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
  23.3-27.3.09, No. 261  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China expresses "resolute opposition" to U.S. military report (People's Daily Online)
2009-03-26
China on Thursday expressed its opposition to a new report by the U.S. Defense Department on China's military strength. "We have lodged solemn representations to the U.S. side," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press conference when asked to comment on this annual report. The report continued disseminating the "Chinese military threat" theory, severely distorted the facts and interfered in China's internal affairs, Qin said. "China unswervingly sticks to a path of peaceful development and pursues a national defense policy which is purely defensive in nature," he said, noting that China is devoted to safeguarding world peace and stability. "We urged the U.S side to respect this basic fact," he noted. [...]. ^ top ^

Australian PM urges US to seize 'huge opportunity' in China (SCMP)
2009-03-27
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has urged Americans not to view China as an enemy but as a country offering huge economic opportunities, even though its leaders have "done some bad things in the past". Mr Rudd was speaking during a visit to Washington, where the Putonghua-speaking former diplomat has been welcomed as an expert on China as well as a close ally of the United States. He was asked on PBS television's The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer whether Americans should view China as an ally, an enemy or some other way. "I think China represents a huge opportunity for us all for the 21st century," Mr Rudd replied, noting the country had a big part to play as "the centre of global economic gravity" shifts towards the Asia-Pacific region. He said the "smart course of action" for the United States and Australia would be to help integrate China into global political, economic and security institutions, and engage Beijing on climate change. "Now, if China was to turn its back on that or not be responsible, the world would soon know," Mr Rudd said. "They're not perfect. They've done some bad things in the past. But let's look at the opportunities, rather than simply assume it's all threat and all risk." [...]. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official: China attaches importance to ties with Myanmar (People's Daily Online)
2009-03-27
Li Changchun, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said in Naypyitaw on Thursday afternoon that CPC and the Chinese government attached high importance to its ties with neighboring Myanmar. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, held talks with Tin Aung Myint Oo, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and made above remarks. [...] To furtheer promote the bilateral ties, Li suggested both to maintain high-level exchanges for increasing mutual trust in the political area through the direct exchanges of the two leadership. On economic cooperation, Li proposed to advance cooperation in key sectors and big projects in such areas as energy, transport and telecommunication. […]. ^ top ^

China slashes U.S. Congress resolution on Taiwan (Xinhua)
2009-03-26
China voiced its strong dissatisfaction Wednesday against a U.S. Congress resolution on the Taiwan Relations Act saying it is an interference in its internal affairs. "China is strongly dissatisfied and has lodged a solemn representation over the resolution adopted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement. The U.S. House of Representatives voted for the resolution Tuesday. The Taiwan Relations Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1979, required the United States to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character. China has never recognized the legitimacy of the act. Qin said the Chinese government and people, from the very start, resolutely opposed the Act adopted by the United States unilaterally. [...]. ^ top ^

Thai FM meets with visiting Chinese counterpart (Xinhua)
2009-03-26
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya on Wednesday held a talk with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to exchange views on further strengthening Sino-Thai relationship and strategic cooperation in East Asia. [...] Yang wass on a three-day working visit to Bangkok from Tuesday, ahead of a planned visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Thailand next month for the ASEAN plus three (China, Japan and South Korea) summits and East Asia Summit scheduled April 10-12 in Thailand's beach town Pattaya. ^ top ^

China not sending soldiers to Afghanistan (People's Daily Online)
2009-03-25
China will not send peacekeeping troops to Afghanistan but will dispatch two senior diplomats to international meetings to ease tensions there later this month, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. "We have clarified our stance on sending troops to Afghanistan," ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular news briefing. "Except for peacekeeping operations with UN Security Council mandates, China will not send a single soldier abroad." He also announced that Vice-Foreign Minister Song Tao will attend an international meeting on the Afghanistan issue in Moscow Friday under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) framework. Song's colleague Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei will attend another meeting on the issue in the Hague, the Netherlands, on March 31. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Germany ink agreement on contingency management (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
China and Germany signed an implementation agreement on a contingency management project here Tuesday. Chinese State Councilor Ma Kai attended the signing ceremony. [...] "We hope our cooperation wiill make fruitful achievements," Ma, also secretary-general of the State Council and president of the China National School of Administration (CNSA), told a delegation of senior officials from the German Ministry of the Interior. [...] The implementation agreement was signed bby the CNSA and the German Technical Cooperation, which is an international enterprise for sustainable development with worldwide operations. The Sino-German contingency management project was the first important international cooperation item by the CNSA in this area. ^ top ^

China, Japan to hold 11th security talks (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
China and Japan will hold their 11th security talks in Tokyo on March 27, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced here on Tuesday. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue and his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae will attend the talks as chief negotiators. The two sides are expected to exchange views on respective defense policies and international and regional security situations, according to the Foreign Ministry. ^ top ^

With aircraft carrier remarks, minister sends a message (SCMP)
2009-03-24
China wants to send a message to its neighbours that it will not exchange territorial integrity for temporary good relations, with its defence minister telling visiting Japanese officials that the nation will forge ahead with its aircraft carrier plan, experts say. The remarks by General Liang Guanglie, the highest-ranking Beijing official to touch on the sensitive issue, are also seen as a sign of an imminent announcement that China will build its first aircraft carrier. General Liang told Japan's defence minister, Yasukazu Hamada, on Friday that "China cannot be without an aircraft carrier forever". "China is the only major country in the world that doesn't have an aircraft carrier," he told Xinhua. His remarks caused a buzz in Japan and overseas over the weekend. [...] Shen Shishun, director of the department of AAsia-Pacific security and co-operation at the China Institute of International Studies, said General Liang's remarks, which almost constituted a confirmation, would serve as a signal to other countries that China would stand ready to protect its sovereignty. [...]. ^ top ^

Russian, Chinese think tanks discuss security, SCO (Xinhua)
2009-03-23
Top think tanks from Russia and China discussed a wide range of security issues of common concern at a two-day seminar that ended here Sunday. Participants at the seminar exchanged ideas on world economic and political trend, the situation in Central Asia, and prospects for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) under the global security framework. The seminar, "Russia and China in a new era," was co-chaired by China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS) and Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy (CFDP). [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Deadly radioactive nugget missing on mainland (SCMP)
2009-03-27
A watermelon-sized ball of lead containing a nugget of radioactive Caesium-137 has been missing in Tongchuan, Shaanxi, since Monday, probably buried under tonnes of scrap metal waiting to be smelted, an official from the city's Environmental Protection Bureau has confirmed. The radioactive material was part of a measuring device at an old factory run by Shaanxi Qinling Cement, one of the biggest cement producers on the mainland. "The lead container disappeared when the company was dismantling the old plant," the official said yesterday. "It might have been shipped to Fuping county. Our people are there, searching every pile of scrap. But so far we've had no luck." [...] "Even from a respectable distance, Caesium-137 could burn your skin and kill your white cells," Dr Jiang said. "Cancer may occur soon or 10 years afterwards, and you never know" [...]. ^ top ^

PLA murder probe officer gets top job (SCMP)
2009-03-27
The police official heading a probe into the murder of a People's Liberation Army guard outside a garrison in Chongqing was named public security chief of the southwestern municipality yesterday. Wang Lijun's promotion to Public Security Bureau director was endorsed by the municipality's people's congress yesterday, according to a local official who declined to be named. The appointment came exactly a week after Han Junliang, an 18-year-old soldier from Shandong, was gunned down and his sub-machine gun stolen outside a garrison in Gaoxin district. Mr Wang is reportedly the highest-ranking police officer overseeing investigations into the mysterious killing, which mainland authorities have labelled "a terrorist attack". He was promoted from the title of standing deputy head of Chongqing police. Dubbed the "anti-triad hero" and praised for his crime-busting work as public security chief in Tieling and Jinzhou, in northeastern Liaoning province, Mr Wang was considered a close friend of Bo Xilai, Chongqing's Communist Party secretary, separate local sources said yesterday. [...]. ^ top ^

Five sentences upheld in tainted milk case (SCMP)
2009-03-27
A mainland court upheld a sentence of life in prison for the former head of the company at the centre of last year's scandal over contaminated milk and four other sentences, state media reported yesterday. Xinhua said that the Hebei Province Higher People's Court, in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang, also struck down appeals by two men sentenced to death over the scandal, which killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 others sick. Tian Wenhua, 66, had appealed the life sentence handed down in January after she was convicted of "manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products" while serving as chairwoman of the now-defunct dairy producer Sanlu Group. Sanlu, based in Shijiazhuang, was the first and one of the biggest dairy producers found to have sold products laced with melamine, a chemical that is used to make plastics. [...]. ^ top ^

Three children die from hand, foot and mouth disease (SCMP)
2009-03-27
Three children have died of hand, foot and mouth disease in Shandong, and investigators are looking into four more deaths possibly attributable to the disease. The deaths come at a time of public suspicions after an earlier cover-up. A one-year-old girl, identified only by her family name Wang, showed symptoms last Saturday and died on Wednesday of complications arising from hand, foot and mouth disease, including brain inflammation and inflammation of the heart, Xinhua reported Shandong's health department as saying yesterday. The authority earlier identified two boys - one seven months old, the other 15 months old - as succumbing to the disease. But media reports have given the names and addresses of at least four other children suspected of dying from the same disease between March 8 and Monday. None of the cases was reported by authorities. [...]. ^ top ^

Judicial reform plan fails to impress critics (SCMP)
2009-03-27
The Supreme People's Court has unveiled a five-year reform plan promising to better meet the public's rapidly increasing demands on the court system, but critics say it will do little to enhance judicial independence. In an online statement yesterday, the court said reforms between now and 2013 would mainly focus on four elements, including steps to make the system more efficient. It said the changes would centre on improving internal court processes such as trial procedures, as well as finding ways to investigate people who try to influence verdicts. In addition, the courts would reassess standard criminal prison terms, including possible lenient treatment for elderly criminals and tougher penalties for some offenders, but the statement offered no further details. [...] This programme is the courrt's third five-year reform plan, and mainland law experts regarded the previous efforts - one launched in 1999 and the other in 2005 - as contributing "nothing to advancing judicial independence". They said they were not optimistic about the third plan which was, like the previous two, littered with Communist Party slogans and empty promises. "Judicial independence will remain a dream as long as the political committee of the local Communist Party rules on court appointments and internal trial court committees [of officials] are allowed to `legally' meddle with the judges," a Guangdong-based lawyer, who did not want to be identified, said. She said that under the existing mainland court system, the internal trial committee, consisting of a judge and other court administrators, had the greatest influence on sentences. "Under the new plan, the local procurator general or his deputy would be invited onto the committee, giving less weight to the opinions of judges and lawyers - a situation that is actually backwards," the lawyer said. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese VP urges officials to solve problems for public (Xinhuanet)
2009-03-26
Beijing -- Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping urged local officials to improve capabilities to solve problems for the public through the second round study of the Scientific Outlook on Development. Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks Wednesday during inspection tours in villages in suburban Beijing. Xi inspected two towns in the Fangshan District. He made positive comments on the local governments' use of the Internet for training Party members and their efforts to improve local people's living standards. [...]. ^ top ^

China's rural migrant workers top 225 million (Xinhua)
2009-03-26
China, the world largest agriculture country in terms of farming population, has 225.42 million rural migrant workers as of 2008, according to statistic from the National Statistics Bureau (NBS) on Wednesday. Among all the migrant workers, 62.3 percent or 140.41 million were working outside their home county, while the other 37.7 percent or, 85.01 million, worked in their hometowns. Migrant workers from the central areas accounted for 37.6 percent of the 140.41 million ones. Other 32.7 percent and 29.7 percent were from the western and eastern regions, respectively. The NBS said 70 million migrant workers went back to hometowns before February. Currently, 56 million have returned to the cities, 45 million have found jobs, and the other 11 million are still unemployed. [...]. ^ top ^

China court accepts first lawsuit over melamine tainted milk (Xinhua)
2009-03-25
A court in north China's Hebei Province officially accepted a compensation lawsuit filed by a tainted milk victim Wednesday. The Xinhua District Court in Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital, accepted the lawsuit by a parent from Beijing, confirmed Wang Wei, spokesman with the Shijiazhuang Intermediate People's Court. Lawyer Peng Jian said the plaintiff demanded a compensation of 31,000 yuan (4,538 U.S. dollars) from Sanlu Group, a Shijiazhuang-based company that was at the center of the scandal. ^ top ^

Foreign GPS users risk arrest (SCMP)
2009-03-26
Foreigners using GPS devices on the mainland risk being detained by police or national security agents if they suspect them of conducting illegal mapping. "It's better for [your] safety not to turn on the GPS function [on your cellphone]," a State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping official said. The bureau announced 10 days ago that it was launching a year-long crackdown this month on illegal surveying, with foreigners among its prime targets. Six ministries are involved in the campaign. Its announcement cites the detention in December 2007 of a foreigner in a village near Luoyang in Henan province. State security agents found a number of locations marked on his hand-held Global Positioning System device and used that as evidence for his arrest, the bureau said, without elaborating. [...]. ^ top ^

Man hacked to death in Hainan clashes (SCMP)
2009-03-26
At least one person was killed and 11 were injured when more than 1,000 farmers from two impoverished neighbouring villages in Hainan clashed with each other and authorities for a third day yesterday, according to state media. Armed and angry farmers from Gancheng village in Dongfang city fought again late on Tuesday and yesterday afternoon, attacking residents from Baoshang village with long knives and wooden sticks as authorities scrambled to restore peace by deploying about 500 anti-riot police. A man was hacked to death and six people were injured yesterday afternoon in a dispute that stemmed from a teenagers' brawl. [...]. ^ top ^

YouTube blocked by mainland servers for second day (SCMP)
2009-03-26
The popular video-sharing network YouTube remained blocked by mainland servers for at least the second day yesterday, as the website's parent company, Google, publicly acknowledged the problem. No official reasons have been given for the ban, but there has been widespread speculation that the website had run afoul of the so-called Great Firewall of China as mainland authorities crack down on online dissent in the run-up to sensitive anniversaries this year. State media offered a strong clue to the reasons behind the apparent ban by branding a video posted on the site by the Tibetan government-in-exile as a "lie". The video, which was uploaded onto the site at the weekend, purported to show a protester being beaten by police during the riots in Lhasa a year ago. It said the man, who was identified as Tendar, later died of his injuries. Xinhua quoted an unnamed official in the Tibetan capital as saying the man had "died from a disease at home awaiting court trial", not at the hands of police. "The image of an injured person in the video is not that of Tendar, and the wounds were fake," the official said. [...]. ^ top ^

Amnesty criticises widespread use of capital punishment (SCMP)
2009-03-25
China led the world in executions last year, carrying out 1,718 death sentences, or 72 per cent of the world's total, human rights group Amnesty International says. The group said the real figure could be much higher because the total was considered a state secret. A Hong Kong-based expert in mainland law said the figure was about the same as the previous year's and that he expected fewer people to be executed this year because of the central government's stress on "social harmony". Amnesty International said yesterday that China had surpassed Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States in putting people to death, and that most defendants were not given fair trials. "In most cases, defendants are convicted without sufficient evidence and are not allowed to call witnesses in the court," campaign manager Clara Law Ying-tsz said. To cut down on wrongful executions, the Supreme People's Court reclaimed the right to issue death sentences from provincial courts in 2007. According to a Xinhua report last year, a Supreme Court spokesman said 15 per cent of death sentences were revoked in 2007. [...] An official iin the Supreme People's Court's news office declined to comment on the report, as did Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. ^ top ^

New security concept evolves (SCMP)
2009-03-25
The People's Liberation Army should enhance its capabilities to deal with non-traditional domestic security crises, top military think-tank chief Major General Xiong Guangkai said on Monday, elaborating on China's new "grand security concept". Military analysts said that General Xiong's speech echoed President Hu Jintao's rare call to the PLA to "contribute to the nation's economic development and social stability" in a keynote address at a plenary meeting of PLA deputies to the National People's Congress this month. [...]. ^ top ^

Prosecuters investigate death of prisoner in Northern China (Xinhua)
2009-03-21
Chinese prosecutors have begun to investigate death of a prisoner at a detention house in north China's Hebei Province, according to government sources hereon Saturday. The male prisoner, Zhai Junbao, who was arrested by police for theft and held at a detention house in Shunping County in January, died on Feb. 16. An autopsy report given by the Hebei University Medical Science showed he died of toxic shock caused by lobar pneumonia. Zhai's family has raised doubts on his death. The head of the detention house has been suspended from job for the duration of the investigation, according to the police sources. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Beijing backs Shanghai goal as finance hub - State Council advocates division of labour between Shanghai and HK (SCMP)
2009-03-26
The central government has endorsed a blueprint to make Shanghai a global financial and shipping centre by 2020. That could help China overcome the financial crisis, Xinhua reported. Explicit in the State Council's endorsement is that Beijing will make its currency, the yuan, fully convertible by 2020, some economists said. But others saw little new. [...] In its statement, broadcast oon national television, the State Council said: "Shanghai should strengthen its strategic co-operation with Hong Kong and [the two cities] should complement each other. There should be a sensible division of labour between them so that they can benefit from each other's development." This suggests China could have two global financial centres within a little more than a decade. [...] The statement givves the clearest definition yet of the central government's vision for Shanghai. The State Council believes the financial turmoil is an opportunity to forge ahead with the plan, not a hindrance to it. Shanghai needed to become a global financial centre to match the mainland's economic power and the growing importance of the yuan, some economists said. "The yuan will become fully convertible by 2020," said Pan Yingli, a professor of finance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. [...] But other economists remain sceptical, saying the statement lacks detail or concrete strategy. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Law to scrutinise officials' assets (SCMP)
2009-03-27
A new law that would put officials under scrutiny if their personal assets suddenly increased passed its first reading in Taiwan's legislature yesterday. Under the bill, pushed by Justice Minister Wang Ching-feng, all civil servants suspected of corruption would be required to explain and provide the sources of their income and assets if their total value seemed out of line with their salaries. The same would apply to suspects' spouses and dependants. The Control Yuan, the government's watchdog, will scrutinise civil servants and refer cases to prosecutors. If suspects refuse to co-operate, they could face up to three years in jail and confiscation of assets. The law must pass a second reading by the legislature and be signed by President Ma Ying-jeou, but its passage on first reading indicates it should become law easily. [...]. ^ top ^

Mainland to host first ever cross-Straits civil forum in May (Xinhua)
2009-03-25
The first ever civil forum will be held in May to inject new life into the warming ties between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, a spokeswoman with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the Cabinet, said on Wednesday. The activity, jointly organized by the office and the Fujian provincial government, aims to expand the exchange and communication between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, said Fan Liqing at a press conference. The forum will run from May 15 to 22 in cities like Xiamen, Fuzhou, Quanzhou in the southeast province. It includes a conference on cross-Straits tourism, a trading fair, movie shows and a symposium featuring the presidents of the universities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The forum will be a platform for civil exchange and we will invite the people from all walks of life in Taiwan to the forum, said Fan. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Official: Dalai Lama "stubborn in talks, not true to his word" (People's Daily Online)
2009-03-26
A Chinese central government official has criticized the Dalai Lama and his followers on Thursday for being "stubborn in talks" and "failing to honor their promises". Zhu Weiqun, vice minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, expounded on his stance in an interview carried Thursday in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the CPC's flagship newspaper. Zhu has been dealing with Tibet-related issues since 1998 and has been personally involved in all the contacts and talks with the Dalai Lama side since 2003. When asked to describe the attitude of the Dalai Lama and his supporters in the talks, Zhu said they were "very difficult to talk with and very stubborn." [...] In the July discussions,, the Dalai Lama's representatives said they had no problems following the "four not-to-supports" put forward by the central authorities. The four promises included: not supporting activities that would disturb the Beijing Olympic Games; not supporting plots inciting violent criminal activities; not supporting and concretely curbing violent terrorist activities of the pro-secession "Tibetan Youth Congress"; not supporting any argument and activity seeking "Tibetan independence" and splitting the region from the country. "But what did they do then? They absolutely forgot to carry out their promise and did not stop boycotting and destroying the Beijing Olympics," Zhu said. "Instead, they intensified sabotaging activities and continued to attack the central government." [...]. ^ top ^

Exhibition dispells foreign ambassadors' misconception about Tibet (Xinhua)
2009-03-26
[...] About 150 foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations visited on Wednesday an exhibition marking the 50th Anniversary of Democratic Reforms in Tibet. [...] The exhibition, which opened Feb. 24, hass five sections: the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, Crackdown on the Armed Rebellion, Democratic Reform in Tibet, Half a Century of Conflict between Reunification and Separation, Progress and Regress, and Social and Economic Development and Achievements in Human Rights. [...] "The changges in Tibet could not be realized without the great efforts of the Chinese government. I believe in the prosperous future of Tibet." South African Ambassador Ndumiso Ndima Ntshinga bent over from time to time to see the pictures more clearly. "It is a very impressive exhibition," he said. "Obviously, the quality of the life of Tibetans have changed dramatically since 1959. It is quite encouraging to see that the survivors of that horrible system of feudalism lived through," he added. [...] The exhibition in the Cultural Palace of Nationalities runs until April 10. It is co-sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council, the United Front Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Central Archives, and Xinhua News Agency. ^ top ^

Living Buddha says serfs emancipation in Tibet similar to U.S. abolition of slavery (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
A Tibetan living Buddha on Monday compared the emancipation of serfs in Tibet 50 years ago to the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1862, saying the two are of similar significance. "They are both milestones in the history of human rights," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a living Buddha of the Kagyu sect, said when meeting with Peter Milliken, speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. [...] "By setting the Serfs Emmancipation Day, we hope that history will not be forgotten," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak said. [...] Shingtsa Tennzinchodrak is leading a five-member delegation of Tibetan deputies of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, in Canada for a visit. [...]. ^ top ^

Tibetans predicted to stage more riots in response to crackdowns (SCMP)
2009-03-24
Overseas activists supporting Tibetan independence believe more destabilising outbursts are likely to happen in coming months and said Saturday's riot in Qinghai by Tibetans was a response to tough central government security measures. Beijing sent security forces flooding into Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas in neighbouring provinces, cut off some internet and mobile phone services and closed the region to almost all foreigners this month, which sees sensitive anniversaries and a controversial new holiday. But the heavy security presence and the threat of harsh punishment during a "hard strike" campaign against separatism have not been enough to contain simmering resentment over Beijing's rule, including anger at controls on religion, and limited economic opportunities. [...] &quoot;Protesters know they could be arrested and beaten up for shouting slogans or distributing leaflets near police stations or barracks, but they are not afraid," a Beijing-based source with contacts in Tibetan areas said. "It's a sign they have given up all hope. [...] Acctivists say the Tibetans are under so much pressure that incidents like the weekend riot are almost inevitable. "I think this is a sign of how bad things are inside and how people feel absolutely frustrated and at breaking point," said Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet. "Tibetans are showing they won't be cowed," she said. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama denied South Africa visa after Beijing intervenes (SCMP)
2009-03-23
South Africa's embassy in New Delhi has denied the Dalai Lama a visa, barring him from attending a conference in Johannesburg, activists said. The Tibetan spiritual leader had planned to take part in a conference on Friday to discuss ways of using soccer to fight racism and xenophobia, as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup football tournament. South African Friends of Tibet said the Dalai Lama had been denied a visa, adding the country's high commissioner in New Delhi had asked the Dalai Lama to postpone his trip. The Sunday Independent newspaper quoted Dai Bing, minister counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Pretoria, saying the central government had urged South Africa to deny the visit, warning it would harm bilateral relations. [...]. ^ top ^

Nearly 100 monks held in Qinghai riot - Protesters attack police station (SCMP)
2009-03-23
Nearly 100 monks in a Tibetan-populated area of Qinghai province were arrested or turned themselves in after a riot erupted on Saturday as protesters attacked a police station, Xinhua and the Tibetan government-in-exile reported yesterday. The riot was triggered by the disappearance of a pro-independence Tibetan monk who threw himself into a river to escape police detention, both sides said. Xinhua said several hundred people, including nearly 100 monks from the Lagyab Monastery, also known as Ragya Monastery, in Machen county, attacked the police station in Lagyab township in the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai on Saturday afternoon. It said they assaulted police officers and government staff. Some of the government workers suffered minor injuries. The incident is the biggest reported riot of its kind in a Tibetan-populated area this year. It took place a week before Beijing's newly designated Serfs' Emancipation Day for Tibetans to celebrate the ousting of the Dalai Lama, whom the central government labels a separatist. [...]. ^ top ^

Monastery out of bounds before riot, Tibetans say (SCMP)
2009-03-23
Residents close to the Lagyab Monastery in Machen county, in Qinghai's Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, claimed yesterday that authorities had stopped them worshipping at the site since early this month, well before the riot that broke out on Saturday. A Tibetan man said: "They warned us not to leave home because they don't want us to speak to outsiders." His wife said they heard something had happened at the monastery in the past few weeks but knew no details. "In fact we are not even supposed to tell you that much." The monastery, referred to as Ragya in the Amdo dialect, is the second-biggest Buddhist monastery in Qinghai and is under the protection of the province's Cultural Relics Preservation Unit, according to the Berlin-based Tibet Heritage Fund and the Golog tourism bureau. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China to raise tax rebates on textile, metal exports (Xinhua)
2009-03-25
China would raise the tax rebate rate on some textile, iron and steel, nonferrous metal, petrochemical, electronic information and light industrial exports from April 1, the State Council announced Wednesday. ^ top ^

Chinese government cracks down on "hospitality", orders 20% cut in car-buying budget (Xinhua)
2009-03-25
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao announced Tuesday a crackdown on government "hospitality" budgets, including a 15-per-cent cut in car-buying and fuel funds. Wen said the government should take the leading role in promoting frugality and should ensure government spending goes where it is most needed amid the economic crisis. Wen ordered an across-the-board halt to the building of any new office compounds before the end of 2010, or any glitzy buildings in the names of training centers, hotels, or government motels. The meeting was attended by top officials from ministries under the State Council, or the Cabinet, government-owned organizations, and financial institutions.[...]. ^ top ^

Bank chief: Reform the international monetary system (People's Daily)
2009-03-25
By Zhou Xiaochuan
The outbreak of the current crisis and its spillover in the world have confronted us with a long-existing but still unanswered question,i.e., what kind of international reserve currency do we need to secure global financial stability and facilitate world economic growth, which was one of the purposes for establishing the IMF? There were various institutional arrangements in an attempt to find a solution, including the Silver Standard, the Gold Standard, the Gold Exchange Standard and the Bretton Woods system. The above question, however, as the ongoing financial crisis demonstrates, is far from being solved, and has become even more severe due to the inherent weaknesses of the current international monetary system. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese warned against going to "depressed" East European countries for work (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
Chinese citizens should not go to Poland or some other central and eastern European countries for work in the near future, the Ministry of Commerce said Tuesday in an online notice. Many overseas Chinese workers in the region had not been paid, since employers had been affected by currency devaluations, the depressed construction industry and a shrinking market, the ministry said. Also, with soaring unemployment in those countries, demand for foreign workers had shrunk, it said. It warned Chinese labor service companies to suspend sending Chinese workers to the area. ^ top ^

Stimulus spending has to be transparent, Wen warns officials (SCMP)
2009-03-25
Premier Wen Jiabao has demanded regional governments be transparent in their plans to spend the country's 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.54 trillion) stimulus package to avoid opportunities for corruption. Mr Wen told a State Council meeting yesterday that top officials at all levels of government would be the primary targets for tight discipline and inspection this year to ensure that no powers were abused, according to a report from China Central Television. [...] Chinese Academy of Social Sciences professor Xu Youyu said the additional emphasis on transparency and corruption still lacked detail but could be interpreted as the latest effort from the government to ward off mounting public criticism towards the bureaucracy. [...] Professor Xu said this year looked morre like that of 1989, when students and the public - dissatisfied with rampant government corruption - took to the street to protest against the Communist Party's rule. "Everything this year, from the stimulus package and rising unemployment to the social disparity and rampant corruption, could be a trigger for large-scale social unrest," Professor Xu said. [...] "Unfortunatelly, the Communist Party does not tolerate any outside monitoring, even from the media, at the moment.". ^ top ^

Central bank: China to continue investing in U.S. Treasury bonds (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
China will continue investing in U.S. government bonds while paying close attention to possible fluctuations in the value of those assets, said a deputy governor of China's central bank here Monday. "Investing in U.S. Treasury bonds is an important component of China's foreign currency reserve investments," Hu Xiaolian, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, told a briefing about President Hu Jintao's participation in the Group of 20 financial summit in Britain scheduled for April 1 to 2. "We are naturally relatively concerned with the safety and profitability of U.S. government bonds," she added. China's reserves hit a record 1.95 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of 2008, the largest in the world and far exceeding those of Japan, the second-largest foreign exchange holder, which had 1.03 trillion U.S. dollars. [...]. ^ top ^

Beijing willing to help IMF, top banker says (SCMP)
2009-03-24
Beijing has clearly indicated its intention to help the International Monetary Fund raise capital, and says it will actively consider buying bonds if the organisation issues them. "China supports the IMF's innovative financing attempts, and a more efficient and timely financing mode can effectively ease the IMF's cash shortage," said Hu Xiaolian, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China. "If the IMF finances itself by issuing bonds, China will actively consider buying." Many believe the Washington-based lender, which oversees the global financial system, needs to increase its capital so it will be in a position to bail out countries hit by the worsening global financial crisis. The issue is expected to top the agenda of the G20 summit in London, which opens on Thursday next week. Calls have come from all over the world for Beijing to make greater contributions to the IMF, but China had made no clear commitment until yesterday. Premier Wen Jiabao earlier only hinted that Beijing was willing to help, provided the organisation reformed itself to better represent developing nations. Ms Hu said Beijing was carefully studying the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) - the agreement under which 25 member countries pledge to lend to the IMF. China is not a member of the NAB, so the agreement would need to be expanded - a process that some officials estimate could take up to three months. Ms Hu said the IMF should step up its monitoring of nations that issue reserve currencies. She urged the world's financial institutions to reform the process of selecting their top executives, making the process more open and fair. Ms Hu said Beijing would continue to buy US Treasury bills, despite concern voiced by Mr Wen early this month about China's investment in US debt. "US Treasury bills are an important part of China's foreign exchange reserves and Beijing will keep buying them as it views the overall credit risk as low," she said. [...]. ^ top ^

Less Chinese companies established in 2008 (Xinhua)
2009-03-22
China's industry and commerce authorities said Friday that the number of businesses established in China rose only 0.78 percent year-on-year in 2008, much slower than an average of 5 percent growth in recent 5 years. As of the end of 2008, the number of businesses totaled 9.71 million, up 0.78 percent, or 74,900, over the same period in 2007, the State Administration For Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said. Private sectors and foreign-funded companies remained stable growth despite the global financial crisis. By the end of 2008, the number of private businesses stood at 6.57 million, up 9 percent, or 543,700. The number of foreign-funded companies rose 7 percent to 434,900 last year, with total investment exceeding 2.32 trillion U.S. dollars, up 10.21 percent year-on-year. The total registered capital of all businesses rose 12.42 percent to 43.48 trillion yuan (6.35 trillion U.S. dollars), the SAIC said. The statistics also showed that more companies had been established in the western and central areas as the country tried to transit more industries to the regions, while the number of companies fell in more-developed eastern region due to the financial crisis. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

US warships deploy, Clinton warns on N Korean missile (SCMP)
2009-03-27
The US Navy said yesterday it had deployed two warships in waters off Japan ahead of North Korea's planned rocket launch early next month. Two destroyers fitted with Aegis technology to track and destroy missiles left port on Wednesday, US Navy public relations officer Charles Howard said. "I would say we are ready for any contingencies," he said. Pyongyang says it will launch a communications satellite between April 4 and 8. The United States and its Asian allies suspect the launch is a test of a long-range ballistic missile that could reach North America. The South Korean newspaper Chosun quoted a diplomatic source as saying the North could technically fire the missile, which has reportedly been moved to a launch pad in the northeast of the country, by the weekend. Two missile stages were visible in satellite photos but the top was covered with a shroud supported by a crane, US television network NBC reported, citing US officials. That triggered a call from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and South Korea for a United Nations response to any blast-off. [...]. ^ top ^

For N. Korea, a Pair Of Bargaining Chips - Detained U.S. Journalists Seen as Leverage (Washington Post)
2009-03-26
Two American journalists detained last week by North Korean soldiers are likely to become bargaining chips for North Korea in its feuds with the outside world, according to analysts and politicians in South Korea. Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters working for Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV, were seized at 3 a.m. March 17 after walking from China across the shallow Tumen River into North Korea, according to a report in JoongAng Ilbo, a newspaper in Seoul. The newspaper, citing intelligence sources in the South Korean government, said the two women have been moved to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, where they were being interrogated as possible spies.[...] "They do become bargaining chipss," said Andrei Lankov, a professor of North Korean studies at Kookmin University in Seoul. The two journalists interviewed Lankov shortly before they traveled to the North Korean border. "North Korea will send them home, but it will not happen quickly," Lankov said. "The North Koreans want to show the world that illegally crossing their border will not be tolerated and they want to squeeze political and financial concessions from the United States." [...]. ^ top ^

China, ROK top negotiators to six-party talks meet in Beijing (Xinhua)
2009-03-24
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei met here Tuesday with Wie Sung-rak, head of the Republic of Korea (ROK) delegation to the six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. "China is very concerned about the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and hopes that all relevant parties could avoid actions that may make the situation more complicated," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. Qin also appealed for an earlier resumption of the six-party talks and urged all relevant parties to work together towards the goals of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, better ties among relevant countries, and the peace and stability of Northeast Asia. Qin said given the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, the most urgent thing for all relevant parties was to keep calm and be restrained, and contribute to the advancement of the six-party talks. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Day set for Mongolia's presidential election (UB Post newspaper)
2009-03-25
On March 25, Mongolia's General Election Committee (GEC) announced May 24, 2009 as voting day for this year's Presidential Election. By law, all political parties that currently have representation in Parliament ... the Mongolian PPeople's Revolutionary Party, the Democratic Party, the Civil Will Party, and the Green Party- are eligible to name their candidate before April 8. “Final results from the election should be submitted to Parliament by June 24,” said a spokesperson of the election committee. ^ top ^

First foreign currency auction took place (Montsame news agency)
2009-03-25
The Bank of Mongolia held Tuesday a foreign currency auction for the first time. The auction was attended by only commercial banks. Governor of the Bank of Mongolia D.Purevdorj said value of national currency is the most important factor in keeping the economy stable as it directly affects the prices level. Previous policies provided by the Bank of Mongolia were not effective. "Therefore we decided to carry out a trade of foreign currency only at a weekly auction," he said. The main aim of this auction is to stabilize a balance of demand and supply of foreign currencies and to bring the real supply of foreign currencies to the targeted level. As a result, the value of MNT will be determined by the market rule, and the advantage is that it will be clearly visible. Bank of Mongolia said the first auctioning went well and there were a supply surplus. 876 thousand USD were requested to buy from the commercial banks and 1.4 million USD were requested to sell. This auction will be held weekly. To make the auction transparent, the Bank of Mongolia will report the full statement of the trading session on the next working day through their website. ^ top ^

IMF hopes government program would follow its “exceptional” offer (www.news.mn) (www.news.mn)
2009-03-20
The formal statement issued in the name of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, announcing the USD224 million loan to Mongolia says the proposed "exceptional access to IMF resources (of 300 percent of quota)" is justified by the Mongolian "authorities' strong commitment to macroeconomic stability and a return to robust and equitable growth, and merits the backing of the broader international community". The decision was taken after the Government, in collaboration with an IMF mission, had put together a strong and ambitious macroeconomic program with two key objectives: (i) to restore economic stability through fiscal and monetary policies; and (ii) to protect the poor and preserve social stability through improving the social safety net. Strauss-Kahn appealed to donors "to support Mongolia in its impressive efforts". ^ top ^

DP sends proposals to GEC on presidential election (www.news.mn)
2009-03-19
DP has sent certain proposals about the Presidential Election to the General Election Committee. These are: Proportional representation of political parties when selecting commission officials and secretaries; Exclusion of government employees from all election area commissions or sub-commissions; Since only parties with seats in Parliament have the right to contest the Presidential election, representatives of other parties should not be members of election commissions. ^ 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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