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
  9.11-13.11.09, No. 294  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Obama seeks China town hall event (SCMP)
2009-11-13
US President Barack Obama wants to engage the Chinese public more directly - and without interference - on his trip to China by holding a town hall meeting in Shanghai that is broadcast live. Obama's request marks a break from tradition whereby previous visiting US presidents addressed a small, select group of students at an elite university, and responded to scripted questions - with the censor's finger ready at the button during the broadcast of the event. An American diplomat […] said an agreement had yet to be reached on the town hall address. Negotiations were continuing over issues such as whether media other than China Central Television would be allowed in, whether the questions would really be unscripted, and whether the event would be broadcast live. The diplomat said the size of the audience had already been scaled down to 600, from the planned 1,000 to 1,500 […] The live broadcast is the main issue to be resolved. The event could be cancelled if there was no live coverage, the diplomat said […] the idea of taking spontaneous questions from the floor at a public event is causing jitters among mainland authorities obsessed with keeping things under tight control. In January, mainland state television cut away from Obama's inauguration speech when he referred to the defeat of "fascism and communism" […] Obama will hold talks with President Hu Jintao on Tuesday and Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday […] Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday that because of Obama's background and admiration for Abraham Lincoln, who as president opposed the secession of the southern US states and sought to abolish slavery, he should also oppose any effort towards Tibetan independence, as Tibetan society under the Dalai Lama would feature the same kind of suppression […] Obama did not meet the Dalai Lama when he was in Washington last month. But the Dalai Lama has said the two may meet after Obama's China trip. Qin said Beijing opposed any such meeting and that the issue was among China's core concerns. ^ top ^

Talks to free 25 Chinese crew going well, official says (SCMP)
2009-11-13
Negotiations to free 25 Chinese crewmen on the bulk carrier De Xin Hai were going smoothly and could result in their release within six to eight weeks, a Somali anti-piracy official said. Ismail Haji Noor, head of anti-piracy for Somalia's transitional federal government, said all crew members were in good health when an envoy was sent on Tuesday to the vessel anchored in a pirate stronghold on the country's east coast […] It is not clear who is negotiating with the pirates, Chinese government officials or representatives of the company that owns the ship. Beijing earlier said it would do whatever it could to help free the crewmen but it never said it was in direct talks with the pirates […] Noor said negotiations were proceeding faster than normal, though records showed most of the six cargo ships with Chinese links that had been hijacked off Somalia in the past year were released within three months after ransoms were paid […] Noor said timely negotiations and effective communication with pirates were key to swift releases of ships and crew. But he said Beijing's bid to boost anti-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa during an international anti-piracy meeting had triggered fears of a possible slaughter in Somalia. He said Somali newspapers worried that "if China takes the lead, a lot of people will be killed. But I believe China can do it much better than others" [...] Specialists in Somali piracy estimated that the ransom was likely to be between US$1 million and US$2 million. Meanwhile, the fourth Chinese naval convoy arrived in the Gulf of Aden yesterday as part of international efforts to protect vessels from Somali pirates, who seized two more ships this week. ^ top ^

Chinese president meets Singaporean PM on cooperation (Global Times)
2009-11-13
Chinese President Hu Jintao made a six-point proposal for strengthening cooperation between China and Singapore during his meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday […] Firstly, the two countries should maintain the momentum of frequent high-level contact […] Secondly, the two countries should give full play to bilateral cooperation mechanism […] Thirdly, China and Singapore should deepen economic and trade cooperation. He said the two sides should continue to develop the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City, the top two cooperative projects between the two governments. In the process of implementing the China-Singapore free trade arrangement, both sides should expand channels and space for the Chinese companies to invest in Singapore […] Fourthly, the two countries should expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges. He said the two countries would jointly set up the fourth public university and a China Culture Center in Singapore […] Fifthly, the two sides should step up defense and security cooperation. Hu proposed that the two sides should carry out cooperation in non-traditional security areas, including humanitarian assistance, maritime rescue, safeguarding security in the Malacca Straits and anti-terrorism. And last, the two countries should promote multilateral cooperation. […] in such multilateral arenas as East Asia cooperation, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the United Nations […] After their meeting, the two leaders attended the signing ceremony of cooperation agreements between the two countries. During his stay in Singapore, President Hu will also attend the economic leaders meeting of the APEC slated for Nov. 14-15. ^ top ^

Sino-US provincial/state legislative leaders forum concluded in Beijing (Xinhua)
2009-11-13
The first Sino-US provincial/state legislative leaders forum was concluded in Beijing on Thursday. The forum covered discussions on addressing the financial crisis, environmental protection and Sino-US cooperation in related areas. About 200 representatives from the business and legislative circles of the two countries attended the forum and exchanged views on those topics […] The forum, held from Wednesday to Thursday, was co-organized by the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs, the US State Legislative Leaders Foundation, General Office of the Standing Committee of China's NPC and China Association for International Friendly Contact. ^ top ^

Obama visit to solidify U.S.-China relationship (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-12
U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China next week would solidify the U.S.-China relationship, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said on Wednesday. At a news briefing in Beijing, Huntsman said Obama would be engaged in political and diplomatic discussions in China, which were "really the central pieces of his visit." […] The topics for discussion between Obama and Chinese leaders included the global economy, free trade, regional security, clean energy and climate change, he said. Obama will visit China from Nov. 15 to 18 as part of his Asia tour. It will be his first visit to China since he taking office […] Obama will arrive in Shanghai on Sunday after attending the APEC meeting in Singapore and will be accompanied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the ambassador said. Huntsman said frictions such as recent trade disputes were inevitable given the size of bilateral economic engagement, but it was important for both sides to seek solutions through proper channels […] "Our growth over the last 30 years has brought us to the point where we can manage these trade challenges without poisoning or affecting the totality of our bilateral relationship," he said. ^ top ^

State welcome in Malaysia as Hu kicks off regional diplomacy (SCMP)
2009-11-11
President Hu Jintao was greeted in Malaysia with a 21-gun salute yesterday as he began his first round of regional diplomacy ahead of the Apec summit in neighbouring Singapore. Hu, the first Chinese leader to visit Malaysia in 15 years, was given a state welcome at Parliament Square by the country's king, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, and Prime Minister Najib Razak […] Najib visited China in June and signed a joint-action plan on strategic co-operation. Today the two leaders will hold talks and sign several agreements. A senior Finance Ministry official said one of the agreements involves the sale of a stake in leading Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby, and another would see a major transport project awarded to a Chinese company. Tomorrow Hu will travel to Singapore to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit with US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and regional leaders. Chia Oai Peng, from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, said the visit reflected a shift towards China by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) […] Before departing for Singapore, Hu will travel south to tour the historic enclave of Malacca […] China became Malaysia's biggest trading partner this year, surpassing Singapore, the US and Japan. ^ top ^

Premier Wen refutes 'neocolonialism' accusation (Global Times)
2009-11-11
Premier Wen Jiabao refuted allegations that China is practicing neocolonialism in Africa during a press conference in Egypt on November 8, during the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. "Any person who is familiar with China-Africa interaction knows that relations between the two sides did not begin yesterday," said Wen […] China has been playing a key role in promoting the development of Africa, working on infrastructure projects and supporting African nations by helping them become financially independent of against colonial powers in the early 1950s and 1960s. But China did not take a "single drop of oil or a single ton of minerals" at that time […] The Chinese premier argued that today China's imports of African mineral resources and energy account for only 13 percent of the continent's total exports and its investments in Africa's oil and gas sectors were only one-sixteenth of the total in the continent. "So why do some people only criticize China?" Wen asked […] Over the past eight years, trade between China and Africa has surged tenfold to about $107 billion by the end of 2008 […] However, these numbers signaling prosperous bilateral ties have overshadowed many western countries and made them uneasy. Some regard it as a new way for China to boost itself by "colonializing" the African continent […] "Europe and the US brought to Africa their political systems which proved not beneficial. That's why Africa chooses China," said John Lagerkvist, an expert on China from the Institute of International Studies in Sweden […] The great change China helped promote through its investment in construction and loans in Africa in 1960s is what the former colonial powers did not give, according to Lagerkvist […]. ^ top ^

China to sell fighter jets to Pakistan in critical deal for regional politics (SCMP)
2009-11-10
China has agreed to sell its most advanced jet fighter, the J-10, to Pakistan in what is set to be a landmark deal for the nation's defence industry and the region's geopolitical balance, both sides have confirmed […] Pakistan would eventually order as many as 150 J-10s from China, depending on the final pricing […] The Jian-10 is China's first domestically made multi-role, all-weather fighter aircraft equipped with state-of-the-art technology. It is said to be comparable to American F-16C/D fighters in capability. The jet fighter - whose name means annihilation […] went into service only six years ago and is regarded as the crown jewel of the PLA air force. While Pakistan has always expressed a keen interest in buying the aircraft, China has been reluctant to talk openly about such a prospect until now […] Although China has exported military aircraft to Pakistan before and the two sides had jointly developed the FC-1 lightweight jet fighter, the sale of the J-10s marks a breakthrough for the Chinese defence industry. The deal could open the door for AVIC to sell J-10s to other countries. Iran, Thailand and Myanmar have already expressed interest, according to mainland press reports. The sale is also certain to raise concern from India, Pakistan's regional rival, and may further strain already tense relations between New Delhi and Beijing […]. ^ top ^

Beijing seeks lead role in piracy fight: Meeting supports more action (SCMP)
2009-11-10
China has formally requested to take a lead role in co-ordinating international anti-piracy operations off Somalia - an unprecedented move that would be an expansion of its historic deployment of warships to the Indian Ocean. Beijing officials lodged the request during a closed-door meeting at the weekend involving representatives of the key navies involved in protecting vital sea lanes between Asia and Europe as they pass round the Horn of Africa into the Gulf of Aden. The hastily arranged meeting […] also confirmed the need for more warships to be sent to the area and greater co-ordination efforts […] The meeting follows the hijacking of a Chinese bulk carrier three weeks ago - the first since three Chinese warships started patrolling off Somalia in January. Beijing and the ship's owners are involved in secret talks over a ransom to free the 25 Chinese crew of the De Xin Hai, who are being held on the ship anchored in a pirate stronghold on Somalia's east coast […] The Chinese warships did not risk any attempt to stop the pirates in the three days it took to get the De Xin Hai to shore - a situation military analysts believe has rankled in Beijing and forced a new approach. Commander John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union's naval task force off Somalia, confirmed that China had requested taking a turn to lead the monthly meetings in Bahrain that co-ordinate and plan deployments involving the 40-odd navies participating in anti-piracy efforts. Known as Shade - shared awareness and deployments - the meetings are considered crucial to operating the shipping lanes into the Red Sea […] Leading Shade meetings would give Beijing significant responsibility and clout without the need for closer engagement at sea with other navies through joining a flotilla - which would involve areas of operational secrecy that China was unlikely to want to share, Bateman said. A decision on China's leadership will be made at the next Shade meeting in Bahrain early next month. ^ top ^

4th Ministerial Conference of FOCAC concludes in Egypt (Xinhua)
2009-11-10
The 4th Ministerial Conference of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC) wrapped up in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, with the adoption of the Declaration of Sharm el-Sheikh and Sharm el-Sheikh Action Plan, defining new programs of cooperation between the two sides in the next three years. The Declaration of Sharm el-Sheikh, the political document of the conference, sets forth the guiding principles of China-Africa cooperation, reflects the views and consensus of both sides on major international and regional issues and China-Africa relations, and expresses the hope to strengthen China-Africa cooperation under the new circumstances The adopted Sharm el-Sheikh Action Plan (2010-2012) puts forward the guidelines, main objectives and specific measures for China-Africa cooperation in priority areas in the next three years […] Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao attended the opening ceremony of the conference and proposed eight new measures the Chinese government will take to strengthen China-Africa cooperation in the next three years […] According to the eight new measures, China will help Africa build up financing capacity, and will provide 10 billion U.S. dollars in concessional loans to African countries and support Chinese financial institutions in setting up a special loan of 1 billion dollars for small- and medium-sized African businesses […] China will expand cooperation with Africa for building public-service infrastructure such as schools, stadiums and hospitals […] The FOCAC, a collective consultation and dialogue mechanism between China and African countries launched in 2000, is the first of its kind in the history of Sino-African relationship […] The previous three ministerial conferences were held in Beijing, Addis Ababa and Beijing respectively. ^ top ^

China inks new deals with Japan on environmental protection (Xinhua)
2009-11-09
China and Japan enhanced cooperation in environment protection with dozens of new contracts signed Sunday. The two sides clinched 42 deals involving cooperation in sewage treatment construction, electric waste disposal and energy saving research. The deals were made during the fourth Sino-Japan energy saving and environment protection forum which began on Sunday. Energy saving highlights the bilateral economic ties, as Japan has accumulated rich experiences in the area, said Xie Zhenhua, vice minister in charge of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Masayuki Naoshima, Japan's industry minister, said Japan has strong desire to push forward the bilateral ties in energy saving and hopes the technology transfer will benefit China […] President Hu Jintao unveiled a number of climate targets and plans in his address to the opening session of the United Nations climate summit in September, including a promise that China would cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by "a notable margin" by 2020 from the 2005 level. China is also striving to develop renewable energy and nuclear energy, and increase the share of non-fossil fuels in energy consumption to about 15 percent by 2020, which was at about nine percent at the end of 2008. ^ top ^

Chinese premier meets Arab League secretary general (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-09
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday met Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa and expressed China's willingness to further its cooperation with the Arab countries by enriching the contents of the China-Arab friendly cooperation. The Chinese premier met the Arab League secretary general at the league's headquarters in Cairo […] Wen told Musa that China is willing to pool efforts with the Arab League and Arab countries to render the China-Arab Cooperation Forum into a more effective platform which will result in more progress […] The Arab League secretary general said during the meeting that Wen's speech delivered earlier at the Arab League headquarters highlighted the importance China has attached to developing its friendly relations with the Arab world. Musa expressed his gratitude to China for its support to the just Arab causes. He reiterated the league's support to China's territorial integrity. He hoped that the Arab League would cooperate with China in all fields to promote the Arab-China Cooperation Forum and to promote world peace, regional stability and development. ^ top ^

India covets Dalai Lama's visit (Global Times)
2009-11-09
India may make use of the Dalai Lama to solve the decade-long territorial conflict by encouraging his visit to southern Tibet, a Chinese analyst said Sunday. "The Dalai Lama went to southern Tibet at this critical moment probably because of pressure from India," Hu Shisheng, a researcher of Southern Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times Sunday. "By doing so, he can please the country that has hosted him for years." […] "When the conflict gets sharper and sharper, the Chinese government will have to face it and solve it in a way India has designed," Hu added. During his visit to a remote, high-altitude Tibetan monastery in the southern Tibet region Sunday, the Dalai Lama spoke out against China. "It is quite usual for China to step up campaigning against me wherever I go," […] "It is totally baseless on the part of the Chinese government to say that I am encouraging a separatist movement. … My visit is non-political and aimed at promoting universal brotherhood and nothing else." Sandwiched between Myanmar, Bhutan and China, the lush, forested southern Tibet is claimed by both China and India, with the latter the de facto controller of the area. The visit took place amid reports of major military build-ups on both sides of the border, while little progress is being made to solve the years-long territorial conflict. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Wen visits Hebei after disastrous snowfall: Cloud seeding may be to blame for chaos (SCMP)
2009-11-13
Premier Wen Jiabao travelled to snowbound Hebei province yesterday to oversee relief efforts as the snowstorm that engulfed northern China turned into a disaster. One question on people's minds is how much of this is caused by aggressive weather manipulation. It emerged that snowfall - at least in Beijing, where it fell for the third time in 11 days - had been artificially induced by cloud seeding on November 1 and on Tuesday. The unusually early and heavy snowfall has brought mayhem to the north, leaving tens of thousands of cars trapped on blocked highways and causing two school canteens to collapse, killing four students […] The snowstorms have raised questions over the use of weather manipulation. The Beijing Municipal Weather Modification Office earlier said that the first snowfall was brought on by cloud seeding, and the China Daily on Wednesday quoted an unidentified official as saying the second had also been brought on by man-made means […] Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, train passengers have been stranded at railway stations and an estimated 30,000 vehicles have been caught on impassable roads […] Shijiazhuang has been brought to a standstill by the worst snowfalls in 54 years […] One person had died and 25 had been injured in the city, and 68 vegetable greenhouses had collapsed, local officials said. The school canteen collapse happened on Wednesday evening at a private boarding school in Yongnian county, northern Hebei. Three primary schoolchildren died in the accident and 28 others were injured […] The canteen of a second school in Kaifeng county, Henan, collapsed yesterday morning, killing one student and injuring seven others. Five people had died and 36 had been injured in Shaanxi […] more than 1,200 houses had collapsed and 1,900 had been damaged […] Shandong officials said 17 homes and 40,000 greenhouses had collapsed, and one person had died. ^ top ^

Yangtze dams told to open sluice gates as severe drought hits east (SCMP)
2009-11-13
Dams in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River have been ordered to open sluice gates to relieve the severe drought that is affecting swathes of southern and eastern China. The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday that hydropower stations had been increasing their water stocks since last month despite the total volume inflow to the region being 30 to 50 per cent below average for the time of year […] The Three Gorges Dam, the biggest on the river, was exempted from the hoarding ban. The office said this was because it would need to save up water for possible droughts in winter or spring […] The drought has left more than 2.5 million residents in seven provinces - Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Hubei and Jiangsu - without drinking water, and many are dependent on fire trucks for essential supplies. More than a million hectares of crops were ruined and half a million cattle threatened, according to official statistics. The drought office said orders had been made to governments and power companies in Guizhou, Sichuan and Chongqing that by Tuesday sluice gates had to be lifted to let water flow downstream […]. ^ top ^

Report details threats to mainland journalists (SCMP)
2009-11-13
Dozens of the mainland's increasingly assertive journalists have been beaten, detained or sued in the past two years, a report says. An investigation by a Beijing lawyer found more than 30 cases since the beginning of last year, including one of a village official in Shandong province slapping a female television reporter […] Of the 33 cases mentioned, almost all involved journalists being beaten […] "I hope this report will give some guidance to Chinese reporters, helping them to avoid similar issues and stay out of trouble," Zhou said. Journalists also faced a troubling trend of criminal lawsuits. "Last year alone, I noticed several cases of journalists facing criminal charges for accepting bribes," Zhou said. "I'm very concerned about this trend, that authorities are more likely to punish reporters under the cover of cracking down on corruption" […]. ^ top ^

80pc of Caijing staff quit to follow editor (SCMP)
2009-11-12
Nearly 150 of the approximately 180 editorial staff members at Caijing have resigned following the departure of Hu Shuli, the founder and editor of the mainland's most influential business magazine. The staff members are expected to join Hu at a new multimedia venture, which has not yet been officially announced […] The November 9 issue of the fortnightly magazine is expected to be the last edited by Hu. She resigned on Monday after she failed to resolve simmering disagreements with Caijing's owner and publisher, the Stock Exchange Executive Council (SEEC), which is led by former Wall Street banker Wang Boming. The disputes centred on the future direction of the magazine and control over the approximately 200 million yuan (HK$227 million) in advertising revenue the magazine earns each year. Hu will take up a post at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University as head of its school of communication and design. She is expected to launch a new multimedia venture that would include business magazines and online business news. Hu enjoyed immense popularity among the staff at Caijing […] It carved out a reputation for investigative reporting that trod a delicate line through the mainland's tightly censored media environment. The split that had developed at Caijing came to light when 70 employees of the business department, including general manager Wu Chuanhui, resigned last month […]. ^ top ^

Emissions goal mulled for first time (China Daily)
2009-11-12
China should aim to reduce its carbon intensity by 4 or 5 percent year-on-year if it is to achieve its goal of low-carbon development by 2050 […] If the annual target is met, carbon emissions per unit of economic output will fall by between 85 and 90 percent by the middle of the century, compared to the 2005 baseline, said the China Council of International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED). The organization comprises 200 world experts who regularly offer policy suggestions to the Chinese central government. It was the first time such a high-level organization had put forward a concrete proposal for emissions reduction since President Hu Jintao committed to making a "notable cut" at the UN climate change summit in September […] The expert panel is holding its annual conference and is scheduled to be received by Premier Wen Jiabao tomorrow. If China is to meet the target of year-on-year emissions cuts of between 4 and 5 percent, it will need to reduce energy intensity by between 75 and 85 percent by 2050. In addition, the proportion of manufacturing industry within the national economic structure would need to be cut from the current 50 percent to around 30 percent by the middle of the century […] The report also suggested China reforms its environmental tax system as soon as possible. It says the time is ripe for the country to begin to collect taxes from companies that emit pollutions and carbon dioxide because of the burning of fossil fuels. "China needs to introduce a carbon tax by 2020, otherwise it will be too late for the country to fulfill its goals in coping with climate change," the report said […] The study suggested a 90 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2050 would be very expensive, costing around 7 percent of GDP […] Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening ceremony of CCICED's annual meeting that China will incorporate a carbon intensity target in its 12th Five-Year Plan. ^ top ^

Money for fighting pollution 'wasted' (SCMP)
2009-11-12
Nearly half of the funds set aside for environmental protection on the mainland are wasted by officials, often on vanity projects that end up causing more harm than good, a senior government expert says. Wang Jinnan, deputy director of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's Academy For Environmental Planning, told People's Daily that officials often complained that a shortage of funds was the biggest obstacle to environmental protection. But since 2006 there had been a surge of funding and this would probably double in the next five-year plan […] "But how much of the money is used to clean up the pollution and improve the environment? If we squeeze it, more than 40 per cent will be lost," he said. In June, Wu Xiaoqing, deputy minister of environmental protection, said the mainland's total investment in environmental protection next year would reach 1.4 trillion yuan […]. According to Wang's calculations, this would mean more than 500 billion yuan could be wasted each year. Wang said government officials piled funds into unnecessary and extravagant "face projects". These included enormous recreational squares, lawns and even golf courses alongside polluted rivers that were supposed to be cleaned up […] The criticism was prompted by a National Audit Office report last week, which revealed that despite 91 billion yuan being spent to clean up six of the most polluted rivers and lakes between 2001 to 2007, they remained heavily polluted. Auditors found that 11 of the 13 provinces involved in the programme either misused funds or faked spending to a total of 515 million yuan. They also found that many environmental protection policies for rivers and lakes had never been seriously executed, and regional governments had failed to stop illegal operations by industrial polluters such as chemical and paper plants. ^ top ^

China completes safety inspection on most school buildings (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-12
China has completed safety inspection on most of the 338,000 primary and secondary school buildings nationwide, the Ministry of Education said Tuesday. By the end of October, a total of 1.41 billion square meters of school buildings have been inspected, accounting for 98.7 percent of total areas of school buildings […] More than 82 million sq.m. of school buildings have started reconstruction or reinforcement, or 9.6 percent of the total areas that need repair, according to the ministry […] The school building inspection was started in May to find out safety flaws. China also started a three-year nationwide school reinforcement project from May to improve school building's capabilities to survive disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, floods and typhoons. The central government promised earlier to allocate at least 24 billion yuan (3.5 billion U.S. dollars) in the upcoming three years to support reinforcement of buildings in earthquake prone areas such as central and western China. However, it was estimated that at least 200 billion yuan (29.4 billion U.S. dollars) was needed for reinforcement of all rural school buildings in those regions. The ministry said earlier the rest of the money would be raised by governments at the provincial level. The quality of schools in southwest China's Sichuan Province has been a major source of discontent and complaint for local parents whose children died in the devastating 8.0-magnitude quake on May 12 last year. ^ top ^

Fears raised by plan for media watchdogs (SCMP)
2009-11-11
Propaganda chiefs in Yunnan province raised fears of a further clampdown on press freedom with a scheme to recruit "volunteers" to watch over media outlets and reporters. The provincial propaganda department advertised in several outlets including Yunnan Daily and Yunnan TV, late last month, to recruit 100 volunteers for the supervisory work. "The initiative is aimed at improving media supervision and clamping down on paid journalism, untruthful reporting as well as vulgarity in the media and advertisements," the publicity department was quoted […] The move kicked up a storm of criticism among the mainland's internet users, who questioned the role volunteers could play given the heavy influence the government already exerts. Propaganda officials would not reveal exactly what the volunteers would do once they had been assigned to their respective media outlets, nor who they would report to. The volunteers would be recruited from all sectors of society, with about half holding degrees. Some criticisms have been targeted at Wu Hao, the high-profile deputy chief of the provincial propaganda department. Wu, a former senior editor with Xinhua, shot to notoriety after his department's botched handling of the death of a man in a police cell last year, which was initially blamed on a game of "hide-and-seek". Faced with public doubts over this claim, Wu organised a group of citizen investigators for an independent inquiry into the case. It emerged that some of the "investigators" had been hand-picked by Wu and his department […] "A volunteer supervision mechanism is for self-discipline, not a consolidation of government control over the media," he was quoted […]. ^ top ^

WWF report cites extreme weather pattern on Yangtze (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-11
Rising temperatures because of carbon emissions over the coming decades are to create storms, floods, and other extreme weather patterns across China's Yangtze River basin, a new report said. While ecosystems along China's longest river are threatened by climate change, now it is not too late to save them if proper mitigation measures are taken, said the report issued Tuesday by the environmental group WWF […] In the past two decades, temperatures in the Yangtze region have risen by an average of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1 degree Celsius), causing a spike in flooding, heat waves and drought, said the report, the largest assessment yet on the impact of global warming on the Yangtze basin area, where some 400 million people dwell […] Over the next 50 years, if nothing is done, temperatures will continue to climb by an average of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), which will only increase the frequency of natural disasters […] The consequences of global warming are particularly dire for a region that contributes 35 percent of the nation's total grain production and 41 percent of China's gross domestic product. The region […] is also home to rare and endangered species such as the giant panda and the Yangtze dolphin […]. ^ top ^

Nine executed over Xinjiang ethnic unrest (SCMP)
2009-11-10
The mainland has executed nine people over deadly ethnic unrest in the western Xinjiang region, the first executions since the violence in July, regional authorities said yesterday. "The first group of nine people who were sentenced to death recently have already been executed in succession, with the approval of the Supreme Court," Hou Hanmin, spokeswoman for the Xinjiang government, said […] According to previous statements by the Xinjiang government, this first group consisted of eight members of the predominantly Muslim Uygur ethnic minority and one majority Han Chinese. The mainland tried and convicted 21 defendants last month - nine were sentenced to death, three were given the death penalty with a two-year reprieve - a sentence usually commuted to life in jail - and the rest were given various prison terms. The violence erupted out of a Uygur protest on July 5, pitting Uygurs against Han, leaving 197 dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to an official toll. Han vigilantes then went on a rampage against Uygurs two days later […] The 21 defendants were convicted of crimes such as murder, intentional damage to property, arson and robbery. Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, condemned the executions, saying the Uygurs who were put to death had not been able to meet their families. "We regret that the United States and Europe have not adopted effective measures towards China regarding the death penalty issue," […] "If they don't continue to put pressure on China, there will definitely be even more Uygurs executed.". ^ top ^

Detainees get more rights, protection (China Daily)
2009-11-10
Detainees awaiting trial will no longer be forced to work at China's detention houses, thanks to a breakthrough being heralded by lawyers as legal progress in protecting their legitimate rights. The change is outlined in a draft regulation published yesterday on the central government's website (gov.cn). Public opinion is currently being sought on the idea till the end of this month […] The regulation stipulates that detention houses, where presumed-innocent people are held prior to their court proceedings, must safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of detainees. The changes seek to better regulate the management of detention houses in general, which have long been accused of ignoring the legal rights of detainees […] inmates will also be spared the task of having to supervise other detainees […] In addition, government budgets must cover the full cost of housing detainees and include such items as the cost of food. Detention houses and police officers working there are no longer allowed to charge fees against detainees. The country's detention houses, which fall under the management of local police departments, have come under scrutiny in recent months following several high-profile fatalities. The draft regulation is being seen as an attempt to improve their management […]. ^ top ^

New minister pledges to help rural students (SCMP)
2009-11-09
The mainland's new education minister, Yuan Guiren, vowed to redistribute resources to provide high-quality and affordable compulsory education in rural areas after calls for him to correct problems left by his unpopular predecessor. Yuan, 59, took over the job last month after Zhou Ji was sacked amid strong public dissatisfaction. He told a national working conference in Handan, Hebei province, to allocate more resources to individual teachers working in rural areas to raise the quality of education, Xinhua reported yesterday. "[We must] also subsidise struggling students, ensuring that all migrant workers' children can receive compulsory education no matter whether they live in cities or rural areas," he said. "Education resources should be allocated to different regions and schools proportionately, rather than be concentrated in big cities." […] Fan Shancheng, a middle school teacher from Shaoyang, Hunan province, complained the country's educational system had become highly commercialized […] Myriad problems have besieged the Ministry of Education since it began opening up the tertiary system to market reforms in 1999, and the former minister was criticised for not handling the issues. A large number of college graduates complained they could not find jobs because expanding enrolment resulted in lowered quality […] Meanwhile, university officials made big profits from the break-neck expansion. In worst-hit Hubei province, nearly one-third of the higher education institutes have been hit by corruption scandals, according to official numbers […]. ^ top ^

Teachers tout pay woes (Global Times)
2009-11-09
Hundreds of teachers at two foreign-language schools in Chengdu, who have been on strike as a result of low pay and welfare, have reportedly agreed to resume teaching Monday after three days of negotiations and protests. Protests by teachers are rarely seen in China, as they usually enjoy high social status and are seen as role models […] The strike in the southwestern city of Sichuan Province, though a localized incident, has highlighted inadequacies in the school system, as well as among its management, particularly as a result of government regulations, an education researcher told the Global Times Sunday. The strike started Thursday afternoon when teachers at the Chengdu Foreign Languages School (CFLS) and the Chengdu-based Derui Group, which owns the school, failed to reach a deal on salary […]. ^ top ^

Migrant workers to get government jobs (Global Times)
2009-11-09
Ordinary people may have a bigger voice in running a Sichuan Province city after three government jobs were reserved for migrant workers. The local government in Suining, Sichuan Province made an unprecedented move in its official hiring competition, a local newspaper reported. Migrant workers are often at a disadvantage in seeking government jobs because most of them fail to meet the basic academic requirement of a secondary education diploma. However, they can now compete for the position of a deputy director of the Investment Bureau of Daying county, and two deputy heads of the township government […] "It is an unprecedented practice that migrant workers have access to selection for official positions," Lei Shijie, chief of the Suining Organization Department, told […] "Most migrant workers are young or middle aged, with moderate knowledge, boldness and capability, which make them talents of the countryside," Lei said […] Huang Li, a female migrant worker, told the Global Times that she embraces the policy as "a positive sign" that government is treating migrant workers more fairly than in the past […] Some migrant workers think otherwise, saying the policy involves too many restrictions. They fear that some corrupt officials might take advantage of the new policy. "Applicants must submit too many certificates, and some of those must be verified by the administration," Wei Jianbing, a migrant worker who wanted to take part in the competition, told […] Wang Xiaodong, an independent commentator, told the Global Times that the migrant worker selection policy is more of a symbolic political show than an effective principle […] Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told […] that even if it's a "political show," the migrant worker recruitment is positive for the management of the city […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Shenzhen petitioners may be sent to labour camps (SCMP)
2009-11-12
Petitioners in Shenzhen could be sent to labour camps unless they abide by a stringent new set of rules that appear aimed at limiting the channels for protest and punishing those who persist with complaints. The move was condemned by petitioners and criticised by lawyers, and comes at a time when the central government is urging local authorities to improve their handling of social unrest and track dissent more carefully. It also marks a departure from Shenzhen's efforts to cultivate an image as a leader of economic and social reform on the mainland. The new rules, published by mainland media yesterday, target those who make "abnormal" petitions or protests. Those recorded twice would be given a verbal warning; those with a verbal warning would be detained if they made a third "abnormal" complaint; and those who had been detained would be sent to a labour camp for up to three years if they made a fourth. Fourteen different types of "abnormal" petitioners were identified. They included people who travelled to Beijing and petitioned in sensitive political areas, those who protested in the city centre without official approval or blocked traffic, and those who chanted slogans and distributed printed materials during a protest […] The state-run Shenzhen Special Zone Daily said the government would hand out "severe" punishment to those who encouraged others to join their petition or protest […] Petitioners in Shenzhen reacted with fury when they heard the news yesterday […] Liu Zilong, a Shenzhen-based activist lawyer, said the municipal government had overstepped its authority, as only the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate could make interpretations on laws regarding civil liberties […. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Government 'to propose larger election panel' (SCMP)
2009-11-13
The government is expected to propose that for the 2012 elections, 405 elected district councillors be included on an election panel selecting the chief executive and that 10 extra Legislative Council seats be created. It is expected to put forward this preferred method in a consultation paper on political reform in 2012, scheduled for release on Wednesday. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen is also expected to make a statement at the Legco meeting on Wednesday on the consultation paper […] Top officials, including Tang, will take part in sessions in the districts to canvass public views during the three-month public consultation. The consultation document will outline the preferred model for the 2012 elections while posing a number of questions on the details of the proposal […] The public was invited to choose from hundreds of options for achieving universal suffrage outlined in a green paper released in 2007. The government is expected to expand the 796-strong Election Committee that picked the chief executive in 2007 to 1,200, by including about 405 district councilors […] Meanwhile, 10 extra Legco seats would be created, with five directly elected and five voted on by district councilors […] At a meeting this week, Tang urged lawmakers from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party and Economic Synergy to back the government proposal […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau urged to cut back on water (SCMP)
2009-11-10
Macau is being urged to cut back on water use as a persistent drought along the Pearl River forces its mainland neighbour Zhuhai into emergency rationing. The Zhuhai government has cut off water supplies for non-essential activities such as street cleaning, plant watering and fountains. Businesses have been ordered to cut water use by 20 per cent. Zhuhai Deputy Mayor Huo Rongyin said he hoped Macau, which relies on Zhuhai for much of its water supply, would also ration it. Each winter, the Pearl River Delta is affected by salt tides - a combination of high ocean tides and low rainfall, reducing the flow of the river - which increase the salinity of fresh water. This year's salt tides arrived unusually early, about 40 days ahead of their previous earliest arrival. The water reserve of Xiangzhou, Zhuhai's most populous district, had fallen to 12.3 million cubic metres by Thursday - its lowest level since 1998 and sufficient for only 15 days of normal consumption in Xiangzhou and Macau. Even during water shortages, Zhuhai often has to pump its freshest water to Macau as Beijing seeks to maintain stability in Macau. Environmental experts for the Pearl River Water Resources Committee have said that human activity, including the felling of trees, illegal digging of riverbeds and the dumping of sewage, has been a major contribution to the salt-tide problem […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

'Unforgettable humiliation' led to development of GPS equivalent (SCMP)
2009-11-13
An "unforgettable humiliation" the People's Liberation Army suffered during the Taiwan Strait missile crisis in 1996 prompted the mainland to build its own global navigation and positioning satellite system, a retired senior military official has disclosed. Beijing has spent billions of yuan in the past decade developing Beidou 2, or Compass, which with 30 to 35 satellites by no later than 2020 promises to rival the American GPS. While Beidou 2 has obvious commercial value, Beijing says the system is crucial to its military. PLA officials have on various occasions said the nation needs its own satellite positioning system, as Washington could deny access to GPS. For the first time, a senior military official has said this was what happened in 1996, when tensions were high between Beijing and Taipei over former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui's proposal that relations be conducted on a "state-to-state" basis, which Beijing took as a move towards full independence. The PLA subsequently carried out a large military exercise and fired three missiles into the East China Sea only 18.5 kilometres from Taiwan's Keelung military base as a warning. "The first shot hit the target accurately. But just as everyone was applauding the success, we lost track of the second and the third," the senior military official said. The colonel said the military's analysis afterwards suggested the two failures could have been caused by sudden disruption of GPS […] "It was a great shame for the PLA... an unforgettable humiliation. That's how we made up our mind to develop our own global [satellite] navigation and positioning system, no matter how huge the cost," the colonel said. "Beidou is a must for us. We learned it the hard way." GPS is solely controlled and operated by the US government, which could shut it down in the event of a national emergency, reserving it for US military use only […] China launched its first Beidou positioning satellite on October 20, 2000. A second was launched two months later, a third in May 2003 and a fourth in February 2007 […] Xu Guangyu, a retired PLA general, said the military now had a full range of independent and sophisticated positioning and guidance tools to help its missiles, such as the Beidou navigation system and the Yuanwang missile and satellite tracking ship. "There is no chance now for the US to use its GPS to interfere in our operations at all," he said. ^ top ^

Cross-Straits forum (Global Times)
2009-11-12
A forum set to take place in Taipei on Friday and Saturday will include academics from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, who will discuss politics and other issues. State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi said Wednesday that 28 mainland scholars, including former executive vice president of the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Zheng Bijian, will attend the forum […] Yang said the forum is significant because it is the first time representatives from both sides to meet to discuss political issues on the island. ^ top ^

Taiwan envoy to meet Hu at Apec meeting (SCMP)
2009-11-11
Former Taiwanese vice-president Lien Chan will meet President Hu Jintao to discuss cross-strait trade and other issues on the sidelines of the Apec summit on Sunday in Singapore […] Lien acknowledged that his meeting with Hu would touch on the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement - a semi-free-trade pact - that Taiwan wants to sign with the mainland […] Lien, one of the two honorary chairmen of the Kuomintang, has been appointed as Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's envoy to attend the informal leaders' summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum […] Lien was also Ma's envoy at the Apec summit in Lima, Peru, last year. Beijing voiced no opposition to Taiwan's participation when it named Lien as the representative. Beijing used to oppose Taiwan's sending any high-level political figure to the meeting on the grounds that it had no right to attend international events as a sovereign state […] Lien said economic and trade officials from Taiwan and the mainland were also expected to discuss the ECFA. Taiwan hopes the agreement can be signed as soon as possible to avoid being marginalised when Beijing forms a trade bloc with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, possibly next year. Lien said that if there was a chance, he hoped to meet US President Barack Obama during the Apec event […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

5.6-magnitude quake jolts Xigaze of Tibet (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-13
An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale hit Xigaze Prefecture of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region early Sunday morning, the National Seismological Network said. The quake struck an area bordering the Ngamring and Saga counties at 4:08 a.m.. No casualties were reported. The network said the epicenter was detected as 29.4 degrees north latitude and 86.1 degrees east longitude, with a depth of about 33 km. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Preferential real estate policies may be canceled (Global Times)
2009-11-13
As second-hand home sales continue to go through the roof, a government official has announced that policies bolstering the real estate industry will be gradually rolled back. The preferential real estate policies will be phased out next year, by which time home prices should have declined, Nie Meisheng, the director of the Chamber of Real Estate of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), said […] "But the preferential policies will not be cancelled in cities all over the country at the same time," Nie said, "since prices in some areas like Jilin Province are still falling." The government released policies to encourage sales growth at the end of last year. Home sales were given a boost through tax exemptions and interest discounts for loans. "The second hand sales volume increased rapidly as fears grew that the preferential policies would be cancelled," Hu Jinghui, deputy-general manager of 5i5j, a real estate agency, said […] Many experts blame developers' land hoarding for the supply shortfall and higher property prices […] Other policies such as interest rate reductions are set to be changed as well […]. ^ top ^

China reports 28.4% rise in fiscal revenue for October at $100 bln (Xinhua)
2009-11-13
China's fiscal revenue for October reached 684.49 billion yuan (about 100 billion U.S. dollars), up 28.4 percent compared to the same period last year, the Ministry of Finance announced Friday. ^ top ^

China to be largest construction market by 2018 (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-13
China will overtake the United States as the world's largest construction market by 2018, according to a forecast by Global Construction Perspectives and Oxford Economics on Thursday. The report said, in just 10 years, China's already massive construction market will be worth almost 2.4 trillion U.S. dollar and represent 19.1 percent of global construction output […] From 2009 to 2020, only Nigeria and India will enjoy higher growth rates than China in their construction output. Despite India's continued construction boom, China's market will still be between three and four times larger than India's at the end of the next decade. In the vast majority of the emerging markets, residential construction helps to drive high growth rates. In China housing will be the slowest growing sector but still the country will see its construction market more than double in size in just one decade […] The infrastructure construction market in emerging markets will grow by a staggering 128 percent over the next decade to 2020, compared with just 18 percent over the same period in developed countries […]. ^ top ^

New data shows strong recovery (Global Times)
2009-11-12
Economic data released Wednesday has confirmed that the country's recovery is picking up steam. Analysts expressed concerns over rising fears of asset bubbles, however, while still believing that relatively loose monetary policy will not be substantially tightened soon. Industrial production jumped 16.1 percent in October from a year earlier, compared with 13.9 percent in September, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Wednesday […] Urban fixed-asset investment from January to October registered a 33.1 percent growth, the biggest jump in 14 months. Retail sales rose 16.2 percent last month from the previous year [...] The country's economy has gradually shifted back to normal, shown by data such as the industrial production growth, said Zhao Xijun, deputy director of the School of Finance at the People's University of China […] Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to reach 11 percent in the fourth quarter of the year and climb to 13 percent in the first quarter of next year […] Concerns remain, however, over potential inflation risks and asset bubbles. The consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI), the primary gauges of inflation, have eased their declines month-on-month […] There is no imminent threat of inflation, as the CPI and PPI figures remain negative at the moment, said Zhao. Most analysts expect CPI to return to the positive territory by the end of the year […]. ^ top ^

China's central bank stresses inflation management amid credit boom (Xinhua)
2009-11-12
China's central bank said on Wednesday that it will step up efforts to balance inflation perception and economic growth as it will continue to implement the relatively easy monetary policy […] As the economy is on the road to recovery with easy credit, we will closely watch the price changes and keep them stable in the long run, it said. Chinese banks lent a record 8.92 trillion yuan (1.31 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first ten months, far exceeding the 5-trillion yuan annual target, to fuel the economic recovery […] The report said the nation's stimulus package implemented since last November had held back price falls and eased deflation fears. However, the loose credit conditions across the globe also pushed up commodity and asset prices, which shaped "a certain perception for inflation" […] Market should play a bigger role in the resource allocation to make the economic growth dependent on its own vigor other than outside forces, said the report. ^ top ^

China to resume fuel surcharges on flights (Global Times)
2009-11-12
China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a notice Monday evening, saying that the country will resume fuel surcharges on domestic flights to offset higher fuel prices. The price for jet fuel has been raised by 320 yuan per ton to 5,190 yuan by the NDRC and will take effect from Wednesday. The NDRC said that the pressure to adjust fuel prices on the country's transportation sector is big and China will implement a series of measures to ease the effects of higher oil prices in order to stabilize the transportation market […] As how much surcharges will be levied, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has so far declined to comment on it. But analysts believe the price will be 40 yuan per capita for routes longer than 800 kilometers and 20 yuan per capita for shorter ones. This is the first time the NDRC is resuming fuel surcharges after the surcharges were suspended in January this year. ^ top ^

China set to become world's largest shipbuilding country (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-11
According to Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's shipbuilding industry is suffering from insufficient orders due to the serious financial crisis, and China will replace South Korea as the world's largest shipbuilding country. China's shipbuilding has overtaken South Korea's in terms of order volume already received and new orders. According to statistical results released by Clarkson […] as of early this month, China's shipbuilding orders reached 54.96 million Compensated Gross Ton (CGT), 34.7% of the world market share, while the South Korean shipbuilding industry holds orders of 53.63 million CGT and only 33.8% of the world's market share […] South Korea's shipbuilding industry surpassed Japan in 2000. In the following 10 years, South Korea has been the world's largest ship builder. Industry insiders in South Korea believe that while South Korean shipbuilding orders are shrinking, at the same time, China has won orders for low-cost shipbuilding […]. ^ top ^

China seeks PPP ventures in Africa (Global Times)
2009-11-11
China's State-backed Africa investment fund is seeking to find new opportunities by pushing Chinese companies to build infrastructure projects through joint ventures with African governments. Zhou Chao, managing director of the China-Africa Development Fund (CADFund), told the Financial Times […] Tuesday that the CADFund encouraged public-private partnerships to play a key role in fixing Africa's infrastructure […] Working as contractors, Chinese companies have played dominant roles in the construction of African roads, railways and power stations in recent years. However, public private partnerships (PPPs) would be a more stable and longer-term form of engagement […] because it was a good way to develop new infrastructure quickly and at a low cost. Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry, told the Financial Times that his country was keen on having more PPPs. “It is a very sensible behavior because if we continue depending on our government budget, it would take us 45 years compared through PPPs that can finish projects in five years,” he said. Zhou said the fund did not yet know how such partnerships would be structured. “We are open to discuss this with the governments of African countries to see what their preference is for a PPP model.”. ^ top ^

China says U.S. move on imported Chinese-made fastener "rational" (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-10
The U.S. rejection of an anti-dumping inquiry against China-made steel fasteners was "rational", a Chinese commerce official said Monday. An unnamed official of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said the move by the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) accorded with "market reality" and was "correct", as the products made by both countries had different target consumers, which would not encounter direct competition. The ITC's move on Friday was a rare exception in the two countries' trade disputes as the U.S. agency nodded to all the other 22 inquiries in recent three years. The official said China hoped the United States would honor its commitment made on the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, and stay away from protectionism and abuse of trade remedies […] The U.S. Department of Commerce launched dual investigations on Oct. 14 requested by the U.S. manufacturer Nucor Fastener, which alleged that the Chinese imports enjoy unfair price advantages […] In the first nine months, the U.S. launched 14 probes into Chinese exports, with a total value of 5.84 billion U.S. dollars, soaring by 639 percent from a year earlier.. ^ top ^

China raises gasoline, diesel prices (Xinhua)
2009-11-10
China will raise gasoline and diesel prices both by 480 yuan (70.28 U.S. dollars) per tonne from Tuesday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on its website Monday. The benchmark price of gasoline will be 7,100 yuan a tonne and that of diesel 6,360 yuan a tonne, according to the NDRC. The retail price of gasoline will climb by 0.36 yuan per liter and that of diesel will rise by 0.41 yuan per liter. The country adopted a new fuel pricing mechanism, which took effect on Jan. 1. Under the pricing mechanism, the NDRC will consider changing the benchmark retail prices of oil products when the international crude price changes more than four percent over 22 straight work days […] The price hike was aimed to protect oil refiners' interests, ensure market supply and help lead rational consumption to promote energy-saving and emission reduction, the NDRC said […] International crude oil price might continue to rise within this year as demand would continue to grow amid global economic recovery […]. ^ top ^

China's auto sales continue to rise on robust demand (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-10
China's auto sales rose 72 percent year on year to 1.22 million units in October on the back of strong domestic demand boosted by government stimulus measures. The figure was the second highest within the year, 7.64 percent lower than that of September […] Auto sales broke the 10 million mark to 10.89 million units between January and October, up 36.23 percent from a year ago. In January, China cut the purchase tax on vehicles with engines of 1.6 liters or less from 10 percent to 5 percent to promote the sales of energy-saving vehicles. It also offered subsidies for auto buyers in rural areas. Passenger car sales surged 76 percent to 946,400 units in October, bringing the total sales to 8.19 million units in the first ten months […]. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

8 million vaccinated for swine flu, 16 dead (People's Daily Online)
2009-11-10
More than 8 million people have been vaccinated for the swine flu virus in China as of Sunday, the Ministry of Health said on its website. However, there is still a while to go to reach the target. The ministry said it wanted to vaccinate 390 million people by November 1 […] the death toll from the virus is 16 nationwide and 124 victims are in serous condition as of 3 pm Friday. More are expected to be victimized, hospital sources revealed. The peak for the swine virus is yet to come, experts warned, and the epidemic will last for one to two months, said Feng Zijian, director of the ministry's emergency response department […] Beijing […] widened the scope to offer free vaccines to all permanent residents 3 and older. Residents with a household registration of the capital can voluntarily get the vaccines starting from November 16 to December 3. In Shanghai […] only half of the residents have access to free vaccination, said Xu Jianming, the director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau. Oriental Morning Post quoted Xu on Sunday as saying that vaccination of 40 to 50 percent of residents is enough for the whole population to be immune from the virus. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Peace urged after Korean tension (Global Times)
2009-11-12
South Korea Wednesday sent two more warships to guard its disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea, military sources said, a day after a naval clash raised tensions on the peninsula, AFP reported. The sources told AFP the 1,800-ton patrol boats would "reinforce vigilance" along the maritime border, where Seoul said a North Korean patrol boat was set ablaze Tuesday in an exchange of fire […] "The North's navy also ordered to intensify an alert level after the clash Wednesday," a South Korean military official told the Yonhap News Agency in Seoul. However, the South "does not want the inter-Korean relationship deteriorating due to this incident," presidential spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye said. "It is unlikely that North Korea will provoke again," Baek Seung-joo at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses told the Global Times. "The intrusion is a strategy that North Korea has repeatedly used in the past. It is meant to be a political message to North Korean people as well as to the US before it starts negotiation with the Obama administration." The US warned North Korea against any further action in the Korean peninsula. "I would say to the North Koreans that we hope that there will be no further actions in the Yellow Sea that could be seen as an escalation," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday […] Despite the intrusion, the Obama administration has decided to send its first mission to North Korea, US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley confirmed Tuesday, saying the visit was likely before year's end […] Crowley stressed that Bosworth's discussions with North Korean officials would take place in the context of the Six-Party Talks […]. ^ top ^

Two Koreas exchange fire (Global Times)
2009-11-13
The navies of the two Koreas exchanged fire briefly Tuesday for the first time in seven years, along their disputed western sea border, damaging the ships of both sides and raising tensions as US President Barack Obama prepares to visit Asia next week and calibrate steps to deal with Pyongyang. The skirmish apparently left one crew member dead and three injured among the North's sailors, a Seoul military officer was quoted […] No South Korean casualties were reported in the incident. A North Korean naval patrol boat that crossed the disputed sea border suffered serious damage and returned home "wrapped in flames," while a South Korean high-speed vessel pockmarked with 15 gunshots on the cabin suffered no other damage, Seoul's military said […] While some analysts differ on whether the incident was an "intentional clash," others downplayed its impact on the upcoming direct talks between the US and North Korea. According to a statement released by Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the North Korean patrol boat violated the Northern Limit Line (NLL) around 11:27 am local time, drawing warning shots from a South Korean Navy vessel, to which the North immediately responded […] North Korea disputed the South Korean account of the skirmish, however, claiming the South sent a "group of warships" across the border to attack its boat returning to port after a routine patrol, and demanded an apology from the South […] South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Tuesday convened an emergency security meeting and ordered Defense Minister Kim Tae-young to "maintain tight security vigilance" and take measures to prevent the situation from worsening. Kim was quoted by Yonhap as saying there is possibility that the North will seek revenge. The two sides have yet to agree on their western sea border more than 50 years after the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, when US-led UN forces unilaterally set a Yellow Sea border, namely the NLL, that the North refuses to recognize […] Tuesday's clash was regarded as "an accidental incident" by South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan [...] Defense Minister Kim, however, said the military was not clear about the North's motive, as it was a confusing action to intrude with only one patrol boat despite several warning signals and shots. South Korea's YTN television quoted military sources as saying the North's boat crossed the border while trying to stop illegal fishing by Chinese boats in the rich crab-fishing grounds […]. ^ top ^

Kim dismisses top TV official over N Korea's first adverts, report says (SCMP)
2009-11-09
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has reportedly fired his top television official for airing a series of advertisements, apparently out of concern that the commercials represented too much capitalist influence. Since early July, the North's state television had aired rare advertisements for beer, hairpins, ginseng and quail meat in what appeared to be the country's first such commercials, sparking speculation that the country might launch broader market reforms. Kim, however, was angered when watching the advertisements recently, saying that "such commercials are what China did when it started its reforms and openness", […] Yonhap, citing sources it said were privy to North Korea affairs, said Kim subsequently fired Cha Sung-su, head of a government committee in charge of state-run television. China is still North Korea's biggest source of economic aid and diplomatic support, but bilateral relations have drifted apart in recent decades as Beijing embraced free-market reforms while North Korea remained a defiantly closed, totalitarian state. North Korean defectors have said there are limits to how far the North would go with its recent economic changes, saying Kim fears Chinese-style economic reform and openness coming to his country. The report said Cha's committee began airing the advertisement after Kim instructed it to make television programmes in a "more interesting, diverse" manner […] North Korean television programmes normally have no advertisements and usually consist of news, factory descriptions and documentaries on Kim and his father, Kim Il-sung. However, signs of a nascent market economy have been emerging in recent years, as the country suffers chronic food shortages and has relied on aid to feed its 24 million people since famine killed an estimated two million people in the 1990s. In June, the North opened its first fast-food restaurant in its capital Pyongyang in co-operation with a Singaporean company, according to the Tokyo-based Choson newspaper […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Number of virus victims reaches 12 (MONTSAME)
2009-11-11
The death toll of the A/H1N1 flu virus rose to 12 by Wednesday 10.00 a.m in Mongolia. Number of infected with the A/H1N1 virus rose to 737 in Ulaanbaatar city and to 218--in provinces, the press and information service of the Ministry of Health reports. Sukhbaatar province registered the first case of the swine flu. According to proven lab tests, Arkhangai province registered 10 cases, Bayankhongor--3, Bulgan--7, Gobisumber--16, Darkhan-Uul--23, Dornogobi--26, Dornod--14, Zavkhan--3, Orkhon--15, Ovorkhangai--26, Omnogobi--2, Selenge--20, Tov--10, Uvs--11, Khovd--19, Khovsgol--1, and Khentii--11. Cases of virus have not been registered in Bayan-Olgii, Dundgobi and Gobi-Altai provinces. A report of City's Health Department said Wednesday that 21,052 people received medical services in hospitals. ^ top ^

B. Dolgor gives way to Ch.Khurelbaatar (www.news.mn)
2009-11-10
A special session of Parliament on Monday ratified the structure of the Cabinet of Prime Minister S.Batbold. With 11 Ministries and 15 Ministers it has no changes from the previous government under S.Bayar. Some faces will change, though. PM Batbold has replaced B. Dolgor, Minister and Head of the Government Office, by Ch. Khurelbaatar, at present head of the Standing Committee on Budget. Talk that the MPRP wanted the Finance Ministry and would give the Foreign Relations Ministry to the DP was put to rest when the MPRP Governing Board met on Tuesday and decided to propose MP G. Zandanshatar to succeed S.Batbold as Foreign Relations Minister. ^ top ^

New Bidders Hope to Invest in South (UB Post)
2009-11-10
Mongolian government is in talks with around 10 short listed bidders on Tavan Tolgoi coalmine, located in its southern province, according to Mongolian minerals authority. “The Government of Mongolia needs to make policy decision related to the railway and infrastructure development of the southern region as a whole, and will reengage talks with investors shortly,” said D.Zorigt, Minister of Minerals and Energy. Mongolian government received competitive bids for the Tavan Tolgoi mine from over ten international consortiums, and it is expecting to name a winner for the multi-billion dollar project within this year. Among the bidders, India's Jindal Steel & Power Ltd, China's Shenhua Energy, Russia's EN+ Group and Severstal Resources, Brazil's Vale do Rio Doce, and BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. Deustsche Bank AG and J.P Morgan Chase are participating in the process of transaction as consulting firms for the Mongolian Government. Tavan Tolgoi has 6.5 billion tonnes of coal, of which two billion is high-grade coking coal that can be used in thermal power stations, and steel smelting plants. The World Bank is assisting the Government of Mongolia to develop a strategy for the development of infrastructure in the southern region. Southern Mongolia contains several mineral deposits of strategic importance for the country including Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold deposit, a US$4 billion investment agreement of which has been signed in October. Developing these deposits will require the construction of towns, power plants, railways, and roads. ^ top ^

 

Manuel Mühlebach
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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