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
  9.3-13.3.09, No. 259  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China sends another delegation to Europe for investment (Xinhua)
2009-03-07
Beijing - Another Chinese delegation of businesses and industry leaders, led by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), left for four European countries Saturday for investment and economic cooperation, the MOC said. The business delegation, following purchases totaled more than 10 billion U.S. dollars in Europe by a Chinese procurement delegation in late February, is heading for the same destinations of Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Britain. The new delegation will explore investment opportunities on areas of automobile, machinery, textile, food, electronics and technologies relating to energy saving and environment protection. An MOC official said "the move would further strengthen cooperation between China and Europe and create a win-win result in tackling the global economic downturn." The delegation is composed of more than 20 top Chinese companies, as well as several national trade associations and government officials. ^ top ^

Fears financial crisis may put US off attending World Expo in 2010 (SCMP)
2009-03-09
Top mainland leaders are concerned that the United States still has not committed itself to the 2010 World Expo, Shanghai organisers said yesterday. Wan Jifei, director of the event's executive committee, said the US had not given a formal, written commitment to take part in the expo, but had made a verbal promise. "Our state leaders have conveyed concerns about the participation of the US. The Chinese ambassador in the US has also expressed the concerns," Mr Wan said in Beijing. The absence of the US would deal a huge blow to the expo - billed as the biggest international event in the nation since the Olympic Games last year. Beijing is keen to use to event to promote the country's growing clout on the world stage. The Los Angeles Times reported in January that the US might not take part in the expo because organisers were struggling to raise funds for a national pavilion, with sponsorship drying up amid the global economic crisis. […]. ^ top ^

Navy 'poses no threat to others' (China Daily)
2009-03-09
The Chinese navy has averred its growth does not pose any threat to others and is only meant to fulfil the rising need to maintain national security. The navy does not seek military hegemony despite its historic mission to Africa to guard vessels against piracy or the plan to build aircraft carriers, the navy's deputy chief of staff told China Daily over the weekend. "Even when the navy has its aircraft carriers one day, our national defense strategy will remain purely defensive," Major General Zhang Deshun said. "The Chinese navy pursues peace and safeguards the security of the country," Zhang said. The navy caught worldwide attention after its decision in December to send a fleet of warships for its first mission in overseas territory, joining the international anti-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia. […] "But some foreign media saw it as an opportunity to hype so-called 'China threat'. In fact, China is doing exactly what other countries are doing, sending ships there: To protect national interests," Zhang said. There has also been a flurry of reports on China's plans to build aircraft carriers after a rise of 14.9 percent in annual military spending was announced for this year during the ongoing legislative meeting in Beijing. […]. ^ top ^

US Congress and Richard Gere to push for end to 'repression' (SCMP)
2009-03-11
US lawmakers and celebrities vowed yesterday to press China on the Tibet issue after a resolution was introduced to Congress on Monday that would urge Beijing to end its "repression" of the Himalayan region. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a long-time supporter of Tibet, vowed that Congress would overwhelmingly approve the bill. "The situation in Tibet challenges the conscience of the world," Ms Pelosi said. "If freedom-loving people do not speak out for human rights in China and Tibet, then we lose the moral authority to talk about it in any other place in the world." […] Beijing yesterday asked US lawmakers to drop the bill. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said: "We request the related US representatives to follow the basic norms guiding international relations and stop pushing the bill on Tibet ... The Chinese government and people, as always, oppose any country or anyone to interfere in China's internal affairs on the pretext of the Tibet issue.". ^ top ^

Beijing says US Navy broke law (SCMP)
2009-03-11
Beijing hit back yesterday at US Navy claims of harassment, saying a US surveillance ship had violated international and Chinese law inside China's exclusive economic zone. The incident off Hainan Island was first reported by the US Defence Department on Monday, on the eve of a visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. In response to Washington's claims that five Chinese ships, including a naval vessel, harassed the USNS Impeccable in international waters near Hainan Island on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday that the US ship had violated international and Chinese law. "The US accusations are gravely inaccurate and it confuses what is right and what is wrong," ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said. "This is totally unacceptable to China." Citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and relevant Chinese laws, Mr Ma said the US vessel was in China's exclusive economic zone without authorisation, and had thus violated the laws. Washington has yet to ratify the UN convention. Washington said the Impeccable, one of five US Navy surveillance ships used to detect and track undersea threats, was operating in international waters 75 nautical miles south of Hainan Island when the incident took place. The PLA is building what will be the Chinese navy's biggest submarine base in Hainan. […]. ^ top ^

China kick starts al-Ahdab oil field project in Iraq (Xinhua)
2009-03-11
Al-Ahdad - On the largely spacious land of Iraq's eastern province of Wasit, Chinese faces among local Iraqis heavily guarded by security forces appeared on the site of the al-Ahdab oil field project the two sides agreed to jointly develop, which would see a 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) production in the coming six years. […] A Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) delegation on Wednesday formally opened the al-Ahdab oil field project in Iraq's eastern province of Wasit, aiming to help the war-torn country to quickly boost its oil production as promised. […] As the turbulent situations, featured by countless attacks and explosions here and there across Iraq stabilized dramatically during the past year, CNPC is eager to fulfill what it had promised to the war-torn state --- an output boost of 25,000 bpd in the following three years and 110,000 bpd within the 6 years ahead. […]. ^ top ^

China's power play - Beijing has emerged an energy broker as Central Asian nations vie for its help (SCMP)
2009-03-12
The decision by Kyrgyzstan to close a small but significant US military post in the Central Asian republic has been portrayed as a classic cold war chess move, with Russia squeezing the Americans out of its traditional backyard. But China's role, albeit indirect, has also been critical in bringing about the closure of the Manas base, which will deprive the American military of a vital supply line to its forces in Afghanistan. It is linked to China's continued emergence as a power broker, and buyer, in the region. China's small western neighbour is betting on selling to Beijing the surplus power from the US$2 billion Kambarata hydropower station which Russia is financing - a condition of Moscow's loan being the Manas shutdown. […] After enduring the worst winter in local memory in 2007-08, Kyrgyzstan, one of the poorest members of the World Trade Organisation, is keener that ever to build hydropower capacity as an engine of economic growth. The Russian-funded Kambarata I and II hydropower projects on the rocky Naryn River will install 2,260MW of capacity. Locals, who complain of a lack of job opportunities, see in Kambarata a solution to economic woes and the misery of year-round power cuts. […] For Kyrgyzstan to make its dream a success, it needs China. Domestic power demand does not justify the investment in such projects, says Anil Terway, senior adviser with the Asian Development Bank's regional and sustainable development department. […]. ^ top ^

Talks with Japan to resume (China Daily)
2009-03-12
China and Japan will resume security talks after a gap of more than two years by the end of this month, a senior official said yesterday. The dialogue was suspended in 2006 after bilateral ties hit a low because of Japan's former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine houses tablets of Japan's World War II criminals, who invaded many Asian nations including China. The resumption of talks in Tokyo will help promote trust, the official, who declined to be identified, told China Daily on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing. The CPPCC is China's top political advisory body. The official said foreign affairs and defense officials of both nations will deliberate on security and defense policies during the talks. China will send an assistant foreign minister, he said. […]. ^ top ^

US talks focus on economic crisis and defusing tensions - Foreign minister meets Obama in Washington visit (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met US President Barack Obama at the White House yesterday as both sides tried to focus on tackling a deepening economic crisis and defuse tensions over a confrontation at sea and Tibet. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he expected the dispute involving the USNS Impeccable and five Chinese ships in the South China Sea on Sunday to be discussed but that it would not dominate the conversation. Mr Yang was also expected to meet Mr Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, a former US Marine Corps general. On Wednesday Mr Yang met Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who said they agreed on the need to reduce tensions and avoid a repeat of the confrontation. "We both agreed that we should work to ensure that such incidents do not happen again," Mrs Clinton said. […] Mr Yang said the Sino-US relationship was crucial to world peace and stability and the two nations shared extensive mutual interests. "We should have more dialogue with each other, strengthen our exchange and co-operation and push the bilateral ties towards a healthy and stable direction," Xinhua quoted Mr Yang as saying. […] Mr Yang's visit was to prepare for a meeting between Mr Obama and President Hu Jintao in London early next month at the G20 financial crisis summit. Xinhua said the two sides had also reached an agreement on details of a new round of Sino-US strategic economic dialogue. "Both sides agree that tackling the global financial crisis will be a focal point in Sino-US relationship in the near future," it said. […] The two countries also agreed to strengthen co-operation on human rights, climate change, and military exchanges and combatting terrorism. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Rare new coal reserve found in east China (Xinhua)
2009-03-08
Jinan - Chinese geologists revealed Sunday they have found a new coalfield with estimated reserves exceeding 3 billion tons in the eastern Shandong Province. Zhang Zengqi, deputy president of the Shandong Provincial Academy of Geology and Scientific Experiments, said the rare new reserve mainly comprised coke and was in Caoxian, a county in southwestern Shandong. […] The potential economic value of the find is estimated at 1.5 trillion yuan (220 billion U.S. dollars) according to current coke prices. […]. ^ top ^

China to launch 15 to 16 satellites in 2009 (Xinhua)
2009-03-09
Beijing - China plans to launch 15 to 16 satellites this year, Zhang Jianqi, deputy chief commander of the manned space project, said here Monday. "Though the global financial crisis is taking toll on world economy, it has no impact on China's space programs," Zhang, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, told media. China is at present "batch-producing" the three spacecraft, Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, according to Zhang. […] China plans to launch Tiangong-1, an unmanned space module, into orbit by the end of 2010, he said. The country plans to launch the Shenzhou-8 and Shenzhou-9 spacecraft in 2011, a former chief designer of the manned-space project said earlier. […] China has sent an average of eight satellites into space annually during the first two years of its 11th five-year-plan (2006-2010), and the number was 1.5 before its ninth five-year-plan (1996-2000), figures from the China Academy of Space Technology showed. ^ top ^

Thousands of police officers fan out to border areas to keep peace (SCMP)
2009-03-10
Tens of thousands of police officers have been dispatched to the mainland's extensive border areas to head off social unrest in a potentially turbulent year, a senior public security official said. Among them, about 7,100 officers are staying on in the villages there to help community officials keep a lid on any trouble. It is not clear how long they will stay. Fu Hongyu, the national border police party boss, said the deployment was aimed at stopping any "large-scale mass incident" from happening in the border areas. At the same time, the force would try to "figure out an effective way to maintain good social order in border regions in the long run", he told Xinhua yesterday on the sidelines of the National People's Congress. […] The Ministry of Public Security also plans to train more than 3,000 county police chiefs in ways to better handle social problems. […]. ^ top ^

Call to prevent officials fleeing (SCMP)
2009-03-10
Mainland political advisers have joined hands to call for action over a growing exodus of bureaucrats allegedly fleeing overseas with tens of millions of yuan in embezzled public money every year. The Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, one of the eight recognised parties, submitted a proposal yesterday calling for an early-warning system to stop the flood of escapees, state media reported. League member Jian Shaoyu said fleeing officials had become a national phenomenon and many took flight once their families had emigrated. He urged the government to monitor potential escapees whose spouse and children were living abroad. The joint proposal suggested launching a statutory declaration system that required officials at every level to file notice of relatives settling overseas or with properties abroad. The league also urged the government to control overseas trips by officials and to impose a tougher travel application system. "Fleeing officials have badly damaged the image of the Communist Party and our country, and had a negative influence domestically and internationally," the proposal said. […]. ^ top ^

Green drive falls short, admits NPC chairman (SCMP)
2009-03-10
The mainland has fallen well short of its goals to cut emissions of major pollutants and the amount of energy consumed per unit of gross domestic product, a top leader has admitted. "To a great extent, this showed that the pattern of China's economic development has not been transformed fundamentally," National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo said yesterday. "Serious problems such as mounting pressure on resources and the environment, increasing difficulty in expanding employment, and insufficient consumption still exist." […]. ^ top ^

12-year compulsory education 'unlikely' (China Daily)
2009-03-10
A proposal that China should make education compulsory for its students for a period of 12 years, instead of the current nine, "will not be implemented" in the near future, the chief education official said Monday. Minister of Education Zhou Ji told China Daily that the central government was "not considering" extending the duration of compulsory education for the time being. […]. ^ top ^

China: Water price ‘needs to shoot up' (China Daily)
2009-03-10
The authorities need to push ahead with a price hike, reflecting accurately the growing shortage of water in China and help plug further depletion of the resource, an official has said. “We must set up a rational water pricing system adapted to the country's severe shortage of water. So some cities will face a sharp rise in water prices,” Hu Siyi, vice-minister of water resources, told the Beijing Times on Sunday. The average domestic water price in 36 large and medium-sized cities last year was 3.77 yuan (55 US cents) per ton, an annual increase of 4.7 percent, latest official statistics showed. […] In 2008, there was a shortage of 40 billion tons, affecting nearly two thirds of the cities in China. About 300 million people were exposed to unsafe drinking water, according to the Ministry of Water Resources. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese premier calls for further reforms, opening up to tackle crisis (People's Daily)
2009-03-10
Beijing - Premier Wen Jiabao said here Tuesday China must deepen reforms and further open up as the country tackles economic woes. […] "The more difficulties we face, the more firmly we should stick to reforms and opening up," Wen told the lawmakers who are attending the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislative body. The country should improve its development model with the spirit of reform and innovation and forge its advantage in international economic cooperation and competition by adhering to opening up, said Wen. "Only by deepening reforms can we continuously perfect the socialist system and fully mobilize the enthusiasm and creativity of the people ... only by opening up can we learn from the achievements of human society and better tap the domestic and foreign markets and resources," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Expert warns China may miss last chance to tackle aging population (People's Daily)
2009-03-10
China will pay dearly if it does not act now to build up an old-age social security system, as its population aged 80 or above will hit 83 million by 2050, a population expert has warned. "The proportion of working people to retirees is still low at the moment, if we missed the chance, we will pay a dear cost," Ma Li, vice director of China Population and Development Research Center, told Xinhua Tuesday. China formally became an aged society in 2000, when the population aged 60 or above accounted for 10 percent of its 1.3 billion people. […] "China is not yet ready for the aged society. It does not have a complete old-age social security system. There are not enough resources. Fiscal support is scarce. And the risk is ever rising," said Ma. […]. ^ top ^

Better oversight of prisons pledged (SCMP)
2009-03-11
Mainland prosecutors will step up oversight of the courts and prison systems next year to tackle problems such as torture, procurator general Cao Jianming said. Delivering his agency's annual work report to the national legislature yesterday, Mr Cao said the procuratorate would strengthen monitoring against torture used during investigations, overlong detentions, inappropriate sentence reductions, and probation and sentences served outside jail. […] Custodial care came under the spotlight recently after the suspicious death of a 24-year-old inmate, Li Qiaoming, in a detention centre in Yunnan's Jinning county. Local police had attributed his death to a brain injury sustained in a game of "hide-and-seek" while in custody, but later admitted he died from a brutal beating by his fellow inmates. […]. ^ top ^

Budget plan will 'help the poor' (China Daily)
2009-03-11
Low-income residents will benefit from the government's measures to increase spending on education, agriculture, healthcare and social security, a top budget official said yesterday. "This year's budget plan could help maintain social stability and boost consumption," said Wang Dacheng, vice-director of the NPC Standing Committee's budgetary affairs commission. The central government has earmarked 728.4 billion yuan ($106.4 billion) in its budget plan for education, healthcare, social security and housing for low-income residents, an increase of 29.4 percent from a year earlier, although the government only expects its revenue to grow at 8 percent. The government will also spend 716.1 billion yuan for rural residents and agricultural production, up 20.2 percent from 2008. […]. ^ top ^

3,000 age-fakers found in Guangdong sport (SCMP)
2009-03-12
A fifth of 15,000 athletes who were subjects of X-ray bone analysis in Guangdong had lied about their age, provincial sports authorities say. Suspicions of age-faking have dogged mainland sport over the past two years and threatened to cause huge embarrassment for the hosts at the Beijing Olympics last year. Guangdong will host the Asian Games in Guangzhou next year and the province's deputy sports bureau chief said they would be taking no chances. "We want to make sure fakers have no advantage," Ye Xiquan told the Guangzhou Daily. The athletes tested were the top eight in each event at provincial youth competitions last year and all those who had signed up for this year's Provincial Games. The result showed 3,000 were older than they claimed, 2,000 of whom were no longer eligible for any youth sport, and 1,000 who should have competed in different age categories. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing to spend 32pc more on public security (SCMP)
2009-03-12
The central government plans to raise its spending on public security by nearly a third this year to tighten the reins on the public and wrest back control of law enforcement and the judicial system from lower-level authorities. According to a draft central government budget that still needs to be approved by legislators at the closing session of the National People's Congress tomorrow, Beijing has earmarked 116.1 billion yuan (HK$131.8 billion) for spending on public security this year, an increase of 32.6 per cent from last year's total. On the mainland, public security spending covers the police, procuratorates, the courts and armed police. […]. ^ top ^

President orders PLA to step into economic breach - Analysts say Hu statement could signal important policy shift (SCMP)
2009-03-13
The People's Liberation Army is set to play a more active role in helping China combat the deepening global economic crisis after President Hu Jintao made a rare call for the military to "contribute to the nation's economic development". Mr Hu made the comment in a keynote speech at a plenary meeting of PLA deputies to the National People's Congress on Wednesday. Mr Hu said the PLA should "contribute to economic development and social stability", Xinhua reported. This could signal an important policy shift because it was the first time in many years that a top state leader had directly asked the military to help in economic affairs. […]. ^ top ^

Frustration voiced over poor state of higher education (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Chaotic debates among political advisers and legislators over the state of mainland education underscored heightened public discontent over a system that has been dogged by a shortage of funds, reckless university expansion, an alarming decline in overall quality and inequity in access to quality education. A gathering yesterday afternoon of a group of members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top government advisory body, was meant to be a discussion about Premier Wen Jiabao's work report. But the session quickly turned into an attack on the state of the education system. If statistics are anything to go by, education edged out medical care and job creation to top the list of concerns with 657 proposals, according to CPPCC chairman Jia Qinglin. Ge Jianxiong, an outspoken CPPCC member, took Education Minister Zhou Ji to task over the country's prolonged failure to honour its commitment to funding education to the equivalent of 4 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. "Education expenditure has never reached the level of 4 per cent of GDP. […] The mainland promised to meet the 4 per cent target by 2000, but it reached only 3.3 per cent at the end of 2007, mostly because of local-level governments' lack of commitment. […]. ^ top ^

Dissidents honoured with rights award (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo, who is under house arrest, received his first international human rights award yesterday for organising Charter 08, one of the most influential political campaigns to appear on the mainland in a decade. Charter 08 calls for democratic reforms in China. One World, the biggest human rights film festival in Europe, announced on its official website early yesterday that Mr Liu and the 302 original charter signatories had won this year's Homo Homini Award. The award was collected on his behalf in Prague, in the Czech Republic, by signatories Mo Chaoping, Xu Youyu and Cui Weiping. The organiser of the festival, the People in Need Foundation, said that Liu, the charter's main advocate and a student leader during the Tiananmen Square crackdown 20 years ago, was chosen for the award for "his comprehensive approach to promoting human rights and his persistent courage in fighting for freedom of speech in China over the last 30 years". […]. ^ top ^

Villagers battle police over land (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Nearly 1,000 villagers from the area around Zhaoqing in Guangdong clashed with hundreds of police outside a government building after the authorities stopped their protest against land requisitions, a Hong Kong-based human rights organisation said yesterday. The villagers were protesting against what they said was inadequate compensation for farmland forcibly requisitioned in Maan town for an 86 billion yuan (HK$98 billion) railway connecting Guangzhou and Guizhou province. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said at least 30 people were injured in the clash and 100 others were detained by police. […]. ^ top ^

Farming income unlikely to rise, official says (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Farmers' incomes are unlikely to rise this year as the financial crisis lowers produce prices and threatens migrant workers' jobs in cities, a top Agriculture Ministry official said yesterday. "The employment outlook for migrant workers cannot be optimistic because it will be more difficult than ever to keep rural income growing," Vice-Minister of Agriculture Wei Chaoan said. Beijing has announced that it will set aside 716 billion yuan (HK$813 billion) in subsidies for farmers this year, 120 billion yuan more than last year, in the hope that more rural consumption will stimulate the economy and ward off social unrest in a year full of politically sensitive anniversaries. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan to end conscription, cut force's size (SCMP)
2009-03-10
Taiwan has decided to scrap its decades-old military conscription by 2015 in an attempt to trim its force to 200,000, despite the mainland's double-digit-percentage rise in defence spending. "Beginning January 1, 2015, there will be no more conscripts in the military," Defence Minister Chen Chao-min announced during a legislative session yesterday. The number of conscripts will be cut back by at least 10 per cent each year, and military personnel will be recruited on a voluntary basis after that. To uphold the quality of the voluntary personnel, all soldiers recruited must be at least high school graduates, General Chen stressed. He said his ministry would also abolish the reserve and military police commands and place those people under the command of the army, navy or air force. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland says no preconditions for comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with Taiwan (People's Daily)
2009-03-10
The Chinese mainland will set no preconditions for opening talks with Taiwan on a proposed "comprehensive economic cooperation agreement" (CECA), commerce Minister Chen Deming said in Beijing Tuesday. It would benefit both sides of the Taiwan Straits if such an agreement could be signed as soon as possible, said Chen at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's legislative body. ^ top ^

Wu admits setting up bank accounts (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Former Taiwanese first lady Wu Shu-chen has admitted setting up overseas bank accounts and companies on paper to facilitate money laundering. In an apparent attempt to save her son and relatives from being jailed for money laundering, Wu took all the blame in a pre-trial court hearing in Taipei yesterday, when asked whether she had instructed them. "I have no objection," Wu told Judge Tsai Shou-hsun, who asked if she objected to the allegations that she had asked her son, Chen Chih-chung, and daughter-in-law, Huang Jui-ching, to set up three Swiss bank accounts in Geneva and a paper company in the Cayman Islands. She also admitted that she had asked her brother, Wu Ching-mao, to open a bank account in Singapore and formed a paper company on the Channel Island of Jersey. She also confessed to using the accounts of her mother, Wang Hsia, and her sister-in-law, Chen Chun-ying, to wire at least US$21 million to her Swiss bank accounts. The money was frozen by Swiss judicial authorities in January last year. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China launches first website on Tibet human rights (People's Daily)
2009-03-09
Beijing - China's first website featuring human rights in the Tibet Autonomous Region (www.tibet328.cn) went online Monday. The site contains more than 10 channels including Tibet Today, History and Truth, Documents, Opinion, Photos and Videos. Information is posted in Chinese, English, French and German. The China Society for Human Rights Studies, the sponsor, said the site was launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform and serfs' emancipation in Tibet, which began in 1959. The society said it would use words, data and images to convey to the world the tremendous changes in Tibet's human rights over the past 50 years. ^ top ^

Beijing's rule created hell on Earth for Tibetans, says Dalai Lama (SCMP)
2009-03-11
The Dalai Lama yesterday condemned Beijing's rule in Tibet, saying it had created a "hell on Earth" and driven Tibetan culture close to extinction. He made the comments in a speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that sent him into exile. Speaking to about 2,000 supporters in the Indian town of Dharamsala - the location of Tibet's government-in-exile - the Tibetan spiritual leader said martial law, the Cultural Revolution, and the more recent patriotic "re-education programmes" and "strike hard" campaigns had devastated the Himalayan region. "These thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on Earth," he said. "The result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. "Even today, Tibetans in Tibet live in constant fear and the Chinese authorities remain suspicious of them. Today, the religion, culture, language and identity - which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives - are nearing extinction. The Tibetan people are regarded as criminals deserving to be put to death." […] In response, Beijing insisted Tibet had enjoyed profound democratic reforms under Chinese rule. "I will not respond to the Dalai Lama's lies," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said. "The Dalai Lama clique is confusing right and wrong. They are spreading rumours. The democratic reforms [under mainland rule] are the widest and most profound reforms in Tibetan history." Xinhua also released comments from Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, rejecting allegations by the Dalai Lama that Beijing's rule had killed more than 1 million Tibetans in the past 50 years. Instead, Tibet had experienced its fastest population growth under Beijing's rule, Mr Qiangba said. […]. ^ top ^

Is Beijing playing a no-win game? - The leadership is waiting for the Dalai Lama to die - a risky strategy (SCMP)
2009-03-12
Beijing appears confident in playing what is essentially a waiting game with the Dalai Lama over Tibet. And for good reason. The central leadership has confidence in the apparent success of its economic integration policies, featuring generous state subsidies and the influx of non-Tibetan settlers. The policies have so far worked as planned and lifted millions of people out of poverty in Tibet, changing the social and economic landscape in the past five decades. The deteriorating health of the exiled spiritual leader, who turns 74 this year, further boosts Beijing's confidence. It is betting that when the Dalai Lama dies, the international support he has garnered will dwindle and the Tibetan community will become too divided to rally against Beijing. Alongside this, China's increasingly important role in tackling the unfolding global economic crisis has helped ease a large amount of international worry ahead of two sensitive anniversaries this week. […] Experts warn that Beijing's "shortsighted, misplaced" strategy will have serious consequences, possibly as soon as the need arises for the selection of a new Dalai Lama once the present one dies. […] Dr Mills said that in the absence of the Dalai Lama, the pro-Tibetan movement - both inside and outside Tibet - would almost certainly fragment, leading to more violence and possibly on a much larger scale than before. […]. ^ top ^

Security forces scour Tibetan areas for 'suspicious people' - Pre-emptive steps at new high ahead of riot anniversary (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Security forces in Lhasa and other Tibetan-populated areas launched a search for "suspicious characters" amid a major security clampdown in the Himalayan region in a pre-emptive bid to prevent any unrest during sensitive anniversaries. Tensions were high yesterday on the streets of the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region as armed police continued their door-to-door checks for overseas visitors or journalists. Not a single hotel, guesthouse or local home in the city was spared. Those whose ID cards were not issued by the regional government were taken in for further interrogation and even faced detention, hotel and restaurant owners in Lhasa said. Apart from people from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, Tibetans from outside Lhasa and other parts of the Himalayan region were also targeted. The heightened security across the Tibetan areas, including the ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan and Qinghai provinces bordering Tibet, comes ahead of tomorrow's one-year anniversary of the deadly riots last year. […]. ^ top ^

Is No 3 lama prepared to take the reins? (SCMP)
2009-03-13
Like his 16 previous incarnations, the Karmapa Lama has spent his life immersed in the Tibetan Buddhist arts of meditation, study and prayer. Unlike them, he likes to relax playing war games on his PlayStation. This blend of ancient spiritual authority and modern-day tastes is fuelling expectations that Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 23-year-old No 3 lama in Tibetan Buddhism, will emerge as the public voice for the next generation of Tibetans as health issues force the Dalai Lama, 73, to globe-trot less. It is a role that the Karmapa - the head of the Karma Kagyu sect, one of the four streams of Tibetan Buddhism - is willing to assume. "If given the opportunity, I will do my best," he said this week in a rare interview. Born in 1985 to a nomadic family in the vast Tibetan plateau, he was enthroned as the 17th Karmapa at the age of seven after mystical signs identified him as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, who died in exile in India in 1981. Ogyen Trinley Dorje's status was recognised by the Dalai Lama and also by Beijing, which hoped he might emerge as a more malleable authority they could use to weaken the Dalai Lama. But Chinese hopes were dashed when he escaped Tibet at age 14, saying he could not get the religious education he needed. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China CPI falls to minus 1.6% in Feb., 1st negative growth in 6 yrs (People's Daily)
2009-03-10
China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, fell to minus 1.6 percent year on year in February, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. It is the first monthly negative growth since December 2002 when CPI was down to minus 0.4 percent. China has set a full-year inflation target of four percent for 2009. ^ top ^

China's Jan.-Feb. power use down 5%, pace of decline slows (Xinhua)
2009-03-10
Beijing - China's electricity consumption during the first two months of 2009 fell 5.1 percent from a year earlier to 497.3 billion kilowatt hours, the China Electricity Council (CEC) said Tuesday. However, the decline was smaller than in November and December, when power use fell 8.6 percent and 8.93 percent, respectively. According to CEC, the slowing pace of decline was a sign of economic recovery, as industrial use accounts for about 75 percent of total consumption. […]. ^ top ^

Exports see biggest drop in a decade (China Daily)
2009-03-12
China's foreign trade volume shrank sharply in February, according to figures released by the General Administration of Customs yesterday. Exports dropped 25.7 percent year-on-year to $64.9 billion, the largest fall in more than a decade and the fourth monthly decline in a row. Imports fell 24.1 percent to $60.05 billion. The trade surplus was $4.8 billion, compared with $39.1 billion in January. […]. ^ top ^

China's industrial output up 3.8% in first two months (Xinhua)
2009-03-12
Beijing - China's industrial output grew 3.8 percent in the first two months this year, with a rise of 11 percent in February, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

USD 224 million IMF loan (The Mongol Messenger)
2009-03-06
An IMF staff mission and the Mongolian authorities reached agreement on an economic program supported by Fund resources of USD 224 million under an 18 months stand-by arrangement. […] In collaboration with the IMF mission, the Government has put together a strong and ambitious macro-economic program to restore economic stability through fiscal and monetary policies, and to protect the poor and reserve social stability by improving the social safety net” said IMF Asia and Pacific Department Assistant Director, Nigel Chalk. ^ top ^

Parliament approves guarantee to current accounts (www.news.mn)
2009-03-09
Parliament has approved the proposal to guarantee current account holders that the money they hold in banks will be safe. The IMF wanted this as essential to save the banking and financial sector. Current accounts are estimated to account for MNT 612 billion of the total MNT one trillion 470 billion held in banks. Since the time the Government guaranteed savings deposits, the amount of money in them have risen by MNT 15 billion, but deposits in current accounts have fallen by MNT 29.6 billion. Some MPs expressed concern that with the Government guaranteeing the deposits, commercial banks would promise high interest rates to attract customers and when they fail to pay back, the burden will fall on the Government. ^ top ^

Bank of Mongolia increases its policy rate (Montsame)
2009-03-11
The Bank of Mongolia increased its policy rate to 14 percent from 9.75 percent beginning March 11. This decision was made Tuesday at the meeting of the Board of Directors' of the Bank of Mongolia. The Bank considers that the new policy rate will help increase interest rate of togrog (national currency) deposit in banks. It also hopes that the number of savings holders in banks will rise. ^ 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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