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
  27.7-31.7.09, No. 279  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Sino-US talks set direction for recovery (SCMP)
2009-07-30
The first high-level discussions between Beijing and the Barack Obama administration laid out a policy framework and their shared vision of how to lead the global economy out of recession, although they produced little in terms of concrete agreements. […] The two sides ended two days of talks in Washington with an announcement of their consensus on broad co-operation principles, with only a memorandum on climate change, energy and the environment signed without setting any firm goals. […] Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the International Studies School at Renmin University, said the biggest accomplishment of the economic talks was that both sides agreed on a broad framework for macroeconomic policies and reform that both believed were crucial for a more sustainable and balanced recovery. […] Ms Zuo said the dialogue succeeded in clearing up each other's misgivings and building trust and understanding on many economic issues, citing Washington's long-standing complaint on the yuan exchange rate and Beijing's concerns on the safety of its massive investment. […]. ^ top ^

US praised for taking moderate line on riot (SCMP)
2009-07-30
A Chinese official thanked the US for taking a "moderate" line on recent ethnic violence, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton insisted that human rights remained a top priority. […] The Chinese side briefed US officials on the Xinjiang violence and "expressed our appreciation for the moderate attitude of the US so far", Mr Wang [Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Guangya] told reporters. "The US unequivocally said that this incident is entirely a domestic affair of China." […] Mrs Clinton said the US raised concerns about Xinjiang during the top-level talks. "Human rights is absolutely integral to the Strategic and Economic Dialogue," she said. "It is a part of our policy, not only with China." But Amnesty International worried that China could easily ignore US chidings on human rights unless the issue became a more prominent part of such high-level dialogue. "Even though human rights were discussed, we are concerned that human rights did not play an equal role to the economic dialogue given the recent events in Xinjiang," said T. Kumar, the rights group's Washington-based Asia advocacy director. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing facing pressure over aid to rogue states (SCMP)
2009-07-29
The United States is pressing China to observe international protocols in its financial help to developing countries like Sudan, according to diplomatic sources. It is the first time the powers have discussed the topic, despite growing criticism of Beijing's aid policy. US negotiators made an 11th-hour request to their Chinese counterparts to include the topic on the agenda of the Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a source said. […] "The inclusion of the controversial topic in the talk suggested the growing concern by the Obama administration over China's financial help towards the developing world, and Africa in particular," said Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the International Studies School at Renmin University. Though the topic has not been listed in the agenda, President Barack Obama mentioned it on Monday. […] Professor Jin said Washington wanted Beijing to observe international norms in its aid and aimed to press Beijing to change what Chinese leaders call the "non-intervention" policy in offering aid to developing countries, particular rogue states. […]. ^ top ^

Ministry: EU tariffs on Chinese steel wire rods unnecessary (Xinhua)
2009-07-30
Beijing - The European Union's imposition of anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese steel wire rods is unnecessary as Chinese exports to the EU have fallen since 2008, said a Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) official who declined to be named Thursday. European Union trade officials approved duties on imported Chinese steel wire rods on Monday. Duties of up to 24 percent are expected to be levied on imports from early August, according to a resolution passed by the European Union. European producers have claimed that Chinese producers had sold products at low prices and hurt their businesses. [….]. ^ top ^

Cherkizovsky Market closure heralds transformation of Sino-Russian nongovernmental trade (Xinhua)
2009-07-29
Moswcow - China and Russia have reached broad consensus on the proper handling of the sudden closure of the Cherkizovsky Market through friendly negotiations, said Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng here Saturday. […] Gennady Gudkov, Deputy Chairman of the Security Committee of the Russian State Duma said though the closure of the market is justified, the vendors there should be given advance notice of the closure. Gao Hucheng said China has no objections to Russia's crackdown on smuggling, but the Russian side should protect the personal and property safety of the Chinese citizens without hurting their dignity. While enforcing the law, the Russian side should try its best to keep the economic losses of the Chinese business people to the minimum. Some Chinese analysts noted that Russia's cracking down on smuggling and rectifying domestic markets would help regulate trade channels, improve trade environment, therefore conducive to sustained and sound development of bilateral trade in the long run. […] In June, China and Russia established a customs cooperation committee and set up a long-term mechanism to normalize bilateral trade order in a bid to raise the level of customs clearance facilitation and create favorable conditions for the crackdown and eventual eradication of the "grey customs clearance." […]. ^ top ^

Beijing raps Tokyo over Kadeer visit (SCMP)
2009-07-28
China's ambassador to Japan, Cui Tiankai, expressed displeasure yesterday at a visit to Japan, starting today, by US-based Uygur rights activist Rebiya Kadeer. Beijing accuses her of masterminding the July 5 riots in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. […] "She is a criminal," the envoy said, arguing that the World Uyghur Congress, which she leads, caused the violence with the political purpose of severing the region from China. Ms Kadeer, the self-exiled president of the Munich, Germany-based Uygur association, was scheduled to arrive today in Tokyo from Washington, hold a press conference tomorrow and give a lecture on Thursday. She planned to meet members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party during her five-day visit, local Uygur chapter officials said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Civil rights activist detained in Beijing (SCMP)
2009-07-31
Xu Zhiyong, a legal rights activist and founder of civil rights group Gongmeng, was taken from his home by Beijing police on Wednesday, it was confirmed yesterday. The move raises further concern of a clampdown on rights group ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic in October. This news came after another non-governmental group, the Yirenping Centre, was raided by authorities on Wednesday for illegal publishing. Dr Xu, 36, one of the co-founders of prominent volunteer legal service the Open Constitution Initiative, or Gongmeng, was seen being taken away from his home by a police officer and five plainclothes officers early on Wednesday. […] "We have lost all contact with him since Tuesday night, and he must be in big trouble," said Teng Biao, a rights lawyer and a co-founder of Gongmeng, yesterday. […] The organisation said another of its staff, Zhuang Lu, could not be contacted by yesterday evening. […]. ^ top ^

Villagers besiege police over arrests in poison death protest (SCMP)
2009-07-31
More than 1,000 villagers laid siege to a government office and police station in Hunan yesterday in protest against the arrest of six people demonstrating against alleged pollution from a chemical factory. Villagers in Zhentou township, in Liuyang city, say at least four people have died from pollution-related illnesses and many more have been made ill. They demonstrated on Wednesday calling for free medical check-ups and treatment, and compensation for ruined crops and land, Xinhua reported. […] Four thousand people in Shuangqiao have been living on food and water trucked in from elsewhere since May, when laboratory tests on soil samples from the village showed it would not be safe for farming for another 60 years. […] "Our pleas have fallen on deaf ears," this villager said. The local government had offered 400,000 yuan (HK$454,000) to victims' families to cover up the scandal. […] Phone calls to the plant could not be connected yesterday as it had not paid its bills. Xinhua said the Hunan government and authorities in Liuyang had set up a group to check on the alleged pollution and the villagers' health. ^ top ^

At least 13m abortions performed on mainland each year (SCMP)
2009-07-31
About 13 million abortions are performed on the mainland every year, mostly for single young women who experts say know little about contraception, state media reported yesterday in a rare disclosure of sensitive family planning statistics. The China Daily said the number of abortions was believed to be even higher since the 13 million accounted for procedures in hospitals, but many more were known to be carried out in unregistered rural clinics. Also, about 10 million abortion pills were sold on the mainland every year, it said. It quoted Wu Shangchun, a government official with the National Population and Family Planning Commission, as saying that nearly half of the women seeking abortions on the mainland had used no form of contraception. […]. ^ top ^

Accreditation bid to curb bogus reporters (SCMP)
2009-07-31
The mainland is issuing new accreditations to mainland journalists ahead of the sensitive 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, in an attempt to curb the common practice of non-journalists masquerading as reporters. Some journalists also suspect the order for new accreditation could be used by censors to tighten control over combative reporters. Journalists have long been hailed as "kings without crowns" on the mainland and enjoy many benefits such as getting reserved train tickets - along with army officers and officials - and red packets distributed at press conferences. In some cases, journalists who threaten to expose any impropriety of cadres are given treats by local governments. […] In February, Li Dongdong, a deputy chief of the press administration, told officials that stronger rules proposed for the mainland's journalists would include a "full database of people who engage in unhealthy professional conduct", China News Service reported. "People entered into the transgressor list will be excluded from engaging in news reporting and editing work," the report said, citing Ms Li. […] Media outlets were also told to disclose the identities of the applicants for public scrutiny.[…]. ^ top ^

Hunt for 15 Uygurs over deadly riots in Xinjiang (SCMP)
2009-07-31
The mainland has made public a list of names and photographs of 15 Uygurs wanted for their roles in the July 5 riots in Xinjiang, in which almost 200 people were killed. The Public Security Bureau in Urumqi, the regional capital, had issued a notice urging the first batch of fugitives "not to hope that they would be lucky enough to get away with it", state media reported yesterday. […] The notice said leniency would be shown to those who turned themselves in within 10 days, and punishment would be reduced for those who made "great contributions". […] The government also offered rewards to the public for giving information on rioters. In recent days, 253 more people have been detained after being turned in by "local residents of different ethnic groups", state media said. To improve security and prevent a recurrence of unrest, Urumqi police had recruited more than 500 new officers, Xinhua said. There are plans to set up four extra public security sub-stations in sensitive districts where ethnic clashes take place. […]. ^ top ^

Xinhua calls time on protest blame game (SCMP)
2009-07-30
Too many incompetent officials are blaming protests and riots on "people ignorant of the truth being manipulated by schemers". It is a lame excuse for bad governance, Xinhua said in a rare commentary yesterday. For years, the line has been a favourite of cadres struggling to explain anti-government protests. The phrase has become so overused, people have picked it up to poke fun at the authorities. […] Scholars and writers say the phrase is illogical. "In this age of information technology, why is it still so easy for a handful of schemers to manipulate the public? And why does the public always seem ignorant of the truth?" one Guangzhou-based writer wrote. Finally Xinhua has decided enough is enough. "Blaming people for not having all the facts is no different from saying they are unable to distinguish right from wrong, and that is simply untrue," it said, and gave an implicit warning that officials who let protests spin out of control will be punished. ^ top ^

Internet, mobile users to be compensated (SCMP)
2009-07-30
The Xinjiang government says it will compensate mobile-phone subscribers and internet users for services disrupted by the July 5 riot. "Telecom companies will compensate users either by reducing fees or extending service terms," the government's press office said. […] The regional communications administration said yesterday that services were gradually being restored. "We have reopened online banking, security, recruitment and some e-commerce services," a government spokesman said. Mobile users were now able to receive some text messages, including weather forecasts and government notices, he said. ^ top ^

Top court: China to hand out fewer death penalties (Xinhua)
2009-07-29
Beijing - Legislation will be improved to control the number of death sentences and the Supreme People's Court (SPC) will tighten restrictions on the use of capital punishment, SPC Vice President Zhang Jun, was quoted by Wednesday's China Daily as saying. The number of criminal executions will be reduced in China, and courts will more often hand out the sentence of death penalty with reprieve, which can be commuted to life in prison and later reduced to 20 years and even lessened further for good behavior, according to Zhang. The country will retain death sentence, but it should be applied only to "an extremely small number" of offenders who have committed extremely serious or heinous crimes that lead to grave social consequences, he said. […]. ^ top ^

PLA reshuffle reflects Hu's plans to modernise army, experts say (SCMP)
2009-07-29
At least 33 People's Liberation Army generals have been reshuffled among military academies, frontline units and military commands ahead of the 82nd anniversary of the army's founding. The rotations between civilian and military generals appear to reflect that President Hu Jintao, who is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, had stepped up his plan to upgrade the PLA into a modern army. […] A Shanghai-based military expert - a senior colonel who declined to be identified - said the relocation was an indication of faster modernisation and specialisation. "But it doesn't mean civilian experts from academic and scientific research centres will be promoted as military generals, as it's still a rule that all PLA general officers should come from field army and other frontline units." […] "To consolidate his power, President Hu is keen on promoting talented young military generals without connections as his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, did." […] "The president's call told us that the central government has focused on building the military, which has been ignored for three decades in favour of economic development," said Ni Lexiong, another military expert in Shanghai. […]. ^ top ^

'Antisocial' Web games get the axe (SCMP)
2009-07-29
The mainland has banned online games featuring sinister mafiosi and knife-wielding street gangs, saying the software promotes antisocial behaviour and harms young people, state media said yesterday. The Ministry of Culture had issued a notice prohibiting such games, the People's Daily reported. The games "highlight the antisocial gangster behaviour of beating, killing, looting, raping and cheating, and they promote bloodshed and violence", the ministry said on its website on Monday. They must be banned because they gravely threatened and distorted efforts to build a lawful society and moral codes, and would easily harm young people, it said. Authorities would strengthen their control over "cultural content" on the internet, it said. Operators must immediately stop running or promoting the games, or providing links to them, it added, threatening "heavy" but unspecified punishments. […]. ^ top ^

China's largest desert lake may vanish in decades, experts warn (Xinhua)
2009-07-27
Xi'an - China's largest desert lake - Hongjiannao - is still shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades, experts have warned. "Just 10 years ago, one couldn't see the other bank of the Hongjiannao even through a telescope. Today, it's visible with the naked eye," He Fenqi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said at an international seminar on wetland preservation over the weekend in Shenmu County of northwest China's Shaanxi Province. The Hongjiannao, sandwiched between the Muus Desert in Shaanxi Province and the Erdos Plateau in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has shrunk by at least 30 percent in the past two decades. […] "Unless adequate measures are taken, Hongjiannao itself may vanish in a few decades, just like the Lop Nur in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region," said Chen Kelin, China director of Wetlands International NGO. […] Besides the shortage of water supplies, the Hongjiannao is also affected by industrial pollution from coal-fired power plants and coal mines, the nearest less than 3 kilometers from the lake. […]. ^ top ^

5-year training plan for cadres (SCMP)
2009-07-27
The Communist Party launched a five-year education and training campaign yesterday to teach its rank and file subjects how to start a small business and run a village, among other skills. The "2009-13 education and training scheme for nationwide party members", issued by the party's Central Committee, promises to engage nearly all of the party's 76 million members, despite a gradual relaxation of its once-iron grip on grass-roots followers. […] Xinhua quoted the decree as saying: "This kind of education should be given particular priority among migrant-labour party members, jobless party members and retired-soldier party members." […] Yu Hai, a professor at Fudan University, said: "Taking intra-party education beyond ideology lectures has underscored the ruling elite's efforts to uphold the party's weakening influence in a time of social restructuring. […]And despite the innovations to address new challenges, the Central Committee missive made it clear that the party's ethos remained unchanged. "From the beginning to the end, the priority of party member training is socialist theory with Chinese characteristics," the document said. "Members will have to learn the party's charter, basic ideology and history through the courses.". ^ top ^

3,000 villagers block road in land protest (SCMP)
2009-07-27
About 3,000 villagers in the eastern province of Zhejiang blocked a road and clashed with police during a protest against alleged corruption in a land compensation deal, a human rights monitor said yesterday. Ten residents of Shipu town were injured in the clash with 300 riot police on Saturday, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said. […] The villagers were apparently leasing the 320 hectares of salt fields to the Changguo Saltern company. It was recently sold to build a science and technology park, the human rights centre said. At least 3,000 villagers were still there yesterday, Mr Chen said. […] The worker said the villagers believed the land was worth three times the price the local government had set. ^ top ^

Evaluation tells Chinese officials to listen to online opinions and act fast (Xinhua)
2009-07-25
Beijing - Silence is no gold, and prompt response may help head off a crisis, a major Chinese news portal told local officials after evaluating governments' actions when confronted by online outcries after emergencies or troubles hit. The public opinion monitoring office of people.com.cn, the website of the Communist Party of China's flagship People's Daily newspaper, released a ranking list on Friday marking local governments' responses to online opinions concerning 10 incidents which occurred over the past few months. […] The highest score went to officials in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan Province, where a bus blaze last month killed 28 and injured dozens of others. […] The municipal government held five news conferences within three days after the accident, answering netizens' questions in details, and thus avoiding any possible public panic. […] Timeliness and transparency were the two foremost factors when evaluating government actions in the cases, said Zhu Huaxin, head of the public opinion monitoring office. Zhu said officials must release information as soon as possible after an incident occurs, especially in an era when netizens have become "a big pressure group." […] "We hope our evaluation could help officials become fully aware of the importance of online opinions," he said. ^ top ^

President Hu calls for promotion of national defense construction (Xinhua)
2009-07-25
Beijing - Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday called for the whole nation to further promote the development of national defense with the help of the nation's economic development. […] Hu said "the country should take both economic and national defense development into consideration and develop the armed forces featuring an integration of the military and the people." To realize the goal, efforts are needed in establishing sound weapon systems and equipment research and manufacturing, military personnel training and logistics that combine military construction with people's support, he said. Emphasis should be made in scientific exchanges between fields of national defense and civilian use. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Tourists flock to new "Olympic city" (China Daily)
2009-07-29
Beijing - […] Tourists from across China are surging into Beijing in the wake of last year's Olympics, spurred on by the new look of the old capital. […] About 85.4 million tourists visited Beijing in the first half of this year, an increase of 20.8 percent over the same period last year. Those travelers brought with them revenue of 127.1 billion yuan ($18.6 billion) up 14.6 percent, according to statistics released by the municipal tourism authority yesterday. The strong growth was thanks to a prosperous domestic tourism market, as 83.6 million of the tourists who came to Beijing - an annual increase of 21.4 percent, were from the Chinese mainland. […] On the downside, only about 1.8 million tourists from outside the mainland visited Beijing in the first six months of the year, "an obvious slump from the previous years", said Zhang Lingjie, though she refused to make comparisons with the first six months of last year. She did say, however, that January's numbers had dropped 29 percent. […] But Zhang Huiguang said the market for travelers from outside the mainland has been slowly warming up, especially over the past two months. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Expo may turn profit in future (SCMP)
2009-07-28
Shanghai officials believe next year's World Expo could eventually turn a profit - even though it may end up costing more than the Olympics. Party secretary Yu Zhengsheng said on television this weekend that the city's target "is to break even", but future profits were possible as the expo site would be redeveloped after the event. "The expo site is in the city centre, so it has high value in the future," Mr Yu said. "And if we make a profit, we will build more houses for low- income families." Media reports have quoted expo officials as putting the total cost of the event as high as US$45 billion, which is more than the US$40 billion to US$43 billion spent on last year's Beijing Games. But official figures from expo organisers put the cost of the event, which will last from May 1 to October 31 next year, at 28.6 billion yuan (HK$32.5 billion), or US$4.2 billion. This will include 18 billion yuan on infrastructure within the expo site and 10.6 billion yuan on event operations. Mr Yu said the investment, including an additional US$100 million fund for developing nations to take part, would come from city coffers. Organisers said funds would be raised through expo construction bonds, ticket sales and sponsorship. They anticipate ticket sales will generate 6 billion yuan - provided the event attracts the hoped-for 70 million tourists. However, the official expo budget does not include large-scale infrastructure projects such as transport and power-grid upgrades. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Shenzhen mayor grilled over Guangdong corruption storm (SCMP)
2009-07-28
[…] Wang Rong [new acting mayor of Shenzhen] met Hong Kong and overseas media for the first time yesterday, and endured a barrage of questions over the political earthquake that brought down his predecessor and a string of senior Guangdong politicians. Mr Wang denied that former mayor Xu Zongheng was the scapegoat in a power struggle between the central and regional governments, saying he was detained over personal wrongdoing. Mr Wang, former Suzhou party secretary, officially took over after Mr Xu was accused of "severely violating party discipline" and corruption, and was formally fired last month. […] After the fourth question about Mr Xu, a propaganda official stepped in, telling the media "you guys should ask other questions, because Mr Wang isn't familiar with Xu Zongheng". But a few moments later the interrogation resumed. […] Mr Wang admitted that the Guangdong corruption scandal that started with Mr Chen's detention in April had posed a huge challenge to the anti-graft system. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Chief executive's popularity yet to recover since July 1, poll finds (SCMP)
2009-07-29
People's satisfaction towards the government has rebounded since the July 1 demonstration but the popularity rating of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has yet to recover, a University of Hong Kong survey has found. The poll of 1,003 respondents, conducted last week, found public satisfaction in the government had risen by 5 percentage points, to 36 per cent, since a similar poll was carried out in mid-June. […] The survey gave Mr Tsang a popularity rating of 54.1 out of 100, compared with the 55.4 out of 100 he received in mid-June. […] Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the university's public opinion programme, which carried out the surveys, said Mr Tsang's popularity was slowly recovering after a significant drop around July 1. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau's new chief strolls into job (SCMP)
2009-07-27
Fernando Chui Sai-on surprised no one in being selected as Macau's chief executive yesterday, but the sole candidate failed to secure full endorsement, receiving four fewer votes than nominations. […] Also, one of 297 members who showed up for the vote at the Macau Dome stadium withheld his ballot in protest against a lack of democracy, while 14 members cast blank ballots. […] An analyst said Dr Chui faced an uphill battle to win over the Macau public, while an internet poll continued to suggest that he would be an unpopular leader. […] "Problems related to public housing, land sales, medical care... will pose a huge challenge to the new government," he [political commentator Larry So Man-yum ] said. "But Dr Chui has not faced up to the problems, judging from his election platform." […] The central government's liaison office in Macau said it was pleased to see Dr Chui elected with such a high number of votes, adding that the city's future would be even better with the new leadership and strong support from the central authorities. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Ma looks to early free-trade deal with mainland (SCMP)
2009-07-30
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has said the island cannot afford to wait until next year to sign a limited version of a free-trade pact with the mainland. He also sought to head off fears from the pro-independence camp he would sell out Taiwan to Beijing by striking the trade deal and by holding talks with President Hu Jintao.The comments, made in an interview with Taiwanese newspaper the United Evening News yesterday, came hours before the island's economics ministry released a report on the possible impact of the trade pact - the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) - on Taiwan. […] "ECFA is a strictly economic pact. There will be no mentioning of political rhetoric like `one China', `peaceful reunification', and `one country, two systems' in the deal, unlike Cepa, which refers to `one country, two systems'," Mr Ma said. […] He also said he was not in a hurry to meet and talk to Mr Hu, though his new position as KMT chairman could enhance the possibility of such a meeting, in the two men's capacity as party leaders. "As long as there are still different voices over the pace of development of cross-strait relations, I would rather be more cautious about such a meeting," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Hu and Ma trade messages in cross-strait first (SCMP)
2009-07-28
The leaders of Taiwan and the mainland have exchanged their first public messages in 60 years, paving the way for a new era of cross-strait engagement and dialogue. In a telegram to his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou yesterday, President Hu Jintao called for further co-operation in promoting cross-strait peace after congratulating him on being elected Kuomintang (KMT) chairman. […] In response, Mr Ma, who won the KMT's top post in a poll on Sunday, thanked Mr Hu for his message, and echoed his call for continued efforts to promote cross-strait peace. "Under the basis of the 1992 consensus, the current development of cross-strait relations has moved towards the grand direction of peace and prosperity, which has lived up to the expectations of the people from the two sides," Mr Ma said. […] By addressing each other in their capacity as ruling party leaders, rather than as heads of state, they circumvented the disputed issue of Taiwan's sovereignty. The exchange of the direct messages between the two leaders was the top item on the CCTV 7pm prime time news programme. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Activities instigating separatism in China should come to end (Xinhua)
2009-07-31
Beijing - The Warsaw government on Wednesday bestowed the title of "Honorable Citizen" on the visiting Dalai Lama, claiming he was striving for the "ethnic sovereignty and freedom" of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, who is actually attempting to separate Tibet from China and telling many lies about the region, doesn't deserve the honor. It is hard to understand why the Warsaw government gave such an award to him. The reward is a breach of basic international justice. […] Outdated Cold War thinking and ideological bias prevent some people from treating China fairly and this leads to these activities. […] After the July 5 riots in Urumqi, capital of northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, some political powers put on a performance similar to that after the Lhasa riots. What is the result of instigating separatism? It will only cause resentment among the Chinese people, hurt China's interests and, ultimately, harm the instigators themselves. It is in China's core interests to protect sovereignty and unity and this can't be bargained over. Therefore, any activities fanning separatism in China should come to an end. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China goes farther on privatizing state-owned performing groups (Xinhua)
2009-07-29
Beijing - China's government Wednesday ordered state-owned performing arts groups to privatize and orient themselves to the market rather than turning out shows tailored to the tastes of officials. The Ministry of Culture (MOC) issued a notice on its website Wednesday requiring provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, except Tibet and Xinjiang, to complete at least one privatization by the end of 2009. In 2010 and beyond, most performance troupes should become private or public companies, according to the notice. Since 2003, trials in privatization had been completed in some state-owned performing groups and they gained both economic and social benefits, the notice said. It did not name the pilot groups. The MOC promised the government would continue to fund the privatized groups to the same extent until they were self-sufficient, but it also suggested that the groups should search for new funding channels by themselves, such as subsidies and loans. […]. ^ top ^

China channels 1-bln-yuan green fund to rural areas (Xinhua)
2009-07-29
Beijing - Money from a 1 billion yuan (146 million U.S. dollars) fund is being distributed to 1,370 villages in China to remedy environmental problems and reward good practices, said the Ministry of Environment Protection Wednesday. The ministry expected the fund to benefit 9 million villagers, said Wang Zhenyu, an official with the ministry's information office. About 920 million yuan of the fund will be spent reducing pollution in 1,200 villages, 70 percent of which are located in heavily-polluted river valleys and in less developed regions, Wang said. […] Another 80 million yuan will be granted to about 170 villages which have already made outstanding contributions in reducing pollution and protecting the environment. Because of the programs, the ministry expected to attract another 1.5 billion yuan in investment from local governments and other parties, Wang said. […]. ^ top ^

Household incomes growing faster than the wider economy (SCMP)
2009-07-29
Growth in mainland household income outpaced overall economic growth in the first half of the year, despite massive lay-offs and pay cuts caused by the financial downturn. But the newly released official data appears to contradict the findings of a recent central bank survey, while an expert said the data was at odds with a slowdown in personal income tax receipts. Per capita disposable income of urban households was 8,856 yuan (HK$10,047), a year-on-year increase of 9.8 per cent, and a real growth of 11.2 per cent after deducting price factors, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. The growth was largely thanks to government policies to boost income and domestic consumption to revive growth. […] The income report was at odds with a recent People's Bank of China survey, which indicated that urban residents' impressions of their income levels had dropped to their lowest level since 1999, which had led more people to favour investment and saving over consumption. […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

Concerns raised over Americans being held in quarantine (SCMP)
2009-07-30
The United States has raised its concerns with China about Americans held in swine flu quarantine in Beijing - the US State Department says. Spokesman Ian Kelly said US concerns were raised with a visiting high-level delegation on Monday in Washington and through the US embassy in Beijing. On July 20, American teacher Nicholas Phillips said that at least 71 American students were in swine flu quarantine at a Beijing hotel. The British embassy said 107 British pupils and teachers were also under quarantine. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

UN chief backs N Korean idea of talks with US (SCMP)
2009-07-31
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has thrown his support behind bilateral talks between North Korea and the United States to resolve the dispute over eliminating the north's nuclear weapons programme. Washington has said it is willing to hold direct talks with Pyongyang, but only on the sidelines of six-party nuclear disarmament talks that include the US, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. North Korea has refused to return to the stalled talks and suggested a new one-on-one dialogue with President Barack Obama's administration. Mr Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said he believed six-party talks were "a good way" to address the nuclear stand-off with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). But he said "if necessary, there should be some other forms of dialogue, and I'm encouraged by the willingness of DPRK authorities to engage in direct dialogue with the United States". […] He would not rule out going to Pyongyang to pave the way for US-North Korea talks. […] North Korea made the surprise suggestion of a dialogue to resolve tensions over its atomic weapons programmes on Monday; an apparent invitation to the US to engage in one-on-one talks. But hours earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had told Pyongyang to stick to six-nation talks, saying the multilateral framework was "the appropriate way to engage with North Korea". […]. ^ top ^

Security assurance may soften N Korea stance (SCMP)
2009-07-30
North Korea is willing to consider a new disarmament agreement if the United States takes into account its security concerns, a senior Chinese official says. Chinese and US officials, holding two days of wide-ranging talks in Washington, said they spoke at length about North Korea, which in recent months had tested an atomic bomb, fired missiles and bolted from a disarmament deal. Vice-foreign minister Wang Guangya said Beijing welcomed an active role by Washington in reaching a solution on the Korean peninsula. "China believes that if the package solution that the United States is thinking about accommodates reasonable security concerns, it will be attractive to the North Korean side," Mr Wang said. […] US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she and State Councillor Dai Bingguo, a veteran negotiator with Pyongyang, spoke at length on "the Chinese perception both of North Korea but also of our interactions with them". […] The pair also had constructive discussions on another thorny security issue - Iran - with Mrs Clinton hailing the two countries being united against Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Government presents 35 demands as Oyutolgoi talks continue (en.news.mn)
2009-07-29
The working group set up by the Government and Ivanhoe Mines have been meeting every day since Monday to reach an agreement on investing in the Oyutolgoi project. Both sides have been tight-lipped about how things are going and no immediate breakthrough is expected. The Mongolian side has submitted its fresh list of 35 demands. The most contentious issue is the 68 percent windfall profits tax. The Mongolian Parliament has said this can in no circumstances be waived, while the investors have from the beginning refused to accept this, arguing that if this is levied the total tax burden would go up to an unacceptable 90 percent of the profits. ^ top ^

Second Flash Flood hits UB, More heavy rain predicted (UB Post)
2009-07-24
Ulaanbaatar was hit by another flash flood after heavy rainfall and hail pummelled the city on Tuesday and Wednesday. No human casualties reported, […] but the local government reported that it needed Tg 1.6 billion to repair the damaged dam and roads, as well as relocation of families […] About 2000 people from the flood risk areas were evacuated […]. ^ top ^

Hundreds of prisoners freed under new law (UB Post)
2009-07-24
Hundreds of prisoners will be freed from jail under new amnesty law that came into effect this month. […] Over 2000 prisoners will be freed once {each case} screening is complete. The Amnesty law was approved by the Parliament on July 9 at the initiation of President Ts. Elbegdorj, will show amnesty to first-time criminal offenders younger than 18, women who have under-aged children, pregnant women, those who have physically lost more than 70 percent of their labour capacity, and women older than 55. The law excludes murders, attempted murders, corruption cases and convicts who misused their public positions. ^ 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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