Wednesday. […]. ^ top ^

China unveils support package to auto, steel industries (Xinhua)
2009-01-14
Beijing - China's State Council unveiled a long-awaited support package for the auto and steel sectors Wednesday to boost the two "pillar industries". Under the plan, the government will lower the purchase tax on cars under 1.6 liters from 10 percent to 5 percent from Jan. 20 to Dec. 31 in a bid to stimulate sales. It will also allocate 5 billion yuan (730 million U.S. dollars) to provide one-off allowances to farmers to upgrade their three-wheeled vehicles and low-speed trucks to mini-trucks or purchase new mini-vans under 1.3 liters from March 1 to Dec. 31. […] In the next three years, the central government will earmark 10 billion yuan as a special fund to support auto companies to upgrade technologies, and develop new engines that use alternative energies. […]. ^ top ^

China cuts gasoline, diesel prices 2-3%, 2nd time in a month (Xinhua)
2009-01-14
Beijing - China said it would cut benchmark retail prices of gasoline by 2 percent and diesel by 3.2 percent as of midnight Wednesday, in a rare move to cut prices twice in a month. Prices were last cut on Dec. 19. At that time, benchmark gasoline and diesel prices were lowered by 14 percent and 18 percent, respectively. The benchmark gasoline price will be reduced by 140 yuan (30 U.S. dollars) per tonne, while that for diesel will be slashed by 160 yuan per tonne, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Xu Kuning, deputy director of the pricing department of NDRC, said the latest cuts were made to reflect declines in global crude prices. "There is still room for a further cut in domestic oil prices despite recent fluctuations in global prices," Xu said. […]. ^ top ^

11 provinces and municipalities join the "GDP trillion club" (People's Daily)
2009-01-15
With the joining of Beijing and Fujian, in 2008 there were 11 provinces and municipalities with GDP exceeding 1 trillion yuan in China. In 2007, the individual GDPs of eight provinces and one municipality in China mainland exceeded 1 trillion yuan. They were Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Zhejiang, Henan, Hebei, Shanghai, Liaoning and Sichuan. Of them, the GDPs of Liaoning and Sichuan exceeded 1 trillion yuan for the first time in 2007. Reporters learned that the fact that many provinces and municipalities have seen their GDP exceed 1 trillion yuan reflects an increase in the overall wealth of many provinces. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea
DPRK FM meets visiting senior Chinese diplomat (Xinhua)
2009-01-12
Pyongyang - Pak Ui Chun, foreign minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), met with visiting Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue here on Monday. The two sides expressed satisfaction with the development of bilateral ties and pledged efforts to ensure the smooth running of a series of events this year celebrating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the Year of China-DPRK Friendship. They hoped that these celebratory events would help further promote mutual understanding, boosting friendship, expand exchanges and deepening cooperation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

New president for bank of Mongolia (Mongol Messenger)
2009-01-08
Parliament had released A. Batsukh from his position of Mongol Bank President at his own request and, on January 8, 2009, decided to appoint L. Purevdorj to the position. […] According to the Law on Central Bank, he is appointed for a 6-year term in office. ^ top ^

Former nema and state reserve office chairman sentenced (Mongol Messenger)
2009-01-08
P. Dash, former Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency, and L. Altangerel, former Chairman of the State Reserve Office, were each given a jail sentence of 4.5 years, having been implicated in the crime of abusing their positions as administrators. […]. ^ top ^

Only 25 choose party membership over civil service (www.news.mn)
2009-01-13
The deadline for civil servants to choose between their job and party affiliation, under a new law in force since January 1, expired yesterday. Of the 41,146 obliged to take a decision, 40,839, including all State secretaries, have resigned their party membership, while 25 have said they would leave their job. The others have not decided either way. […]. ^ top ^

 

Philipp Orga
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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