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
  29.6-3.7.09, No. 275  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Commerce Minister says China won't take trade protectionist actions (Xinhua)
2009-06-27
Beijing - China always opposes trade protectionism and will not take protectionist actions against overseas companies or foreign goods, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said here Friday. He made the remarks when he met the Minister of Knowledge Economy of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Lee Youn Ho. Chen said that media reports were incorrect when they equated China's latest circular to boost domestic demand and step up supervision on construction projects with protectionism. Chen said in China's government procurement, the term "domestic products" also include products produced by legally established foreign-funded companies in China. […]. ^ top ^

Sino-Russian war games planned for next month (SCMP)
2009-06-30
Russia and China will hold joint military exercises next month, a top Russian military official said, as the neighbours work towards tighter co-operation. "The head of the Russian and Chinese military delegations agreed that 1,300 soldiers from each side would participate," said the deputy army chief, Lieutenant General Sergei Antonov, adding that 20 Russian warplanes would take part. The five days of exercises, Peace Mission 2009, are to focus on anti-terrorism and will take place from July 22 to 26, General Antonov told the ITAR-TASS agency. ^ top ^

Trilateral talks signal change in international order (China Daily)
2009-06-30
China, the United States and Japan are about to get around the negotiating table for trilateral talks for the first time, something experts believe may herald a change in the international order. Japanese media reported on Sunday that the three-way discussions would be held in late July in Washington. […] The three, especially Japan, are trying to forge a "new triangle relationship", said Wang Ping, a senior expert in Japanese studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Previously, Japan has followed the US in most cases Now, there are calls inside the Japanese political circle to balance Japan's relationship with China and the US," he said. […] The three countries are understood to want to elevate the importance of the talks so that in future they involve representatives at vice-minister level. […] The Japanese news reports said the US explained to the ROK that the upcoming trilateral meeting will not touch upon the Korean Peninsula situation. Instead, the session will be restricted global issues such as climate change, energy and Africa development.[…]. ^ top ^

Yuan for ASEAN trade payment (Shanghai Daily)
2009-07-01
Beijing - China is very likely to give the green light to companies in Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to settle international trade in yuan with Southeast Asian countries, according to statements Tuesday. The scheme will protect exporters from currency fluctuations and help boost trade with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Nong Rong, vice secretary general of the China-ASEAN Expo, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg News. "Preparation work for the pilot programs are progressing smoothly," Nong was quoted as saying. […] The yuan settlement is expected to help stabilize trade, trim currency exposure for exporters and build up the yuan's position in the international monetary system, which now centers on the United States dollar. Chinese exporters can avoid foreign currency exposure by settling in yuan. […]. ^ top ^

China fights climate tariff ahead of G8 (SCMP)
2009-07-03
China has staked out its positions on climate change and the international currency system ahead of next week's Group of Eight summit, calling for a broader monetary regime and reiterating that global warming should not be used as an excuse to practise trade protectionism. Beijing opposes a move by US lawmakers to impose a carbon tax on imports from countries that decline to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The measure, part of landmark legislation that passed a key hurdle in US Congress last week, would harm global efforts to tackle climate change and lift the world economy, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs He Yafei said yesterday. The minister renewed China's call for a more diversified currency system, but would not confirm whether Beijing had initiated a debate on an alternative global reserve currency at the forthcoming G8 summit in Italy, which President Hu Jintao will attend. A forum on climate and energy will be held on the sidelines. […]. ^ top ^

CCTV to boost its global profile (SCMP)
2009-07-03
China Central Television has announced sweeping reforms to boost its international profile and shake off its reputation as a gargantuan national mouthpiece. CCTV will open another dozen or so overseas outlets, including bureaus in developing countries such as North Korea, Pakistan and Nigeria, as part of an aggressive campaign orchestrated by the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department, the mainland's top censor. Earlier this year, the government pledged 45 billion yuan (HK$51 billion) for overseas expansion of its main media organisations, including CCTV and the Xinhua news agency, to improve the country's image. […] Sources at CCTV said it was already chaotic behind closed doors as managers jostled for position. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China's legislature eyes stability with law on rural land disputes meditation (Xinhua)
2009-06-27
Beijing - China's top legislature adopted Saturday a law on the mediation and arbitration of rural land contract disputes, aiming to help settle conflicts that affect rural harmony and stability. […] The law, to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010, will help "settle disputes concerning rural land contract management in a timely and just manner" to ensure farmers' rights and promote rural economy and social stability, according to the law. The law sets out principles related to the use of mediation or arbitration to settle land disputes. When a dispute arises, the parties concerned can reach a compromise on their own, or resort to a village committee or local government for mediation. If reconciliation fails, the parties can apply for arbitration by a local committee or take their case to court. […] The law also specifies that disputes over land expropriation that involve government organizations are not subject to arbitration and must be resolved through administrative appeals or litigation. […]. ^ top ^

China trains more than 12 mln construction migrant workers (Xinhua)
2009-06-28
Tianjin - China has trained more than 12 million construction migrant workers to improve their skills as millions are stilling looking for jobs, an official with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said Saturday. More than eight million migrant workers have been trained in 1,000 construction skill training agencies over the past years, and more than 90 percent of them gained skill certificate, said Wang Ning, head of the human resources department with the ministry. […] However, the current training can not match the demand brought by the construction boom. China has 225 million migrant workers, which included 140 million who left rural homes to work in the cities. A quarter of the total are working on construction sites. […]. ^ top ^

CPC mulls reform on officials' appraisal system (Xinhua)
2009-06-29
Beijing - China's top Communist Party of China (CPC) officials met Monday to discuss reform of the appraisal system on officials on the basis of merit and transparency. Presided over by Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, the meeting of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau adopted a document which included instructions on setting up an appraisal system for officials. The assessment system will put more emphasis on achievements made in "coordinating economic and social development, maintaining social stability, and improving people's livelihood", according to the meeting. […] “Public support should be a more important element in evaluating officials' work," it said. […]. ^ top ^

China's communist party members near 76 mln, 80% of recruits under 35 (Xinhua)
2009-06-30
Beijing - The Communist Party of China (CPC) has increased to nearly 76 million members over the past 60 years, according to official figures Tuesday. […] Last year more than 2.8 million new members were recruited, up 25,000 from the previous year, it said. Of the new members, 2.268 million, or 80.8 percent, are under 35 years old, it added. "Recruits from students saw the biggest surge in 2008, up 71,000 from the previous year," it said. […] "We have more than 10 million applicants every year, 19.5 million in 2007 for example," said Li, deputy director of the Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee. "With so many people, it's inevitable and understandable that some of them will have their own reasons for joining, including finding jobs." "Overall, they're joining the party to serve the nation and people," he said, noting that the party will respect the members' reasonable private interests, and the members should also observe laws and party disciplines when using the power derived from being ruling party members. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese Communist Party chief stresses inner-party democracy (Xinhua)
2009-06-30
Beijing - Hu Jintao, chief of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has called for a vigorous improvement of inner-party democracy in order to enhance the Party's ruling capacity and leadership in the development of China. Hu, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Monday.[…] "We must converge the wisdom and strength of the Party to an utmost level; we must fully inspire the creativity and vigor of the Party, and we must spare no efforts to consolidate the unity of the Party," so that the Chinese people can be united under the CPC leadership to carry forward the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Hu said. The realization of inner-party democracy must rely on the guarantee of all Party members' democratic rights to know, to participate, to vote and to supervise in all internal affairs of the Party, Hu said. […] Hu said mechanisms to ensure the inner-party democracy must be improved, such as the CPC congresses at all levels, and the system to elect, supervise, evaluate and promote officials. […]. ^ top ^

Legislature takes aim at payout system that values villagers less (SCMP)
2009-07-01
The amount of compensation paid out over rights' violations should not be affected by whether the victim lived in the city or countryside, the legislature has said. At a special meeting held on Saturday, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress discussed a draft law setting standards on how much people should be compensated when their rights have been violated by the government or others, Xinhua reported yesterday. Under the current law, peasants' families receive no more than one-fourth the compensation paid to urban counterparts after one of their members dies from a work injury, is killed by a road accident, or dies on the operating table due to negligence. Wang Shengming, the vice-chief of the Standing Committee's legislative work committee, suggested this might come to an end. Legal compensation over a person who lost his life in unfortunate circumstances is calculated according to a person's income, and the state-stipulated average income for a peasant is vastly different from that of an urban dweller. However, some argued that the root cause is the mainland's hukou system, in which entitlement to social rights and benefits is defined by the registration as a rural or urban resident, which can be switched in only limited circumstances. As more peasants become migrants to seek jobs in the cities, hukou reflects less and less what a person actually does for a living. […]. ^ top ^

China to evaluate officials by more than financial performance (Xinhua)
2009-07-01
Beijing - Chinese officials will be evaluated on much more than just their financial performance as the country is strengthening its efforts on environmental protection and people's livelihood. In a bid to update its economic-orientated focus when reviewing the work of officials, environmental and social development efforts will also be measured, Li Zhongjie, deputy director of the Party History Research Office under the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, was quoted by Wednesday's China Daily as saying. "Apart from economic development, the evaluation will focus on various aspects of officials' performance, such as their achievements on environmental protection and on coordinating the development of the economy and society," Li said. Officials' contribution to maintaining social stability and to improving people's livelihoods will also be looked at, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Peking University turns away star student who changed ethnic status (SCMP)
2009-07-03
Peking University, one of the mainland's top universities, has snubbed a star student from Chongqing municipality for having his ethnic status improperly altered in order to obtain higher marks. […] Chuanyang, 17, scored an impressive 659 points on this year's National Higher Education Entrance Exam, which would have made him eligible for a place in any top university on the mainland or in Hong Kong. Acting on public tip-offs, investigators found that Chuanyang's father, He Yeda, had in 2006 approached Wan Minqiang, then director of Wushan county's bureau of ethnic affairs, for help in changing his son's ethnic status from the majority Han to Tujia. A minority ethnic status entitles students to an additional reward of up to 20 points on exam scores, a significant boost to the chance of entering a good university. […]. ^ top ^

Green Dam to go ahead, official says (SCMP)
2009-07-03
It was only a matter of time before a controversial scheme to install internet filtering software on all computers began on the mainland, a state newspaper said yesterday, after the plan was abruptly delayed this week. The surprise climbdown was reported on Tuesday evening by Xinhua. The official news agency said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology would "delay the mandatory installation of the controversial Green Dam-Youth Escort filtering software on new computers". […] "The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam. It's just a matter of time," the official was quoted as saying. The reason for the delay was because some computer makers needed more time to include the software, the report said. The official said: "What will happen is that some PC manufacturers will have it included with their PC packages sooner than the others. But there is no definite deadline at the moment." […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing records best air quality in nine years (Xinhua)
2009-06-30
Beijing - Beijing saw 146 "blue sky days" during the first half of the year, which means the city's residents breathed in the least amount of pollutant in nine years, an environment official said Tuesday. […] Air quality in January, March, April, May and June this year are all better than corresponding months in the last decade, Du [deputy chief of Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau ] said. […] Environmental protection experts attributed the improvement of air quality to the reduced emission of pollutants and the after effect of measures taken during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The amount of pollutants related to vehicle emissions has not grown so far this year although the city has registered 200,000 more vehicles, because 55,000 heavy polluting vehicles were phased out. Sandstorms during spring decreased from last year's 11 to this year's 6, which also benefited Beijing's blue sky drive. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Nine held over fall of unfinished block of flats (SCMP)
2009-06-30
Authorities in Shanghai have detained nine people in connection with the collapse of an unfinished apartment block shortly after dawn on Saturday. The cause of the collapse - which killed one worker - is still being investigated, but initial reports suggested that the breach of a nearby flood wall aggravated the poor construction quality of the building. […] The 13-storey building was one of 11 towers in the nearly completed Lotus Riverside residential complex, built along the banks of the Dingpu River in Minhang district, in the southwest of the city. It tipped over on its base sometime around 5.30am, falling just short of colliding with the next building to the south. More than 130 families were evacuated from nearby homes, but they returned on Sunday after government engineers declared the complex's remaining buildings were safe. […] Many local residents yesterday rejected the official explanations and voiced concerns of a cover-up. […] Others waved copies of local newspapers carrying photographs of the shattered building's exposed foundations. The underside of the construction appeared to have gone little deeper than ground level, save for a handful of spindly tubes of concrete descending deeper. […]. ^ top ^

U.S. to participate in 2010 Shanghai World Expo (Xinhua)
2009-07-01
Washington - The United States will take part in 2010 Shanghai World Expo in Shanghai, China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here Wednesday. "Our national pavilion will showcase American business and technology, as well as cultures and values to foster stronger friendship between the American and Chinese peoples as it also demonstrates America's commitment to a forward-looking, positive relationship with China," Clinton told reporters. It will be "a perfect opportunity to highlight U.S. innovation, particularly in environmental initiatives, and to share ideas with countries from around the world on ways to create better cities and communities for all our people," she said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Police detain man who sparked ethnic clash (SCMP)
2009-06-30
Provincial police yesterday detained a man accused of spreading false rumours of rape over the internet that sparked a deadly ethnic brawl at a Hong Kong-owned toy factory in the northern Guangdong city of Shaoguan at the weekend. Xinhua reported that the former worker posted a message on a local website claiming, "Six Xinjiang boys raped two innocent girls" at the factory, which is owned by Early Light International (Holdings). Police said the unfounded claim was behind the massive brawl on Friday night between a group of Han and Uygur workers from the northwestern Xinjiang region who had been recruited to the factory. Some 800 migrant workers were employed from Shufu county, under the jurisdiction of Kashgar. Two workers from Xinjiang were killed and 118 people injured, Xinhua reported. Many of the injured were still in a hospital in Shaoguan. The brawl was an outburst of long-standing tensions between Han Chinese and Uygurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group with a language and culture close to the Turkic peoples of central Asia. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Beijing 'afraid' of big turnout for march (SCMP)
2009-06-30
Beijing is alarmed about the expected high turnout at tomorrow's march for democracy, which it believes could undermine the authority of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the organisers say. The central government's apparently growing concern comes as more groups, including civil service organisations, have decided to join the march. At a press conference to mobilise supporters to join the protest, which will start at 3.30pm in Victoria Park, Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he felt Beijing officials were worried about the possible high turnout. "They have been asking around. Just after I openly gave an estimation of 100,000 yesterday [on Sunday], I received a call today," he said, adding that the caller was a "middleman" close to the central government's liaison office. "This year is the 60th anniversary [of the establishment of the People's Republic of China]. They are afraid they will lose face if many people hit the streets." […] "Originally, Beijing tried to play down the turnout by saying the expected large crowd had diverse views. But since so many civil servants are also joining the march, it is starting to fear the implications on the credibility of Donald Tsang's governance," the organiser said. […] As well as several civil service unions affiliated with the Confederation of Trade Unions, which is organising the protest, two postal service unions plan to mobilise hundreds of workers to join the march. […]. ^ top ^

Pan-democrats to review what went wrong (SCMP)
2009-07-03
The pan-democratic camp will today review what went wrong at the July 1 march after the turnout fell short of expectations, amid the realisation that the march is becoming a platform for radical protesters, who may deter more moderate marchers. Organiser and unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan admitted that initial hopes for a turnout of 100,000 marchers had been too ambitious. […] "But one thing was clear among the various demands aired by the marchers - that all were unhappy with the government." Organisers estimated that 76,000 turned up to show their anger, while the University of Hong Kong public opinion programme put it at 29,000 to 33,000, and police said 28,000. […] One marked difference at this year's protest from previous years were the radical slogans shouted by many protesters, among them the growing number of disgruntled young people led by the League of Social Democrats, who directed abuse directly at Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Democrat Lee Wing-tat denied the turnout meant the protest was a failure, but admitted it was a time to review strategy. "The lack of a focused single issue to drive people mad was perhaps the reason not as many as expected turned up," he said. Some activists also said the unplanned sit-in held by some protesters at the Central Government Offices after the march, resulting in their removal by police, might have tarnished the march's image. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Lack of democracy main gripe of those who shunned Chui (SCMP)
2009-07-03
The handful of voters for Macau's chief executive who defied a show of unity by not nominating Fernando Chui Sai-on have cited reasons ranging from a lack of democracy to a lack of time. Dr Chui, the former culture minister, shut out potential opponents last month by winning over 286 of the privileged circle of 300 voters who form Macau's Election Committee. The Election Committee members will cast their ballots on July 26, and Dr Chui will need at least 151 votes to become Macau's new leader. […] Wong Cheong-nam, a columnist and Health Bureau technician, said he withheld his nomination because he was frustrated by the lack of real competition in the race - despite receiving a phone call from Dr Chui requesting his support. […] "He hasn't even published his election platform," Mr Wong said. […] Paul Pun Chi-meng, director of Caritas Macau, said he had withheld his nomination because he knew Dr Chui would gather enough nominations and because he hoped to see more than one candidate. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan opens door to Chinese mainland investment (Xinhua)
2009-06-30
Beijing - Taiwan authority opened up the island to Chinese mainland investment Tuesday with 100 categories of manufacturing, service and infrastructure sectors in the initial opening-up list. The move marks a historic breakthrough of decades-long hopes for two-way investments across the Taiwan Straits. Under two new regulations in effect Tuesday, mainland individuals, companies and institutions can set up branch offices, wholly-owned or joint-venture companies on the island. They have to get approval from Taiwan economic affairs authority in advance, according to the regulations. […] The Taiwan authority planned to send a team to the mainland to attract investment in the second half of this year, he said. Taiwan welcomes mainland companies to conduct investigations for investment on the island. […] Experts said the move marks the end of the one-way flow of capital from Taiwan to the mainland, and is a basic indicator of the normalization of economic and trade ties between the two sides. […]. ^ top ^

Taipei suspends distribution of China Daily for 'belittling' island (SCMP)
2009-07-02
Taiwan has suspended the distribution of the Hong Kong-edition of China Daily on the grounds it belittles the island. The English-language mainland government mouthpiece was given permission last July to be sold in Taiwan for a year. But the Government Information Office suspended it on May 17. "We received complaints from Taipei city councillors on March 18 demanding that we inspect the content of the newspaper, which they said belittled Taiwan and served as a mouthpiece and united front tool of the Chinese communists," said Cheng Cheng-chun, director of the information office's publication affairs department. According to the councillors of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, the paper treated Taiwan as a part of the mainland by placing Hong Kong and Taiwan news together. They also said that the paper had removed Ma Ying-jeou's presidential title and had addressed him as "Taiwanese leader". […]. ^ top ^

US' new man in Taipei had two stints in Beijing (SCMP)
2009-07-03
The United States has named an experienced career diplomat as its unofficial ambassador to Taiwan, amid improving ties with the island. William Stanton, the No2 US diplomat in South Korea who has twice been stationed on the mainland, will replace Stephen Young as director of the American Institute in Taiwan. […] Taiwan's Foreign Ministry welcomed the appointment, although news reports generally described Mr Stanton as a Beijing-friendly figure. […] The officials said they believed Mr Stanton, who studied Putonghua in Taipei in 1986 and 1987, would further strengthen US-Taiwanese relations and mutual trust. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China launches 1st direct flight linking Beijing - Lhasa (Xinhua)
2009-07-01
Beijing - Air China, the nation's biggest carrier, said Wednesday it will launch the nation's first direct flight between Beijing and Lhasa, the capital city of southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, beginning July 10 to promote tourism. The three-hour-fifty-minute flight will be operated by the Airbus A330. Previously, travelers had to transfer through Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province neighboring Tibet. The transfer added two hours to the flight. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Experts sceptical on nation achieving 9% growth target (China Daily)
2009-06-26
[…] The team from the Development Research Center of the State Council has forecast that China's quarterly economy may grow between 6-8 percent by 2012 and it faces "mounting difficulties" to reach 9 percent. If the predication is true, it means China may find it hard to overtake the average annual economic growth rate of 10.2 percent achieved in the 2001-07 cycle. "This is my team's updated predication based on modeling results," Li Jianwei, the center's team head on macroeconomic predication told China Daily in an exclusive interview. […] "We have no reason to be optimistic as the economy may languish if policies are not effective," said Li. […] Li said the economy would pick up in the second and third quarter of this year, but said it may slide again in the fourth quarter and in 2010. "I don't think the current sign of recovery, mainly dependent on governmental spending and credit supply, can sustain until we stimulate private investment and consumption," Li said. […]. ^ top ^

Outbound investment unlikely to outstrip FDI (China Daily)
2009-07-02
Despite a surge in Chinese overseas direct investment (ODI) in recent years, it is unlikely to outpace inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) this year, government officials and experts said yesterday. Responding to recent forecasts by foreign banks and other organizations that ODI may overtake FDI, they said it is not likely to happen soon, at least not this year, partly due to Chinalco's $19.5 billion failed bid last month to raise its stake in Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company. Even though Chinese National Petroleum Corp, joining hands with British energy giant BP, won the bid to develop Iraq's biggest oilfield on Tuesday, it may not significantly raise overall ODI this year because most deals signed in the past few months are "of small volume". The Ministry of Commerce will hold a press conference this morning at the 13th China International Fair for Investment and Trade where it is expected to talk about ODI prospects. "The truth is the number of ODI cases is rising, but the volume is still going down, as many cases are still small," said Chen Rongkai, a division director at the ministry.[…]. ^ top ^

Ministry says to encourage foreign firms to list in China (Xinhua)
2009-07-02
Beijing - China will work out policies to allow overseas firms to list in China amid efforts to stablize foreign direct investment, Vice Minister of Commerce Chen Jian said Thursday. "The country will research into and roll out policies on domestic initial public offerings (IPOs) of foreign-funded firms to encourage high-quality overseas firms to become listed in China," Chen said at a press conference in Beijing for the 13th China International Fair for Investment and Trade. However, Chen did not say when such policies would be implemented. […]. ^ top ^

Renminbi trade rule comes into effect (China Daily)
2009-07-03
China's central bank yesterday released a rule permitting companies in select cities to settle cross-border trades using the yuan, as part of efforts to reduce reliance on the US dollar for international trade. […] The government in April said it would allow Shanghai and four cities in the southern Guangdong province - Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Dongguan - to settle international trade in the yuan on a pilot basis. Companies in these cities, and elsewhere, currently have to convert yuan into dollars or other currencies to settle their export-import bills. […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

Mainland officials concede they can't contain swine flu (SCMP)
2009-06-30
Localised "cluster outbreaks" of swine flu are unavoidable, and it is highly likely there will be serious cases or even deaths, the Ministry of Health has warned, as Guangdong struggles with the mainland's first community outbreak. Liang Wannian , deputy director of the ministry's Contingency Office, said yesterday that the ministry foresaw an increase in both imported cases and local infections, and that it was very difficult to avoid "cluster outbreaks". "The increase in cases will affect high-risk groups - those with chronic diseases and pregnant women - and it's highly likely there will be serious cases or even deaths," Mr Liang said. "The likelihood of an A(H1N1) flu pandemic in autumn and winter further increases." By yesterday the mainland had reported 766 cases of swine flu, and 445 patients had been discharged from hospital after recovery. No deaths had been reported. Guangdong, which tops the mainland with 233 known infections, became the first province to confirm it had a community outbreak. The province's health authorities warned that deaths from swine flu were inevitable as the virus continued to spread. Seven cities - Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan , Foshan , Jiangmen , Zhongshan and Zhuhai - are considered "first class" cities because of their high concentration of infections. […] Mr Liang said the mainland would continue to stick to strict border control and monitor infections on a national level, but would adjust its prevention strategy based on changes in the epidemic and its knowledge of the disease. […]. ^ top ^

First death linked to swine flu on mainland (SCMP)
2009-07-02
China yesterday reported its first death of a person suffering from swine flu - but it remains unclear if the death was caused by the virus. Xinhua said a 34-year old female patient had been recovering - her temperature had been normal for a week and she had been coughing only occasionally while other symptoms were disappearing - when she died yesterday morning in a hospital in Xiaoshan Number One People's Hospital in Hanzhou city, Zhejiang province . […] The police are investigating the cause of death. So far it is unclear if the woman had any underlying disease and whether the death was caused by the virus. Meanwhile, a primary school in Beijing closed one week ahead of the summer holiday after 12 students in four different classes at the Nanhu Zhongyuan Primary School in Chaoyang district took sick leave on Monday due to fevers, alerting the city's Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. […] A further test confirmed that seven students were infected with swine flu, according to the Beijing Health Bureau. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S Korea, Japan vow joint effort on North (SCMP)
2009-06-29
The leaders of South Korea and Japan pledged yesterday to work together to bring North Korea back to the table for negotiations aimed at persuading the regime to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso met in Tokyo - a month after Pyongyang's underground nuclear test ratcheted up regional tensions. The leaders said they also discussed how to foster stronger economic co-operation. Mr Aso said initial negotiations aimed at eventually forming a free-trade agreement would be held on Wednesday. "We need to demonstrate that North Korea has nothing to gain by conducting nuclear tests and missile launches," Mr Lee said. The North has intensified its rhetoric, condemning the sanctions passed to punish Pyongyang for the nuclear test and raising concerns it will soon test-fire short-range or mid-range missiles. […] Mr Aso and Mr Lee said they stood united in supporting a return to talks that aimed to give North Korea economic aid and other concessions in exchange for abandoning its nuclear programme. […]. ^ top ^

Five-party dialogue 'possible' without DPRK (China Daily)
2009-07-01
The continuation of Six-Party Talks is the best hope for a Korean Peninsula free from nuclear weapons, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday. He made the remarks after being asked whether five nations - China, the US, Russia, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) - would get back around the table without the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "China will keep communication and consultation with relevant parties on how to proceed with the Six-Party Talks," Qin said. The DPRK had been a participant in the six-way disarmament talks but announced its withdrawal after being condemned by the United Nations Security Council following its rocket launch on April 5. […] Analysts said an unofficial meeting of the five remaining nations could be held if the DPRK will not get around the table. […]. ^ top ^

Suspect N Korean ship is seen heading back (SCMP)
2009-07-02
A North Korean ship under scrutiny for more than a week by the United States Navy was heading back the way it came, US officials said, as Pyongyang warned yesterday it would take military action if anyone attempted to search its vessels. Kang Nam 1 - originally believed bound for Myanmar with suspicious cargo, possibly of illicit weapons - turned around and headed back north on Sunday, two US officials said. They did not know where the ship was going, but said it was some 400 kilometres south of Hong Kong on Tuesday and was heading north. […] The Kang Nam 1 was said to have been moving very slowly in recent days, in a possible sign it was trying to conserve fuel. The resolution prohibits UN members from providing fuel to ships suspected of carrying banned items. Myanmar had informed the North Korean ambassador that the UN member nation would not allow the Kang Nam to dock if it was carrying weapons or other banned materials, a Radio Free Asia report said. A US delegation headed by envoy Philip Goldberg, meanwhile, headed for Beijing to discuss the sanctions. […]. ^ top ^

Top Chinese diplomat visits four nations for Korean nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2009-07-02
Beijing - Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei left Thursday for a four-nation tour to discuss the Korean nuclear crisis, according to foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang. The four nations include Russia, U.S., Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK). "He will exchange views with the relevant sides on the Korean nuclear issue and the situation in northeast Asia," Qin told a regular press conference. […]. ^ top ^

Pyongyang fires four more short-range missiles, South claims (SCMP)
2009-07-03
North Korea test-fired four short-range missiles yesterday, South Korea's Defence Ministry said, escalating tensions sparked by Pyongyang's recent nuclear test and UN sanctions imposed as punishment. The missiles were fired from the city of Wonsan, a ministry official said. He did not say what types of missiles were launched, but Yonhap news agency said they were ground-to-ship missiles. North Korea had earlier issued a no-sail zone in waters off its east coast until July 10 for military drills. The move was viewed as a prelude to a missile test. […] "We had expected that they will fire short-range missiles at any time," Seoul's Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said. "It's not a good sign because they are demonstrating their military power." The North has also threatened to test-fire a long-range missile. But Seoul's YTN television said yesterday there were no signs of an imminent launch. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

China, Mongolia begin joint peacekeeping exercise (www.news.mn)
2009-06-30
Chinese and Mongolian armed forces kicked off a joint peacekeeping exercise near Beijing on Sunday. Coded "Peacekeeping Mission-2009", the exercise is the first joint peacekeeping exercise that China has held with another country. It also marks the first joint military training between China and Mongolia. The exercise was set to boost the capacity of both military forces in carrying out peace-keeping missions, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry. It features academic lectures, joint training and comprehensive simulation drills and is scheduled to conclude on July 4. A total of 91 military officers from the two countries are participating in the training, 46 from China and 5 from Mongolia. They will form a joint peacekeeping company during the exercise. During the stage of comprehensive simulation drills, the military forces are expected to complete transport and defensive missions against the backdrop of a simulated United Nations peacekeeping mission. ^ top ^

Draft Agreement on Oyu Tolgoi Investment Will be Signed Before Naadam (Business Mongolia)
2009-06-30
“Oyu Tolgoi draft agreement will be discussed, adopted by the State Great Khural and the Government will be granted with power to sign on it very soon” says an official who is close to the development around the issue. According to his talks, Oyu tolgoi agreement will be adopted before Naadam Festival and the Government might sign on it before the end of July.
Business-mongolia.com reviews that the biggest leverage for this urgency is obviously the global financial recession. Mongolia would have budget deficit of Tg93 billion (US$80 million) by the end of this year. Therefore, the Government had to cut some of its social welfare expenses, including newly marriage allowance, even child money. ^ 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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