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
  20.4-24.4.09, No. 265  
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Table of contents

Avian flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China demands bigger say in setting commodity prices (Xinhua)
2009-04-19
Boao - Chinese officials and entrepreneurs said Sunday that China should have bigger say in setting commodity prices, as oil and iron ore prices saw roller-coaster-like fluctuations in the past two years. […] They said commodity prices should be pulled back to normal track to reflect real demand, otherwise the inflation woe will come back and make business expansion unsustainable. "Although we are the biggest commodity buyer in the world, our role in the price setting is limited," said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's economic planning agency. China's steel makers have fallen into a prolonged bargain with the world's major iron ore producers, demanding a sharper price cut than the 20 percent-off deal plan offered by the Rio Tinto of Australia, as the world's No.1 iron ore importer has less demand amid the economic slowdown. […] Zhang Xiaoqiang said international collaboration is essential to enhance the oversight of the financial speculation. […] Zhang Xiaoqiang noted China will continue to liberalize domestic prices of energy products and resources, saying the recent reform of refined oil prices is a good start. "We should beef up our commodity reserve to ensure plenty supply in order to offset the negative impacts of big price changes," Zhang said. […]. ^ top ^

Naval co-operation boosted by anti-piracy initiative in Gulf of Aden (SCMP)
2009-04-20
Anti-piracy operations off Somalia had been producing an unprecedented degree of co-operation, giving the US and mainland navies a rare opportunity to work together after a recent high-profile confrontation, the chief of US naval operations said yesterday. Speaking in Beijing - US Navy Admiral Gary Roughead said he would discuss further boosting ties through base visits and joint search and rescue exercises during talks this week with Wu Shengli, commander of the PLA Navy. The visit comes amid the mainland's build-up of its naval prowess and after a confrontation between a US surveillance ship and five mainland vessels in the South China Sea last month. Beijing sent an anti-piracy flotilla to the Gulf of Aden in December to join an international patrol contingent of some two dozen warships from various countries. Admiral Roughead said it had taken relations between the two militaries beyond merely bilateral exchanges, although the benefit to practical co-operation was the most significant aspect, he said. "This is the first time we have operated together so far from China with a real-world mission," he said. ^ top ^

China urges concerted world efforts to meet global agricultural challenges (Xinhua)
2009-04-20
Rome - China has urged the international community to take joint actions to meet "mighty challenges in bolstering food security and fostering stable agricultural development," said a Chinese official at the Group of Eight (G8) agricultural meeting on Sunday. At the meeting, Niu Dun, China's vice minister of agriculture, said that addressing global challenges to food security and mitigating the impact of the global financial crisis on agricultural development require concerted efforts of the international community. In his five-point proposal, Niu noted that all countries should pay closer attention to food security, promote agricultural development and create favorable environment for tackling the financial crisis. […] Speaking of the development of biomass energy, the vice minister said that international cooperation mechanism should be established to reflect and evaluate the long-term implication of biomass energy development and develop policy guidance accordingly. […] The vice minister also urged governments to demonstrate "the utmost sincerity in accelerating Doha Round talks and work for a comprehensive and balanced outcome on the basis of consensus reached in July 2008". […]. ^ top ^

UN deadline unlikely to resolve disputes over South China Sea (SCMP)
2009-04-21
[…] Despite gestures of peace and co-operation, disputes are again flaring in the run-up to a deadline for nations to submit their maritime territorial claims to the United Nations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on May 13. China is now rethinking its strategy in response to the developments in this intricate and sensitive issue. […] The May 13 deadline to file claims is unlikely to mark an end to disputes over sovereignty; instead, the debate is expected to escalate from a regional concern to a global issue. […] If the matter was raised on the world stage, Professor Niu said, Beijing would face greater challenges in upholding its long-standing principle of "setting disputes aside and jointly developing" the area, an idea floated by former leader Deng Xiaoping. "China has been careful in maintaining good relations with its neighbours. It needs their support for international issues," he said. "And China does not want to see this issue go global, because that means it will be dealing with a group of Asian countries. When negotiating with an individual country, China definitely has the upper hand. But China will lose out in negotiating with such a group." […] Professor Niu agreed that its feeble navy at the time was one of the reasons Beijing lagged behind in claiming sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the 1960s. But there are signs of the Chinese navy's transformation. With the imminent 60th anniversary of its founding, commander-in-chief Wu Shengli said last week that the mainland would develop a new generation of warships and aircraft. […]. ^ top ^

Navy has plenty of catching up to do, experts say (SCMP)
2009-04-22
[…] Despite talk of China soon building its first aircraft carrier battle group and the leaps in progress its navy has made in recent decades, most experts agree it will still take years for the PLA navy to close the gap with other major maritime forces. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice- president for defence and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, said the PLA navy had undergone dramatic changes since it was founded in 1949, going from a purely coastal defence force to a modern force capable of multi-task missions. But he added that it would take a decade or two for it to "really get there". […] Dr Carpenter said its increased capabilities were likely to erode US dominance in the far western Pacific in the coming decades even if Beijing's goal remained peaceful, but a challenge to the US Navy's influence was still a long way off. […]. ^ top ^

Paris to extend warm invitation to President Hu (China Daily)
2009-04-22
Paris plans to invite President Hu Jintao to France, a move that will further mend relations with Beijing. National Assembly of France President Bernard Accoyer is in China and will officially invite Hu to visit France by the end of the year, an official with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in Paris on Monday. […] Beijing's attitude toward Paris is also warming. The Ministry of Commerce said it is considering sending a business delegation to purchase goods in France, widely seen as a counterbalance to China's $15 billion in deals signed with other European countries by a Chinese business delegation to Europe that skirted around France in February. […] The lingering global financial crisis and the lesson Paris learned have contributed to the nation's current candid attitude toward Beijing - Wu said. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese FM urges resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks (Xinhua)
2009-04-23
Ramallah - Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Wednesday urged for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian talks to proceed the Middle East peace process. […] Referring to the restart of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after the Annapolis conference held at the end of 2007 in the United States, Yang said that the peace process should not stop or backtrack, which could went against achieving peace and stability in the Middle East. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese trade team heads to U.S. for new deals (Xinhua)
2009-04-23
Beijing - A Chinese trade delegation is leaving Thursday for the United States to explore trade and investment opportunities, close on the heels of a similar mission to Europe in February, according to sources. The team will visit San Francisco, Washington and Chicago from today to May 1st, according to an initial schedule of the mission seen by China Daily. The mission is intended to promote bilateral trade relations and improve trade balance, according to an announcement on the website of China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, or CCCME. […]. ^ top ^

As China puts its naval might on display, Hu renews peace pledge (SCMP)
2009-04-24
China held its first multinational naval parade yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy, with some of its advanced warships on public display for the first time. President Hu Jintao, accompanied by top leaders from the supreme command and foreign dignitaries from 29 countries, inspected vessels picked from China's three naval fleets and warships sent by 14 countries. […] Despite earlier speculation, China did not send its most advanced warships, such as Jin-class nuclear submarines. Instead, two nuclear-powered submarines that have been in service for decades made their public debuts. Also on display were guided missile destroyers, diesel-electric submarines and various support vessels. Mr Hu took the opportunity to again pledge to the world that China would stick to its "defensive" national policy and would never seek military hegemony. "[The People's Liberation Army forces] should unremittingly work towards the goal of building a harmonious ocean." […] Military observers said the choice was interesting - by displaying old-generation submarines, Beijing wanted to send out the message that it would continue pursuing a modest defence strategy. Had Beijing fielded the more advanced model, it would mean it was ready to go from being a regional to a global military power. […]. ^ top ^

Envoy plays up importance of Sino-Japanese ties (SCMP)
2009-04-24
Beijing and Tokyo should cherish their hard-won relationship in which both sides had much at stake economically and strategically, and prevent any irritant from marring the crucial ties, China's top diplomat to Japan said during a visit to Hong Kong yesterday. Cui Tiankai's remarks came as Beijing expressed its "serious concern" that Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso had made an offering to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine, and warned that the move could harm bilateral ties. He was speaking at a Journalism Education Foundation luncheon. The latest flare-up over Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japanese war dead and has long plagued relations, comes ahead of Mr Aso's two-day visit to China next week. The ambassador said "consensus over certain historical issues" had been building up between top Japanese and Chinese leaders, and the latest shrine hiccup would not cause as much harm as similar incidents did a few years ago. Calling it one of the most "important, sensitive and difficult" bilateral ties for China, Mr Cui said the Sino-Japanese relationship would either be "a win-win situation or a lose-lose situation". […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China says to improve economic statistics after foreign media comment (Xinhua)
2009-04-18
Beijing - China's top statistics official vowed Friday to improve the quality and credibility of government statistics after foreign media voiced concerns about the authenticity of Chinese economic data. "To keep (official statistics) true and credible is not only our duty but also our need to accept public supervision," said Ma Jiantang, head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a statement on the NBS Website. "Let's work together with all sides to continuously improve the quality and credibility of China's official data," said Ma, who was commenting on a foreign media article questioning the country's data gathering system. […] China is making progress in releasing expeditious, accurate and comprehensive economic figures but political motives could lead to problems such as overstating or understating the real economic situation, Orlik, who is also a former advisor to the British Treasury, said in the article. While local officials could report lower-than-actual growth data to the NBS to seek state support funds amid the global financial crisis, there are also risks that the ways of calculation are changed to make the economy look better in the present downturn to meet government goals, Orlik wrote. […] The NPC has found serious fabrication when inspecting the implementation of the statistics law in recent years. Some local officials fabricated data to gain honors, material rewards or promotions. […]. ^ top ^

China to build five nuclear power stations in 2009 (Xinhua)
2009-04-20
Beijing - April 20 (Xinhua) -- China plans to build five nuclear power stations in the eastern and southern regions this year, the country's energy planner said here on Monday. The five projects will be constructed in the coastal Zhejiang Province, Shandong Province and southern Guangdong and Hainan provinces, the National Energy Administration (NEA) announced at a meeting on nuclear power application. […] To meet its economic growth, the country planned to have 40 million kw of installed nuclear capacity on its mainland by 2020, which would be 4 percent of projected electricity supply capacity, or double the current level. ^ top ^

On the right track (SCMP)
2009-04-22
It is easy to criticise China's first "national human rights action plan" for 2009-2010 made public last week. For one thing, it does not address basic issues, such as giving Chinese citizens the right to choose their government. The Communist Party, it seems, has no plans to relinquish its monopoly on power. The action plan also does not indicate any willingness to allow an independent judiciary free of party control or permit greater freedom of speech or of the press. In fact, the 20,000-word document addresses primarily economic, social and cultural issues rather than political ones. […] Still, the action plan is to be welcomed, since it makes certain pledges that are meant to be carried out by the government, including improved medical care, providing safe drinking water, underwriting basic old-age insurance policies for migrant workers and reform of the household registration system. […] That is to say, China accepts the validity of the concept of human rights. However, Beijing also wants the world to accept its assessment of the human rights situation in the country, and the need to give greater priority to economic, social and cultural rights rather than to political and civil rights. […] Thus, the Chinese government is on notice that its pledges to improve human rights cannot be simply treated as a public relations gesture to appease foreign critics. China's citizens will be watching to see if the government carries out its promises. ^ top ^

China's cases soar as workers seek redress (China Daily)
2009-04-22
Beijing - The number of labor disputes heard by courts has skyrocketed this year with many employees choosing legal avenues before trying to sort out problems with their bosses, experts said on Tuesday. Figures from the Supreme People's Court (SPC) showed 98,568 cases in the first three months this year, a 59-percent year-on-year rise. "Amid the global financial crisis, the number of businesses going into the red or going bankrupt continues to grow, leading to more disputes over salary claims," said Du Wanhua, chief of the SPC's No 1 civil trials tribunal. "Ever since the implementation of the Labor Contract Law in January 2008, workers have become more aware of their rights and the legal avenues available to safeguard them." […] In the past, most disputes were related to damages for injuries or payment, but there has been a sharp rise in workers claiming back pay for social insurance and pensions, as well as lawyers, accountants and auditors suing employers for grievances related to the process of signing, terminating or halting labor contracts Fearing an increase in disputes might affect social stability, the SPC has been working on a judicial interpretation of the Labor Contract Law since last July to uniform trial standards nationwide. […]. ^ top ^

Government repays school fees for graduates willing to work in grassroots projects (Xinhua)
2009-04-21
Beijing - The Chinese government will repay the school fees or bank loans for college graduates willing to work in remote and poverty-stricken areas of the country's central and western regions, according to a notice released jointly by Finance Ministry and Education Ministry Tuesday. […] According to the notice, the graduates should work for at least three years in grassroots areas at the county-level of the central and western regions, such as government administrations in town or county level, primary or middle schools, farms, veterinarian stations, electricity construction site and coal mines. […]. ^ top ^

Minister: China to phase in free vocational secondary education for all (Xinhua)
2009-04-22
Beijing - China hopes to provide free vocational secondary education "in the near future" to boost development and better satisfy market demand, Education Minister Zhou Ji said Wednesday. He did not give a detailed timetable, but Zhou said that "as a starting point, the government would offer free secondary vocational education to poor rural students and those who majored in agriculture-related subjects from this year." The policy would be "gradually" applied to all students, he said in a report to the eighth session of the 11th National People's Congress Standing Committee for review. The government has allocated 40 billion yuan (about 5.86 billion U.S. dollars) to subsidize poor students in secondary vocational schools since 2006, with 18 billion yuan from the central budget and 22 billion yuan from local governments, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Rise in number of cars causes more bad air, environment chief says (SCMP)
2009-04-23
[…] In a report delivered to the country's top legislature on Earth Day yesterday, environment minister Zhou Shengxian painted a grim picture of the country's air-quality problems, Xinhua reported. He urged the National People's Congress to bring up to date a bill on the prevention and control of air pollution, which was first adopted in 1987 and last amended in 2000. He said persistent smog and high concentrations of ground-level ozone have become top pollution threats in most developed regions across the mainland, especially in the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and the region covering Beijing and Tianjin. Smoggy skies were common in mainland cities; hazy days were more common than blue-sky days in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Shenzhen, Mr Zhou said. The central government has kicked off an ambitious anti-pollution drive in the past few years, with billions of dollars spent to improve air quality, especially in major cities. However, deputy environment minister Zhang Lijun admitted yesterday that the effort has been largely hampered by a lack of co-ordination. […] He also blamed the flawed national air-quality standards and the inability to tackle cancer-causing nitrogen oxides for the stalled campaign to cut pollution. […] A study by the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning, under the newly upgraded Ministry of Environmental Protection, said that some 360,000 residents in urban areas in 600 mainland cities died prematurely from breathing polluted air in 2004, which caused damage estimated at more than 152 billion yuan (HK$173 billion). ^ top ^

30m jobless migrants left cities, adviser says (SCMP)
2009-04-23
As many as 30 million mainland migrant workers might have returned to their farms because city jobs have become scarce amid the economic slowdown, a top government adviser said, raising a central government estimate by 50 per cent. "The global financial crisis has led to job losses in China and many migrant workers had to return to the rural areas," Cheng Guoqiang , deputy chief of the Market Economy Research Institute at the State Council's Development Research Centre, said at an oilseed conference yesterday in Beijing. […] About 225 million people, or 28 per cent of the mainland's rural population, were migrants who had left their farms in search of work in cities and towns, the National Bureau of Statistics said last month. […]. ^ top ^

Liaison offices under scrutiny (SCMP)
2009-04-23
Alleged corruption scandals at two government liaison offices in Beijing have renewed calls for an overhaul of the system. Liaison offices set up by two local governments in Henan province reportedly bought 777 bottles of Kweichow Moutai for 660,000 yuan (HK$750,000) in early February, part of which was designated to entertain officials. The liquor is the most famous on the mainland. […] The saga offers a rare insight into the murky operations at government liaison offices opening in major metropolises and provincial capitals to lobby higher-level authorities for a greater share of the government budget and preferential policies. […] The rampant irregularities were underscored by an observation by Li Jinhua , then director of the National Audit Office, who implied in 2005 that the primary task for some liaison offices was to seek out information about government agencies' money and investments. […] Studies put the number of liaison offices in Beijing alone as high as 10,000, and they suck up 20 billion yuan in taxpayers' money each year. […]. ^ top ^

Child prostitution case withdrawn after public outcry (SCMP)
2009-04-24
Prosecutors in Guizhou province have withdrawn a high-profile child-prostitution case involving at least four local officials after fierce public criticism that the original charges were too mild.[…] Four government officials and a lawmaker in Guizhou are among those allegedly involved with forcing about a dozen schoolgirls into prostitution. They were originally charged with visiting teenage prostitutes. But netizens, columnists, and legal experts questioned why the defendants were not charged with child rape, which carries much more severe penalities. Some even suspected a cover-up at the county level. But the court official said he doubted the move to withdraw the case was caused by public pressure and it was hard to predict when the procuratorate would refile the case or whether the charges would change. After being exposed by mainland media early this month, the case has caused a national outcry over officials' conduct. Netizens, columnists, and legal experts have demanded justice for the victims. They said that according to mainland law, if the defendants were found guilty of visiting teenage prostitutes, the maximum penalty would be 15 years in jail. But for child rape, the penalty could be life imprisonment or death.[…]. ^ top ^

Sichuan bans review of collapsed schools (SCMP)
2009-04-24
The Sichuan government is said to have banned evaluations of buildings that collapsed during the May 12 earthquake. The move dashes the hopes of parents who were seeking justice over school buildings they claimed were shoddily built and resulted in the deaths of their children. It was unclear when the provincial government's Department of Construction put the ban in place, but a reference was made to it by Beichuan county government as an excuse to reject calls for investigation into school buildings that collapsed. The provincial government ban came as authorities have become increasingly wary of potential social unrest in quake-stricken zones. Families are expected to mourn loved ones who perished in the quake on the one-year anniversary. […] However, parents who have been trying to collect evidence showing that the school buildings were built with substandard materials have been harassed by police officers and the courts have rejected lawsuits they filed. Citing government-sanctioned surveys by specialists from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Building Research, a document leaked from the Beichuan county government agency in charge of petitions said that the strength of the earthquake was the main reason for the damage to public facilities, including schools, factories and mines. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan envoy welcomes mainland proposal (China Daily)
2009-04-20
Beijing - The mainland's proposal to help Taiwan fight the financial crisis was yesterday welcomed by the island's top envoy to the Boao Forum. "The proposal was greeted enthusiastically by the media. The move reflects the mainland's goodwill toward Taiwan," Fredrick Chien, former "foreign minister" of the island, told China Daily on the sidelines of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference this year, which ended yesterday. "I believe it will help our economy recover from the damage of the financial crisis," Chien said. […] Taiwan media reported before the meeting that island leader Ma Ying-jeou asked Chien - his teacher at Taiwan University - to tell Wen that he hoped the mainland and Taiwan "support each other in the same predicament", referring to the financial crisis. […]. ^ top ^

Ma Ying-jeou reinstates summit of Taiwan's diplomatic allies (SCMP)
2009-04-22
Taiwan will lead a summit this year with six diplomatic allies, officials said yesterday, a first for the normally mainland-friendly president. Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, will head up the Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit in the Solomon Islands on October 20, Solomons ambassador Beraki Jino said. It would be his first substantive trip overseas to meet Taiwan's tiny but strategically important diplomatic partners. Beijing - which claims sovereignty over the island and has threatened to take it by force if necessary, had competed strongly with Taipei for foreign allies before Mr Ma took office last year and declared a diplomatic "ceasefire" as part of a broader detente effort that has liberalised trade. Taiwan has only 23, mostly poor, allies in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific, compared with the mainland's 170. […] "I think the summit will be very low key," said Shane Lee, a political science professor at Chang Jung University in Taiwan. "Ma is trying to show goodwill to China, so it doesn't want to emphasise the sovereignty of Taiwan." […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Three sentenced over Lhasa arson attacks (SCMP)
2009-04-22
A court in Tibet sentenced three people to long prison terms over deadly arson attacks during last year's rioting in Lhasa , state media reported yesterday. One suspect, Penkyi, was given a two-year suspended death sentence for helping lead attacks on two clothing stores that killed six people, Xinhua reported. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison. Another suspect, also named Penkyi, was sentenced to life in prison by Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People's Court. A third, Chimed, was given 10 years in prison. Also yesterday a respected Tibetan lama went on trial on weapons charges related to last year's protests, his lawyer said. Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, who headed a nunnery in Ganzi, a predominantly Tibetan prefecture in Sichuan province, is accused of illegally possessing weapons, his Beijing-based lawyer Li Fangping said. The 52-year-old monk could be imprisoned for up to 15 years if found guilty by the Ganzi Prefecture Intermediate People's Court, Mr Li said, adding that he was the first senior Buddhist leader to face a serious charge linked to last year's demonstrations in Tibetan areas. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China creates 2.68 mln jobs for urban people in 1st quarter (Xinhua)
2009-04-18
Boao - Figures of the first quarter of this year show that 2.68 million jobs were created in China's urban areas, Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday. Wen said at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference 2009 that per capita urban disposable income grew 11.2 percent and per capita rural cash income rose 8.6 percent year on year in real terms. In the first two months, the number of newly employed in urban areas reached 1.62 million, down 210,000 from the same period of 2008, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The employment of college graduates in first jobs fell to 20 percent in the first quarter from the historical average of 70 percent. ^ top ^

Unions force Wal-Mart to back down over reshuffle (SCMP)
2009-04-21
US retail giant Wal-Mart scrapped a plan to reshuffle its mid-level executives on the mainland after local trade unions stepped in, a union official in Jilin province said yesterday. […] The restructuring issue was the first time the local trade unions had been involved in Wal-Mart's affairs, according to Ms Yang. […] Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, offered three options to the executives on April 10: transfers to outlets in other cities, demotions or leave the company. […] Asked whether the decision was a response to the global downturn, Ms Mou said the company wanted experienced executives to work in new stores to guarantee quality service. She declined to say how many employees were affected. […] The US retail giant, which for years has resisted organised labour movement elsewhere, agreed not to make any changes. The incident reiterated the political clout of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions - the country's sole trade union organisation. […]. ^ top ^

Crisis pushes up urban jobless rate (China Daily)
2009-04-24
Beijing - China's urban registered unemployment rate hit 4.3 percent, a 0.1 percentage-point increase in the first quarter, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Thursday. It's the second straight quarter of increases. The rate jumped to 4.2 from 4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, the first increase in five years. […] The ministry wants to keep the unemployment rate below 4.6 percent this year, which would still make it the highest level of unemployment since 1980. […] The number of jobs in the country has declined 7 percent in the past six months, according to the ministry's job watch system. The jobless rate does not include the 230 million migrant workers in China, the major labor force in labor-intensive industries in coastal regions. […]. ^ top ^

 

Avian flu

New outbreak of bird flu in Tibetan capital (SCMP)
2009-04-20
The Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed a new outbreak of bird flu in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The national bird-flu laboratory confirmed that the H5N1 bird-flu virus had been found in poultry sold at a wholesale market in the city's Chengguan district on April 12. Emergency measures had been taken and the epidemic had been brought under control, the ministry said in a notice. It said 1,679 fowl had been culled after the outbreak. The local health department said no abnormalities had been found among people in contact with the poultry. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

US, DPRK urged to engage in dialogue (China Daily)
2009-04-18
China wants the United States to engage the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) directly to ease escalating tensions over Pyongyang's renewed nuclear weapons activities, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has said. In an interview published in Japan's Nikkei newspaper on Friday, Yang said the Six-Party Talks hosted by Beijing remain the way forward in making the Korean Peninsula nuclear free, despite Pyongyang's declaration this week that it would boycott the talks for good and resume work at shuttered atomic facilities. But Yang hoped that the Obama administration would deal directly with Pyongyang. "(China) hopes for an improvement and development of US-DPRK relations," Yang, a former ambassador to Washington, said. "It is a relationship that will mutually help both sides whether it takes a bilateral or multilateral route." […] But the US won't pursue direct talks with the DPRK at the expense of the Six-Party Talks, Kyodo News agency reported. […]. ^ top ^

Two Koreas to hold talks on factory park (SCMP)
2009-04-20
South Korea has accepted the North's proposal for talks on a joint factory park, setting up the first high-level dialogue between the countries in a year, an official said yesterday. […] The facility on the northern side of the border is the last major joint project between the rival Koreas and a key source of currency for the impoverished North's communist regime. […] While the talks represent a rare positive sign on the diplomatic front, the rhetoric that accompanied the North's offer was aggressive. On Saturday, an unnamed North Korean military spokesman said that South Korea's full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) would be seen "as a declaration of undisguised confrontation and a declaration of a war against" North Korea. […]. ^ top ^

China disavows nuclear engery cooperation with DPRK (Xinhua)
2009-04-20
Beijing - China Monday disavowed any kind of cooperation with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in nuclear energy development, and urged a peaceful solution to the DPRK nuclear disputes. "China has never had any cooperation with the DPRK in nuclear energy development," Wang Yiren, head of China's Atomic Energy Authority, told reporters at a nuclear energy conference in Beijing. Wang said China had always endorsed peaceful solutions, such as dialogue and negotiation, to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula. […]. ^ top ^

N Korea accuses South of moving border marker (SCMP)
2009-04-23
North Korea has accused the South of an act of "reckless provocation" by moving a marker post on their heavily guarded border. The official Korean Central News Agency said yesterday that South Korea's army recently moved the marker numbered 0768 closer to the North Korean side. "This serious military provocation is a wanton violation of the Armistice Agreement and a deliberate and premeditated action to escalate tension in the areas along the [military demarcation line]", which marked the border, it said. "The reckless provocation perpetrated at a time when the military confrontation between the North and the South has reached an extreme phase is a vicious criminal act of seriously getting on the nerves of the servicepersons of the Korean People's Army and lashing them into a great fury." […] South Korea's military denied moving the marker, saying it was managed by the North. "We call on North Korea to stop unnecessarily raising tension by making groundless claims," said Colonel Park Sung-woo, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mineral deposits bring infrastructure (Mongol Messenger newspaper)
2009-04-22
Mongolia's economic dependence on its mining sector has increased, particularly on materials such as copper and gold. Mining production constitutes 30 percent of the country's GDP and 70 percent of its export. From 2010 to 2015, copper, coal, and gold mining will tend to increase covering 90-95 percent of its GDP. As pointed out by Ch.Khashchuluun, the National Development Innovation Committee chief, “This will result in Mongolia's economy becoming directly dependant on the world economy and extremely vulnerable. It is, therefore, vitally necessary to diversify the country's major economic sectors to avoid having so few productive resources.” According to the World Bank's vulnerability index 2005, Mongolia was ranked 20th in a list of 112 developing countries and 11th as a vulnerable exporter. Mongolia, however, expects its mining sector to stimulate the country's economic development. ^ top ^

Mongolia and China details plan for closer cooperation (UB Post newspaper)
2009-04-17
China and Mongolia affirmed joint efforts to deepen bilateral relations on the sidelines of the Boao forum for Asia on April 17. China plans to use the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Mongolia as an opportunity to boost the country's bilateral relationship to a new level, said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when meeting with Mongolian counterpart S.Bayar, in South China's Hainan province. Concerning bilateral cooperation, Wen said the two countries should give priority on infrastructure construction and mineral resources exploitation, so as to achieve common development. China planned continue to assistance to Mongolia within its capacity, he added. Prime Minister Bayar thanked his counterpart for the positive development of China granting financial assistance to Mongolia, especially in this time of crisis. Closer cooperation with China holds great significance for Mongolia, and will allow it to tackle the current global financial crisis, Bayar said. ^ top ^

 

Evelyne Freiermuth
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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