SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
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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
  13.7-17.7.09, No. 277  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

South China Sea of discontent (SCMP)
2009-07-17
The United States voiced concern yesterday about rising tension between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea, as a senator led calls to boost US sea power in response to Beijing's growing military. […] State Department official Scot Marciel said Beijing had told US and other foreign oil companies to halt work with Vietnamese partners in the South China Sea or face consequences inside lucrative China. […] "We have also urged that all claimants exercise restraint and avoid aggressive actions to resolve competing claims," he said. But Mr Marciel said the United States would not take sides on the myriad island disputes involving China and its neighbours, including Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. […]. ^ top ^

Climate change to top agenda at first Sino-US strategic dialogue (SCMP)
2009-07-17
Climate change talks are expected to take centre stage in a significant shift of focus from previous trade-centred discussions, as senior officials meet later this month in Washington DC for the inaugural China-US strategic and economic dialogue. […] Shi Yinhong, a Sino-US relations expert at Renmin University, said: "There is no urgent need for the two countries to focus on finance and trade any more, as most of their disputes about currency exchange rates and trade imbalance have been largely marginalised, as both countries' economies have been transformed by the global financial crisis, taking new directions." […] But the negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions still look to be bumpy, as neither side has made substantial concessions despite several rounds of talks in the past few months. US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who is on a three-day visit to China, told Reuters that China might not accept a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions any time soon. […]. ^ top ^

Safety alert for Algerian-based Chinese (SCMP)
2009-07-16
China yesterday alerted its nationals in Algeria to strengthen their security following al-Qaeda's call for revenge attacks over the deaths of Uygurs in Xinjiang. A statement on the website of the Chinese embassy in Algiers said it was "specially calling on Chinese-funded organisations and personnel to raise their security awareness and strengthen security measures". It issued a similar warning last month, but its latest statement calls for tougher security measures "in view of the situation following the violent criminal incident in Urumqi on July 5" - a reference to the violence that has now claimed 192 lives. Any "emergency matter" should be reported to the embassy immediately, the statement said. […]. ^ top ^

Uygur leader rejects al-Qaeda support (SCMP)
2009-07-16
The exiled leader of China's Uygur minority on Tuesday firmly distanced herself from al-Qaeda, condemning the group's threats to attack Chinese interests in retaliation for the Muslims' deaths. Rebiya Kadeer, the Washington-based head of the World Uygur Congress, said she opposed the use of violence in her campaign to bring greater rights for the ethnic group in China's northwestern Xinjiang province. […] “Global terrorists should not take advantage of the Uygur people's legitimate aspirations and the current tragedy in East Turkestan to commit acts of terrorism targeting Chinese diplomatic missions or civilians,” she said. […] Beijing has accused Ms Kadeer or masterminding recent violence in Xinjiang and said she is backed by “terrorists.” Ms Kadeer denies the charges and US lawmakers have introduced a resolution demanding that China stop its “slander” of the 62-year-old former businesswoman and mother of 11, who spent six years in a Chinese prison. […]. ^ top ^

US commission urges sanctions (SCMP)
2009-07-16
The US government commission on religious freedom called yesterday for targeted sanctions against China over the ethnic unrest in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said it was "gravely concerned" about China's "repression" of the cultural and religious traditions of the Uygurs. […] The religious freedom commission called for US President Barack Obama to consider sanctions on exports from Xinjiang or travel restrictions on government officials in charge of the northwestern province. […] Meanwhile, a senior mainland official said that Beijing had no plan to alter its generally preferential policies towards China's ethnic minorities, in the first official response to smouldering public discontent against the measures following the riots. Critics complain that Beijing's decades-old policies towards ethnic minorities have long been slanted in their favour. […]. ^ top ^

Trade imbalance unsustainable: Locke (SCMP)
2009-07-16
The trade imbalance between the United States and China is not sustainable, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in Beijing yesterday. China should shift from export-led growth, increase its exchange rate flexibility and open its markets more, Mr Locke said in remarks prepared for a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce. "The United States and China's trade relationship has to evolve. There are deep structural issues that must be addressed," Mr Locke said. "Chief among them is a bilateral trade imbalance that simply can't be sustained. Growth predicated on ever-increasing Chinese exports being consumed by debt-laden Americans provided years of prosperity - but it also sowed some of the seeds for our current economic problems." Also yesterday, Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said: "There do exist some issues in our bilateral trade relations, including co-operation on high-tech products." […]. ^ top ^

EU courts China over climate deal (China Daily)
2009-07-15
Beijing - The European Union (EU) is eager to strengthen dialogue with China in order to thrash out an agreement on climate change ahead of the massive international meeting on the issue set for Copenhagen in December. Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, is on a week-long visit to Beijing with other EU representatives, including politicians from Spain - the country that will hold the EU presidency during the next term. Carlgren said his visit is aimed at "laying the right foundation for a successful Copenhagen conference". […] "We really want to bring others with us to make commitments in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and we need China on board," Carlgren said. […] "We noticed that China is acting vigorously toward a low-carbon economy, but we would like to see the targets of China improved in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) and even the 13th Five-Year Plan," he said. […] A EU-China Energy Center is being set up in China to help build technological cooperation between businesses in China and the EU. […]. ^ top ^

Freeing mining executive comes before trade ties, says Rudd (SCMP)
2009-07-15
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday efforts to free the mining executive detained in China over claims of spying took precedent over bilateral ties and he was not worried about antagonising Beijing. Chinese investigators have questioned executives at several steel mills in a probe of alleged leaks of state secrets to the world's second-largest iron ore mining firm, Rio Tinto, steel officials and Chinese media said. […] "Australia's national interest always and under every circumstance comes first," Mr Rudd told local radio. "That means the well-being of any Australian citizen." Mr Rudd said he would pursue every avenue to free Mr Hu in a case that has cast a shadow over bilateral trade worth US$53 billion last year. The investigation has left 2009 iron ore price negotiations between China's iron and steel association and miners Rio, BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale in limbo. Mr Rudd is under domestic pressure to contact President Hu Jintao to seek the Australian's release. […]. ^ top ^

Hu's Rio role shows stakes have risen (SCMP)
2009-07-14
The reported endorsement by President Hu Jintao of the investigation into alleged espionage by four Rio Tinto employees is a sign of the complicated political environment in which foreign companies do business in the mainland, analysts say. At the heart of this is the manner in which some multinationals gather information. Experts said collusion between multinationals and unscrupulous state-owned company executives or officials in business negotiations was the norm rather than the exception. The Sydney Morning Herald, citing anonymous sources, reported that Mr Hu had personally endorsed the investigation of the four Rio Tinto employees, including the company's mainland iron ore marketing chief Stern Hu, an Australian. They were detained last week by the Shanghai branch of the secret police and charged with stealing state secrets in ongoing talks with an alliance of major mainland steel mills over a raw material supply deal. […] Australia summoned the acting Chinese ambassador yesterday for the second time in five days to press for details on the detention. […] While most overseas analysts was sceptical about the legitimacy of the detentions, mainland analysts said that a long neglected problem was finally getting attention. […]. ^ top ^

China opposes putting Myanmar question on UN Security Council agenda: diplomat (Xinhua)
2009-07-14
United Nations - July 13 (Xinhua) -- China is opposed to putting the Myanmar question on the UN Security Council agenda and is against isolating and sanctioning against the country, a senior Chinese diplomat said here on Monday, stressing the events that happened inside Myanmar were its internal affairs. "We believe that the events happened inside Myanmar are the internal affairs of Myanmar itself, which should be handled by its own government and people in consultation," Liu Zhenmin, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN, said at an open Security Council meeting on Myanmar. […] "As Myanmar's friendly neighbor, China will always provide assistance to the government and people of Myanmar within its capability," Liu said, calling on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional countries to join hands in helping Myanmar out of its current difficulties. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Former Sinopec chief gets suspended death sentence (SCMP)
2009-07-16
The former chairman of the country's second-largest oil company has been given a death sentence, suspended for two years, for taking 195.7 million yuan (HK$222.3 million) in bribes, Xinhua reported yesterday. Chen Tonghai, 60, who carried a rank equivalent to that of a minister as the head of state-owned Sinopec, was sentenced yesterday by the Beijing No2 Intermediate People's Court. The graft covered the period from 1999 to 2007, while he held senior positions at the oil-refining giant. […] In a rare media interview, court officials explained that the reason Chen's sentence had been suspended was that he returned the money, admitted his crimes and provided information on the offences of others. […]. ^ top ^

Security forces in Urumqi back on high alert day after shooting (SCMP)
2009-07-15
Security measures were cranked up a notch in Urumqi yesterday, although by nightfall there had been no repeat of Monday's shootings. […] As in previous days those carrying semi-automatic rifles had bayonets fitted, but for the first time their blades were unsheathed. […] In a further escalation, heavy machine guns had also been fitted to the roofs of many of the truck cabs. […] Xinhua quoted an unnamed imam at the mosque as saying that one of the three had tried to disrupt the religious ceremony, and the weapons were produced when they were ordered to leave. However, reports by overseas media and agencies quote numerous witnesses saying the Uygurs had attacked the police officers before the shootings. […] Hundreds of policemen and soldiers supported by armoured personnel carriers had surrounded the hospital, which witnesses at the time said was because they were searching for one unarmed Uygur suspect. Journalists were cleared from the scene before it was resolved, and there was no mention of the siege in the official statement. […]. ^ top ^

PLA seeks to become nimbler and leaner (SCMP)
2009-07-15
The People's Liberation Army, the largest fighting force in the world, will undergo its most significant restructuring in a decade as Beijing seeks to transform the massive military organisation into a nimble, knowledge-based fighting force. At the heart of the restructuring is an increase in the number of specialists and non-commissioned officers. The number of ranks for NCOs would be increased from six to seven, the PLA Daily reported yesterday. The report said the number of NCOs would be increased to 900,000, or nearly 40 per cent of the force. This restructuring will encompass the land, naval and air forces, as well as the armed police. This means that the PLA will gradually move away from the Soviet-style traditional army built to win large, land-based military conflicts, towards a leaner and better-equipped force emphasising rapid response and high mobility. […]. ^ top ^

Security for anniversary intensifies after riots (SCMP)
2009-07-14
The violence in Xinjiang has put the mainland's public security apparatus on red alert in the run-up to celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic. A senior official has urged local governments to quickly get a handle on grass-roots unrest - and, for the first time, has said publicly that government errors were a primary cause of the violence, and of last year's riots in Tibet. […] Mr Chen said a lack of understanding of grass-roots complaints and the neglect of potential security problems were the two main causes of the bloody clashes in Xinjiang - China's worst ethnic violence in decades - in which at least 184 people were killed. […] Professor Xu [social studies researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences] said Mr Chen's admission that the government had been at fault was a sign of progress. "It has always been `a small group of bad guys' or `overseas forces' that have caused whatever riots or social unrest to happen in China," he said. "Now, the party seems at least partly admitting that some problems occurred because officials did not do their jobs." […]. ^ top ^

Conflicting stories emerge after police shoot dead Uygur pair (SCMP)
2009-07-14
Police in Urumqi shot dead two Uygurs and wounded a third yesterday, further straining the fragile peace that has been restored in the week since the city was wracked by the nation's worst ethnic violence in decades. The incident - the first confirmed clash since a riot police officer was stabbed on Friday - brought a heavy police response, with hundreds of riot police and soldiers blocking off streets and effectively closing off a largely Uygur-inhabited district. It was also the first time the government admitted to shooting anyone since the ethnic unrest erupted on July 5, despite claims to the contrary by exiled Uygur groups. An official statement released last night said the shooting happened at 2.55pm when police on patrol tried to stop three Uygur men who were attacking a fourth with long knives and wooden clubs. […] The official account did not mention any wounding of police officers, despite the fact that journalists saw ambulance workers tending to a riot police officer who was bleeding profusely from an abdominal wound. […]. ^ top ^

New rules for enterprise bosses (SCMP)
2009-07-14
China has toughened its anti-corruption regulations towards senior managers in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to stave off misconduct and stop the loss of state-owned assets. […] The restrictions deal with such issues as SOE leaders' leaking secrets in corporate deals for personal gain, taking kickbacks from deals that allow outside companies to launch "wealth management programmes" in the SOEs, making deals for houses and cars at prices that differ greatly from the market level, and taking trips on public funds. The key in the new version is that it introduces a new legal term, "persons with special relationships", which is defined as people who are either close relatives of the SOE leaders or share some common interests with them. According to the new regulation, "persons with special relationships" of SOE leaders are prohibited from investing in all firms having business connections with the enterprises that the leaders head. […] The updated regulation does a better job of deterrence, experts said, but what SOEs urgently need to stem corruption are sound corporate governance and more transparency. […]. ^ top ^

Rural health measures announced (SCMP)
2009-07-14
New measures to ease the health care burden on the rural population were announced yesterday, but a senior official in charge of rural health admitted the measures would not solve all problems facing rural residents. Nie Chunlei, deputy director of the Rural Health Management Department, said the reimbursement plan for farmers joining the country's rural medical care system would be adjusted to benefit more people. Rural areas that reimbursed outpatient bills should increase reimbursements and cover more chronic diseases, Dr Nie said. Areas that only reimbursed inpatient bills should gradually include outpatient bills, lower the threshold for reimbursements and raise the cap for bills. […] Dr Nie admitted that some aspects of the system needed improving. "The system is trying to benefit everyone, but the size of the fund is relatively small and therefore cannot solve all of the problems of the farmers, especially those who have serious illnesses," Dr Nie said. Lin Wanlong, a professor with China Agricultural University, said medical fees were often higher away from home. "It is not fair that they pay more for treatment but get less reimbursement," he said. He suggested raising the amount paid by each rural dweller. The government was aiming to raise the amount to an average 100 yuan (HK$115) per person per year, he said. ^ top ^

Top-level decree intended to tighten noose on corrupt cadres (SCMP)
2009-07-13
The Communist Party and the central government jointly issued a decree yesterday on holding officials accountable for their misconduct and neglect of duty, taking another step in reining in rampant corruption. […] The decree said officials involved in actions such as severe mistakes in decision-making, neglect of duty, slack supervision and management of affairs under their jurisdiction, abuse of power, and improper nominations and promotions in selecting cadres would be subject to "serious consequences". Responding to the rising number of massive protests and riots, the decree said officials who had inappropriately handled riots, protests and other such incidents and allowed them to worsen, would also be held accountable. Analysts said the decree came at the right time. "Right now, the relations between the government and the people are so tense that any minor dispute could rapidly get out of control and develop into a serious clash," said an editor for a magazine affiliated with the party who gave only his surname, Zhang. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Expo organisers expected to return tobacco sponsorship (SCMP)
2009-07-13
Organisers of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo were likely to return 200 million yuan (HK$227 million) in donations from a domestic tobacco company in honour of the mainland's broader commitment to the international anti-smoking movement, health campaigners said. If the money is returned, it is believed to be a response to a petition letter signed by 20 prominent anti-smoking activists and public health officials, who contended that accepting the money constituted a breach of an international anti-smoking treaty that China ratified in 2005. […] With limited latitude to advertise, mainland cigarette makers have been increasingly relying on thinly veiled campaigns and corporate social responsibility manoeuvres. But the opposition has grown stronger. "We filed the petition because accepting the money went against the spirit of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," said Cui Xiaobo, a tobacco-control expert at Beijing Capital Medical University, who signed the petition letter. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Africans protest in Guangzhou after Nigerian feared killed fleeing visa check (SCMP)
2009-07-16
A Nigerian is believed to have fallen to his death in Guangzhou yesterday trying to escape a police visa check. His apparent death triggered an unprecedented protest by up to 200 angry Africans, who surrounded a police station. The protesters carried Emmanul Egisimba to Kuangquan police station to demand an explanation. […] However, last night city police claimed there had not been a death. […] Mr Egisimba and another Nigerian man, surnamed Ndubuisi, began to run and were chased by police. The witness said the two were cornered on the second floor, which is 18 metres above the ground. "Then they had to jump off the building to avoid being caught," James said. […] In a statement, police said a "foreign suspect who was doing illegal currency exchange" sustained a back injury while trying to break a window and climb out of the building and was being treated in hospital. The statement said another foreign man was severely injured falling from the building. It did not say what had caused the fall or name the men. […] Witnesses said the crowd was angry about tight visa controls ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which had prevented many from gaining visa extensions. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao's lone contender for top job presents political platform, promising better governing (Xinhua)
2009-07-11
Chui Sai On, the only candidate for the next Chief Executive (CE) of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), Saturday presented his political platform to the public, promising to reform the SAR government and enhance local people's livelihood. […] Chui's platform comprises four parts which concern the negative impact of global financial crisis, the quality of local people's life, the diversification of local economy, and the reformation of the SAR government. […] Meanwhile, Chui also said that he will strengthen the competitiveness of Macao's gaming industry, the pillar of local economy, in Asia, while promoting the development of other industries such as culture and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibition) so as to achieve the goal of diversifying the economy. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

DPP to expel pair who joined cross-strait talks (SCMP)
2009-07-16
Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party will expel two senior members for defying its ban on attending a cross-strait forum in Hunan province last weekend. The decision highlights the pro-independence party's concerns over cross-strait cultural and educational unification, analysts say. In a meeting yesterday, the DPP's central standing committee resolved to expel former DPP legislator Hsu Jung-shu and former Council of Agriculture minister Fan Chen-tzung for attending the two-day Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum in Changsha.[…] "What really concerned the DPP was the proposals for compiling a so-called Chinese dictionary, to unify phases used differently by the two sides, and recognising the academic qualifications obtained in China," said political commentator Yang Hsien-hung. The pro-independence camp had said the dictionary was the first step towards cross-strait unification. ^ top ^

Chen's hopes of release dashed again amid fresh allegations (SCMP)
2009-07-14
Former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian's hopes of being released from detention have been dashed - for the third time - amid fresh allegations that he embezzled US$300,000 worth of petty cash during his stint as the island's leader. Taipei District Court decided yesterday to hold him for two more months, from July 26. "It's possible that the defendant could flee abroad," court spokesman Huang Chun-ming said. "Also, he might collude with others to make false statements and destroy evidence." Mr Huang said that even in detention Chen was able to pressure the court. Chen had also staged three hunger strikes, Mr Huang said. […] If convicted, he could face a life sentence. Chen has been at the Taipei Detention Centre since December 30. Meanwhile, Chen, who insists the charges were politically motivated, might face the fresh charges, of embezzling at least US$300,000 in leftover petty cash the government had budgeted for his 11 overseas trips. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Economy has turned a corner, analysts say (SCMP)
2009-07-17
The mainland's economic recovery is real and the stimulus has taken effect, economists said yesterday after it reported growth of 7.9 per cent in the second quarter, bringing Beijing's 8 per cent goal for the full year in sight. The growth in output was sharply higher than the 6.1 per cent in the first three months of the year, and raised first-half growth to 7.1 per cent. Still, officials cautioned the recovery was uneven, benefiting mostly big state-owned enterprises (SOEs) rather than the private sector. Analysts agreed the 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.54 trillion) stimulus package was largely responsible for the pickup in GDP growth. Several raised their projections for full-year growth. "Recovery is quite real now, not just green shoots," said Lu Ting, an economist with Merrill Lynch. UBS economist Wang Tao said: "The GDP will send a reassuring signal to the authorities that their economic stimulus has taken effect." […]. ^ top ^

China's GDP grows 7.9% in Q2 (Xinhua)
2009-07-16
Beijing - Chinese economy expanded 7.9 percent year on year in the second quarter, as massive pump-priming and record lending pushed for a rebound from the worst growth in a decade, official data showed Thursday. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.1 percent from the same period a year ago to 13.99 trillion yuan (2.06 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first half, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The world's third largest economy tumbled to 6.1 percent in the first quarter as exports shrank to a decade low. ^ top ^

Ministry rejects steel lobby proposal (China Daily)
2009-07-16
China's Ministry of Commerce has turned down a proposal by the country's top steel industry body to scrap all iron ore import licenses held by trading companies, the latest twist in the pending iron ore business restructuring, people familiar with the matter said. The ministry is reviewing iron ore import licenses but has not yet decided which trading companies' licenses should be canceled, the source said. The ministry is still reviewing the proposal but is opposed to a flat cancellation of all import licenses possessed by trading companies, and is likely to terminate some of them, the person with knowledge of the matter said. The move comes as the country's steel industry is finding that more of its steel mills have been involved in a widening probe of alleged business espionage linked to Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto.[..]. ^ top ^

First batch of smaller firms to be listed on GEM later in year (Xinhua)
2009-07-14
Beijing - July 14 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of smaller companies are expected to be listed on China's Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, in late October or early November, the top securities regulator said Tuesday. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) did not reveal how many smaller firms would get listed for public trading in the first batch on the NASDAQ-like stock market. Yao Gang, vice chairman of the CSRC, said Tuesday at an industry conference in Beijing that the commission was endeavoring to establish a public offering approval committee by August. […] Financing difficulties have long been a bottleneck for Chinese small-and medium-sized enterprises. The launch of the GEM board could provide an important financing platform for smaller firms with good growth prospects, Ou Minggang, director of the International Finance Research Center of China Foreign Affairs University, told Xinhua Tuesday. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange on May 8 unveiled a draft listing rules for the upcoming GEM, a major step in the development of the country's first Nasdaq-style stock market. ^ top ^

Beijing plans policy change on economy (SCMP)
2009-07-13
Beijing is considering a major adjustment to its economic policy for the rest of the year, amid concerns the mainland's recovery is still on shaky ground despite recent positive signs. A meeting of the Politburo, the nation's leading decision-making body, is scheduled for this month and will discuss policy initiatives aimed at consolidating the progress made in the first half of the year, sources say. Topping the agenda will be new initiatives to spur domestic consumption and boost household income, as well as crucial structural reform aimed at narrowing the urban-rural wealth gap. In the lead-up to the meeting, senior leaders have undertaken fact-finding missions to the mainland's economic powerhouses and poorer inland provinces. Eight members of the Politburo Standing Committee - the top nine-man inner circle of the Communist Party - have fanned out across the country on an unprecedented scale, making a total of 18 trips to provinces in the past month. […] On June 17, the State Council said the economy was showing signs of stabilising and was at a critical phase of recovery. "Still, the foundation for the economy's recovery is not solid enough and there are many uncertainties," the cabinet said in a statement issued after the meeting, which was chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

Sailor who died last week also had swine flu (SCMP)
2009-07-17
Swine flu is believed to have caused the death last week of a Filipino seaman. If confirmed, his would be the first death in Hong Kong from the disease. The news came as city health officials and medical experts warned that the virus could cause severe complications, even in healthy adults. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said the global swine flu pandemic was the fastest-moving the world had seen. The seaman was infected with the swine flu, or A(H1N1), virus as well as a drug-resistant superbug, community-acquired MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Doctors said hundreds of people carrying the same superbug risked complications if they caught swine flu. […] Dr Tsang warned that more severe swine flu infections and even deaths could occur during the summer flu peak. He said patients with flu-like symptoms should see a doctor promptly. […]. ^ top ^

Virus more virulent and deadly than first realised, scientists say (SCMP)
2009-07-15
The swine flu virus is more virulent than previously thought and not similar to seasonal flu, scientists in the United States claim. Swine flu, officially called A(H1N1), is potentially far more deadly than the common seasonal flu because it can infect cells deep in the lungs, where it can cause scarring and pneumonia, according to a report in the journal Nature published on Monday. The findings come as Hong Kong loosens its measures against the pandemic despite the emergence of two serious cases last week. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and leader of the study, said: "There is a misunderstanding about this virus. People think this pathogen may be similar to seasonal influenza. This study shows that is not the case." The fatality ratio for swine flu infections was 10 times higher than seasonal flu and patients were much younger, University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung said. Among the fatalities, at least 2.6 per cent were pregnant women, a percentage 20 times higher than for seasonal flu, he said. […] "Hongkongers do not feel that it is a serious pandemic... but we must be well prepared because the situation can worsen at any time," he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

UN bars travel by five N Koreans (SCMP)
2009-07-17
Five North Korean officials are being barred by the United Nations Security Council from leaving the country, and will have their foreign assets frozen as punishment for working on nuclear weapons and missile programmes. […] The Security Council agreed in negotiations over the past month on the officials, companies and two materials subject to sanctions adopted in 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear bomb test. The accord followed China's acquiescence to the first designation of officials subject to the travel ban and asset freeze. […]. ^ top ^

First film biography of Kim Jong-il sparks speculation on his health (SCMP)
2009-07-17
North Korea has started making its first documentary about Kim Jong-il's life amid renewed speculation about the 67-year-old leader's health. The film would be a rare acknowledgment that Mr Kim is getting on in years. South Korea's Chosun newspaper noted yesterday that the regime began producing a similar 20-part film about Mr Kim's late father, national founder Kim Il-sung, in 1993 - a year before he died of heart failure. […] South Korean television station YTN reported recently that Mr Kim, believed to have suffered a stroke in August, also had life-threatening pancreatic cancer and would not last more than five years. But analysts questioned the diagnosis. North Korean state media released new images on Tuesday of Mr Kim touring a tile factory in which he appeared thin but no worse than in other recent photographs. The visit brings the total number of such trips this year to 82, compared with 57 during the same period last year, South Korea's Unification Ministry said. ^ top ^

Chinese, S.Korean officials meet on DPRK (Xinhua)
2009-07-13
Seoul - Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei on Monday met South Korean officials to discuss the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the security situation in northeast Asia. Both sides expressed concerns over the situation in northeast Asia and pledged joint efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the region. The two sides agreed to remain committed to the goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and consultation. They also agreed that the six-party talks remains an effective mechanism to solve the issue and they are ready to work with other parties to resume the talks at an early date. Meanwhile, the South Korean side said it will keep contact and dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a position supported by China. […]. ^ top ^

China backs sanctions against Pyongyang (SCMP)
2009-07-14
China has agreed for the first time to punish senior North Korean government officials for the nation's defiance of UN resolutions barring nuclear and missile tests, China's deputy ambassador said. Ambassador Liu Zhenmin said his government would support imposition of a travel ban and asset freeze on "some, but not all" North Korean officials proposed by the US as targets for UN sanctions. No government officials had been subject to the sanctions adopted by the Security Council following North Korea's nuclear test in 2006. Mr Liu, speaking in an interview, declined to identify the officials, other than to say they were "senior" ones. China's acceptance of sanctions against North Korean officials and companies clears the way for Security Council action this week. Ambassador Fazli Corman of Turkey, which holds the council's rotating presidency, said formal agreement by its 15 member governments would come in days. […]. ^ 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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