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
  17.8-21.8.09, No. 282  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Kadeer visa did not mean support for separatists, says Australia (SCMP)
2009-08-21
Australia has said it does not support autonomy in the restive Xinjiang region, in an attempt to arrest a slide in ties as China's media brand Australia "Sino-phobic". Relations soured after an Australian visa was granted to Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled leader of the Muslim Uygur minority in Xinjiang, and an Australian Rio Tinto mining executive was arrested on allegations of espionage. Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith told Parliament yesterday that allowing Ms Kadeer to visit did not mean support for her views on Uygur autonomy. […] The China Daily, the Communist Party's official English-language paper, said in an editorial that Australia's "Sino-phobic politicians" were leading the world's "anti-China chorus" and siding with Ms Kadeer. "The cancellation of a visit to Australia by [the] Chinese vice-foreign minister is a restrained and reasonable response on the part of Beijing when that country has challenged China's core national interests," it said. "By providing Kadeer a platform for anti-Chinese separatist activities, Canberra chose to side with a terrorist and severely hurt China's national interests." […]. ^ top ^

Australia signs record trade deal with China (SCMP)
2009-08-19
Canberra - The Australian government announced on Wednesday a record 50 billion Australian dollar (41.3 billion U.S. dollar) gas deal with China. PetroChina has agreed to buy liquefied natural gas from Exxon Mobil's yet-to-be developed Gorgon project in Western Australia, making it Australia's biggest-ever export contract. Australian Federal Minister for Trade Simon Crean hailed the agreement as the single biggest trade deal in Australia's history. “But it is the great deal from China in terms of a clean-energy source," he said, adding that Australia had a huge comparative advantage in clean energy. The Gorgon plant would be "world leading" in terms of carbon capture and storage. We're not just selling the gas, we're also selling the technology," Crean added. […]. ^ top ^

Blair says Beijing needs global emissions pact to make progress (SCMP)
2009-08-21
The mainland's efforts to build a low-carbon economy would accelerate if world powers agreed to a practical global climate change pact later this year, former British prime minister Tony Blair said yesterday. […] Mr Blair - who is working with the non-profit Climate Group to push for an agreement in Copenhagen - helped unveil the group's report entitled China's Clean Revolution II. He said China, which is about even with the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, had made great strides in its efforts to develop clean fuel technology. […] Mr Blair welcomed a recent report by a government panel of experts that said China's carbon emissions could slow by 2020 and begin to fall in or about 2030, all while the country maintained economic growth, if reduction targets were set. "That is what people want to see, [emissions] peaking as soon as possible. I expect China will come out with its position, America will come out with its position and so on. […]. ^ top ^

Japan barred from HK port call (SCMP)
2009-08-19
China has rejected a Hong Kong port call by a Japanese naval training fleet, apparently in anger after Tokyo hosted exiled Uygur leader Rebiya Kadeer last month, Japanese media reported yesterday. Beijing told the Japanese embassy last Wednesday that it would be difficult to accept the three ships, citing "sensitive issues", the English-language version of the Asahi newspaper quoted unidentified Japanese government sources as saying. Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force had reportedly asked Beijing whether the two training vessels and one destroyer, on a 13-nation tour, could make an unscheduled stop in Hong Kong late this month or early next. The newspaper said Chinese officials did not give specific reasons for denying the port call but expressed displeasure with Tokyo for allowing Ms Kadeer to visit and speak in Japan last month. In Beijing - Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a brief statement: "Due to technical reasons, it is not convenient for China to receive the Japanese Self-Defence Forces warships in Hong Kong." […]. ^ top ^

Islamic group checks conditions in Xinjiang (SCMP)
2009-08-19
A delegation representing Islamic countries around the world is visiting Xinjiang, where ethnic rioting last month involving minority Muslims left nearly 200 people dead, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The Saudi-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference, whose membership includes 57 countries, aims to "observe [at] first hand the conditions of Muslims" in Xinjiang, the conference said on its website. China has been worried that the violence in Xinjiang could overshadow its developing ties with the Islamic world. Although the riots drew a muted response from most Muslim countries, Iran and Turkey criticised China and the crackdown that followed. "The delegation will also examine the root causes that gave rise to the recent outbreak of violence and the means to tackle the key causes behind the crisis," the conference's statement said. […]. ^ top ^

China, Brazil agree to further cooperation between land forces (Xinhua)
2009-08-17
Beijing - China and Brazil agreed here on Monday to further military ties, especially cooperation between the two land forces. Since China and Brazil began diplomatic ties 35 years ago, their relations have developed rapidly, and bilateral military ties have developed in the same way too, said Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army. Chen made his comments in a meeting here with Raymundo Cerqueira, commander of Land Operation of Brazilian Armed Forces. Chen hoped both countries could make efforts to advance the relations between the two land forces, in a bid to promote the long-term development of military ties and deepen the Sino-Brazilian strategic partnership. […] He said Brazil was willing to work with China to further enhance military ties, especially between the two land forces. ^ top ^

Beijing - Asean clear way for free-trade pact (SCMP)
2009-08-17
China and Southeast Asian countries have successfully concluded talks on setting up a free-trade zone next year to boost economic integration and ease concerns about China's growing international clout. A pact promoting investment links was signed on Saturday in Bangkok between Commerce Minister Chen Deming and economic ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). […] Mr Chen said free and fair mutual investment would be established after barriers to trade in goods and services had been removed. Up to 7,000 items would have no tariffs from next year in the joint market of nearly 2 billion people. Chinese people would be able to enjoy a variety of Southeast Asian fruits and Asean residents could purchase Chinese clothes and electrical appliances at cheaper prices, he said. Despite the recession, China's investment in Asean countries has surged, with Premier Wen Jiabao announcing in April a US$10 billion fund to support the region's infrastructural development. […]. ^ top ^

U.S. testing new technology to offer Chinese web users blocked info (Xinhua)
2009-08-15
Beijing - The U.S. government is testing a new technology in China that could soon give the country's 300 million web users another way to access information blocked by domestic filters, the weekend edition of China Daily reported. The "feed over email" (FOE) system being tested by the U.S. would allow people living in China to access blocked information via encrypted news feeds sent to foreign email accounts. "The system will provide an easier channel to circumvent web filters," Ken Berman, head of IT at the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors, was quoted by China Daily as saying. Berman said the agency that runs Voice of America, a government-funded international broadcasting service, has been running trials of the new software for six months and expects it to be available for widespread use by the end of this year. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Anger mounts as number of poisoned children climbs (SCMP)
2009-08-21
The number of children poisoned by a factory in Wugang, Hunan province, had risen to 1,354, state media reported yesterday. This growing public-health crisis comes as officials at the centre of another poisoning outbreak in Shaanxi province admitted that a factory that was supposed to have been shut down was still operating. In Hunan, parents from four villages in Wenping township were told by officials on Wednesday that about 200 children who lived near a Jinglian manganese-processing factory were suffering from lead poisoning. But yesterday a Xinhua report said 70 per cent of the 1,958 children in the four villages were poisoned. […] Another villager said they felt angry, but helpless, in the face of the government's offer of 750 yuan (HK$850) for each poisoned child. […] "The township government has posted a notice everywhere this week saying it will trace the people who led the August 8 protest. They are bullies. But we are just peasants - how can we fight against an armed government?" […]. ^ top ^

Beijing updates list of 'essential' medicines (SCMP)
2009-08-20
The Ministry of Health issued a list of 307 essential drugs on Tuesday that doctors are obligated to prescribe first as part of a medical reform plan that aims to provide an adequate supply of medicines, especially in rural areas, and cut patient costs. But some experts said the new list would not solve the problem of high medical costs. The list, which will come into effect on September 21, features 205 medicines produced in the laboratory and 102 made naturally from Chinese herbs. In addition, a third group of medicines is being listed for the first time that have been converted from herbal form into tablet form, but no number was given. The 307 drugs make up fewer than one-sixth of the 2,033 drugs on the current list, which was issued five years ago. "The cost of all drugs on the 2009 essential-drugs list can be recovered... but for the 2004 essential-drugs list, the cost of only part of 2,033 drugs could be reclaimed," the ministry said in a statement accompanying the list. […]. ^ top ^

Listen to petitioners' woes, local officials told (SCMP)
2009-08-20
The Communist Party has issued a regulation urging local officials to meet every month with people upset with what they see as injustices, in a bid to stop them travelling to Beijing to petition the central government. Petitioners flock to the capital by the thousands to air complaints after their local governments ignore them. The system, which has its roots in China's imperial past when people petitioned the emperor, is considered overwhelmed and inefficient, and a very small percentage of cases are ever resolved. Xinhua said the inability of the current system to address the petitioners' cases had marred the public's perception of justice. To rectify this, Communist Party legal officials would visit areas with a high number of petitioners who come to Beijing - and accept cases on the spot, Xinhua reported. […] Government websites should also receive petitions online and they should be solved within 60 days. […]. ^ top ^

Sleepless nights for police as crime crusade takes its toll (SCMP)
2009-08-20
Chongqing's police officers are facing the most severe test of their careers as the municipality charges ahead with a crusade against organised crime - in which members of the police force are as much the target of investigations as triad members. More than 1,500 people have been arrested so far since the crackdown began in June. The number of police officers arrested has not been announced, but a source with the Chongqing police said the number was at least in the hundreds. With the fall of former deputy police chief Wen Qiang, the rest of the Chongqing police force has been shrouded in suspicion that it acted as a "protective umbrella" for the rampant gang activity in the southwestern municipality. […] When billionaire and Chongqing People's Congress representative Li Qiang was arrested, his confiscated mobile phone showed many warning messages from police officers, according to the same [China Newsweek] expose. […] A total of 502 cadres from Chongqing's police, procuratorate and courts have already been put under investigation for corruption this year to the end of July, Chinese Newsweek reported yesterday. […]. ^ top ^

Rights lawyer arrested in new blow to activists (SCMP)
2009-08-19
A pioneering legal rights advocate had been formally arrested for tax evasion nearly three weeks after he was detained, one of his lawyers said yesterday, the latest blow to the country's activist community. Xu Zhiyong, co-founder of the Open Constitution Initiative, or Gongmeng, had been out of contact since he was seized from his home by security officials at dawn on July 29. […] "I've now confirmed that Xu Zhiyong was formally arrested. The charge is tax evasion," said Li Fangping, one of Mr Xu's lawyers. Notice of the arrest was sent to his employer, the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, said Teng Biao, another high-profile rights lawyer close to Mr Xu. Mr Teng said the arrest was unwarranted and would set back efforts to bolster the rule of law. "In the short term, this arrest will affect our work, but from a long-term perspective, it can't completely stop our work," he said. "Chinese society wants to move towards the rule of law." If tried and found guilty, Mr Xu could be jailed for up to seven years under the tax evasion charge, Mr Teng added. Made up of scholars, lawyers and rights advocates, Mr Xu's Gongmeng group has annoyed Beijing with a series of high-profile cases, including providing legal aid to victims of baby milk formula tainted with melamine and issuing a report criticising the handling of unrest across the Tibetan plateau last year. […]. ^ top ^

Wen pushes rural pension plan (SCMP)
2009-08-19
Premier Wen Jiabao urged governments at all levels yesterday to "squeeze out money" from their budgets to help fund the mainland's pilot rural pension system, even at the cost of cutting back other government-sponsored projects. The tone was in line with several of Mr Wen's previous talks that emphasised villagers' basic interests should be guaranteed, especially as the mainland's economy was facing great difficulties because of the recession. Addressing a work conference on voluntary rural pension funds, Mr Wen asked that promised funding from central and local governments be funnelled promptly to realise the goal of covering at least 10 per cent of the 800 million rural population by the end of the year. "Even at a time when our finances are stretched thin, we have to get this done by cutting or shrinking the size of other projects," he told China Central Television. He urged local governments to explain the pension system in detail to rural residents and win their approval so people could contribute to the collective pension fund. The State Council set up a voluntary pension system in rural areas in March to improve living standards for rural residents, reduce the income gap between urban and rural areas and maintain rural stability. […]. ^ top ^

128m yuan tax fraud linked to building of Qinghai-Tibet railway (SCMP)
2009-08-18
When it comes to the widespread tactic of using fake receipts for tax evasion on the mainland, not even the government's pet construction project, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, is immune. More than 20 companies and people who supplied construction materials from gravel and steel to diesel and power cables are facing tax evasion charges for submitting fake receipts of up to 128 million yuan (HK$145 million) to the government unit in charge of constructing the Xining to Golmud stretch of the railway. The heavy reliance on the issue and collection of fa piao (official receipts issued by the tax bureaus), as evidence of business deals for tax purposes, had made exploitation of fake receipts a peculiar and chronic headache for tax authorities, mainland tax experts said. […] In the construction of the railway alone, the Qinghai provincial tax bureau has confiscated 1,154 fake receipts totalling 4.94 million yuan. […] "Exercising taxation control through the use of the official receipts is a form of management that awaits reform," Chinese Academy of Social Sciences economics professor He Zhenyi said. […]. ^ top ^

China to complete eight-hour railway network around Beijing (Xinhua)
2009-08-15
Beijing - Passengers would be able to travel between Beijing and most capital cities in China in eight hours by 2012, through a nationwide express railway network, according to the Ministry of Railways. […] The network would consist of four north-south and four west-east lines of railways throughout the country, which would connect most capital cities and major cities in China, including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Taiyuan and Nanjing. […] China planned to invest at least 700 billion yuan (102.49 billion U.S. dollars) per year in railway construction over the next three years, said Vice Railway Minister Wang Zhiguo Monday. By the end of this year, China would have a total of 86,000 km rail lines, second only to the United States, Wang said. ^ top ^

Chinese gov't seeks better tracking of donations (China Daily)
2009-08-16
Beijing - A new government initiative is being undertaken that will allow the public to see how their donations to charity are being used. The China Charity Information Center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs has started research on the new program, Liu Youping, the center's deputy director, said at a non-government organizations (NGOs) forum on Thursday. But he did not elaborate about the details. As more Chinese are making donations to charity, the use of the money by the government and the NGOs has become a major concern. Many Chinese donated money to help the victims of last year's May 12 Sichuan earthquake, for example. […] In China, many donations are collected through businesses or various people who coordinate fund drives. About 97 percent of people who give money to charity have no idea which organization has taken their donation and 96 percent are not sure how the money is used, according to a recent poll by the Beijing News and China's popular web forum of 163.com. […]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

800,000 recruited as informants in run-up to 60th anniversary (SCMP)
2009-08-21
Beijing police are mobilising 800,000 residents for a two-month crime-watch campaign in a bid to boost public security ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. The China Police Daily said the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau on Wednesday had called on all officers to reinforce the security measures used for last year's Olympic Games in preparation for the anniversary on October 1. The Beijing Times said that 35 police officers in the capital had taken part in a competition to determine who will mobilise the most residents. The campaign would focus on settlements of migrant workers, old residential areas, borders between urban and rural areas, public service areas and places known to be centres of crime, it said. […] The Beijing Daily said that effective from Wednesday, people in the capital buying flammable material would need to register their personal information, including identity card copies and contact numbers, in the next two months for the sake of record-keeping. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai poised to meet its GDP goal, mayor says (Shanghai Daily)
2009-08-19
Beijing - Shanghai's economy performed better in the second quarter than it did in the first three months and is on track to meet the city's goal of 9 percent growth for the year, Mayor Han Zheng told local lawmakers yesterday. "The city's economy performed better than expected over the first half of the year - and even better in July," Han said at a mid-year session of the Shanghai People's Congress. Local gross domestic product improved to a 7.9 percent rise in the second quarter after a lackluster 3.1 percent rise in the first three months, he indicated. Shanghai's economic powerhouse, its service sector, posted 14.2 percent growth in the first half from a year ago. The expansion was reflected in increasing transactions in the stock, property and car markets, Han added. […] The mayor also re-emphasized that the city will take further steps to cool its rapidly rising real estate prices by enlarging the land supply. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Hammer blow to Guangzhou as heavy industry goes to Zhanjiang (SCMP)
2009-08-18
The decision to move a major petrochemical refinery from Nansha to Zhanjiang has left the Guangzhou district at a crossroads. […] The plan, first proposed by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in 2005 and accepted by Guangdong and mainland oil refiner Sinopec, pledged a total investment of US$5 billion, at the time the biggest foreign-invested project on the mainland. Strong opposition from Hong Kong over the environmental impact of the plant, coupled with his own reservations, prompted Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang to announce last month that it would be relocated to Zhanjiang, a relatively undeveloped port city in the west of the province. The loss of the petrochemical project was not the first blow for Nansha. Last year Guangdong Iron and Steel Group chose Zhanjiang instead for a major hub. […] Increasingly, it seems that Nansha is caught in a chicken-and-egg conundrum. Until investors see which direction it takes, they are likely to hold back. But with the petrochemical plan now out of the window, officials in Guangzhou and Nansha are being forced to come up with a plan B - or perhaps plan D. […]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK, Guangdong sign eight pacts to boost co-operation (SCMP)
2009-08-20
Hong Kong and Guangdong yesterday signed eight pacts to strengthen co-operation, including a letter of intent on the development of service sectors and high-end industries in Qianhai, Shenzhen, and collaboration in other areas. The agreements covered proposals to increase exchanges in financial development, disease prevention and control, education, environmental protection and intellectual property protection. The deals were struck at the 12th plenary session of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference. About 50 Guangdong officials, led by governor Huang Huahua, travelled to Hong Kong for the two-hour meeting, with their counterparts led by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. […] Mr Huang said he believed the co-operation measures would aid the economic recovery in both places. By promoting collaboration among Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong, he said the region would hopefully become the most competitive place in the Asia-Pacific area. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taipei approves HK$23.5b for typhoon reconstruction (SCMP)
2009-08-21
The besieged Taiwanese government has approved a special NT$100 billion (HK$23.5 billion) budget for typhoon reconstruction in an attempt to regain public support following widespread outrage over its response to the Typhoon Morakot disaster. Vowing to help thousands of victims rebuild homes and return to normal life, Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan yesterday approved the three-year special budget. Funding will come from selling government stakes in a local bank and by issuing public bonds. […] Official figures put the death toll at 141, with 440 missing. But the figures have yet to include 466 people missing after a mudslide five storeys high levelled Hsiaolin village in Kaohsiung on August 9. […] While the impact on the economy in general appears to be small, tourism has been hit hard. […] According to a TVBS poll, Mr Ma's approval rating in June last year, one month after he assumed office, stood at 41 per cent, and it slipped to 16 per cent on Wednesday. For Dr Liu, it dropped from 43 per cent to 13 per cent. The vice-minister of foreign affairs, Andrew Hsia Li-yan, who had rejected overseas aid in the disaster, tendered his resignation on Monday. It would be taken up as part of a cabinet reshuffle early next month, Dr Liu has said. ^ top ^

Beijing dismisses Taiwan's claims over prefab houses (SCMP)
2009-08-20
Beijing dismissed accusations yesterday that the prefabricated houses it sent to Taiwan contained harmful chemicals, after a township on the island initially declined the donation. Until a reversal yesterday morning, Chiatung, one of the areas hit hardest by the flooding and mudslides caused by Typhoon Morakot on August 8, turned down the offer of 100 quick-assembly houses that arrived on Tuesday in 14 containers from Guangdong. Township chief Lai Hsien-he said news reports suggested that the prefabricated houses could contain harmful chemicals and residents were afraid of living in such shelters. […] Taiwanese media said there were reports of 10 per cent of pregnant women having miscarriages or still-born babies after living in prefabricated houses following the devastating earthquake in Sichuan in May last year. […] Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office rejected the criticism. "Some politicians in Taiwan have said irresponsible things. They intentionally want to hurt and alienate the relationship between people across the strait," said Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for the office. Ms Fan said the mobile homes were made according to designs by Taiwan and met environmental standards set by the mainland, Taiwan and international organisations. […] Ms Fan would not comment yesterday on Taiwanese media reports that the island had failed to promptly respond to offers of international aid because its president, Ma Ying-jeou, was waiting for Beijing's approval. ^ top ^

US sends aircraft to Taiwan to aid typhoon rescue effort (SCMP)
2009-08-17
The United States flew aircraft to Taiwan yesterday as the mainland offered to send helicopters to help rescue more than 1,300 people still stranded a week after Typhoon Morakot struck. […] A US military C-130 transport aircraft landed in Tainan county yesterday afternoon after arriving from an American airbase in Okinawa, Japan, the Defence Ministry said. The United States was also sending two heavy-lift military helicopters to help in relief efforts, said Transport Minister Mao Chih-kuo, who is also in charge of the emergency response. The US flights marked the first American military deployment in Taiwan since 1979, when US troops were last based there. But those troops left after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. […] More than 59 countries had offered aid to Taiwan, it said. Pope Benedict donated US$50,000. And in a sign of warming relations with the mainland, Beijing offered to provide helicopters, the Taipei-based United Daily News quoted Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, as saying. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan monks jailed, rights group says (SCMP)
2009-08-19
A group of Tibetan Buddhist monks and laymen were sentenced to up to seven years in prison over a March attack on a police station in the northwest, a Tibetan human rights monitoring group said. The eight were sentenced last Thursday by a court in Machen county, Qinghai, according to a report received yesterday from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a group based in Dharamsala, India, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile. It said the group had been found guilty of inciting the attack, but did not say when the trial was. Scores of residents reportedly took part in the violence, although the amount of damage and the number of arrests remain unclear. Local officials have refused to release information about the incident, and a court clerk reached by telephone said she had no knowledge of the case. She declined to give her name. […] The violence was prompted by the suicide of a monk who jumped into the nearby Yellow River to escape police interrogation, March reports said. […]. ^ top ^

7 Tibetans held from central Nepal (Xinhua)
2009-08-17
Kathmandu - The Nepal police on Monday have detained seven Tibetan citizens from a village close to the Nepal-China border in Dolkha district, some 60 km north of capital Kathmandu, a local news website eKantipur reported. According to the report, the detained Tibetan citizens were trying to enter Nepal illegally. Among the detained seven Tibetans, four males and three females were arrested from Lamabagar Village Development Committee of the District, the report quoted Inspector Hari Basnet of the District Police Office. Basnet informed that the arrestees have been sent to the Immigration Department in Kathmandu. According to him, the Tibetans said that they had entered Nepali soils to go to India. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China becomes Japan's largest trading partner in first half of 2009 (Xinhua)
2009-08-19
Tokyo - China becomes Japan's biggest trading partner in both exports and imports in the first six months this year, as the global economic downturn affected Japan-U.S. trade more seriously, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) said Wednesday. Exports to China fell 25.3 percent from a year earlier to 46.5 billion dollars and imports from the country dropped 17.8 percent to 56.2 billion dollars, however, trading with other countries and regions including the United States showed larger declines, JETRO said in its report. It is the first time exports to China surpassed those to the United States. In the January-June period, the trade with China accounted for 20.4 percent of the total trade volume of Japan, while that with the United States accounted for 13.7 percent and that with South Korea 6.1 percent. JETRO also projected a decline of Sino-Japanese trade for the whole year of 2009, the first yearly contraction since 1998 Asian financial crisis. ^ top ^

Sinopec spends $7.5 bln on China's largest overseas takeover (Xinhua)
2009-08-18
Beijing - China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) announced Tuesday it has bought Geneva-based Addax Petroleum Corp. through its wholly-owned Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (SIPC). SIPC's bid for Addax is 52.8 Canadian dollars (46 U.S. dollars) per share, totaling more than 8.32 billion Canadian dollars (7.56 billion U.S. dollars), the largest by cost overseas takeover transaction yet made by a Chinese oil company. After acquisition of all the common shares of Addax, Sinopec will also take over all convertible bonds and equity options held by Addax, after which Addax will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sinopec, said an inner person with Sinopec Group. In a statement, Sinopec said it would maintain the corporate management and all employees of Addax, and only send a few managers and technicians from Sinopec. "The goal is to make Addax a real international oil and gas exploration and development company in Sinopec group," said the company. […] The acquisition of Addax, whose oil and gas reserves are similar to a middle-sized oil field in China, will accelerate Sinopec's international growth strategy and optimize its offshore oil and gas asset portfolio, said Zhang Kuikuan, general manager of Beijing Jcache Energy Information Services. […] The Geneva-based Addax Petroleum, listed in London and Toronto, is one of the largest independent oil producers in West Africa and the Middle East. Total earnings of the company are 3.76 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 with its net profit reaching 784 million U.S. dollars. ^ top ^

China's direct investment in Africa up 81% in 1H (Xinhua)
2009-08-18
Beijing - China's direct investment in Africa rose 81 percent in the first half year from the same period last year to 552 million U.S. dollars, according to a report released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) Tuesday. Trade between China and African countries, however, slumped 30.5 percent to 37.07 billion U.S. dollars in first six months because of the global economic downturn, according to the report. In the first half year, Chinese enterprises signed 22.45 billion U.S. dollars of new labor service contracts in Africa, up 25 percent year on year, and completed 11.53 billion U.S. dollars of business volume, up 61.1 percent year on year. China maintains trade with 53 African countries and has been providing zero-tariff treatment for the poorest African developing countries from 2005 on. About 890 million U.S. dollars of African products had enjoyed preferential treatment by the end of June, according to the ministry. About 1,000 Chinese enterprises have been approved or registered to do business in Africa, involving fields like trade, manufacturing, resources development, transportation, agriculture and agricultural products processing, said the ministry. ^ top ^

China's FDI falls 35.7% in July (Xinhua)
2009-08-17
Beijing - China received 5.36 billion U.S. dollars of foreign direct investment (FDI) in July, down 35.7 percent year on year, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Yao Jianon Monday. China's total export-import volume between January and July decreased by 22.7 percent year on year to 1146.71 billion U.S. dollars. Imports and exports volume for July amounted to 200 billion U.S. dollars, illustrating smaller decline in foreign trade, Yao said. […] Although the FDI is falling, the rate of decline in China was much smaller than the world average, indicating that China had a better investment environment than other developing countries, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce. According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development from February to May among 241multinational corporations, China was still the most attractive country to foreign capitals. […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

New school rules target swine flu (SCMP)
2009-08-17
The mainland has issued strict rules to schools to curb the spread of swine flu, urging them to cut class sizes and to be prepared to delay the start of the new academic year, state media said yesterday. The ministries of education and health issued a notice urging all pupils who had come into close contact with people infected with the flu, officially called A(H1N1), to stay home for at least seven days, Xinhua reported. Just over two weeks ahead of the start of the school year, education authorities in areas under serious threat were given the authority to postpone the start of the term. Pupils who displayed flu symptoms seven days ahead of the term would only be allowed back to school after making a full recovery, Xinhua said. […] The health ministry has recorded a total of 2,537 cases of swine flu, none of them fatal. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Pyongyang delegates lobby for talks with US (SCMP)
2009-08-21
Former UN envoy Bill Richardson said Pyongyang was pushing for one-on-one talks with the United States as he prepared for a second round of discussions with a North Korean delegation yesterday. The meetings have suggested a thawing in relations between the isolated state and the US at the same time as Pyongyang has warmed towards Seoul. In the latest conciliatory gesture, North Korea promised the South it would remove cross-border restrictions and temporarily restore an official channel of communications today, officials said. […] Mr Richardson, governor of New Mexico, said he was hearing from the North Korean delegation that Pyongyang believed its decision this month to release two reporters to former US president Bill Clinton merited a change of heart from Washington. "We had productive talks," he said on Wednesday. "The North Koreans obviously used the journalists as a bargaining chip. What I believe they want in return is, all right, the US is now ready to talk to us directly." […] State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said no message had been passed to Mr Richardson to give to the North Koreans and reiterated Washington's long-standing policy: "Our goal is the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula." South Korea, meanwhile, has accepted the North's request to send a delegation to pay respects to late former president Kim Dae-jung. ^ top ^

DPRK says U.S.-South Korea's joint military exercises means nuclear attack (Xinhua)
2009-08-19
Pyongyang - The joint military exercises by the United States and South Korean is a scheme for aggression to mount a preemptive nuclear attack on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the official news agency KCNA quoted a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry as saying on Wednesday. ^ top ^

S Korean president proposes inter-Korean talks on denuclearization, arms reduction (Xinhua)
2009-08-16
[…] South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Saturday urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to begin talks on ways to reduce arms, together with denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, in a bid to bring peace in the region. In his speech to celebrate the nation's 64th Liberation Day, President Lee, in addition to discussing other domestic issues, highlighted the need for talks between the two Koreas. "I am sincerely looking forward to beginning open-minded dialogue with North Korea (the DPRK) on how it can determine to abandon its nuclear program," Lee said. […] The president elaborated his plan by mentioning launching high-level talks to establish an inter-Korean economic community and promoting a project on economic, educational, fiscal, infrastructure, ways-of-living development. President Lee also said it is necessary to discuss over reducing the two sides' arms, which he said would lead to a sharp decrease in the two nations' military budgets and, thus, would be helpful to both economies. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian Expects More Harvest This Year (UB Post)
2009-08-18
Mongolia's main agricultural region, Selenge province, is expected to harvest 210,000 metric tons of crops this year alone compared to last year's nationwide figure of 200,000 tons of crop thanks to the Government's agro-promotion campaign Atar-III. Prime Minister S.Bayar last week visited the northern province to get introduced with preparation works of the nearing harvesting season that starts from August 25 to October 1. Two years ago, Mongolian agricultural farmers supplied 25 percent of its own domestic needs of wheat, a little progress of the agro industry after the complete collapse of socialist regime, during which Mongolia used to supply 100 percent of its domestic needs of wheat, potatoes and vegetables. Last year, fifty percent of the domestic needs of wheat has been supplied by domestic farmers, while other half is relied on import from foreign country. “This year 75 percent of local demands for wheat and vegetables will be supplied by our local farmers,” cabinet head said in Nomgon valley of Selenge aimag. “By 2010, Mongolia will supply 100 percent of its own domestic needs with its home-grown wheat and vegetables,” Bayar said. ^ top ^

Parliament Calls Extraordinary Session on Aug.19 (UB Post)
2009-08-18
The State Great Hural (Parliament) will convene its extraordinary session on August 19-20 regarding the Government-submitted draft amendments to four different laws on windfall profits tax, corporate income tax, law on water, and road, which are essential for successful conclusion of multi-billion dollar investment agreement on Oyu Tolgoi, world-class copper and gold deposit located in Omnogobi province. Standing Committee on Budgets is scheduled to discuss annulment of windfall profits tax law, and changes to corporate income tax law on August 19 while Standing Committee on Nature, Food, and Agriculture and Standing Committee on Economics will discuss changes to law on water and vehicle roads respectfully. The Parliament is also expected to hear a report by the President of Bank of Mongolia (central bank) L.Purevdorj on economic stimulation plan. ^ top ^

Prices fall (www.news.mn)
2009-08-14
The National Statistics Office has revealed data showing the national consumer price index in July fell 1.3% from June and was only 4.9% higher than in July 2008. A year-on-year rise of less than 5% is a big improvement but also reflects lower demand brought about by lack of purchasing power. GDP in January-June 2009 was 1.3% less than in the same period last year. ^ 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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