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
  16.3-20.3.09, No. 260  
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Table of contents

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Beijing rejects US proposal for carbon taxes - Pollution tariff called protectionist (SCMP)
2009-03-20
China's top climate change official slammed a US proposal to put penalty tariffs on products from polluting countries. At the same time, it chided leading industrial nations for failing to take responsibility for their part in the production of greenhouse gases and warned that such inaction could hold up a new climate-change treaty scheduled to be signed in Copenhagen in December. […]Xie Zhenhua, a deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission in charge of climate change talks, rejected the tax idea as protectionist. "Climate change and charging carbon taxes in imports.. are two issues in two areas" and should be tackled in separate negotiating forums, he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think-tank, on Wednesday. "I oppose using climate change as an excuse to practise protectionism on trade," he Mr Xie said. Mainland officials have been "unusually blunt" this week in the long-stalled climate change talks with industrial countries, which are meant to conclude in Copenhagen in December with a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012. But hopes are fading because of glaring gaps, mostly between developing countries and their developed counterparts, over key issues such as carbon targets, technology transfer and funding for adaptation in poor countries. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing may use old navy ships to protect South China Sea claims (SCMP)
2009-03-20
China may convert more decommissioned navy ships into fishery patrol vessels, state media said yesterday, as it seeks to extend its reach over disputed South China Sea islands that straddle key Asian shipping lanes. The report comes less than two weeks after Chinese naval boats jostled with a US naval ocean surveillance vessel that Beijing said was spying in its waters - a confrontation the US Pacific commander, Admiral Timothy Keating, yesterday called "aggressive and troublesome". China's use of fishery patrol ships, rather than military vessels, helps mark its stance while avoiding direct confrontation with the US or with rival claimants to the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea. "In some ways this should be seen as a positive signal, that they don't wish to escalate the situation or provoke further clashes, as might be the case if warships were involved," said Sam Bateman, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. […]. ^ top ^

Sino-US sea standoff appears to have ended (China Daily)
2009-03-20
The Chinese military is ready to call an end to the standoff with the United States in the South China Sea after diplomatic efforts have reduced tensions, defense sources said on condition of anonymity. Top commanders do not have plans to increase the military presence in the South China Sea following a confrontation earlier this month between a US spy ship and five Chinese vessels, naval sources told China Daily, also on condition of anonymity. The US defense chief said on Wednesday that diplomatic exchanges since the confrontation would prevent a similar incident to that of March 8. […] The USNS Impeccable, a US 7th Fleet surveillance ship designed to search for underwater threats including submarines, was about 120 km south of China's southern-most province of Hainan when the standoff with the Chinese vessels started. Chinese naval officers said the US vessel was spying and hunting for data related to China's submarines within Chinese maritime territory and exclusive economic zone. The US Navy claimed the incident was the latest in a series of "increasingly aggressive" encounters between US surveillance ships and Chinese craft including naval ships, patrol boats and surveillance planes. The incident was the most serious episode between the two nations since 2001 when a US spy plane collided midair with a Chinese fighter jet near the same area. […]. ^ top ^

Hu calls for resuming Six-Party Talks (China Daily)
2009-03-20
President Hu Jintao yesterday called for resuming the Six-Party Talks as soon as possible to ease rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula sparked by Pyongyang's satellite launch plan. Hu made the remarks when meeting Premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Yong-il. Premier Wen Jiabao said last Friday that the key to easing tensions is "positively pushing forward the Six-Party Talks". Pyongyang had announced it would launch the satellite between April 4 and 8. Some countries claimed it will be a long-range missile test. In response, Seoul and Washington began a joint military exercise on March 9, while Tokyo said it would deploy ballistic missile interceptors in case a DPRK rocket comes toward its territory. Concerned countries are looking to Beijing, which enjoys a long-standing friendship with Pyongyang and plays a key role in the peninsula's denuclearization process, to ease the tension. Hu told Kim China hoped to join other countries to "properly settle the existing differences". The talks stalled last year over discussions about how to verify the DPRK's nuclear activities. Seoul's Yonhap News Agency yesterday cited an unnamed source in Beijing as saying Kim's visit is partly to prepare for the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong-il's visit to China. The Foreign Ministry did not comment on the matter. […]. ^ top ^

Vietnamese leaders, Chinese state councilor discuss bilateral ties (People's Daily online)
2009-03-20
Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo respectively and discussed bilateral relations in Hanoi on Thursday. During their meetings, the Vietnamese leaders spoke highly of the outcome of the third meeting of the China-Vietnam steering committee on cooperation, which was held earlier on Thursday. [...] Vietnam would like to work with China to properly deal with and resolve the maritime issue with the spirit of comrade and brother bond, mutual respect and friendly negotiation, said the Vietnamese leaders at the meetings. […]. ^ top ^

China vows to step up cooperation with Indonesia (People's Daily online)
2009-03-20
China vowed Thursday to step up cooperation with Indonesia to tackle challenges and seek development. In a meeting with Indonesia's acting Coordinating Minister for Economy Sri Muyani Indrawati in Beijing, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said China greatly valued cooperation with neighboring developing countries, including Indonesia. China was willing to share its technologies and experience with Indonesia on boosting infrastructure and industrial development, Li told Sri Muyani. […]. ^ top ^

President Hu to attend G20 financial summit in Britain (Xinhuanet)
2009-03-20
Beijing -- Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend the Group of 20 (G20) financial summit in Britain scheduled for April 1-2, at the invitation of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced here Friday. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official leaves for visit to Australia, Myanmar, Japan, ROK (Xinhuanet)
2009-03-20
Beijing, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), left Friday morning for a goodwill visit to Australia, Myanmar, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Li, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, pays the visit at the invitation of the governments of the four countries. His entourage includes head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee Wang Jiarui, deputy head of the Department of Publicity of the CPC Central Committee Luo Shugang, director of the International Communication Office of the CPC Central Committee Wang Chen, Chinese Culture Minister Cai Wu, head of the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television Wang Taihua, and director of the General Administration of Press and Publication Liu Binjie. ^ top ^

Australian FM to visit China (People's Daily)
2009-03-18
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith will pay an official visit to China from March 24 to 27, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced here Tuesday. ^ top ^

Aso trip delay "not due to dispute" (China Daily)
2009-03-18
China and Japan are still discussing the date of Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's planned visit to the mainland, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, dismissing reports that China had requested a delay "due to a territorial dispute". "China and Japan are discussing the date through diplomatic channels. The issue of delaying or canceling the visit does not exist," Qin Gang, the ministry's spokesman, said at a regular news briefing. Japan's Mainichi newspaper reported Tuesday that China had requested Japan to cancel Aso's three-day trip, scheduled to start on March 27, due to the lingering dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, five uninhabited islets located between Taiwan and Okinawa. […] Hideo Tarumi, director of the China and Mongolia division at Japan's Foreign Ministry, calling the Mainichi report "totally wrong", said it was "preposterous" to say that the territorial dispute was the reason for postponing Aso's visit, Bloomberg reported. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Rebel artist starts to tally dead from quake classrooms (SCMP)
2009-03-20
Ai Weiwei, co-designer of Beijing's "Bird's Nest" stadium, has launched a project that could embarrass the central government - an online effort to count the children who died in their classrooms in the Sichuan quake last year. Ai, along with friends and volunteers, has started to collect information about the students killed when their school buildings collapsed. By Wednesday, he had published on his weblog the names, ages and schools of 1,790 students who had died in the May 12 disaster. Ai, who has scorned the establishment's culture, habits and characters in his art and blogs, said the fact that he, and not Beijing, was counting the casualties was ridiculous. "If as a government you cannot even tell your people how many students were killed during the earthquake 10 months later.. it's beyond my ability to find words to describe my anger," he said. The central government has never released detailed information on the students killed in schools, although Sichuan officials said about a week after the quake that 6,376 students had died. Families of the dead students have persistently pressed the government to release details and investigate the quality of school construction in the quake zone. Sichuan authorities have deflected such complaints, saying the investigation took time. […] One of the usual strategies the central government employed was to say that "time heals", Ai said. "If you don't mention it for a long time, the stupid Chinese people will forget it, corrupt officials will be exempt and those kids will have died in vain," he said. Ai has long criticised people on the mainland for having short memories about friends and foes. […]. ^ top ^

Tighter controls on media decried (SCMP)
2009-03-20
Overseas rights groups expressed concern yesterday about the mainland tightening controls on its domestic media, including the creation of a journalist blacklist and the recent detention of two Tibetan journalists. New York-based Human Rights Watch said the blacklist, announced last month, increased the risk that reporters would be punished for "independent reporting on subjects the government deems sensitive". The Tibetans, an online writer and a filmmaker, were reportedly jailed separately in Gansu province over the past few weeks but it is not clear what charges, if any, they face. Mainland reporters are strictly monitored and censored. Sensitive or negative issues are often ignored, and journalists have been imprisoned for reporting on corruption in the government or private sector. Beijing relaxed some restrictions on foreign media during the Olympic Games last summer but backtracked afterwards. Li Dongdong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, was quoted last month as saying the blacklist was needed to "resolutely prevent fake reporting". […]. ^ top ^

Officials punished over outbreak (SCMP)
2009-03-20
Several officials in the central province of Henan have been punished for failing to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease from spreading. They failed to take action after hundreds of cases were reported, Xinhua said yesterday. But the local government denied claims that the officials had fabricated data in order to conceal the outbreak. Some mainland media had accused medical staff of trying to cover up the actual number of cases. […] Minquan has reported the most cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in Henan, a total of 2,173 as of Wednesday, according to official figures. […]. ^ top ^

Detention system reforms urged (China Daily)
2009-03-18
Lawmakers advocated a new round of reforms for China's detention system, after three more people were reported to have died in police custody. Following repeated incidents of detainees being bullied or tortured by the police, officials and scholars felt judicial or independent institutions ought to take over the running of detention facilities. "The police not only investigate and question the suspects, but also detain them before they are put on trial. This is not appropriate," said Duan Zhengkun, a retired deputy minister of justice and a top political advisor. Chinese law opposes torture as a fundamental principle and there are specific provisions protecting a citizen's personal rights in China's Constitution, criminal law and criminal procedure law. But under the current law the undertrials are put in detention facilities, managed entirely by public security departments. Allegedly, suspects are often detained overtime, abused, not allowed to see lawyers and even innocent people are detained against the law, experts said. […] "Government-dispatched agencies should oversee and protect human rights in prisons and detention facilities, with emphasis on uncovering and punishing violations, such as extortion of confession by coercion and torture, obtaining evidence by force and corporal punishments," said Chen Weidong, a criminal procedure law professor with the Beijing-based Renmin University, to China Daily. The guidelines on a new round of judicial reforms, issued by Central Politics and Law Committee of the Communist Party of China in January, will not, however, make a difference to the public security department's control on detention facilities, insiders told China Daily. ^ top ^

Zhejiang farmers given approval to lease out agricultural land (SCMP)
2009-03-18
Farmers in Zhejiang can now lease their allocated plots of land to other farmers simply by signing a government-endorsed leasing contract - a move that could generate up to 1.3 trillion yuan (HK$1.47 trillion) in capital in the province's rich countryside. The new land-lease regulation, announced by the Zhejiang government on Sunday, is part of the much-anticipated rural land-reform framework unveiled in the aftermath of the Communist Party's congress in 2007. Although the state owns all land on the mainland, farmers obtain permits to use their land, which typically last 30 years. The new regulation simplifies the leasing-out procedure, and the renewal of the contract is the permit holder's option. […] The new rule in Zhejiang, and similar rules released in municipalities such as Beijing and Chongqing early this year, reflects the central government's intention to let lower-level governments work out the details for their own rural economies. […] The 1.3 trillion yuan figure in potential revenue came from provincial government estimates cited by China News Service. […]. ^ top ^

Villagers arrested after dam relocation protest (SCMP)
2009-03-17
More than 40 villagers relocated to make way for the Xiaowan Dam were arrested during confrontations with police in Yunnan's Mengsa township on Saturday, according to witnesses. The villagers beat up several township officials during a town-hall meeting about relocation compensation and then protested outside a government building to demand direct dialogue with municipal leaders. Around 300 police soon arrived and arrested more than 40 villagers who refused to disperse after a warning, Mengsa resident Wang Wenyuan said. […] He said some of those arrested had been released by yesterday, but he did not know how many remained in custody. […] Relocation disputes have become frequent as the mainland experiences a huge boom in hydropower construction projects along major rivers. The Xiaowan Dam has been a controversial project and many environmentalists have urged Beijing to abandon it because of the potentially severe damage to the Lancang River's ecology. The dam was started in 2002 and is scheduled to be completed in 2012, with a capacity of 4,200MW. ^ top ^

Bomb hits government office in Sichuan (SCMP)
2009-03-17
A township government office in a Tibetan-populated region in Sichuan was hit by "a bomb thrown by terrorists" early yesterday, Xinhua reported last night, saying nobody was injured in the attack. The incident took place shortly after midnight in Bogexi town, Batang county, in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan, which has long been considered one of the most volatile Tibetan-populated areas. Xinhua said no casualties were reported as a result of the explosion, and said the attack had been carried out by "terrorists". […] The attack was all the more remarkable given the heavy police presence in Ganzi, which has been under a virtual military lockdown since the beginning of March. Ganzi, which borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region, is considered one of the most rebellious regions and a hotbed of anti-Han Chinese protests. […] Foreigners, as well as residents of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, are barred from entering the region without permission. ^ top ^

Leftists make comeback, blaming crisis on free-market liberalism (SCMP)
2009-03-17
After years living in the political wilderness, mainland leftists - an umbrella term that spans free-market critics to veterans nostalgic for bygone Maoist days - are making a quiet comeback. From internet forums to corner bookshops, academic discussion groups to retirees' social clubs, leftist ideas are attracting a following thanks to the unfolding global financial crisis that has undermined confidence in free-market liberalism. […] The economic crisis gives its advocates the sort of opening they have been seeking for years. […] The leftists say pro-reform economists often exaggerate the role of the market in economic reforms and ignore the debate on the importance of public or private ownership. […] Another issue fiercely attacked by the camp are the so-called universal values - a concept often associated with the western argument that human rights, democracy and freedom of speech are fundamental to all societies. Premier Wen Jiabao has often used the term in several of his recent speeches overseas. But for many neo-socialist scholars, each idea is a "trojan horse" under which "dangerous western ideology" is smuggled into China. […]. ^ top ^

Premier: China's society stable despite job losses (Xinhua)
2009-03-13
Society in China remained stable despite a gloomy employment situation amid the global financial crisis, said Premier Wen Jiabao here Friday. Wen made the remarks when answering a question on China's employment situation and social stability at a press conference, which was held shortly after the annual legislative session concluded. […] He admitted China was facing a very severe employment situation. However, he told reporters "society was stable in the later half of last year and the first two months this year, although more people were not employed and many migrant workers returned home." […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Diplomats voice fears over Macau entry row (SCMP)
2009-03-18
The row over Macau's denials of entry to Hongkongers has escalated to the international level, with foreign consulates expressing their concerns to the former enclave's government. A day after five pan-democrats were barred while their colleagues were allowed in, the Civic Party has started a "one person, one e-mail" campaign to the Macau Immigration Department demanding the scrapping of what they called a blacklist. Maria Castillo-Fernandez, head of the European Commission's Office in Hong Kong, said it had been following the cases and "expressed concerns" to the Macau government during a meeting last month. Those concerns include whether the denial of entry for Hongkongers, as well as the passing of the Article 23 national security bill, would have any impact on future visits by European politicians who might be outspoken against China. The British consulate also said it had raised concerns with the Macau government. "Together with our EU partners, we have been following these exclusions in recent months closely," a consulate spokesman said. "We raised the issue in a meeting with the Macau government on a separate subject last week." […] But legislator Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said foreign governments should not interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macau. "How many people does the United States turn away every day? Macau is not the business of foreigners," Mr Chan said […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Chen's wife spent state funds on self: witness (SCMP)
2009-03-20
The former chief accountant of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian told Taipei District Court yesterday that former first lady Wu Shu-chen had used public money to "buy food and other personal expenses". Chen Cheng-hui also told the judges that one of the ex-president's chief aides, Lin Teh-hsun, had asked her to destroy relevant receipts and other documents showing how the special state funds were spent. "They told me to use part of the special state funds to pay for food and other miscellaneous bills," she said in her testimony against Wu. Wu has been charged, along with Chen Shui-bian, with embezzling NT$104 million (HK$24 million) in special state funds, accepting NT$498 million in bribes and laundering at least US$37 million abroad during Chen's two terms as president, from 2000 to last year. Chen Cheng-hui, who had agreed to testify in exchange for a pardon for her crimes, said she felt uncomfortable with the idea and told Lin to destroy the evidence himself. […] The trial resumes next Wednesday. Meanwhile, the US mission in Taiwan yesterday confirmed for the first time that Taipei had sought judicial help from Washington in the graft case against Chen Shui-bian and his family. […] Local media said Chen Shui-bian and his family had stashed billions of New Taiwan dollars in Switzerland, Singapore, the US, Japan and other countries. Both Switzerland and Singapore had supplied Taiwanese officials with information in the Chen case, prosecutors said. ^ top ^

'Taiwan a nationality on Japan visa' (SCMP)
2009-03-20
Japan is reportedly planning to identify Taiwan as a sovereign state in a new foreign residency permit scheme to be introduced in 2012. If approved by Japan's parliament, the plan would almost certainly spark anger from Beijing, which views the recognition of Taiwan as a country as a diplomatic taboo. […]. ^ top ^

Taipei expects El Salvador's help (SCMP)
2009-03-18
Taiwan said yesterday that it expected diplomatic ties with El Salvador to remain unchanged despite the defeat of Taipei-friendly conservatives in the presidential election on Sunday when leftist Mauricio Funes defeated Rodrigo Avila to end almost 20 years of right-wing rule. The result sparked concerns in Taiwan that the Central American country would switch its allegiance to Beijing. ^ top ^

Taiwan eyeing US stealth fighters for 'defensive defence' (SCMP)
2009-03-17
Taiwan may try to buy advanced F-35 fighter jets from the United States to bolster its new "defensive defence" national security policy, a top military figure said yesterday. "One of the options given [for] our consideration is that our next generation of warplanes must be stealth-capable and able to perform short takeoffs and vertical landings," Lieutenant General Wu Chien-hsin, chief of staff of Taiwan's air force, said in Taipei. His comment came after Taipei reportedly renewed its request to buy the advanced C/D version of the F-16 fighter that former US president George W. Bush had refused to sell. General Wu declined to confirm that the request had been made but stressed that the air force had long been eager to obtain F-16 C/Ds, to supplement the older A/B version, as part of the "defensive defence" policy adopted by Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's government. Asked whether Taiwan would ask to buy the even more advanced F-35 fighter jets, General Wu said the air force had listed the F-35 and other sophisticated fighters, including the F-22, as options for the next generation of warplanes. […]. ^ top ^

Taiwan renews bid to buy US fighter aircraft (SCMP)
2009-03-16
Taiwan has renewed a drive to buy advanced, US-built F-16 fighter aircraft, confronting US President Barack Obama with a delicate decision. Detailing its arms shopping list for the first time since Mr Obama took office, Taipei's de facto embassy in Washington said its current fighter force was inadequate to deal with a threat from the mainland, across the 177km-wide Taiwan Strait. The largest part of Taiwan's air force, F-5 fighters, had been in service for more than 34 years, said a spokesman for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, or Tecro. "The planes now are obsolete and spare parts are difficult to obtain," said spokesman Vance Chang, in an e-mail response to questions about Taiwan's arms requests. Beijing had built increasingly advanced fighters, the statement said. "Therefore our air superiority capability is at a serious disadvantage." It added: "Taiwan's determination to defend itself is indisputable." Taiwan has been trying for 12 years to buy F-16 C/D models built by Lockheed Martin. The US government is required by a 1979 law to provide Taiwan with sufficient arms to defend itself. Successive American administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have managed the weapons flow to minimise fallout with Beijing - a major trading partner and the biggest foreign holder of US Treasury bonds. […] The State Department had no immediate comment on the statement from Tecro. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Living Buddha: Religious freedom respected (China Daily)
2009-03-20
Religious freedom is a basic right of Chinese citizens, including the Tibetans, a living Buddha said on Wednesday. "It's completely the (Chinese) people's choice to believe in religion or not, or for that matter, which religion to follow," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, head of a five-member delegation of Tibetan deputies of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said while addressing overseas Chinese. The delegation is in the United States to "improve the outer world's understanding" of Tibet, following a wave of attacks from the Dalai Lama, who, on March 10 said: "Religion, culture, language and the identity of Tibetans were nearing extinction." Speaking through an interpreter, Tenzinchodrak, dressed in a traditional Tibetan robe, said those who had been to Tibet know very well that Buddhism in the region was "nowhere near extinction". […]. ^ top ^

It's too early to judge Karmapa Lama, Tibetan legislator says (SCMP)
2009-03-19
A Tibetan legislator has indicated openness about the Karmapa Lama, who could be a future bridge between Beijing and Tibetans in exile. In a first-of-a-kind move, the central government has appointed a Tibetan delegation to attend talks in Washington, where Beijing's human rights record in the Himalayan region has come under heated criticism. Delegation head Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak repeated on Tuesday Beijing's denunciations of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, but declined to judge the 23-year-old Karmapa Lama, often seen as the third-highest-ranking lama. "I feel it is still too early to judge him," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a member of the National People's Congress and vice-chairman of the Tibetan legislature's standing committee, said at the Chinese embassy. "We should judge him according to what he will say and what he will do." The Karmapa Lama, born Ogyen Trinley Dorje in Tibet, is in the unique position of enjoying recognition by both Beijing and the Dalai Lama, who fled 50 years ago this month to India as Beijing crushed an uprising in Lhasa. The Karmapa Lama himself fled to India in 1999, saying he could not properly practise Buddhism in Tibet, where he was under pressure to denounce the Dalai Lama. Despite the embarrassment that the escape caused Beijing, the Karmapa Lama has spoken out against vilifying the Chinese and has learned to speak Putonghua. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing's plan to safeguard Lhasa's heritage (SCMP)
2009-03-18
Beijing has approved a much anticipated urban development plan for Lhasa that includes protection of heritage sites and a limit on its downtown population. The blueprint, published on the central government's website, comes as Tibet marks two sensitive anniversaries this month - of the failed uprising 50 years ago against Beijing's rule and of last year's anti-Chinese riots. It is widely seen as the central government's effort to counter criticism of its hardline policies on Tibet. Mainland experts said the authorities should pay more attention to preserving the unique culture and heritage of Lhasa in their drive to transform the ancient Himalayan capital into a "prosperous, modern metropolis" in the next decade. […] Overseas rights groups and Tibetans in exile have long complained that Beijing has failed to protect historic Lhasa, and accuse the central government of flooding the area with Han Chinese. The Dalai Lama has accused Beijing of committing "cultural genocide" over the past five decades. Beijing rejects the accusations and insists its policies are in the interests of local people. The plan said local authorities should "pay great attention to protecting the historic, cultural and aesthetic characteristics" of Lhasa, including controlling the number, height and even the colour of buildings. Still, mainland experts said the plan might not be enough to preserve the city's unique cultural identity. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Govt role crucial for economy, says expert (China Daily)
2009-03-20
Does the global crisis spell the death of the market economy, or is it time to discard the market forces and opt for a new economic model? […] Or can the crisis be exorcized by just "spreading fistfuls of money", or nothing but government initiated stimulus programs? These are often questions that economists ponder as they search for a solution to the crisis that is sweeping across the globe. "People had better be careful in drawing their conclusions," said Zhou Qiren, a veteran economist and president of the National School of Development. "And don't forget that the role of the government can be crucial to the economy." An economic crisis is, as often is the case, a management failure and a government failure, Zhou said in an interview with China Daily. The market will work, although market fundamentals will long be gone," Zhou said. […] Whenever times are difficult, the most fundamental driving force for growth cannot come from the government's stimulus. It always lies in the ability of society to unlock its creativity. The current financial crisis is also giving China a new opportunity for learning. While learning to keep its economy in balance, China should also learn to work with other countries in improving the global monetary and financial system. And this can only be done by a step-by-step approach, Zhou said. He said the National School of Development faculty members have already returned from their overseas graduate studies and started applying those methodologies that they had learnt. […]. ^ top ^

World Bank: China's GDP to grow 6.5% in 2009 (People's Daily)
2009-03-19
The World Bank has reduced China's economic growth forecast to 6.5 per cent in 2009 but said the Asian country was better positioned and resisting the global economic crisis with solid fundamentals. As the global crisis has intensified, China's exports have been hit badly, affecting investment and sentiment, notably in the manufacturing sector, the World Bank said in releasing a quarterly report on China's economy. However, most of Chinese economists believe that China's economy could attain an annualized growth of at least 7.5 percent in 2009, as the country's healthy bank system will ensure credit and liquidity to foster tangible growth in the second half of the year. […] The World Bank said that China's banks "have been largely unscathed" in the global financial turmoil that accelerated after the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers in mid September. "The economy still has plenty of space to implement forceful stimulus measures," said the Washington-based development lender. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing vetoes Coca-Cola bid for juice firm - Anti-monopoly law cited to block biggest foreign takeover (SCMP)
2009-03-19
Beijing yesterday blocked Coca-Cola's planned HK$19.65 billion purchase of top drinks maker China Huiyuan Juice Group, in the first major test of the mainland's anti-monopoly law. The surprise rejection of the deal underscores Beijing's willingness to protect the country's small number of valuable homegrown brands, but raises concerns it is turning increasingly protectionist. China Huiyuan Juice shares slumped almost 20 per cent yesterday in the 13 minutes the stock traded, after speculation the deal would be scuttled. The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announcement was made after trading in the shares was suspended. One analyst criticised the company for not suspending trading earlier because of concerns some people would take advantage of speculation that the deal was a no-go. The ministry said the deal, which would have been the biggest foreign corporate takeover on the mainland, would have been bad for competition in the growing market for healthier drinks. […]. ^ top ^

Industry expert: China's steel exporters face grim export conditions (Xinhua)
2009-03-19
China's steel exports could contract 80 percent by volume this year, more than the previously forecast 50 percent, a senior domestic industry expert told an industry conference Wednesday. Shan Shanghua, secretary-general of the China Steel Industry Association, said steel exporters faced a "grim" situation as the world economy remained weak. Customs statistics have shown a big drop in steel exports, which fell 9.6 percent month-on-month to 1.56 million tonnes in February. ^ top ^

Chinese Vice Premier Li urges restructuring, domestic consumption (People's Daily)
2009-03-18
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang urged local governments Tuesday to accelerate industrial restructuring and development in western regions and boost domestic consumption to offset the impact of the global downturn. Li made the remarks during an inspection tour of the country's northwestern Shaanxi Province, which ran from Sunday to Tuesday. He urged local authorities to take measures to achieve smooth, relatively rapid economic growth this year. […] Li urged companies to develop new technology, new products and foster new industries to become more competitive. He also called on local governments to sincerely apply policies aimed at helping farmers buy household appliances to stimulate consumption, as potential demand in western and rural areas was huge. […]. ^ top ^

Experts unveil 'reform package' (China Daily)
2009-03-18
A panel of economists unveiled a "reform package" yesterday, saying these measures need to be urgently implemented to ensure that China's stimulus programs would work effectively. In order of priority, price deregulation of resource products and reducing industry monopoly topped the 14-point reform package prepared by five renowned economists. "We urge the government to implement them as soon as possible. […]" Chi Fulin, president of the China (Hainan) Reform and Development Research Institute told China Daily yesterday. Chi's research findings on the urgency of China's reform in the financial crisis era, titled the International Financial Crisis Challenges Reform in China, were made public yesterday. […] The 14-point reform package also covers domestic investment mechanisms, fiscal structure, public service and foreign trade and investment. Chang Xiuze, a senior economist of the Economic Research Center under the National Development and Reform Commission, expressed concern over investment from China's 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package currently being dominated by investors from the State sector. "If we don't deepen our reform on investment regulations, I am afraid China's private sector cannot benefit from the economic stimulus package and employment will worsen," said Chang. "That's a scenario our policy makers are not willing to see." […]. ^ top ^

FDI drops 15%, declines forecast for next few months (China Daily)
2009-03-17
Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) declined 15.8 percent to $5.83 billion in February, the fifth monthly fall in a row, as a result of the credit crunch and economic downturn across the globe. "The slowdown of capital activities, in particular, will further affect capital inflows to China," Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said yesterday. According to a report released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, global FDI dropped by 21 percent last year, and is estimated to plunge by as much as 30 percent this year. Analysts say the trend will continue for at least a few more months in China. […]y. ^ top ^

China seizes counterfeit commodities worth 1.55 bln yuan in 2008 (Xinhua)
2009-03-14
China's industry and commerce authorities seized counterfeit commodities worth 1.55 billion yuan (about 221.4 million U.S. dollars) in 2008, said a senior official on Saturday. Wang Dongfeng, deputy director of the State Administration For Industry &; Commerce, said at a symposium marking International Consumer Day, which falls on March 15, that last year the authorities made prosecutions on 128,900 cases of producing and selling counterfeit and shoddy products. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Russia to grant USD 300 million loan (Montsame agency)
2009-03-18
Russia will extend a $300 million loan to Mongolia for agriculture development, a Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said after the negotiations with his Mongolian counterpart S.Bayar on Tuesday. "We have agreed to give the $300 million loan in separate traches to boost Mongolia's agriculture development," he said, adding that this is a tied loan that will be earmarked to support the sowing season, livestock development and purchase Russia's machines and other goods. …The money will be distributed by the state-owned Rosselkhozbank, also known as the Russian Agriculture Bank, and will be distributed as a discounted loan to a consortium of Mongolian banks. A memorandum on granting loan was signed by J.Saule, a Deputy Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry of Mongolia, and by A.V.Petrikov, a Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Russia to cooperate in nuclear energy (Montsame agency)
2009-03-18
The Department of Atomic Energy of Mongolia and Rosatom state corporation of the Russian Federation have signed an agreement for intensification of cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy. The document was signed March 17 in Moscow by a Head of the Department of Atomic Energy of Mongolia S.Enkhbat and by a Deputy Director-General of "Rosatom" Nikolay Spassky. The agreement was signed as a result of the negotiations held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Mongolia S.Bayar. Director-General of "Rosatom" Sergey Kiriyenko was saying earlier that the agreement would allow the parties to set up a joint venture for developing uranium deposits in Mongolia and Russia. ^ top ^

Emergency Commission takes measures against storms (UB Post)
2009-03-16
Mongolia's State Emergency Commission decided to allocate an additional 600 tonnes of hay and fodder to Zavkhan, Uvs, Khentii, Ovorkhangai, Gobisumber, Gobi-Altai and Dundgobi aimags during urgent meeting held last Monday in preparation for potential heavy storms. The commission warned the general public and rural herders to be awre of sharp drops in temperature, as well as heavy snow and dust storms, which are predicted to last until March 23 nationwide. According to Hydrology and Meteorology Institute, the storm's wind speeds could reach up to 40 meters per second. Commission puts all of its rural provincial centres on high alert. Since beginning of the year, 8 animal herders have died in snow storms. ^ top ^

Donor countries, institutions promise to give USD170 million (www.news.mn)
2009-03-14
A meeting was held on Saturday between representatives of the Government and various donor countries and international donor organizations to find out who will give how much to meet Mongolia's estimated requirements to meet the economic crisis. The country's total needs have been put at more than MNT 1 trillion. The IMF has stated it is possible to provide USD224 million, of which USD204 million is to be provided by donor countries. At Saturday's meeting, Japan promised USD50 million, the USA USD22 million, the Asian Development Bank USD50 million and the World Bank USD50 million. The figures are not final. More calculations will have to be made before the final tally is announced this week. More than a 100 people attended the meeting. ^ top ^

 

Gautier Chiarini
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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