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
  1.6-5.6.09, No. 271  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, India hold seminar on better cooperation (Xinhua)
2009-05-30
Beijing - Around 100 officials and scholars from China and India Saturday gathered in Beijing to discuss how to boost cooperation between the two Asian giants. "Dragon and elephant have danced together in recent years," Feng Zuoku, vice president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said at the start of the seminar. […] The two-day seminar aimed at examining the merits and faults in the development of both countries and enhancing mutual understanding. Feng said the seminar would also discuss how the two countries would work together to tackle the global economic downturn. "India-China relationship that encompasses two fifths of the world's population is imbued with relevance for developing nations everywhere," India Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao told the seminar. "There is an overarching consensus across India's political spectrum that an efficiently transacted and well-balanced relationship with China is vital to India," she said. […]. ^ top ^

China lashes out over Gitmo prisoner request (www.abc.net.au)
2009-06-02
The Australian Government is facing a diplomatic quandary after China publicly opposed a US request for Australia to accept up to 10 Chinese Uighurs detained in Guantanamo Bay. The Uighurs of China's north-western Xinjiang province have been fighting for independence from China. But the Chinese Government maintains the resource rich region is an "inseparable" part of China and has classified Uighur separatists as terrorists. China has reiterated its stance on those detained in Guantanamo Bay in a statement to Radio Australia. "The Chinese terrorist suspects held in the Guantanamo Bay are members of the terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement, thus should be handed over to China for proper handling according to law," the statement said. […] Ideal location / Human Rights Watch says the detainees were not returned to China "due to credible fears they would be tortured upon return". The Federal Opposition is calling on the Australian Government to refuse the US request but the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils wants the Federal Government to accept the Uighurs. Federation president Ikebal Patel says Australia is an ideal location, with a small community already established in the state of South Australia. […] "Australia is increasing to think through very seriously its bilateral relationships with the United States - which is very longstanding - and with China, which is much more recent, going back to about 1972," he said. "So there are questions about how we re-balance those two bilateral relationships. This Uighur question is in itself a small incident but like a pebble in the shoe, it takes place in this context.". ^ top ^

Beijing, not Washington, holds economic cards (SCMP)
2009-06-03
The tone and nature of US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's maiden trip to China was markedly different from the visits by his predecessor, Henry Paulson. Heated talk of the valuation of the yuan and trade imbalances was set aside for praise and hopes for a co-operative relationship. Part of that is down to Mr Geithner's at times meek demeanour, but it can mostly be attributed to the changed circumstances of global economics. Beijing, not Washington, now holds the cards. That was apparent in the statements issued after Mr Geithner met President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday. The Chinese leaders exuded confidence. The American thunder of old was replaced by a willingness to please. […] Mr Geithner's visit was not to negotiate deals or sign pacts. His main goal was to assure Beijing that his country's monetary policy and ballooning deficit would not undermine the value of the US dollar and paper bonds […]. ^ top ^

China calls for dialogue, cooperation over South China Sea (Xinhua)
2009-06-03
Beijing - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here on Wednesday that China and Malaysia should beef up dialogue and cooperation and handle relevant issues in a proper way to jointly safeguard peace and stability on the South China Sea. In a meeting here with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Wednesday, Wen said that the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea should be strictly followed. Najib said that Malaysia has recognized the complexity of the issue of the South China Sea and would like to address the issue through friendly consultation under the guidance of international laws. ^ top ^

Rosy and rocky time for Sino-US ties (Global Times)
2009-06-04
The Obama administration begins its "two-pronged strategy of engagement and enforcement" with China this week on trade issues, highlighted by US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's recent visit to Beijing and International Trade Commission hearings on Chinese exports to the US. Geithner, who visited China to assure the security of Treasury bonds held by China, gave Chinese leaders confidence in the US economy and government. […] However, US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk said Tuesday that the US will seek to resolve issues through dialogue when possible, but it wouldn't hesitate to take punitive measures if necessary, providing details of the Obama administration's approach to contentious trade issues with China for the first time, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a matter of fact, hearings have already begun in Washington on a case brought by the United Steel Workers union (USW) against the International Trade Commission. The USW filed the application with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) on April 20, asking for a special protection investigation into China-made pneumatic passenger-car tires. […] During his presidential campaign last year, Obama promised not to routinely reject petitions restricting imports from China as Bush did, earning Obama strong labor support. […]. ^ top ^

US resolution calls for prisoners to be freed (SCMP)
2009-06-04
The US Congress has called on China to launch a UN-backed investigation of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago and to free all political prisoners. […] The resolution asked China "to invite full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown, assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross". It called on Beijing to free dozens of prisoners believed to still be in jail for taking part in the protests 20 years ago. […] However, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have not made any public comments ahead of the anniversary. […]. ^ top ^

Clinton's call to look into the past draws flak from Beijing (SCMP)
2009-06-05
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Beijing to examine its past and release the names of those killed or missing in the Tiananmen Square protest on the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown. Her statement drew an angry response. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang expressed "strong dissatisfaction", saying her remarks "disregard the facts". Mrs Clinton's statement said: "A China that has made enormous progress economically and is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal." She also called on Beijing to release prisoners still detained for taking part in the peaceful pro-democracy protests and end harassment of Tiananmen Mothers, a group pressing to know more about missing loved ones."[…] Beijing also rejected calls for a review of the Tiananmen crackdown, saying that the matter had already been settled. "As for the political incident that took place in China and all related issues, our party and government have already come to a clear conclusion." […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China urges fair play in village elections (Xinhua)
2009-05-30
Beijing - China's central authorities issued a circular here Saturday urging candidates to practice fair play in direct elections of village heads amid complaints of bribery and other dirty tricks to win votes. […] According to the circular, candidates' behaviors must be "strictly regulated". Punishment ranging from disqualification from election, removing current post to criminal penalty will be given to those who try to win votes from villagers with money, violence or intimidation and those who cheat in vote count. Villagers have the rights to report any improper behaviors of the candidates and such reports should be investigated and managed immediately, the circular said. "Currently, the country's rural areas are experiencing fresh reform and farmers' ideas are also undergoing deep changes," said the circular." Improving the work of election will help ensure villagers to practise their rights and develop grass-root democracy." […] A villagers' committee in China's countryside is a mass organization of self-management comprising local villagers, usually five members that manage village affairs. […]. ^ top ^

Plastic bag ban works in cities, not rural areas (China Daily)
2009-05-30
Beijing - […] Cities seem to be winning the war against plastic bags that the government declared on June 1 last year. Free distribution of plastic bags was banned a year ago to save energy and protect the environment. But while cities handed out 65 to 70 percent fewer plastic bags during the past year, rural areas saw little change in the pattern. So to take the battle to villages in right earnest, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has promised to enforce the national regulation more strictly and not to let offenders go scot-free. Officials of China's market rule enforcer said shopkeepers and vendors giving free plastic bags could be fined up to 10,000 yuan ($1,470). […] A recent survey by Beijing-based non-governmental organization Global Village showed nearly 80 percent of people support the ban on free plastic bags. But the survey, which polled 2,500 people, also found that more than 80 percent of retail outlets in rural areas ignored the ban. […]. ^ top ^

Sharp drop in number seeking college degree in China (China Daily)
2009-05-30
Beijing - Many things shrink in an economic crisis - the number of jobs, the volume of exports, the confidence of investors - but few expected a sharp fall in the size of the prospective student population. This year, fewer students want to participate in the upcoming three-day annual college entrance exam, which has been seen as the make-or-break benchmark for millions of young people since 1977. Minister of Education Zhou Ji had predicted that the overall number of applicants would exceed 10 million - last year's total was 10.5 million - but figures from local governments suggest the number of students taking part may be far fewer. […]. ^ top ^

Few have faith food safety law will prove effective - Doubts cloud today's introduction of tougher standards (SCMP)
2009-06-01
A long-awaited food safety law that goes into effect today is "far from enough" to restore the public's confidence in the country's food supply after a series of scandals, according to mainland consumers and a scholar. […] But a scholar said the public was not naive enough to believe a single food safety law could eradicate all dangerous products manufactured in the country. Zheng Fengtian , of the agriculture department at Renmin University, said the country had implemented at least 20 laws and 190 rules and regulations in recent decades to make food safer. Thirty-five ministries and state departments had been assigned to supervise the industry. "The number of food safety laws is far more than people imagine," Professor Zheng wrote on his blog. "To some extent, we have too many laws, but lack effective supervision and law enforcement. "Also, numerous regulatory bodies cause uneven enforcement and confusion. "Although the new law introduces tougher penalties, it fails to answer how to effectively detect tainted products from China's 500,000 food-processing companies. […]. ^ top ^

Human rights lawyers in limbo as annual registration denied (SCMP)
2009-06-01
Mainland lawyers taking on contentious human rights cases were thrown into professional limbo yesterday after authorities failed to approve their annual registrations. The dispute comes before the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 1989. Rights lawyers are among the groups the Communist Party has sought to contain at this sensitive time. The 18 or so lawyers whose work may be stymied belong to a loose network of advocates who have challenged the government over deaths in prison and labour "re-education" camps, farmers stripped of their land, children made ill by toxic milk powder and other sensitive cases. The annual registration required by the government is usually a routine step, and it must be completed by the end of May. The lawyers, who may now face disbarment, said they appeared to have been punished for taking on contentious clients, including members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual sect. […]. ^ top ^

Woman killed town official 'in self-defence' (SCMP)
2009-06-01
The pedicurist in Hubei who fatally stabbed a town official seeking sex acted in self-defence, albeit with "excessive force", police have concluded, and the two deputies who accompanied the official were sacked, state media reported yesterday. Police in Enshi - the city that oversees Badong county, where the stabbing occurred - said they had completed an in-depth investigation after Deng Yujiao killed Deng Guida , director of the business promotion office in Yesanguan town, on May 10. Xinhua said they had referred the case to local prosecutors. The county's Disciplinary Inspection Commission of the Communist Party and the Supervisory Bureau of Badong county had jointly decided to dismiss Huang Dezhi and Deng Zhongjia , deputy heads of the business promotion office, Xinhua reported. […]. ^ top ^

Officials criticised for failing to censor Web public opinion (SCMP)
2009-06-02
Local governments have come under fire for their failure to understand the power of the internet to stir up protests and have been urged to harness the latest technologies to control public opinion. The Xinhua-run Outlook Weekly magazine published a detailed report yesterday on the internet's role in creating "mass incidents". Quoting internet censors and government and party officials, the magazine warned the internet "has become a major mobilisation tool and communication channel for some mass incidents" and was another obstacle preventing officials dealing effectively with protests. The article urged local officials to develop new political and technical approaches to tackle such incidents. […] As if to underscore the problems outlined in the article, it was swiftly picked up and criticised by netizens, who fear it is the prelude to strict new controls. […] The article could not have been released at a more sensitive time, as blogs and chat rooms have been blocked in a bid avoid trouble during this week's 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. ^ top ^

Patriotic education plans to boost enthusiasm for 1949 anniversary (SCMP)
2009-06-02
Beijing is set to launch a round of "unprecedented patriotic education" as the centrepiece of official celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. The campaign, lasting until October, would target the younger generation, the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency said yesterday. Experts said the new campaign would be another tool for the state to limit ideological freedom, noting that modern patriotic education had been significantly beefed up since 1989, when the central government cracked down forcefully on student-led protests for democracy. Patriotic messages would be beamed across the mainland through exhibitions, public talks, variety shows and the internet, the report said. Billed as "the new patriotism", the campaign would emphasise openness, tolerance and rationality, the report quoted sources saying. […]. ^ top ^

'Reform uncertainties' at root of Tiananmen movement - State daily says intellectuals chose western ideas at random (SCMP)
2009-06-03
State media have made a rare commentary on the Tiananmen Square crackdown - saying the pro-democracy movement was triggered by uncertainties and insecurities brought about by reform. The article in the English-language edition of the Global Times claimed that after 20 years mainland intellectuals had realised the western democratic model was not suitable and had "switched to silence". The analysis drew the ire of observers and former protesters, who described it as an example of Beijing using intellectuals to defend its actions on June 4, 1989. The semi-official newspaper, which is managed by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, quoted 11 intellectuals in an article titled "The evolution of mainland intellectuals' thought over two decades". It was the first mainland newspaper commentary on the subject in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the crackdown. […] Hong Kong-based political commentator Poon Siu-to said the article had avoided a key fact - that public discussion on political ideas, especially the June 4 incident, was prohibited. "If the Beijing authority is confident in its position, how come it just released the commentary in the Global Times, which the mainland public can't read?" he asked. […]. ^ top ^

Media drive praises Xinjiang crackdown - Uygurs complain of tighter security measures (SCMP)
2009-06-03
Beijing has launched a media drive to publicise its policies in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of Communist rule. An overseas advocacy group says security has been stepped up significantly and that Uygurs are anxious about going to mosques and gathering with friends. As part of the publicity campaign, Xinhua released a number of articles yesterday detailing achievements of the party-ruled region over the past six decades. One lengthy feature highlighted police efforts to clamp down on the "three forces" - terrorism, separatism and religious extremism - and described how stability was achieved through tighter security and public education. […] Dilxadi Rexiti, a spokesman for the East Turkestan Information Centre, said tighter security had been in place since the Games but had been intensified this year. […]. ^ top ^

Public will get bigger say on who is promoted - More power handed to the people (SCMP)
2009-06-03
Public opinion will be given greater weight when party authorities evaluate officials for promotion, according to a Xinhua report which trumpeted the move as a way to promote democracy. Without explaining how the system works, the report said party evaluators would listen to public opinion before officials were promoted. However, analysts and scholars suggested that it was too early to determine the effect of including "people's opinions" in the political system, as examples of this practice were still sporadic. […] Understanding of the mainland's government promotion system has long been restricted to insiders. The party usually announces only who has been promoted, and does not explain the basis for these decisions. […]. ^ top ^

China protests shift with economic growth (China Post [Taipei])
2009-06-04
Beijing - Twenty years after the crackdown on pro-democracy protests centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, China's economy has developed to the point that similar protests on the same scale are highly unlikely today. The students and workers at the core of that June 4, 1989 movement faced problems from rampant inflation to the dismantling of a centralised system of job appointments. But people today generally enjoy much better living standards across the board. […] With that increased affluence, many of the students, professionals and other groups who would be the most likely potential source of organised challenges to the Communist Party rule are generally more occupied with making a living and getting ahead than with political change. […] Not that Beijing does not face other challenges. The country's double-digit economic growth over much of the last two decades has brought with it a yawning gap between the “haves”, concentrated in the cities, and the “have-nots” scattered throughout the countryside. City dwellers now earn, on average, more than three times that of rural residents, helping prompt a shift in discontent and protest to the country's villages. China logged more than 80,000 “mass incidents” in 2007, according to government researchers, many of them small protests sparked by anger over corruption by local officials, illegal confiscation of land and other injustices. Those pockets of unrest are unlikely to coalesce into anything broader because even the poor are benefitting from economic growth, said Shujie Yao, an economics professor at the University of Nottingham and head of its School of Contemporary Chinese Studies. […]. ^ top ^

China's central environment authorities to open hotline for direct complaints (Xinhua)
2009-06-04
Beijing - People who have complaints about environmental pollution in China would have a direct way to inform the Ministry of Environmental Protection as the ministry opens a tip-off hotline on Friday, the International Environment Day. The ministry said Thursday that the hotline, 010-12369, will take calls about emergency environment issues, cross-provincial pollution and other environmental issues that should be directly dealt with by the ministry. If local environment authorities fail to solve existing environmental problems, people are also entitled to complain through this hotline, the ministry said. They can also receive status updates on the progress of their complaints. […]. ^ top ^

Silence and security in Beijing, but HK makes its voice heard (SCMP)
2009-06-05
There was an ominous silence on the mainland as blanket security all but prevented commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen crackdown. The police presence was unprecedentedly heavy in sensitive spots - Tiananmen Square, along Changan Avenue and in the Muxidi area, where some believe the largest number of casualties occurred 20 years ago. […] Zhang Xianling - whose 19-year-old son, Wang Nan , is buried in the cemetery - said the families were not allowed to enter at the same time, forcing them to mourn separately. […] In Shanghai, there was little indication that the day was the 20th anniversary of such a momentous event. Students and other young passers-by professed almost total ignorance of the day's significance. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Govt may alter hours to ease traffic (China Daily)
2009-06-02
As Beijing continues to suffer major traffic congestion, with some 3.6 million vehicles on the streets, the government has proposed that the city's civil servants not add to rush-hour woes. As part of a new plan, which may be approved by the end of this year, government offices will be asked to either alter their schedules so that officials don't have to clog the city's streets further during peak traffic hours, or allow officials to do their jobs from home. Though no official figures are available to determine the exact number of government-owned vehicles in Beijing, it is estimated that "about 30 percent" of the cars using the capital's roads each day belong to State-level, municipality-level institutions and armed forces. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Displaced residents vow to sue organiser of expo in Shanghai (SCMP)
2009-06-05
Fifty Shanghai residents whose homes were demolished to make way for next year's World Expo say they will file a lawsuit against the event organiser, the International Exhibitions Bureau, in Paris next month. They said the IEB was allowing the Shanghai government to stage the event despite its failure to live up to the official slogan of the expo: "Better City, Better Life". […] Many houses were destroyed without compensation, and people who were compensated did not receive enough to buy a new apartment in the same district. Residents who refused to leave were beaten or detained by police. […] In a written response sent by the bureau general secretary last week, the IEB said the housing dispute was an internal affair, and it was not obligated to solve such problems because it was an independent public organisation and had not signed any agreement with any government. It said China had been chosen to host next year's event in a vote by the bureau's 155 member countries. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

The people have not forgotten (SCMP)
2009-06-05
History turned full circle last night when an estimated 150,000 candle-bearers illuminated Victoria Park to commemorate those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown - the same number who massed for the first vigil in 1990. But the number of mourners on the 20th anniversary of the crackdown was probably far higher. Thousands of people massed outside the jam-packed park, unable to enter. Organisers said 50,000 were left at the gates. Many in the crowd remarked at the number of young people present. […] Six days after stepping on Chinese soil for the first time in 17 years, Xiong Yan , the first exiled former leader of the student protests in Beijing to join the annual vigil, told the crowd: "Hong Kong is the pride of all Chinese - because you have people who dare to defend freedom." Excerpts from the audio-taped memoirs recorded by late Communist Party secretary general Zhao Ziyang, who sympathised with the student protesters, were played, along with a recorded message from Ding Zilin, leader of the Tiananmen Mothers group of bereaved parents campaigning for justice for their dead children. […].". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

New economic plans to spur cross-Straits ties (China Daily)
2009-05-30
Beijing - A slew of measures will be introduced to improve the economic development of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, an official said Thursday. Wang Yi, director of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said large and quality enterprises from the mainland will be encouraged to visit Taiwan to seek business and investment opportunities. […] Wang also called for cross-Straits cooperation in industries such as traditional Chinese herbal medicine, electronics, automobile and solar energy. "Both sides will start exchanging information on telecom, semiconductor illumination and wind power," he said. […] In another development, the political party bureau was established under the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office particularly to help facilitate and improve cross-Straits party communication, the taihainet.com reported Thursday. […]. ^ top ^

Ma meets Clinton in El Salvador (SCMP)
2009-06-03
Taiwan and the US have resumed high-level dialogue after a brief meeting between Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in El Salvador, a Taipei official says. Talks between Taipei and Washington had stalled because of tense cross-strait relations under independence-leaning former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian. But ties across the strait warmed significantly after Mr Ma took office a year ago. […]" When asked to comment on the "brief meeting", Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang urged the US to handle the Taiwan issue carefully and properly, and not to create a scenario of "two Chinas" or "one China and one Taiwan". ^ top ^

Chinese mainland delegation signs contracts worth $2.2 bln (Xinhua)
2009-06-04
Taipei - A Chinese mainland business delegation signed deals to purchase Taiwan products worth more than 2.2 billion U.S. dollars after a four-day visit to the island, it was announced Thursday. […] On their shopping list are LCD (liquid crystal display) equipment, spare parts for mobile phones and computers, plastic and chemical products, textiles and handcrafts, he said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Chinese groups protest Dalai honor (China Daily)
2009-06-03
More than 30 Chinese organizations in France have sent letters of protest to the mayor of Paris, criticizing his plan to honor the Dalai Lama, said Chen Shengwu, chairman of the Chinese Immigrants and Expatriates Association in France. “We strongly protest against the Paris mayor's meeting with the Dalai Lama, a move likely to derail Sino-French ties again," Chen said, adding that the rekindled relationship was "hard-won" after it was damaged following a meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama last December. […] Last week, despite a protest from China, a spokesperson for the mayor of Paris confirmed the mayor will host the Dalai Lama in the French capital so the city can bestow on him the title of honorary citizen. Leaders of other European countries have met, or plan to meet, the Dalai Lama while he is touring Denmark, France, Iceland and Poland. Poland's capital city, Warsaw, made the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen last Thursday. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller also met him in Copenhagen recently. Wu Baiyi, an expert on European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said the meetings were "dangerous" with possible consequences for ties with China. […]. ^ top ^

Tibet launches online broadcasting services in three languages (Xinhua)
2009-06-03
Lhasa - A website for southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region launched online broadcasting services in Chinese, Tibetan and English on Wednesday. The tibetancn.chinabroadcast.cn, set up by the Tibet People's Broadcasting Station, offers programs on Tibet's culture, music, tourism and news. "The main purpose is to further enhance the mass communication capability of Tibet and make full use of the Internet to make people worldwide know more about true Tibet," said Liu Changjiang, head of the station. Currently, the programs in Chinese and Tibetan run almost around-the-clock. English audio programs just last for one hour every day because of a limited workforce. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Commercial property norms relaxed (China Daily)
2009-05-31
Beijing - The government's decision to slash the minimum financial requirement for commercial property investment for the first time in 13 years, will help ease property developers' capital strain and stabilize housing prices, analysts said. The minimum amount of capital needed to jumpstart a new commercial property or an affordable housing project has been lowered from 35 percent of the total project cost to 20 percent, the State Council said in a statement on Wednesday. The move was taken as a key adjustment in the government macroeconomic measure to buck the economic downturn and revitalize the ailing property market. […] Analysts said the current reduction of financial requirement indicated a lowered threshold for real estate developers to apply for bank loans. […]. ^ top ^

Inland free trade area starts construction in SW China (Xinhua)
2009-06-02
Chongqing - Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality began construction of its free trade area, the first of its kind in the deep inland of the country, on Tuesday, in an effort to boost economic development in the area. The first phase of the Cuntan Bonded Area covers 2.67 sq km and will cost 3 billion yuan (439 million U.S. dollars). It will be completed and put into operation at the end of this year. The 8.37-sq km Cuntan Bonded Area centers both the Cuntan Harbor and the Jiangbei International Airport. The whole bonded area, to be built in three phases, will be completed in 2015 with a total investment of about 10 billion yuan. […] Enterprises in a bonded area enjoy such preferential policies as tax rebates for exports and free tax for trading within the area. China has established ten free trade zones in eastern coastal areas. ^ top ^

China sees some recovery in employment, more efforts needed: State Council (Xinhua)
2009-06-03
Beijing - China had seen some recovery signs in employment, as 3.65 million urbanites had found new jobs during the first four months this year, an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao said here Wednesday. China's urban unemployment rate was 4.2 percent at the end of 2008. There were 8.86 million urban residents registered as jobless. Altogether 2.68 million new jobs were created in cities across the country in the first quarter 2009, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. […] The government plans to allocate 42 billion yuan (about 6.13 billion U.S. dollars) in boosting employment from the central budget in 2009, up 66.7 percent from last year, said a statement from the meeting. However, participants to the meeting pointed out that China still faced a grim employment situation with oversupply and structural problems, as China's economy was not recovering on a solid footing. […] The government would also encourage the development of small- and mid-sized enterprises and those of the service sector, which will provide more jobs than big enterprises, the said. ^ top ^

China allocates more than 60% of central budget to public works as of May (Xinhua)
2009-06-04
Beijing - China allocated 562 billion yuan (82.3 billion U.S. dollars) for public works projects as of May 31, completing 61.9 percent of its central budget this year, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in an online statement here on Thursday. More than half of the allocated went toward rural development and prominent infrastructure construction, according to the MOF. A total of 138.1 billion yuan was put into projects to enhance rural infrastructure and improve living standard in the countryside through the construction of irrigation facilities, power grids and paved roads. Another 163.5 billion yuan went toward infrastructure projects such as railway, highway, airports and harbor construction. […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

China receives seed viruses of A/H1N1 flu from WHO (Xinhua)
2009-06-04
Beijing - A Chinese drug firm has received seed viruses of A/H1N1 influenza from the World Health Organization (WHO), the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) confirmed here Thursday. Hualan Biological Engineering Inc., the only firm qualified to produce pandemic vaccines, received seed viruses from a WHO lab on Wednesday night, said Yin Hongzhang, head of the SFDA biology production office, in an interview with Xinhua. […] Yin expected the first batch of vaccines will be produced as early as in late July. […] The Chinese mainland reported 59 cases of A/H1N1 influenza and one suspected case as of Thursday afternoon. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

China plays down DPRK visit delay (China Daily)
2009-06-03
China has postponed a senior official's visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), but Beijing's policy toward Pyongyang has not changed, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Chen Zhili, vice-chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, had been scheduled to visit the DPRK this month, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular briefing. But "Chen has postponed the visit to the DPRK due in early June because of the schedule at home", Qin said, without saying when the trip may take place. In an earlier report, the Yonhap news agency from the Republic of Korea (ROK) quoted unidentified diplomatic sources in Beijing as saying China "halted" plans to send officials to the DPRK after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test and fired short-range missiles. "The move, if confirmed, would be the strongest reaction yet to the DPRK's actions by its biggest ally and trading partner," said the Bloomberg news agency. But Qin denied China had suspended government exchanges with its neighbor. […]. ^ top ^

Obama lobbies Hu on N Korea sanctions - Chinese, US leaders in talks over nuclear row (SCMP)
2009-06-04
President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone yesterday amid Washington's efforts to secure Beijing's support for possible new sanctions against Pyongyang for its recent nuclear test. Xinhua gave few details about the conversation, but said the two leaders "exchanged their views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula". The Hu-Obama call - which Xinhua reported as having taken place in the morning, when Mr Obama was on Air Force One headed for the Middle East - came after western powers struck an apparent roadblock in their efforts to secure tough sanctions against Pyongyang. North Korean allies China and Russia raised questions on Tuesday about the possible new sanctions, delaying Security Council action sought by the west and Japan, UN diplomats said. […] However, Mr Qin went on to say that China "has always opposed nuclear proliferation in North East Asia and wants to see a Korea Peninsula free of nuclear weapons". "Our stance on this is clear and consistent," he said. He said China would work closely with the UN General Assembly to find a solution to realise these goals. Getting a UN resolution on North Korea out quickly was less important than getting one that had teeth, some diplomats said. […]. ^ top ^

No word on fate of US reporters (SCMP)
2009-06-05
Two US journalists were scheduled to go on trial in North Korea yesterday on charges that could send them to a labour camp for years. However, there was no word on the fate of television reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were detained by North Korean border guards on March 17 while researching a story about refugees fleeing the country. Pyongyang previously said they would face trial for "hostile acts" and illegally entering the country. The Korean Central News Agency said yesterday that the two, who work for San Francisco-based Current TV, would be tried at the North's Central Court "on the basis of the indictment already brought against them". […]. ^ top ^

N Korea duty for drones (SCMP)
2009-06-05
US forces in South Korea will deploy unmanned spy planes to keep watch over nuclear-armed North Korea amid mounting tensions on the peninsula, the deputy head of US forces in the South has said. Lieutenant General Jeffrey Remington said the US Air Force in the South would retire decades-old U2 spy planes and replace them with Global Hawk reconnaissance planes. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Boroo gold miners launch hunger strike (Montsame)
2009-06-02
Miners in Boroo Mine in Mongolia launched a hunger strike beginning today. The miners initiated a work stoppage on May 26 demanding to pay them of USD 9.5 million for additional wage and compensation. […] According to the miners, the Boroo Gold Co., Ltd made an investment agreement with the Mongolian authorities for about 10 years. However, the Canadian investment company worked in full of capacity to exploit and extract gold within only 5-6 years resulting to an end of gold source. Over the past period, over 40 tons of gold was exported abroad without tax, miners consider. "We demand USD 9.5 million for wage and compensation for rest period of investment agreement" workers say. ^ top ^

World Bank endorses new strategy to help Mongolia (www.news.mn)
2009-06-04
The World Bank's Board has endorsed a new strategy of support for Mongolia as the country comes to terms with the short and long-term impacts of the global economic downturn. A new interim strategy, approved late last month, provides a framework of support for the next 18 months while economic conditions in Mongolia stabilize. Its goal is to support the Government to address urgent crisis needs while also addressing longer term reforms needed to reduce the impact of future shocks. "It focuses on three key areas: improving fiscal sustainability in a mineral-based economy; protecting the poor and vulnerable; and encouraging transparent and prudent mining investments and a more competitive and stable medium-term business investment climate," the World Bank has announced. […]. ^ 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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