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
  10.8-14.8.09, No. 281  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Zero refusal for foreign reporters (China Daily)
2009-08-14
Beijing - Government ministries will be pushed to give better access to foreign journalists in a policy called "zero refusal", a senior official of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) said on Thursday. "Zero refusal means that the ministries must designate people to deal with calls and interview requests from foreign media and that they have to give a response within 24 hours or the period they prescribed, no matter what the result is," Guo Weimin, director of the SCIO press department, told China Daily in an exclusive interview. "It doesn't mean all applications will be accepted, but we have to tell the media how we handled it, so they can understand," he said. […]. ^ top ^

China, Vietnam hold talks on South China Sea issue (Xinhua)
2009-08-13
Hanoi - China and Vietnam started here their talks on the South China Sea issue, both sides agreed to find a basic and lasting solution to the sea dispute, according to a press release of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday. The two delegations are headed by Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and his Vietnam counterpart Ho Xuan Son, respectively. […] The two sides vowed to fully implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea. The two sides said they will explore a transitional and provisional solution for the sea issue and make it not affect the overall situation of the bilateral relations. The two sides agreed to find a basic and lasting solution accepted by both for the sea issue in accordance with the international laws and regulations including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concluded in 1982. ^ top ^

WTO hands US victory over China (SCMP)
2009-08-13
China's restrictions on the sale of books, films and music from the United States violate global commerce rules, the World Trade Organisation ruled, handing US President Barack Obama's administration its first trade victory over the mainland. WTO judges largely sided with a US complaint that accused China of making US companies sell copyright-protected products such as magazines, CDs and video games through state-approved or state-run businesses. The ruling, handed down in June but made public only yesterday, also went against mainland curbs on foreign producers of audiovisual goods that exempt domestic rivals. […] Improvements in China's protection of patents for products such as pharmaceuticals, car parts and copyrights for movies and software may help American companies even more than changes in its currency policies, analysts say. […] The ruling stops short of a clear-cut US victory. Judges agreed with the Chinese argument that its criminal law was strong enough to deter piracy. The US failed to convince the panel that thresholds for criminal prosecution of people pirating copyrighted goods are so high they effectively allow sales of illegal items on a commercial scale. […]. ^ top ^

Hands off the junta, says China (SCMP)
2009-08-13
China said yesterday the world should respect Myanmar's judicial sovereignty after the junta sent democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi back into detention. China, one of the few nations that stands by the junta, urged the outside world not to interfere in Myanmar's affairs, suggesting Beijing would not back any UN action against the country. Ms Suu Kyi, 64, was sentenced to three years with hard labour for violating an internal security law, but the junta said after Tuesday's verdict it would halve the sentence to 18 months and allow her to serve the time at her Yangon home. […] The verdict drew sharp criticism from world leaders and Western nations pressed the UN Security Council to adopt a statement condemning the sentence, but other countries, including veto-wielding members Russia and China, stalled for time to send the draft statement to their capitals. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said it was time for dialogue with Myanmar, not criticism. "This not only accords with Myanmar's interests, it is also beneficial to regional stability," she said in China's first official comment following the sentence. […]. ^ top ^

State secrets allegation in Rio case dropped (SCMP)
2009-08-13
China has formally arrested four employees of Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto on charges of bribery and stealing commercial secrets from the nation's steel industry, further fuelling diplomatic friction between Canberra and Beijing Australian citizen Stern Hu, head of Rio's iron ore business in China, and three Chinese colleagues, had obtained commercial secrets about the steel industry through "improper means" violating criminal law, Xinhua reported, citing a statement from the Supreme People's Procuratorate. No formal charges have been laid yet, but the arrest warrants mean the authorities can continue detaining the four men while they make further investigations. Mainland lawyers said the latest accusations were less serious than earlier allegations of stealing state secrets but the men still faced up to seven years in jail if convicted. […] The four are suspected of "using improper means to obtain commercial secrets about China's steel enterprises" and commercial bribery. Changing the charge from stealing state secrets to stealing commercial secrets could reduce some of the international pressure on China. […]. ^ top ^

EU begins investigation into Chinese exporters of industrial chemical over alleged dumping (Xinhua)
2009-08-11
Brussels - The European Union said on Tuesday that it began to investigate whether Chinese exporters of sodium gluconate sell the product in the 27-nation bloc below cost as EU producers claimed. The inquiry is designed to determine whether sodium gluconate is being dumped and whether this dumping has caused injury, the European Commission, the EU's executive body said in the Official Journal. […] The investigation came as it received a complaint on June 30 from the European Chemical Industry Council on behalf of producers that occupy more than 50 percent of EU output of sodium gluconate. The European producers claimed that Chinese exporters of sodiumgluconate sold their product in the EU at a price lower than cost, said the commission. Sodium gluconate is used in the construction, metals and food industries. […]. ^ top ^

Huntsman resigns as Utah governor, sworn in as U.S. ambassador to China (Xinhua)
2009-08-12
Washington - Utah Governor Jon Huntsman resigned on Tuesday to become new U.S. ambassador to China. Huntsman, 49, was sworn in as ambassador to China in Salt Lake City, capital of Utah, shortly after his resignation as governor. […]. ^ top ^

Two sides differ on diversion of plane (SCMP)
2009-08-11
Chinese and Afghan authorities have given differing accounts of a passenger flight bound for Urumqi that was sent back to Afghanistan early yesterday morning. Xinhua reported yesterday that mainland authorities suspected the flight had received a bomb threat. But air traffic officials in Kabul and an airport police source in Kandahar said there was no such threat. Afghanistan's counterterrorism chief, Abdul Manan Farahi, said yesterday no bomb was found on the plane. Afghan officials said the plane was turned back because it lacked the documents required to land, not because of a bomb or hijack threat. The Boeing 767, belonging to the Afghan airline Kam Air, had departed from Kabul but landed in Kandahar on its return because of high winds in the capital, the officials said. The flight was the first the airline had made on that route. Kam Air vice-president Feda Mohammad Fedawi said the plane would fly to its destination in Xinjiang, but he did not say when. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing to tap India's expertise in terror fight (SCMP)
2009-08-11
China and India have raised the level of engagement in their strategic dialogue in view of the unrest in Xinjiang, an official said yesterday. Beijing wants to tap into India's expertise in dealing with insurgency - particularly Islamic extremism. It proposed raising the level of the ongoing Sino-Indian Strategic Co-operative Partnership during last week's border talks held in New Delhi, and India readily agreed, it was disclosed. […] It was decided last week that the strategic dialogue would now be conducted by State Councillor Dai Bingguo and India's National Security Adviser, M. K. Narayanan, a former Intelligence Bureau chief. Mr Dai and Mr Narayanan are engaged in talks to resolve the border dispute as political envoys of their leaders. Mr Dai is also the point man for Beijing's strategic dialogue with Washington. "The elevation-cum-broadening of the strategic dialogue to include regional issues like terrorism is not surprising, as India and China face threats which they think stem from a common ideology," Pranay Sharma, Outlook magazine's foreign policy commentator, said. […] India recently denied a visa to exiled Uygur Rebiya Kadeer, whom Beijing considers the chief instigator of the July 5 rioting in Xinjiang. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese merchants in Algeria write open letter to Algerians after clash (Xinhua)
2009-08-09
Algiers - Some Chinese merchants in Algeria released an open letter to the Algerian people on Sunday in which they expressed grief over a recent brawl between some local Algerians and some Chinese in Algiers. "As Chinese merchants residing in Algeria, we express our grief over the August 3rd confrontation that happened in Bab Ezzouar in Algiers, which we think goes against the traditional friendship existing long between our two peoples," read a Chinese version of the letter provided by the Chinese embassy in Algiers. A French version of the letter, named "Open Letter to Algerian Friends," was published on the local French newspaper Liberte. On Aug. 3, a clash occurred when a parking dispute escalated between a young Chinese and a young Algerian in the Bab Ezzouar district in the eastern suburbs of Algiers, an area frequented by many Chinese vendors. The friends and relatives of both sides later joined the fight, causing injuries of various degrees to some Algerians and Chinese. Several Chinese stores were also looted. The incident was "not complicated at all" and was caused "by two young daredevils on a whim" who were "arguing on the tip of a needle," the Chinese merchants said in the letter signed by the Chinese residents in Bab Ezzouar. […] The Chinese merchants also said they sincerely hope the Algerian friends forgive the inappropriate actions of some Chinese, adding they will take the incident as a lesson and continue to make contribution to the benefits of the Algerian people and the friendship between the two countries from generation to generation. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Web filter was mistake, industrial chief admits (SCMP)
2009-08-14
The mainland's industrial head admitted yesterday that the launch of the pornography-filtering Green Dam software was, to some extent, a mistake. Li Yizhong, minister of industry and information technology, openly regretted the order, which required all personal computers sold on the mainland after July 1 to have the program either pre-installed or with a disk included. The order, which the ministry issued to all PC makers in June, had been made without thorough consideration and had been plagued by ambiguous language, leaving the public with the impression that the ministry was bullying citizens to install the program, Mr Li said. Forcing everyone to install Green Dam was not the government's intention, and it "absolutely" would not happen, he said, adding that the central government welcomed criticism on Green Dam-Youth Escort software. […] He added that the original purpose was for voluntary installation. […]. ^ top ^

Artist to sue police over beating (SCMP)
2009-08-14
[…] Ai Weiwei was forcefully prevented from attending the trial on Wednesday of Tan Zuoren, who was arrested after investigating whether shoddy construction caused schools to collapse in last year's Sichuan earthquake, he said. […] "Police violently broke into our hotel room, beat us and prevented us from attending the trial," Ai, who was released with several others after 11 hours in police custody, said. "They restricted our freedom of movement and they refused to give us a reason for their actions. We want to follow up on this. We will sue." […] A co-designer of the "Bird's Nest" stadium, the centrepiece of the Beijing Olympic Games, Ai is a respected artist who has led a group of volunteers in an investigation of the collapse of schools in the earthquake, which left more than 87,000 dead. […]. ^ top ^

English-language papers report on activist's trial (SCMP)
2009-08-14
In a break from their usual silence on contentious human rights issues, two state-run English-language newspapers published detailed reports on a rights activist who is on trial for allegedly inciting subversion. Both China Daily and the Global Times reported on the hearing of Tan Zuoren, an activist whose essay on June 4, e-mail exchanges with exiled student leader Wang Dan, and investigation into shoddily built schools that collapsed and killed students in last year's Sichuan earthquake were cited as reasons for the charges against him. But experts on mainland media are sceptical about the apparent loosening of control over the two mouthpieces, saying it was probably an attempt to show the government as liberal and open to the English-speaking audience. China Daily reported the story from Chengdu with comprehensive details on the hearing at Chengdu Intermediate Court from Tan's lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and other activists who were held or turned away from the trial by police. […] The Global Times focused on the detention of four parents who lost their children in the collapsed schools, and who attempted to attend the trial. It also put the report in a prominent spot on its website. Such detailed reports were in contrast to curbs placed on Hong Kong media trying to cover the trial. […] No Chinese-language newspapers, including the Chinese-language version of Global Times, mentioned the trial. ^ top ^

'Transplant tourism' under investigation (SCMP)
2009-08-14
The central government is investigating organ transplant hospitals after reports that some are performing illegal operations for foreigners willing to pay much higher prices. […] The ministry had already named 16 hospitals it said had failed to comply with regulations and would revoke the licences of institutions that failed the inspection, it said. Some hospitals had illegally sold organs to foreign "transplant tourists" to increase their profits, with three penalised in 2008, the paper said. The ministry launched the investigation in February after a report by Japan's Kyodo news agency that 17 Japanese tourists had spent about 595,000 yuan (HK$676,000) each for liver or kidney transplants at a hospital in Guangzhou, the paper said. […] "We'll let the people know and decide which hospital to go to for quality and ethical transplants," China Daily quoted a ministry official as saying. […] The Red Cross Society of China, along with the ministry, planned to set up an independent organ donation system with a waiting list of patients, the paper said. […]. ^ top ^

50pc of quake donors in the dark (SCMP)
2009-08-14
More than half of the people who donated after the Sichuan earthquake have no idea where their money went, according to a survey, a situation analysts say has the potential to undermine governmental credibility. The Non-Governmental Organisations Research Centre of Tsinghua University said in a report that 50.6 per cent of 1,684 donors interviewed did not know where their donations went. Only 4.7 per cent said they knew the recipients of their donation. […] Donors were not the only group confused by the use of the charity donations, as research from the centre showed that most organisations that helped collect donations were also unsure where the money went. Over 80 per cent of 76.7 billion yuan (HK$87 billion) in donations was under the control of local governments, which would have the final say on where to invest that money, the research said. […] Wang Zhenyao, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the mainland's chief disaster relief co-ordinator, said this reflected the reality of the country's charity distribution system. "Most Chinese NGOs do not have enough credibility...or experience...to implement their projects," Mr Wang was quoted by The Beijing News newspaper as saying yesterday. […]. ^ top ^

Greens hail rule giving watchdog more clout (SCMP)
2009-08-13
A long-anticipated regulation aimed at tackling the mainland's pollution woes at their roots and expanding the power of environmental watchdogs was approved yesterday. The move was hailed by environmentalists as a breakthrough in reversing problems which have become a main source of dissatisfaction and unrest. It was the first time the social and economic planning, including the 12th five-year blueprint, would be subject to environmental impact assessment before its implementation, according to a leading drafter of the ordinance. However, even though it was adopted by the State Council, Xinhua said the regulation was still subject to further revision before it could be made public and implemented. "That statement has underscored the sensitivity of the regulation, which has met fierce opposition from other central government agencies and local authorities," said Peking University professor Wang Jin, who wrote the first draft three years ago. The regulation had virtually given the top environmental watchdog the power to oversee environment-related decisions made by most of other State Council departments, he noted. […]. ^ top ^

2-month drill to test PLA's logistics and mobility (SCMP)
2009-08-12
The People's Liberation Army yesterday launched a two-month trans-national drill aimed at ensuring security in western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang and coastal areas involved in border disputes with neighbouring countries. Xinhua said the military drill would involve 50,000 heavily armoured troops from four military zones over thousands of kilometres to test the PLA's long-distance mobility. The long-range drill - code-named Kuayue (Chinese for "stride") 2009, would mobilise one army division from each of the military commands of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou, it said, adding that it was an unprecedented exercise in PLA history. […] Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, said the deployment had reflected China's moves to ensure security in the restive regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. "You can see that the Nanjing Military Command, the military region on the cross-strait front line which played a key role in many military drills in history, isn't taking part this time." […] Taipei-based military expert Andrew Yang Nien-dzu said the participation of the Shenyang, Jinan and Guangzhou commands in the drills showed the PLA's determination to upgrade its capabilities in long-range logistics and mass mobilisation. […]. ^ top ^

China's supreme court to standardize sentences for criminal convictions (Xinhua)
2009-08-11
Beijing - The Supreme People's Court of China is introducing criminal sentencing standards under new guidelines that move authority away from individual judges, according to China's Legal Daily Tuesday. Gao Jinghong, a member of the SPC's judicial committee and presiding judge of the third criminal tribunal, said the SPC is introducing a guideline to establish set penalties for criminal convictions across the country. Gao said more than 120 courts had tried the new guidelines under a pilot program beginning June 1. The new program seeks to standardize five criminal charges relating to traffic offenses, intentional injury, theft and drugs. […] The SPC aimed to enlarge the scope of guideline to 15 charges, including rape, fraud, robbery, blackmail, illegal detention, disrupting public service, white-collared crimes and mass violence, before the end of next year, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Anti-torture measures in works, paper says (SCMP)
2009-08-11
The mainland will soon release a judicial document that will for the first time spell out that confessions obtained through torture will not be admissible evidence in court, according to The Southern Metropolis News. Even though the mainland criminal code has long banned torture during the questioning of suspects, and even made it a criminal offence, forced confessions still overshadow the judicial system. The Renmin University School of Law recently researched 137 wrongful convictions imposed in the 1980s and determined that 164 men and women had been wrongfully deprived of a total of 720 years of freedom, one had been executed, and another had died in prison. Half of the wrongful convictions involved murder charges. […] As the mainland reviews its Criminal Procedure Law, debate has been rekindled over whether criminal law should follow the principle of "protecting individual rights" or "protecting the masses through heavy punishment". The way evidence is obtained is one of the issues at the forefront. Using the death penalty as a starting point, the Supreme Procuratorate will soon introduce a new regulation on death-penalty trials and the use of evidence, which will specify the inadmissibility of confessions obtained through torture. He [China University of Political Science and Law professor Wang Shunan] said it would also force the country's police and procuratorates to shift from an emphasis on confession and testimony to collecting solid circumstantial and documentary evidence. "In the past it was endorsed only in theory; now it will be given as a procedure," Professor Wang said. "So if torture is used now, there will be clearly stated legal repercussions." […]. ^ top ^

Urumqi acts against migrants (SCMP)
2009-08-10
Authorities in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, have vowed to tighten control of the migrant population and rental housing in the latest response to last month's deadly clashes between Han Chinese and Uygurs. The municipal government issued a circular last week requiring landlords to register rental flats and report suspicious activity by tenants to police, Xinhua reported. Officials were sent to residential areas in Tianshan district to begin apartment registrations. Any landlords who failed to register by the end of this month would face severe penalties, the report said. A rental management official who refused to give his name said the new regulation was implemented because suspects who participated in the July 5 riot were found to have been living in rented houses in Urumqi for years without registering their presence in the city. […] The "floating population" - migrant workers or people who did not have a hukou, or household registration, in the region - were also required to register. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing considers tapping more water from Hebei (SCMP)
2009-08-13
Beijing is considering increasing groundwater extraction and pumping more water from arid Hebei province to ease a chronic water shortage ahead of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Despite abundant rainfall in recent weeks, which caused floods and mayhem in downtown areas of the capital, a senior local water resources official said Beijing's water shortage had not been fully alleviated. Bi Xiaogang, deputy head of the Beijing Water Authority, said the delay to the ambitious south-north water diversion project had piled pressure on the drought-stricken city. Despite the capital's efforts to promote conservation and the use of recycled water, authorities have admitted that the city of 17 million will have to rely on its neighbours and depleted groundwater resources to meet demands. […] Although Mr Bi refused to give details about the annual amount of groundwater used in the city, it is widely believed that Beijing has been pumping increasing amounts of water from sources that are already overused, including strategic reserves of deep underground supplies. "We are careful about groundwater extraction and we will do so only when we don't have enough surface water supplies," he said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Controversial oil refinery relocated to Zhanjiang (SCMP)
2009-08-12
The relocation of a controversial oil refinery from Nansha to Zhanjiang would spare the Pearl River Delta additional pollution and reflected the southeast Guangdong city's eagerness to embrace the huge project, experts said yesterday. Mainland oil giant Sinopec said on Monday that the proposed US$9 billion joint venture with the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation had been relocated to Zhanjiang's Donghai Island. Nansha district of Guangzhou was the original site choice for the plant, but the plan met fierce opposition from densely populated delta cities, including Hong Kong. After assessing other Guangdong cities, a panel of experts recommended Donghai, Sinopec said. […] A Sinopec spokesman said work on a feasibility report on the Donghai location, including an environmental impact evaluation, began this week and would take 18 months to complete. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2013. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

That's all, folks - Tsang to end the giveaways (SCMP)
2009-08-11
After doling out four rounds of sweeteners worth HK$87.6 billion since February last year, the government has decided it is time to stop the giveaways and get on with developing industries it hopes will help the battered economy grow. In his policy address in October, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is unlikely to offer any more handouts, according to several people familiar with the government's position. Instead, the chief executive will unveil measures to support the six service industries selected as "pillars" to diversify the economy in future. […] However, the government will come under pressure to provide more help for the disadvantaged, with welfare groups saying it has wasted money on across-the-board handouts that helped people who did not need it. A government official said Mr Tsang would use the policy address to announce two urban sites for private university campuses as part of efforts to develop education, one of the six economic pillars identified by a government-appointed task force on responses to the global downturn. Mr Tsang is also expected to widen tax deductions for company spending on research and development in an effort to spur innovation and technology, another of the so-called pillars. (The others are medical services, environmental industries, cultural and creative industries and food safety and product testing.) […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Wen heaps praise on Macau's new leader (SCMP)
2009-08-11
Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday showered praise on Fernando Chui Sai-on as the central government confirmed his appointment as Macau's next chief executive. Mr Wen praised Dr Chui for his firm support for the outgoing Edmund Ho Hau-wah and his "abundant administrative experience and leadership capabilities", as he signed a State Council decree endorsing him for the top job. Arriving in Beijing for a three-day visit to receive his appointment, Dr Chui said he would shortly begin selecting officials for the new administration, without supplying names. […] His remarks came after a State Council meeting passed his appointment. Dr Chui's five-year term will begin on December 20, when Macau celebrates the 10th anniversary of its handover to mainland sovereignty. […] Antonio Ng Kuok-cheung, a pro-democracy legislator in Macau, said Mr Wen's comments to Dr Chui were merely the official line and failed to warrant special attention. […] In 2007, Mr Wen similarly praised Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's appointment. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwanese military finds 70 more survivors of deadly mudslides (SCMP)
2009-08-13
The Taiwanese military has found 70 more survivors, bringing to nearly 1,000 the number of people who survived after massive mudslides buried four mountain villages in the southern county of Kaohsiung. […] He [General Hu] said the military would continue to look for survivors and airlift supplies to thousands of people trapped in mountainous regions in southern Taiwan. Six southern counties have been afflicted by flash floods and landslides since Typhoon Morakot slammed into Taiwan on Friday, leaving at least 103 people dead, 61 missing and 45 injured. […] Facing mounting public discontent, the government of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou set up contingency task forces in the six disaster-struck counties yesterday to offer aid to victims. […] In an opinion poll by cable news network TVBS, 47 per cent of respondents said they were disappointed by Mr Ma's performance in dealing with the disaster. Only 26 per cent found his performance satisfactory. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Change sought to make the GDP figures add up (SCMP)
2009-08-13
The mainland is considering a centralised and unified accounting system for calculating the size of its economy amid concerns over the reliability of the data. Peng Zhilong, chief of the accounting department with the National Bureau of Statistics, wrote in a People's Daily article that the credibility of the system had been hurt by systematic double counting, incoherent accounting standards and deliberate manipulation at a local level. Mismatches in nationwide and provincial gross domestic product and retail figures prompted debate over whether the world's third largest economy was genuinely on the road to recovery. […] "First, we will unify the rules in counting the size of provincial economies... and, second, we will facilitate more enterprises to submit their data to the central government directly, cutting out the processing in between," said Mr Peng, who also threatened punishment for those who manipulated data. […]. ^ top ^

China drafts regulation on monopoly price (Xinhua)
2009-08-12
Beijing - China's top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, unveiled Wednesday a draft regulation on monopoly prices. The regulation applies to cases of monopoly prices both inside and outside the country, when monopoly prices outside the country impact the domestic market, according to the regulation posted on the commission's Web site. Other than deals reached among more than two parties for the purpose of monopolizing prices, power abuse of government agencies to eliminate or limit competition is also regarded as violation of the regulation. Those who violate the regulation would be punished according to stipulations in the country's anti-monopoly law, according to the commission. Individual retailers or producers may face confiscation of illegal earnings and a fine of up to 10 percent of last year's sales, while industry associations are subject to a fine of no more than 500,000 yuan (73,529.4 U.S. dollars) or could be dismissed as an association. Government agencies that violate the regulation would be ordered by their superiors to correct their actions, and officials held responsible would be disciplined according to relevant laws. […] The commission is soliciting public opinion for the regulation until Sept. 6. ^ top ^

Prices Continue Drop, Market Pressure Easing (China Daily)
2009-08-12
China's consumer prices continued to fall year-on-year last month, easing pressure for an early "policy exit" to prevent bubbles in the property and stock markets. The consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, fell 1.8 percent in July while the producer price index was down 8.2 percent from a year earlier, Li Xiaochao, spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said yesterday at a press conference. The July figures were anticipated by the market, where investors are waiting to see more signs of a solid recovery. The inflation figure marked the sixth consecutive negative growth, or the lowest point this year, and followed a decline of 1.7 percent in June. […] Industrial output expanded by 10.8 percent in July from a year earlier, the NBS said. Earlier data showed it increased by 7 percent for the first half of 2009. […] "Today's avalanche of data suggests that the economic recovery is solid, but that the momentum ebbed in July," according to a report by Standard Chartered Bank (China). ^ top ^

Call to name and shame bribed officials (SCMP)
2009-08-12
News that a US firm was fined for offering kickbacks to mainland officials in exchange for contracts has prompted a fresh round of discussion in state media over international corporations involved in "commercial bribery". Adhesive label maker Avery Dennison was fined US$200,000 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission on July 28 for making, or promising to make, improper payments to mainland officials in order to win contracts. The story began to circulate in the mainland media a week later. But unlike the Rio Tinto case - in which the Anglo-Australian mining giant was accused of illegally acquiring commercial secrets - reports focused on why officials who had received the bribes from Avery had not been identified. An SEC statement said from 2002 to 2005, Avery's Chinese subsidiary paid about US$30,000 to mainland officials. In one transaction, Avery China won a contract with a state-owned company by indirectly paying an official about US$25,000. […] Yang Du, a professor at Renmin University specialising in commercial bribery, said the government would eventually look into the Avery case, but it could take some time before a result was announced. "The government does not want the investigation to be interpreted as a follow-up to the US investigation," he said. "The impression that foreign countries are helping China fix its corruption problems is the last thing this government wants.". ^ top ^

Guidelines for wages cautioned (China Daily)
2009-08-11
Despite signs of economic recovery, millions of workers face wage cuts and freezes under new salary guidelines. Experts, however, have warned that the guidelines - which are not mandatory but are an important reference point for employers - could have a significant impact on domestic consumption, and could widen the gap between rich and poor. Guangdong province became the first in the country to set the minimum salary increase at 0, or negative, this year. Shanghai, Tianjin, Shanxi, Qinghai, Yunnan, Jilin and Hunan also established guidelines, usually published by June. Of those, only Tianjin kept the rate of increase steady. The other municipalities lowered the suggested rate of increase. […] Labor researcher Liu Junsheng, with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said many export businesses are struggling to survive. "They are facing huge pressure to raise salaries. These guidelines can help ease their worries and avoid the increasing income gaps in order to maintain social stability," Liu said. […]. ^ top ^

China's monetary policy to remain unchanged (China Daily)
2009-08-09
Beijing - The Chinese government will not change its stimulus policies because it could derail its hard-won economic recovery, though record bank lending in the first half of the year has raised fears over credit risks and asset bubbles. "The central bank is still committed to a 'moderately loose monetary policy'," said Su Ning, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), at a press conference in Beijing on Friday. "When we say 'dynamic fine-tuning', we do not mean the monetary policy but the monetary policy operations. We will sharpen the focus and intensify the pace of the policies," Su said. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed down 2.9 percent on Friday, slipping for a third day, after a PBOC announcement on Wednesday said it would "actively fine-tune policies" as the economy improves, raising fears that it could check liquidity. […] "If the government changes the policies, it will definitely reverse the upward momentum of the economy and lead to failure at the mid-point," Zhu Zhixin, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at the same press conference. To keep the country's recovery on track, Zhu said, the government would give private businesses more access to the market - in "monopoly industries", for instance. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

S. Korea's presidential office expresses relief over worker's release (Xinhua)
2009-08-14
South Korea's presidential office on Thursday expressed relief over a South Korean worker's release after being detained in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for 137 days. "It seems a bit too late, but it is a relief that Yu is finally returning to his family," Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for the presidential office, said in a written briefing, referring to the detained worker. South Korea, meanwhile, will continue to push for the current policy towards the DPRK, the spokesman said. Earlier in the day, Yu Seong-jin, an engineer of Hyundai Asan Corp. who has been seized by the DPRK authorities on Mar. 30 for publicly denouncing the regime, was freed amid the Hyundai chairwoman's visit to Pyongyang. […]. ^ top ^

US imposes sanctions on North Korean bank over services to 'arms proliferators' (SCMP)
2009-08-13
The United States has slapped sanctions on a bank in nuclear-armed North Korea for providing services to institutions blacklisted for links to the communist nation's illicit weapons programmes. The US Treasury said on Tuesday that the assets of Korea Kwangson Banking Corp (KKBC) would be frozen and Americans prohibited from engaging in transactions with the bank in an attempt to isolate it from the US financial and commercial systems. KKBC was targeted for providing services to two North Korean institutions accused by the United States of being "weapons of mass destruction proliferators", according to a Treasury statement. […] KKBC is based in North Korea and has operated at least one overseas branch in Dandong, in northern China's Liaoning province. All three entities have also been blacklisted by the United Nations for their alleged roles in North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile programmes. […]. ^ top ^

India detains N Korean cargo ship to look for radioactive materials (SCMP)
2009-08-12
Indian authorities have been searching a detained North Korean vessel for radioactive material, the first time a ship has been seized and boarded under sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council in June. The search began on Monday after the cargo ship, MV Mu San, was spotted on Friday, officials said, and detained under the authority of the UN resolution passed after North Korea tested a nuclear device in May. The ship anchored last week without authorisation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian territory in the Bay of Bengal, according to the Indian military. Indian officials said the vessel was carrying more than 16,000 tonnes of sugar bound for the Middle East. But the ship's proximity to Myanmar, a North Korean ally, and the fact that it had no apparent reason to be in the area had raised suspicions. The coastguard intercepted the ship after chasing it for six hours, and detained 39 North Korean crew members. After two days of questioning the crew, India's navy and coastguard handed the ship over to police and intelligence services, having found no evidence of illegal cargo, according to the Press Trust of India. […] But it remains a mystery why the ship was in Indian waters at all. […]. ^ top ^

White House ready for N Korean talks (SCMP)
2009-08-10
The Obama administration said yesterday it was willing to hold direct talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons if it first resumed international negotiations. Despite reports of his declining health, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il seems fully in charge of the country, White House national security adviser James Jones said. He made the comments after former US president Bill Clinton debriefed the White House on his visit to North Korea, which the state has been using to boost the reputation of Kim Jong-il's son. It says the younger Kim orchestrated the trip so Mr Clinton could apologise to his father. Mr Jones said Mr Clinton passed no official messages and made no promises during his mission last week to bring home two jailed American journalists. He said the US was ready to resume the kind of direct talks held in the latter years of the Bush administration. "We have put on the table in the context of the talks we would be happy to do that if, in fact, they would rejoin the [six-party nuclear] talks," Mr Jones said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia, North Korea holding talks (news.mn)
2009-08-10
A consultative meeting of teams from the foreign ministries of Mongolia and North Korea is now being held in Ulaanbaatar. State Secretary D.Tsogtbaatar is leading the Mongolian side while Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yen Ir is head of the Korean team. ^ top ^

Fuel Price Hike Thrice in a Month (UB Post)
2009-08-11
Price of A92 type of petroleum, most common used gasoline that affect other major commodity and consumer goods prices directly, has been increased up to Tg1,300 per liter last Sunday night. The government authority blamed oil importers for their increase of petroleum prices three times in a month “without prior notice”. Before, major oil importers have increased the price with Tg90 per liter on the night of July 31. The importers claimed that “unavoidable” increase was caused by Russian oil supplier Rofneft, of which Mongolia is predominantly depend on. ^ top ^

Government asks for special session of Parliament (news.mn)
2009-07-31
The Government has written to the Speaker asking him to convene a special session of Parliament soon. Revealing this to media persons, Ts.Sharavdorj, head of the Parliament Office, said on Thursday no immediate decision can be taken on the request as MPs are utilizing the break to visit their constituencies or to do some other work. The Speaker is also working in his province. Sharavdorj also revealed that Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines sent on July 27 “a private letter” to the Speaker, the Deputy Speakers, the heads of all standing committees and the Prime minister. It invited them to share their views on the Oyutolgoi agreement. Part of the letter reads, “Mongolia now has to decide whether it will develop an open market economy or be economically dependent on its neighbors. It is up to you to make the choice. We welcome you to ask any questions on the issue and shall explain them. If an agreement is reached and signed it will open up new possibilities for Mongolia to take big steps to development. Thus the decision you take will be for the future and not just for today.”. ^ 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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