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
  9.2-13.2.09, No. 255  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese official calls for "increasing representation" of developing countries in UN security council reform (Xinhua)
2009-02-07
Rome - Developing countries should be given more say in efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council, a Chinese official said here Thursday. "More countries, including small and medium ones, should have more opportunities to take part in the decision-making of the security council," said, Liu Jieyi, assistant foreign minister when addressing a ministerial meeting on the reform of UN Security Council held Thursday in Rome of Italy. The principle of equitable geographical distribution should be reflected and different civilizations and cultures should be factored into the reform, said Liu. He also called for "greater representation" of African countries in the council. "Any expansion that fails to treat African and other developing countries fairly could hardly win wide, let alone consensus support. Nor will China support such a formula," he noted. […] "China will work with other member states to push forward the reform in the interest of the United Nations as a whole as well as the unity among its membership," he said. […]. ^ top ^

New aid to Africa during President Hu's upcoming visit (China Daily)
2009-02-07
Beijing - China will offer new aid to African countries during President Hu Jintao's upcoming week-long visit starting next Tuesday, a senior diplomat said on Friday. Details of the package are still being worked out, and "China will launch a series of measures to help these countries cushion themselves from the impact of the global financial crisis on the continent," Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told a press conference. […] He said China's bond with the African continent goes far beyond natural resources, noting that the four countries on Hu's itinerary are not rich in oil or mineral resources. The visit is more about friendship and cooperation that has benefited both China and Africa, Zhai said. […] Zhai said China has taken concrete steps to fulfill its pledges, which included doubling aid to the continent. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese navy completes 15 escort missions in Gulf of Aden (People's Daily)
2009-02-07
The Chinese navy has carried out 15 escort missions to date since the country started its deep-sea escorting task against rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden, an official said on Friday. He Jianzhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport, said in a press conference that the navy has protected 33 vessels, 17 of which were from the Chinese mainland, 15 from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan. […] In addition to protecting Chinese civilian vessels and crews, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Chinese navy also offered escorts to foreign vessels upon request. […]. ^ top ^

France seeks to repair relations with China (China Daily)
2009-02-07
Beijing - French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Thursday that his country hopes to deepen ties with China, which have been strained over French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama. "We need China, the world needs China to get out of the recession" Fillon told parliament. […] Fillon stressed that Tibet is an integral part of China, but insisted that the French president had every right to meet the Dalai Lama. […] China, which has said it is up to France to repair ties with Beijing, agreed with the EU last week to hold a summit soon, after the London G20 summit on April 2. France was excluded from Premier Wen Jiabao's recent European visit. "We all know why," Wen said when asked why he had omitted France from his itinerary, China News Service reported. "I looked at a map of Europe on the plane. My trip goes around France," Wen said. The "reason (for not visiting) doesn't lie with China", he told a group of reporters. He urged Paris to "mend and improve ties" with China. […]. ^ top ^

China expresses concerns over India's trade probes (People's Daily)
2009-02-09
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Monday expressed "serious concerns" over India's intensive trade probes in hopes to avoid substantial impacts on bilateral trade. […] China hoped that India could show prudence and restraint in using trade remedies in the face of the global economic situation, as it could pose a threat to bilateral trade, MOC said in its Web site. India has launched 17 trade investigations on Chinese-made products since October last year, involving products worth 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. These included sodium nitrite, sodium carbonate and tyre. On Jan. 23 this year, India announced a six-month ban on all imports of Chinese-made toys. Toy imports from China each year accounted for more than 50 percent of the retail market in India, with an estimated value at more than 500 million U.S. dollars in 2007, according to the All India Toy Manufacturers Association. […]. ^ top ^

China says no to trade protectionism to fight crisis (Xinhua)
2009-02-09
Beijing - As the "Buy America" provision raises alarms against trade protectionism among state leaders and economists, China on Monday said "no" to a similar plan that bans foreign products in domestic stimulus projects. "We won't practice 'Buy China'," said Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Zengwei at a press conference. "We'll treat domestic and foreign products equally as long as they are needed." […] "Why should we turn to trade protectionism under the current situation (of global financial crisis)?" said Jiang, noting that it's impossible to meet a country's demand with only domestic products in the course of globalization. China must be wary of a possible protectionism, said Zhang Xiaoji, a foreign economic relations researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, a think tank under the Cabinet. […] "We should not only oppose trade protectionism in other countries but also support global trade ourselves," said Zhang, suggesting opening up domestic market wider as China's trade surplus remains large. […]. ^ top ^

China says protects human rights, West voices doubt (Reuters)
2009-02-09
Geneva - China, urged by Western and some Latin American countries to ensure political and religious freedoms, insisted on Monday that it is guided by the rule of law and is committed to protect and promote human rights. And while European delegations in the United Nations Human Rights Council called on Beijing to end the death penalty and halt torture in prisons, many Asian and African countries hailed China as a beacon of progress and an example for them to follow. "China is a state where the rule of law prevails," a top official of the Chinese Supreme Court told the 47-nation Council, while the chief Chinese delegate said: "China is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights." Backed by countries including Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Myanmar and Sudan, China's ambassador in Geneva, Li Baodong, accused countries who raised Tibet and the partly Muslim-populated region of Xiankiang of "politicizing" human rights issues. Both regions have been the scene of unrest in recent years, especially Tibet where bloody anti-Chinese riots broke out last March which China says were inspired by the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and unidentified "foreign centers." Li and his team appeared angered over references by France to reports from Chinese dissidents to "black jails," or secret prisons for government critics, and by Australian, British, and Czech mention of alleged persecution in Tibet. The Beijing delegates bluntly denied that such prisons could exist or that torture was allowed in detention, as suggested by some Western speakers, and declared that Tibet -- and Xiankiang -- enjoyed full cultural and political freedoms. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing defends human rights efforts - UN ambassador dismisses concerns raised by western countries (SCMP)
2009-02-10
China's oft-criticised human rights record came under scrutiny at the United Nations yesterday as UN ambassador Li Baodong sought to defend its human rights efforts in a new mechanism called the Universal Periodic Review. The Chinese delegation, headed by Mr Li, highlighted changes to the legal system as evidence of the country's commitment to human rights. But representatives from other countries raised strong concerns about freedoms in some restive regions. The review, established under the UN Human Rights Council, examines the human rights records of all 192 UN member states once every four years. "China has worked consistently to improve its legal system ... has endeavoured to promote democracy, enhance democratic institutions ... seeks to guarantee judicial independence and the fair administration of justice through continued reforms ... and promote law-based governance and to increase government transparency," Mr Li said. […] Several countries, including Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Canada, raised questions about restrictions on freedom of religion in areas including Tibet and Xinjiang. Concerns were also raised about suppression of the press and the public's freedom of expression, harassment and arrests of human rights activists, child labour and the income and social status divide between urban and rural areas. Germany, Japan and Britain raised questions about re-education through labour, harassment of rights lawyers, lack of information transparency, the reform of the judicial system and rule of law. In contrast, representatives from Sudan and Sri Lanka said they "highly appreciated China's great efforts in promoting human rights, building a harmonious society". They also praised China's economic development. Mr Li applauded such countries for their support and understanding and dismissed criticisms raised in the review. "China has never restricted freedom of speech, there is no media censorship, we guarantee full religious freedom, and journalists, lawyers, human rights advocates have full freedoms," Mr Li said. "The public can express their opinions freely, and nobody will be punished or investigated for making opinions. "We very much regret to see some countries, such as Australia, have raised questions that are highly politicised." […]. ^ top ^

Review of China watered down, observers say (SCMP)
2009-02-10
The United Nations' review of China's human rights situation was ineffective and watered down because many participating countries were not critical enough to hold Beijing to account, observers said yesterday. They blamed Beijing's rising global economic and political clout as a major reason for its rights record being whitewashed, and in some cases praised, by the roughly 60 countries that spoke at the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva yesterday. The mechanism adopted by the UN Human Rights Council was also described as toothless, ineffective and failing to reflect a comprehensive picture of the human rights situation in China, and in other countries being reviewed. During the three-hour session, countries picked to make comments were mostly developing countries that are China's traditional allies. Iran, for example, praised China's internet censorship policies. Tough comment was rare even among some developed countries that are usually critical of China's human rights record. Only Canada, Switzerland, Britain and France raised issues such as the death penalty and press freedom. But the Tibet issue was raised in passing by a few countries. […]. ^ top ^

China signs US$1.8b monorail deal for Saudi Arabia's holy cities (SCMP)
2009-02-12
China has won a contract to build a monorail near Islam's holiest city of Mecca to ferry pilgrims between key religious sites during the haj, or annual Muslim pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia announced. The US$1.8 billion deal, finalised during President Hu Jintao's visit to Saudi Arabia, is the second rail project in a week involving Mecca to be awarded to a Chinese firm. […] On Friday, a consortium including China Railway Engineering won a civil works contract, also worth US$1.8 billion, for a 444km high-speed railway to link Mecca and Medina via Jeddah. Yesterday the president visited Riyadh Cement company, which has just contracted China's Sinoma International Engineering to expand its production lines. The deals highlighted the growing role of China in Saudi Arabia's plan to undertake 450 billion riyals (HK$930 billion) in major infrastructure, education and new cities projects over the next five years. […]. ^ top ^

President Hu: China to seek early FTA with Gulf Cooperation Council (Xinhua)
2009-02-12
Riyahd - Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao said Wednesday that China will seek an early free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). "The FTA is in the fundamental and long-term interests of both sides and will help deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development," Hu said during a meeting with GCC Secretary General Abdul Rahman Al-Attiya in Riyadh, where the council is headquartered. "China will work actively toward signing the agreement at an early date," Hu said. […] China and the GCC launched FTA negotiations in July 2004, and the first round of the talks took place in April 2005. ^ top ^

Concern at reports of Japanese ship stationed near Diaoyus (SCMP)
2009-02-12
Beijing is "intensely concerned" at reports in Japanese media that Japan has permanently stationed a coastguard ship near disputed islands in the East China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said. The Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are thought to lie near oil and gas reserves and have long been a source of friction among China, Japan and Taiwan. "According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese coastguard on February 1 dispatched an inspection vessel which can carry helicopters to be permanently stationed in the waters around the Diaoyu Islands, to strengthen the `garrison system' of the islands," the Foreign Ministry said on its website. "If the reports are true, this is a serious violation of China's territorial sovereignty, and China expresses its intense concern.". ^ top ^

Mainland claims win in UN rights debate (SCMP)
2009-02-13
China claimed victory yesterday after a UN panel examined its human rights record and found it to be on track, despite complaints over abuses, including Beijing's use of labour camps and widespread allegations of police torture. Commenting on a UN human rights report published on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said most countries had endorsed China's rights record - and those that did not were simply politicising the process. "A majority of countries spoke highly of China's human rights policies and achievements, and support China continuing the followed path in line with its national conditions," she said. "A few countries attempted to politicise the review ... They were rebuked by most countries." […] Rejected proposals - which were not mentioned in the report - included those to end torture and the sentencing of people to labour camps without trial, to abolish the death penalty, to guarantee freedom of religion and to respect ethnic minorities. China said it did support proposals - mostly from developing countries - to improve social and economic rights such as creating jobs in rural areas and doing more to integrate people with disabilities. […]. ^ top ^

Hu starts African tour in Mali (SCMP)
2009-02-13
President Hu Jintao arrived in Mali yesterday at the start of a four-country African tour that Beijing insists is about strengthening co-operation and not solely for economic gain. Mr Hu was greeted yesterday afternoon by his Malian counterpart, Amadou Torre, at Bamako airport. […] Although Mali is Africa's third biggest gold producer, one of the continent's biggest cotton producers and has recently discovered uranium, Chinese authorities insisted the visit was not about extending its access to Mali's resources. "The president of China is visiting Mali to strengthen the ties of co-operation between the two countries and map out future projects," Chinese Ambassador Zang Guoquing said. Mr Hu's tour will also take him to Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius as part of efforts to strengthen ties with the continent, an important source of raw materials for China and a growing market for Chinese exports. Beijing has stressed the trip is to focus more on shoring up political ties and boosting aid to African countries, working with them to fight the impact of the global economic crisis and less on securing energy supplies. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China earmarks 86.7 bln yuan for drought relief (Xinhua)
2009-02-07
Beijing - The Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Friday allocated 86.7 billion yuan (about 12.69 billion U.S. dollars) from its reserve to drought-hit areas in relief funds. Of the total, 71.6 billion yuan will be given to farmers for buying relief materials, and the other 15.1 billion yuan will go to grain producers to supplement incomes. The central government announced Thursday it would earmark 300 million yuan for local governments, in addition to 100 million yuan previously allocated. […] The area of affected crops has expanded to 161 million mu (10.73 hectares). 4.37 million people and 2.1 million heads of livestock are facing drinking water shortages, according to data released by the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. […]. ^ top ^

$13b gas supply line under way (China Daily)
2009-02-09
Construction of the eastern segment of China's second West-East gas line, which will supply more than 400 million people, was started in Shenzhen on Saturday. The pipeline will cross 14 provinces and carry 30 billion cu m of natural gas every year from Turkmenistan and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to areas such as Zhejiang, Shanghai and Guangdong. The 9,102 km network, tabled after completion of the first gas transfer project in 2004, will be made up of one trunk line and eight sub-lines. Work on the west segment began last year, with the line expected to be in use in 2011. Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said when inspecting the construction in Shenzhen that the second project, the country's largest ever energy investment at 142 billion yuan ($20.8 billion), will play a significant role in achieving energy security, balanced regional development and closer relations between the mainland and Hong Kong. […] The project will also be vital to China's bid to raise domestic demand as it will stimulate investments of more than 300 billion yuan in steel, construction, machinery and in natural gas utilization sectors, Xinhua said, without giving sources. […]. ^ top ^

20pc of Guangdong firms 'plan to cut staff' (SCMP)
2009-02-09
One in five firms in the ailing export hub of Guangdong may soon lay off workers, an official labour survey showed, further straining the job market as millions of migrant workers seek work amid the export slump. Guangdong, which makes around a third of the mainland's exports, has seen thousands of factories close as western demand for mainland-made products shrivels from the global economic slowdown. According to the results of a wide-ranging survey in Guangdong by labour authorities – of some 397 firms employing more than 260,000 workers – 20 per cent said they might cut staff in the first quarter, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported. […]. ^ top ^

Ministry: China to create 775,000 jobs through rural stores by end-2010 (People's Daily)
2009-02-09
Beijing - China will establish 250,000 rural retail stores by next year to create 775,000 jobs for migrant workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis, a Ministry of Commerce official said Monday. Vice Commerce Minister Jiang Zengwei said this year the ministry would set up 150,000 stores. This and the building of ancillary services, including delivery centers and post offices, which would create "a large amount of jobs" for migrant workers. He said that since the government started the "Thousands of Villages Project," which encouraged village retail store development, the ministry had established 260,000 such stores, with one store offering about three jobs on average for rural residents. These stores helped ensure product quality in the rural market as well. […]. ^ top ^

Coupons for low-income families effective in boosting demand in China (People's Daily)
2009-02-09
Coupons issued by local governments to low-income families over the Spring Festival holidays in China are playing positive role in stimulating domestic demand, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said here on Monday. Vice minister Jiang Zengwei said the action is "practical" and "effective" in the current situation, adding that a comprehensive social security system will also boost consumption. Municipal governments of southern Hangzhou and southwestern Chengdu issued coupons valued at 1000 million yuan (146.3 million U.S. dollars) and 37.91 million yuan respectively for local registered low-income families before Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, following earlier government calls to extend subsidies for the needy. More cities are expected to follow the lead. An estimated total of 380,000 residents in Chengdu were to receive coupons. Hangzhou reported a higher figure of about 580,000 that included the region's 260,000 primary school and middle school students. The coupons, 100 to 200 yuan, can be used in local stores and supermarkets. People in Hangzhou can also use them to see movies and buy books. […]. ^ top ^

Job seekers bracing for hard times amid crisis (SCMP)
2009-02-10
Job seekers in Guangzhou and Shenzhen are bracing for hard times as the number of vacancies shrinks and salaries drop amid the global financial crisis. Companies were also preparing to lay off staff in the coming months to cut costs, the Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday. About 70,000 people, including unemployed migrant workers and university graduates, attended a job fair in Shenzhen last week that offered only 25,000 jobs. About a quarter of the firms taking part said they would hire fewer people than last year because of the financial crisis. In Guangzhou, only 58.7 per cent of enterprises said they planned to hire in coming months, a survey by the Guangzhou Labour and Social Security Department found. […] The survey found that 20 per cent of companies were planning layoffs, either this month or next, in order to cut costs. […]. ^ top ^

More help needed as people live longer (China Daily)
2009-02-10
With more than 16 percent of its population aged over 60, Jiangsu province is stepping up efforts to support the elderly and ensure a happy old age for them. About 2,000 community service centers will be built in the province this year, and 80 percent of its counties are required to have at least one retirement home by the end of the year, Governor Luo Zhijun said, adding that about 10,000 beds will be added to the rural retirement homes this year. Meanwhile, the first provincial government-funded apartment building complex tailored to the needs of the elderly is expected to open this year in Nanjing, the provincial capital. It will have 1,000 beds and will provide not only round-the-clock medical service to the elderly tenants, but also give them a wide range of entertainment choices. […] The number of over-60s in Jiangsu is expected to be more than twice the current figure of 12.2 million by 2040, accounting for 35 percent of the population, Gu Jiekang, director of the Jiangsu Economic Association, a think tank for the provincial government, told China Daily. […]. ^ top ^

China: No mutation for human-human bird-flu infection (Xinhua)
2009-02-10
Beijing - Viral analysis of patients infected with bird flu in the Chinese mainland found no mutation that could cause human to human infection, Mao Qun'an, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, said Tuesday. Mao said that eight people were found to have contracted H5N1 this year and five had died. Scientists had found little mutation in the virus strains separated from those patients, and no mutation that would allow human-to-human transmission. […]. ^ top ^

Former Chinese airport chief gets death penalty for bribery, embezzlement (People's Daily)
2009-02-10
Jinan - A former capital airports holding company chief was given a death sentence for bribery and embezzlement totaling more than 100 million yuan (14.6 million U.S. dollars), a court in east China's Shandong Province said after the sentencing Tuesday. Li Peiying, former board chairman and general manager of Capital Airports Holding Company (CAH), was given the sentence by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court. Li, 59, was found guilty of seeking or accepting bribes totaling 26.61 million yuan while he was in office from 1995 to 2003. He abused his power to provide guarantees for others to get bank loans, the court heard. Li also misappropriated 82.5 million yuan for personal use from 2000 to 2003, according to the court. […]. ^ top ^

Cull after Xinjiang bird flu outbreak (SCMP)
2009-02-11
More than 13,000 birds have been slaughtered in Xinjiang to prevent the spread of the lethal bird flu virus, the state media said yesterday. Xinhua said the Ministry of Agriculture had confirmed that 519 fowl had been killed by H5N1, the bird flu strain that can also infect and kill humans, at a grain station in Zhawa village, Moyu county. The report failed to say when the H5N1 outbreak had occurred. It said the ministry had immediately ordered the local government to slaughter 13,218 birds to prevent the virus spreading. It said the slaughter had brought the situation under control. At least eight people have contracted the H5N1 virus on the mainland this year. Five have died. But there has been no evidence found of human-to-human infection, Xinhua quoted Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qunan as saying. […]. ^ top ^

China approves stimulus plan for ship building industry (Xinhua)
2009-02-11
Beijing - China's State Council, or Cabinet, adopted a stimulus plan Wednesday for the shipbuilding industry at an executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. The meeting said shipbuilding is a modern, comprehensive industry that provides technical equipment for transportation, maritime development and national defense. Supporting shipbuilders would also help other sectors, including steel, chemicals, textiles, light industry, equipment manufacturing and information technology, it said. The meeting agreed to increase credit support by an unspecified amount for ship buyers. It also decided to extend the existing financial support policies for oceangoing vessels until 2012. These policies include tax rebates on key imported components for domestically owned oceangoing ships. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hong Kong, New Zealand to resume bilateral trade agreement talks (Xinhua)
2009-02-10
Hong Kong and New Zealand have agreed to resume formal negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement, with the first round of the talks planned for late April or early May this year, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Tuesday. "A preparatory meeting will be held in Hong Kong in March to prepare for the resumed negotiations," the HKSAR government said in a statement. The statement said the emphasis of the Hong Kong and New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership Agreement will be on trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Chen's wife admits forgery, laundering - Taiwan's ex-first lady pleads guilty (SCMP)
2009-02-11
Wheelchair-bound former Taiwanese first lady Wu Shu-chen pleaded guilty at a hearing in Taipei yesterday to laundering US$2.2 million and forging documents. But she denied more serious embezzlement and corruption charges, in a strategy seen as an attempt to clear herself, her husband and her son. […] Wu was charged along with Chen with taking at least NT$491.8 million (HK$117 million) in bribes, embezzling NT$104 million in special state funds, and laundering US$21 million abroad. […].^ top ^

Mainland, Taiwan to start two-way postal remittance services (People's Daily)
2009-02-11
The Chinese mainland and Taiwan will start two-way postal remittance services for the first time in 60 years, a mainland official said here Wednesday. Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman of China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, didn't give an exact start date for the services, but Taiwan's Chunghwa Post Co. reported earlier that two-way services would begin mid-February. […].^ top ^

 

Tibet

Italy seeks to placate China after Rome honours Dalai Lama (SCMP)
2009-02-11
Italy reaffirmed its "strong support" for China yesterday after the city of Rome made exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen, drawing a rebuke from Beijing. The Italian Foreign Ministry reasserted the country's "strong support of the Italian government for the one-China policy", it said in a statement. […] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu voiced "strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition" over the honour earlier in the day. "We hope the Italian side takes seriously China's concerns and takes effective measures immediately to eliminate the negative impact and safeguard the sound development of bilateral relations," she said. […]. ^ top ^

China sentences 76 over Tibet riots: state media (AFP)
2009-02-11
Beijing — Chinese authorities have handed down court sentences to 76 people over anti-Chinese riots last year in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. The information was announced by a top Tibetan official during a Tuesday news conference in Lhasa, Xinhua said, and marked an increase from a previous total of 55 reported by the agency. […]. ^ top ^

A year after riots, officials warn Tibet at risk of renewed unrest (SCMP)
2009-02-12
Mainland officials have warned that, despite strengthened security, Tibet is at risk of renewed unrest nearly a year after the worst anti-government riots in two decades erupted in Lhasa, state media reported. Lhasa vice-mayor Cao Bianjiang vowed authorities would spare no effort to clamp down on all separatist and disruptive activities. "There are some people who do not want to see the development of Lhasa's economy and happy lives of locals," he was quoted by Xinhua as saying yesterday. "So it cannot be entirely avoided that some people [attempt to] cause disturbances." Local authorities have tightened security in the past month ahead of the one-year anniversary of the deadly March 14 protests and the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibet uprising, during which the Dalai Lama fled to India. The Dalai Lama also warned that the situation in his homeland was "very tense" and that an uprising was possible. "Today there is too much anger. At any moment, an outburst could happen," he said during a visit to the German city of Baden-Baden. […]. ^ top ^

China warns against playing "Tibet card" (People's Daily)
2009-02-12
Beijing - China hopes countries concerned to weigh up their acts of conferring honors and titles on the Dalai Lama, and not to harm their relations with China and the Chinese people's feelings by "playing the so-called Tibet card." Nyima Cering, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, made the remarks at a press conference Tuesday night. […] He said that the Dalai Lama is neither simply a religious figure nor on his own behalf, but represents a so-called "Tibetan Government-in-Exile" and part of the anti-China forces. He has never done anything good for the Tibetan people, rather going completely counter to their interests. Countries in the world and people of vision should have a clear understanding of the true nature of the Dalai Lama. He added, some countries, paying no heed to their relations with China and the Chinese people's feelings, blatantly conferred honors and titles on the Dalai Lama for nothing but using him as a tool to conduct secessionist activities against China. "It is reported that some countries are still planning to support the Dalai Lama's secessionist activities, and China hopes leaders of these countries weigh up the matter gravely," he stressed. "It will do no good to their friendly relations with China and the Chinese people," he added. […]. ^ top ^

Commentary: Honors with prejudice (Xinhua)
2009-02-12
Beijing - The Dalai Lama has garnered quite a number of "honors" during his recent visit to Europe. On Monday, he received honorary citizenship in Rome. The next day, he became a honorary citizen of Venice before arriving in Germany to receive the German Media Prize. […] Under the influence of biased reports, some Westerners regard the Dalai Lama as the symbol for "tolerance" and "compassion." However, the so-called spiritual leader has fabricated a version of ethnic antagonism in China and has tried to arouse national hatred in the country. On his arrival in Rome on Monday, Dalai Lama said: "There is a profound hatred between Tibetans and Chinese people" in Tibet, and cited it as his reasons for pursuing "complete autonomy for Tibet." […] To express political views and achieve political goals by granting the Dalai Lama "honorary" titles is a fruitless move, because Tibet affairs have a bearing on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the Chinese government and people would never change their stance on the issue. ^ top ^

Foreign visitors barred from areas with big Tibetan populations (SCMP)
2009-02-13
Western areas of the country with large Tibetan populations have been declared off limits to foreign visitors, local officials confirmed yesterday, ahead of the politically sensitive 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising. An official at the tourism office of Gansu province's Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to a major monastery and large Tibetan communities, said the region was again closed to foreigners and would not be open until late next month. The official did not say when the restrictions were put in place. March 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the failed rebellion in Tibet against Beijing's rule. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's foreign trade tops $2.56 trillion in value, but slows in 2008 (Xinhua)
2009-02-06
Beijing - China's foreign trade topped 2.56 trillion U.S. dollars in value in 2008, but the year-on-year growth rate dropped below 20 percent for the first time in seven years, according to the General Administration of Customs. The total value was up 17.8 percent compared with 2007, but the growth rate was down 5.7 percentage points. Exports were up 17.2 percent to 1.43 trillion U.S. dollars and imports up 18.5 percent to 1.13 trillion U.S. dollars, but the annual export growth rate slowed by 8.5 and imports by 2.3 percentage points. The trade surplus stood at 295.47 billion U.S. dollars, up 12.5percent, according to the administration. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing's 4Q business climate index see five-year record low on slowing economy (Xinhua)
2009-02-07
Beijing - Beijing's business climate index fell to 108.9, the lowest level since 2003 in the fourth quarter of 2008, as economic conditions deteriorated sharply, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday. This was a result of multiple factors such as the Olympic Games, the government's macro-control measures and the global financial crisis, the bureau said. The index ranges from zero to 200. A reading above 100 shows economic expansion, while a reading below 100 indicates contraction. […]. ^ top ^

CPI sign of economic 'recovery' (China Daily)
2009-02-11
The consumer price index (CPI) in January rose only 1 percent year-on-year, the lowest in 30 months, and the other measure of inflation, the producer price index (PPI), dropped 3.3 percent. That prompted economists to say the economy may have bottomed out and could start growing again within a few months. […] Inflation was a major concern at the beginning of last year. But the tightening of the monetary policy at the end of 2007 caused the CPI to start falling in May after it peaked at 8.7 percent in February last year. It fell to 1.2 percent in December, the lowest since July 2006. The PPI dropped 1.1 percent in December after rising 2 percent in November and hitting a 12-year-high of 10.1 percent in August. […]. ^ top ^

China's export value down 17.5% in Jan. (Xinhua)
2009-02-11
Beijing - China's export volume decreased 17.5 percent year-on-year to 90.45 billion U.S. dollars in January, the General Administration of Customs said on Wednesday. The import volume, however, fell by a much larger degree of 43.1 percent to 51.34 billion U.S. dollars. Total foreign trade was 141.8 billion U.S. dollars, with the trade surplus up 102 percent over the same month of last year to 39.1 billion U.S. dollars. […] While the January trade figures were "in part distorted by the affect of the Chinese new year, they indicate a continuing deterioration in the underlying fundamentals," said Wang Qing, chief analyst on Chinese economy with Morgan Stanley Asia. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea
China's newly-appointed envoy to attend Moscow meeting on Korean Peninsula nuke issue (Xinhua)
2009-02-12
Beijing - China's newly-appointed ambassador in charge of affairs relating to the Korean Peninsula Yang Houlan will attend the third meeting of the six-party talks for peace and security in Northeast Asia in Moscow next week. […] The meeting, held in Moscow from Feb. 19 to 20, will focus on the framework for broad six-party talks in which the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed in 2005 to abandon its nuclear programs, according to reports. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Action plan takes precedence at parliament session (UB Post)
2009-02-11
[…] Parliament is scheduled to convene a irregular session on February 12 to discuss the government economic action plan that aims to maintain the country's growth during the coming years. Mongolia's Cabinet has announced that the nation will likely need to spend Tg 1.5 trillion in order to continue its economic progress. Economic advisors from international organizations have said that Mongolia must cut its expenses on social welfare measures, but so far the country's government says it does not intend to freeze social welfare programs. ^ top ^

Tax law to be amended (Montsame)
2009-02-11
The economy of Mongolia strongly depends on the US dollar's rate that tend to go up further. In view of this, a Ministry of Finance has drafted amendments to the general tax law with an aim to reduce the losses taxpayers bear due to differences in US dollar's rates. The draft amendments state that all kinds of taxes are imposed on national currency in Mongolia. In connection with the amendment, it becomes indispensable to correct some other laws such as on excise tax, on minerals, on fees for use of state seals, and on renewable energy. Mongolian imports 70 percent of food products it consumes, 90 percent of industrial commodities, and 100 percent of techniques and equipments. This is a main reason of sharp fluctuations in foreign currency rates. […]. ^ 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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