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
  7.12-11.12.09, No. 298  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China urges unity on climate pact: Developing world split over targets (SCMP)
2009-12-11
China called for unity among developing countries yesterday amid rifts surfacing between emerging economies and the poorest countries over the future of a legally binding UN climate pact. Senior foreign ministry officials in Beijing made the appeal after the climate talks in Copenhagen were stalled by the leaking of contrasting draft proposals prepared by key negotiating blocs. Later, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Indian and Brazilian counterparts vowed to co-operate on climate change, state media said. Wen, who is due to attend the summit in the Danish capital, spoke by phone separately to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva […] "The three leaders all expressed a willingness to enhance co-ordination and co-operation to deal with climate change," the brief report said. The phone calls came a day after the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu exposed a rift within the developing-country bloc on responsibility for dealing with climate change. Tuvalu called for discussions on a legally binding amendment to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that would set targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for major emerging economies such as China, starting in 2013. The move - backed by dozens of the poorest countries most vulnerable to climate change - was blocked by China, India, Saudi Arabia and other large developing nations. The row revealed a split within the G77 bloc of developing nations plus China. The bloc until now has insisted that rich countries caused global warming and so should shoulder the burden of mitigating it. China yesterday tried to play down the row, insisting the developing world was unified. "Any intention to ask developing countries to shoulder mandatory obligations is inconsistent with the consensus already reached by the international community," foreign ministry official Duan Jielong said in Beijing. "On this issue... the view of developing countries is highly unified," said Duan, head of the ministry's treaty and law department. A day after a so-called Danish proposal, believed to have been drafted by the host country and several leading industrialised nations including the US was leaked, Tuvalu put forward its own draft accord, calling for discussions on a new legally binding protocol replacing the 1997 Kyoto document. China had worked with India, Brazil and South Africa on a separate proposal, which has yet to be submitted for deliberation […] It called on rich nations to take up the historical responsibility for global carbon emissions and commit to steep cuts first. The four major emerging economies, responsible for 30 per cent of global carbon emissions, set a new deadline for a global climate treaty of June 2010 […] But Chinese officials attempted to play down the differences flaring among developing countries, insisting the Kyoto Protocol should remain. Although it is no secret that divisions among developing nations widened in the lead-up to Copenhagen, the powerful G77 plus China have worked to press rich nations for steep cuts and financial and technological aid needed to address global warming. Analysts noted Beijing was apparently upset by the Tuvalu proposal. Beijing has been consistently refusing binding emissions caps, which it fears would hurt its spectacular economic rise […]. ^ top ^

Ruling parties of China, Japan agree on seeking stronger overall relationship (Xinhua)
2009-12-11
Ruling parties of China and Japan on Thursday pledged to deepen trust and work together for a stronger strategic relationship of mutual benefit between the two countries. The pledge came out of a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Ichiro Ozawa in Beijing on Thursday afternoon. Ozawa is leading a delegation of 600-strong members, including 146 DPJ lawmakers from the upper and lower houses of the Japanese Diet, for a four-day visit in Beijing. The group is the first DPJ-led delegation to China since the DPJ came to power in September. Hu started the meeting by calling Ozawa "an old friend of the Chinese people who visited China many times and made important contribution to bilateral relations." This was the third meeting in Beijing between Hu and Ozawa, who visited China in capacity of the DPJ leader in 2006 and 2007. "The Communist Party of China (CPC) attaches great importance to relations with DPJ and would like to work together to improve party-to-party exchange mechanism," said Hu […] Ozawa echoed Hu's views, saying the DPJ was committed to bolstering Japan-China ties and would continue to make best of the party-to-party exchange mechanism for a better strategic relationship of mutual benefit. On the broader China-Japan relations, Hu said the two countries had interacted actively and undergone a smooth transition since the DPJ became Japan's ruling party in September […] Stressing the principle and spirit of four political documents between the two countries, Hu said China would like to work more closely with Japan to properly address the sensitive issues between them and jointly tackle global challenges […] The delegation was the 16th one under the "Great Hall Program," a people-to-people exchange scheme initiated in 1989. The program has so far sent about 350 Japanese lawmakers and more than 2,000 representatives from various circles to visit China. ^ top ^

Beijing hopes to extend Central Asia energy ties (SCMP)
2009-12-11
China aims to deepen energy ties with Central Asian states seeking new markets for their oil, gas and uranium, an official said yesterday, ahead of a visit to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan by President Hu Jintao. Hu will visit the two central Asian states from tomorrow to Monday. In Turkmenistan, he would attend the formal opening of a pipeline connecting China to Central Asia, that passes through Uzbekistan […] Another official said China was open to other energy projects in Central Asia, where the former Soviet states have been looking beyond Russia - their traditional customer for oil and gas - for fresh markets. "In the energy sector, China is pursuing diversification of energy imports, while the Central Asian countries are pursuing diversification of exports," Zhang Xiyun, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of European-Central Asian Affairs, said. "This kind of co-operation will naturally continue and has room to develop further," said Zhang […] The 1,833 kilometre Turkmenistan-China pipeline travels through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into the restive Xinjiang region. It starts close to a gas field developed by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). The new pipeline, with capacity of 40 billion cubic metres a year, will ease Turkmenistan's dependence on Russia […] China has also extended its presence in the Turkmen energy sector by giving Turkmenistan a US$3 billion loan to develop the South Yolotan field, one of the world's five largest natural gas deposits. China also receives Kazakh oil by pipeline, and Kazakhstan has also been looking for buyers of its uranium. In April, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co and Kazakh state nuclear firm Kazatomprom announced plans to lift uranium output from their joint venture […] During the visits, Hu would hold talks with his Kazak counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov on bilateral ties and international and regional issues, Wang said. China-Turkmenistan trade volume surged by 135 per cent year on year to US$830 million last year and US$874 million in the first 10 months of this year, up 38 per cent year on year, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

China goes on the attack at climate talks: Negotiator criticises US, EU, Japan (SCMP)
2009-12-10
China has toughened its stance at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, rounding on rich nations over their "unambitious and deceptive" carbon emissions targets. In a rare public display of anger, top Chinese negotiators accused developed nations of making "empty promises" and putting impossible demands on their developing counterparts, which they said would jeopardise hopes of an agreement. Senior negotiator Su Wei, from the National Development and Reform Commission, went on the offensive at a rare press conference by the Chinese delegation in the Danish capital on Tuesday afternoon. He said the United States - the world's No 2 emitter of carbon dioxide, behind China - had set a goal that was "not notable", the European Union's target was "not enough" and Japan had set impossible preconditions. Analysts said China had seldom given news conferences at previous climate talks and it was also uncharacteristic of Beijing to name names of major climate players instead of collectively calling them "developed countries". China's top climate negotiator, commission vice-minister Xie Zhenhua, put it more bluntly on the sidelines of the climate talks on Monday. "Given the fact that developed countries have done nothing but empty talk, they have no right to make further requests," he said. Analysts voiced surprise at the unusually tough stance adopted by China since the opening of the meeting in Copenhagen on Monday […] Analysts said China's muscle-flexing, two days into the talks, underscored deep rifts between the developing and developed worlds, and the bleak prospects for a strong global deal by next week's deadline. But it was seen as a well-planned move, part of China's overall strategy for the long-stalled negotiations. "China would not want to sacrifice its economic growth for binding carbon targets any time soon, but it still wants to claim the moral high ground in the debate," said Professor Pang Zhongying, a researcher on international affairs at Beijing's Renmin University. China appears to have gained confidence since it promised late last month to take voluntary measures to cut its economy's carbon intensity - carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product - by 40 per cent to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. Greenpeace's Yang said China's negotiators were notably more high-profile in Copenhagen than in previous talks […] In the briefing for international media on Tuesday, Su, China's No 2 negotiator, scoffed at a fast-start fund of US$10 billion a year meant to help developing countries from 2010 that rich countries are expected to approve […] Su said the 2020 targets by the US, EU and Japan broadly fell short of the emissions cuts recommended by a UN scientific panel. The panel has said cuts of 25 per cent to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 are needed to avoid the worst of global warming. He dismissed the target for 2020 that US President Barack Obama has laid out and slammed Washington for failing to rein in its emissions, unlike other developed nations. Su said that the success of the Copenhagen talks hinged in part on the US offer, which promised to reduce emissions by 17 per cent from the 2005 level. He said the offer, actually equal to 3 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, "cannot be regarded as remarkable or notable". He called a unilateral EU cut of 20 per cent insufficient and insincere, and said an even sharper 30 per cent cut - which the bloc has said it may shift to, depending on other cuts - was still too easy and disappointing. Su also attacked the new government in Japan for setting "impossible" conditions on its offer of a 25 per cent cut by 2020, which was a considerable increase on the goal set by the previous administration […]. ^ top ^

Canadian PM's visit to China re-energizes bilateral ties (Xinhua)
2009-12-10
Observers in Ottawa have rated the recent Canadian prime minister's visit to China as having re-energized stagnated ties with the Asian country. "I think the results (advanced) the relationship between the two countries," said Barbara MacDougall, former Canadian secretary of state for external affairs, in an interview with Xinhua. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited China last week, and embarked on his first tour of Beijing since he took office in 2006. Before the prime minister left Ottawa, local media described his visit as the "most important foreign visit," adding that it showed Canadian goodwill despite the country's high duty on Chinese steel imports. MacDougall said that Canada and China signing a tourism accord during Harper's visit was as surprising as it was important, especially after China has added Canada to its tourist destination list. The accord is expected to allow Canada to tap into China's lucrative market of large numbers of outbound tourists. Dr. Gregory Chin, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and an assistant professor of political science at York University in Canada, said that Canadians can now expect to see agreements with China on cooperation in green technology, science and the energy sector as well. MacDougall said Harper's Beijing trip has reset China-Canada relations, and the two governments would have more regular discussions and exchanges following this trip. She added that the opening of four more Canadian commercial offices in China was "very positive." The offices will be located in Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenyang and Wuhan. She predicted there would be an increase in business activities between China and Canada, now that Canada has 11 diplomatic and commercial offices in the Asian country, according to information from the Canadian prime minister's office. "This trip," said Chin, "gave the green lights to both sides for more high-level exchanges and more business agreements." The scholar said Harper's trip showed Canada's interest in building a stronger, broader relationship with China. Canada's shift from a critical approach toward a constructive effort in its relations with China has been underway for about a year and half, local observers said […]. ^ top ^

Six sentenced to death after Nigeria is sent fake drugs (SCMP)
2009-12-10
The mainland sentenced to death six people who exported fake drugs to Nigeria tagged "Made in India" after both countries lodged complaints with Beijing, the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday. Authorities provided no further details about the drug dealers. In June, Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said it had seized a large consignment of phoney anti-malaria drugs from China that were sold in the country tagged "Made in India". They were valued at more than US$210,000. Beijing formally apologised to Nigeria and assured it of a thorough investigation and punishment of those involved, the Indian news website Hindu Online reported. But the ministry also said India should share responsibility, as some Indians who exported spurious drugs to Nigeria were also standing trial in India. The mainland's pharmaceutical industry is lucrative but its supervision has been much criticised. Many of its drug manufacturers have been blamed for deaths linked to fake or poor-quality drugs sold in the country and abroad. The Nigerian government has banned about 30 Indian and Chinese pharmaceutical companies for exporting counterfeit drugs from 2001 to 2007. Indian media attributed the ban to fake Chinese drugs labelled Indian-made, seriously defaming its pharmaceutical industry. The Times of India quoted a senior Indian Commerce Ministry official as saying it had received complaints about Chinese firms offloading fake drugs as Indian products in South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast and other African countries. India enjoys a substantial market share in Nigeria, which imports about 60 per cent of its drugs […]. ^ top ^

Chinese President hails strategic security talks with Russia (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-09
Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday spoke highly of the strategic security talks with Russia that helped to promote bilateral ties, pledging to further the bilateral strategic partnership of cooperation in the coming year. The security talks, initiated in February 2005, served as a platform for the two states to enhance political trust and cooperation in various fields, especially in law-enforcement and security aspects. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev attended the fourth round of talks in Beijing early Tuesday. They discussed bilateral ties, saying it witnessed a balanced, smooth and quality development this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and Russia. They applauded the frequent high-level visits, improved strategic coordination, enhanced strategic mutual trust, and the expanding economic and humanitarian cooperation […] They also discussed the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, Iran's nuclear program, the Group of 20, the reform of the United Nations, climate change, nuclear disarmament, the BRIC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese diplomatic sources said […]. ^ top ^

Mainland's emissions 'to peak in 2030-40' (SCMP)
2009-12-08
Mainland carbon emissions would peak between 2030 and 2040, Science and Technology Minister Wan Gang said as the climate-change summit began in Copenhagen. Wan said he hoped the maximum output of mainland greenhouse gases would come as soon as possible within that range, and spelled out the steps that needed to be taken to achieve this. His comments, while not official policy, are the closest the world's biggest emitter has come to setting a target for when its output of greenhouse gases will start to fall. Setting a peak date for developing countries, whose emissions are rising rapidly, will be a key issue for negotiators in Copenhagen trying to map out a global strategy to avoid a rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius in the planet's temperature. Scientists agree a greater rise would have dangerous consequences. Mainland think tanks, research groups and academics have variously estimated that the emissions peak could come between 2020 or 2050, but the government has yet to announce a target. Wan narrowed the range considerably by predicting that the peak would definitely come between 2030 and 2040. "There are some uncertainties here, so it is difficult to say whether it will be in the beginning, the end or the middle, but I can say for sure it will be within that range," he said. The precise timing, he said, would depend on uncertain factors such as the pace of economic growth, urbanisation and scientific development. But he added that the earlier date in the range would be possible if the mainland continued to invest in renewable energy, improved energy efficiency, commercialised carbon-capture technology and changed consumer behaviour. Wan said Beijing has proved its ability to meet and often exceed targets in the current five-year plan to improve energy efficiency by about 20 per cent. His ministry had already exceeded by 30 per cent its five-year plan goal of investing 10 billion yuan to reduce emissions and deal with the consequences of climate change. Jim Watson, of the Tyndall Centre at the University of Sussex, said: "I think this range makes it difficult for China to make a full contribution to keeping the rise in global temperatures below 2 degrees. That would be more compatible with a peak within 2020 to 2030. But it is very significant that the minister is willing to talk of a peak, even a range, at this stage" […]. ^ top ^

China pledges to advance strategic partnership with Indonesia (Xinhua)
2009-12-08
China on Monday pledged to work with Indonesia to push forward the bilateral strategic partnership. China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and top political advisor Jia Qinglin made the remarks in separate meetings with Taufik Kiemas, Chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly of Indonesia […] Hailing the sound development momentum of China-Indonesia ties, Wu said the countries had enjoyed increasing mutual political trust, fruitful cooperation in various sectors, and close coordination in regional and international organizations […] The two nations, both as important nations in the Asia-Pacific region, enjoyed broad common interests, Wu said, hoping that the two sides would enhance parliamentary exchanges and cooperation to enrich the contents of bilateral ties […] "We are ready to work with Indonesia to expand cooperation in economy, trade and culture to advance our strategic partnership," Jia said […] This China trip from Dec. 6 to 9 was Taufik's first visit abroad since taking office in October this year. Taufik told Chinese leaders that this showed the importance attached by Indonesia to relations with China. Indonesia valued the friendly and cooperative ties with China, he said, hoping that the two nations would increase pragmatic cooperation in infrastructure construction and resources exploitation […]. ^ top ^

Peru ratifies free trade deal with China (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-07
Peru's government on Sunday ratified a free trade agreement with China, the president's office announced. The measure "favors Peru's interests," a brief government statement said. It did not indicate when the agreement -- made by executive decree, without Congressional input as allowed by the constitution -- would go into effect. The Peru-China free trade agreement was signed April 28 in Beijing during a visit by Peruvian Vice President Luis Giampietri. The deal will lead to the gradual removal of tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods ranging from Chinese electronic products and machinery to Peruvian fishmeal and minerals […] Under the deal, the two nations also pledged to further open their service sectors and offer favorable treatment to investors. China has become Peru's second largest trading partner after the United States. Peru is a major producer of lead, zinc, copper, tin and gold. Two-way trade totaled about 6.46 billion dollars in the first 10 months of last year, according to figures published by the Chinese commerce ministry. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

After rioting, PLA steps up efforts to recruit minorities (SCMP)
2009-12-11
The People's Liberation Army has stepped up efforts to recruit soldiers who have local knowledge in the restive regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, according to a government source familiar with the situation and minority families. The massive recruitment has stemmed from recent riots in the two autonomous regions. Many residents in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, claimed they had received warning text messages in the Uygur language on the eve of the ethnic violence on July 5, but the local police departments were unaware of them, as most local officers are Han Chinese and have no command of the dialect. The violence between the Han and Uygurs left nearly 200 people dead and more than 2,000 injured. Another riot in March last year in Lhasa, Tibet, caused the deaths of at least 22 people. A government employee from a province bordering Tibet said the PLA had stepped up efforts to recruit young people from local ethnic groups. "Young people with bilingual skills are now highly valued," the civil servant said […] "After the riots, it is clear we don't have enough people on the ground with good local knowledge and who can communicate with the people. This makes our job more difficult and sometimes even causes unnecessary tension." With the escalation of political tension in Tibet since last year, he said the PLA had even asked retired soldiers who could speak the Tibetan language to report back to duty […] In Xinjiang, several Uygur families said their young adult sons were being recruited for their language skills […] Xu Guangyu, a Beijing-based retired PLA general said the PLA and armed police force began recruiting minorities in 1949. "For operational needs, we have minority tank men and even pilots in the PLA garrisons and in the armed police force in multi-language autonomous regions," Xu said. However, a retired PLA senior colonel, who spent several years in the multi-ethnic areas of Yunnan, said the proportion of minority soldiers in the PLA was still small. "With Putonghua unpopular in the early stage of the founding of the People's Republic of China, there was a rule in the PLA that all officers on the captain level or higher should also speak a minority language if one of his subordinates was a minority. For ease of communication, only a few minorities were recruited. That's why ethnic Hans are the overwhelming majority in the PLA," he said. The rule is only now being changed. The retired senior colonel said that Beijing's failure to promote bilingual education nationwide was to blame […] The Xinjiang Public Security Department was planning to recruit 1,500 native Uygurs to expand its special police force, Xinhua reported. A source close to a local Public Security Bureau said the size of the region's PLA garrison had increased significantly since the July 5 violence. ^ top ^

Demolition regulation 'contradicts the law' (China Daily)
2009-12-11
The urban housing demolition regulation that has been under fire ever since a woman committed suicide in a desperate bid to stop the destruction of her home should have been taken off the books more than two years ago, according to a leading legislator. Liang Huixing, a member of the Law Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) - the country's top legislature - said yesterday the tragedy in Southwest China's Sichuan province in which the woman set fire to herself should not have happened because the urban housing demolition regulation the demolition crews were acting under had long since expired. "As soon as the Property Law took effect in 2007, the (Housing Demolition and Relocation Management) regulation should have lost its efficacy," said Liang. "All forced home demolitions in the past two years were actually illegal," he insisted. However, the State Council Legislative Affairs Office, the organ that issued the existing regulation, yesterday insisted that the rule, which allows local governments to evict people from their homes and demolish them if the land is needed for other projects, was still in effect. In China, the NPC drafts laws while the State Council Legislative Affairs Office makes administrative regulations. The escalating dispute followed an open letter from five professors at Peking University, who wrote to the NPC on Monday. The scholars suggested the legislature should get the State Council Legislative Affairs Office to revise or abolish the regulation. They said it was a breach of the country's Constitution and Property Law. According to the nation's Constitution and Property Law, a citizen's private property is inviolable - governments should only be able to confiscate someone's home for public welfare construction - and compensation must be paid before relocation. But in the housing management regulation, the rights of property owners are not specified. The regulation also stipulates that residents must move out once the government issues a relocation permit, with a maximum period of a year and a half allowed for residents to relocate and negotiate compensation. But what happens in most cases, experts said, is local governments give developers permission to begin work and leave the companies to negotiate with residents. If residents refuse to move, they are usually forced out. The open letter has drawn attention nationwide, especially in the light of the death of Tang Fuzhen, the woman who set herself on fire during her dispute with authorities in Chendu […] Many people across China have called for answers, going as far as leaving comments on the official website of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office. The office posted a response online yesterday, saying: "The regulation issued in 2001 is effective." […] Liang said he believed the reason the regulation was still in use was because many local governments simply ignore laws […] "Many local governments get almost half of their revenue from land trading," he said. "To cut that profit source could be very hard.". ^ top ^

Police say instigators behind Guangxi riot (SCMP)
2009-12-11
Villagers who clashed with police last week in Shitang town, Guangxi, were manipulated by a few instigators to attack police and government officials, local police claimed on Tuesday. Fourteen people had been arrested during the December 1 conflict, which was over a crackdown on unlicensed motorcycles, guangxinews.com reported. Three policemen were injured and several police vehicles were damaged. The story did not mention the number of residents hurt. It said several videos and pictures of the conflict had been uploaded to the internet and authorities had accused the online posts of being false "news" organised by troublemakers. The posts said dozens of officers had rushed down streets or into villagers' homes and shops to detain owners of motorbikes with no licences and confiscate them. When angry villagers tried to reclaim their motorbikes, more police armed with truncheons were deployed to beat and dispel the crowd. At least 20 villagers were injured, two seriously […] The riot was not the first of its kind. A series of violent clashes and riots have been sparked by a widespread and draconian crackdown on motorcycles because millions of people make a living by offering motorcycle-taxi services. On July 19 last year, hundreds of angry migrant workers mobbed government buildings and smashed police vehicles in Huizhou, Guangdong, after crowds accused security guards of killing a motorcycle-taxi driver. The violence occurred in a village in Boluo county, and eventually involved more than 1,200 migrant workers, villagers and riot police. At least 168 mainland cities, including Tianjin and the capitals of 25 provinces, have banned or restricted the use of motorcycles since the end of 2006. ^ top ^

Wrangling the webs of steel (Global Times)
2009-12-10
A new wave of subway construction is taking place across China, with 89 urban rail transit lines covering 2,500 kilometers to be built and almost 1 trillion yuan ($147 billion) to be invested by 2016. But while some people are applauding the ambitious efforts, others have been much more critical. Many look forward to less traffic brought by the subways and above-ground light rails, while others speculate as to whether the frenzy is part of the government's effort to reinforce infrastructure building and stimulate consumption, in line with a development strategy reiterated at the Central Economic Work Conference that ended on Monday. China has already become the largest and the most robust urban rail transit line construction market in the world, bringing over 10 billion yuan in investment annually. Currently, more than 10 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, are running a total of 835.5 kilometers of urban rail transit lines […] In late August, officials with the Ministry of Construction revealed that the State Council had approved more rail transit projects in 22 cities across the country, with the total investment topping 882 billion yuan. These include many second-tier and third-tier cities such as Wuhan, Xi'an, Harbin and Nanchang. More than 40 cities are building or planning to build rail lines. Experts have stressed the many benefits to subway systems, particularly in China. "The construction of rail transit is essential because it is in line with the government's will to develop public transport to ease enormous traffic and environmental pressure brought by ongoing urbanization," said Liang Qinghuai, a professor of planning and design of urban rail transit at Beijing Jiaotong University. Some Chinese cities' layout and structure can't meet the requirement for public use any more due to population growth and an increasing number of private cars, he said […] "It is also part of the government's investment package in infrastructure to expand domestic consumption," Liang said, adding that the planned 882 billion yuan is not enough […] The government makes it clear that in the urban rail construction projects, more than 70 percent of the rail facilities and mechanical and electrical equipment should be developed independently in China […] According to the State Council, cities with populations of more than 3 million, GDPs exceeding 10 billion yuan and local government budgets of more than 1 million yuan are qualified to build subways. "So far, nearly 50 cities in China meet the standard," said Wang Qingyun, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission […]. ^ top ^

Nation's human rights standing getting worse (SCMP)
2009-12-10
Human rights are increasingly under threat in China, says a British firm that analyses dangers for business worldwide, while also describing risks in Russia, Nigeria and India as extreme. While Afghanistan and Somalia are the worst countries for rights, China has dropped five places in a global ranking and is notably poor on arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech and minority rights. The Human Rights Risk Atlas 2010 by analysis firm Maplecroft also places Pakistan and Iraq among the worst offenders, as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Myanmar, Sudan, Colombia and Zimbabwe. "The economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China are predicted to drive the world's economy over the coming years," said Alyson Warhurst, executive chairwoman of Maplecroft and a professor at Britain's Warwick Business School. "But the results of this research suggest that economic growth is not translating into progress on human rights. Organisations working in those countries have a number of risks to navigate." The rankings are published to mark International Human Rights Day today. China is listed as the 12th-most-risky country overall for human rights, but the analysts rate it worst for labour rights and protection. In an assessment of child labour, forced labour and violations of freedom of association, discrimination and working conditions, China has the most risk, followed by Myanmar and Pakistan. India is placed sixth […]. ^ top ^

China's emissions 'poised to double' (SCMP)
2009-12-10
While the climate-change conference in Copenhagen struggles to secure agreement to reduce global warming by cutting greenhouse gasses, China's emissions are set to more than double according to forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the US Department of Energy. China's carbon dioxide emissions will rise from six billion tonnes in 2006 to 13 billion tonnes in 2030, an increase of 114 per cent. This is almost twice the projected carbon dioxide emissions for the US in 2030 of 6.9 billion tonnes and well ahead of India's 2.3 billion tonnes and Russia's 2.1 billion. While China's carbon dioxide emissions accounted for 21 per cent of the global total in 2006 they will account for 29 per cent in 2030. "Coal predominates in China's energy supply," said Andrew Shum, an analyst with energy consultants Pervin & Getz in Singapore. "China is going to be burning a lot of coal for a long time into the future." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that developed countries need to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 to 40 per cent by 2020 if the world is to limit the rise in temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This would mean reducing world carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 from 21.5 billion tonnes to between 13-16 billion tonnes, more or less the same as China's projected emissions in 2030. In 2020, China's carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to be almost 10 billion tones […] Coal has long dominated China's total energy supply from 1960, when it accounted for 91 per cent, to current levels of 76 per cent according to China National Coal Association figures. In 2007, petroleum accounted for 11.3 per cent, natural gas 4 per cent, and water, nuclear and wind power 8 per cent. One reason for China's high level of carbon dioxide emissions compared with other countries is its high dependence on coal, which is partly because coal accounts for 97 per cent of the country's fossil fuel resources. Coal has roughly twice the carbon intensity of natural gas. It now accounts for 76 per cent of the nation's primary energy consumption compared with 24 per cent in the US, and 16 per cent in Russia, even though these countries have higher reserves of coal than China. This is because of the availability in the US and Russia of other fossil resources in large volumes, say the authors of a research paper entitled "China's Coal: Demand, Constraints and Externalities", by Nathaniel Aden, David Fridley and Nina Zheng. "Given China's unbalanced fossil resource distribution, self sufficiency and energy security lead to high levels of coal usage," the authors say, adding that its use has also been boosted by price rises for natural gas and oil. China's coal consumption has risen rapidly since 2000, consistently outpacing forecasts by energy agencies […] There is little optimism that China's carbon dioxide emissions from coal can be significantly reined in. "About 80 per cent of China's power generation comes from coal, so it going to be very difficult to reduce China's dependency on coal in the near future," said Ivan Lee, Nomura's regional head of power and renewables for Asia. It is estimated by the authors of the "China coal" report that even using the most efficient units would save only 14 per cent of projected 2025 demand. ^ top ^

China to raise earnings of middle-and-low income groups: official (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-10
The Chinese government is to raise the earnings of the middle and low income groups to boost consumer spending, said a senior economic planning official in Beijing Wednesday. Zhang Ping, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planning agency, made the remarks at a national meeting on development and reform. The government will step up research on the optimization of the income distribution mechanism to improve residents' spending capability, Zhang told the meeting. The government will also raise the pensions for enterprise retirees and improve treatment for those who enjoy special care, Zhang said […]

He noted more affordable housing will be offered to middle and low income families, and efforts will be stepped up to curb speculation in housing transaction. The reconstruction of urban shantytowns, obsolete industrial and mining districts, as well as forestry regions will continue. Nomads will be encouraged to settle down, he said. Zhang also said the government-led investment should play a bigger role in job creation. The basic social pension system should be completed to ensure social security. Participants to the annual Central Economic Work Conference which concluded Monday agreed to fully implement and continuously improve the stimulus package and policies to cope with global financial crisis and boost development, and strengthen the role of domestic demand, especially consumption demand, in driving economic growth. ^ top ^

School safety overhaul after fatal stampede (Global Times)
2009-12-10
The local government in Hunan Province plans to launch a 10-day safety overhaul at schools and kindergartens starting today in light of a stampede Monday that killed eight students and injured 26. As of Wednesday, 31 students from the privately-run Yucai High School in Xiangxiang, were still in hospitals, including the 26 injured. Another five were under medical observation. The local government has yet to reach compensation deals with the students' families. It promised "the maximum compensation possible" on Tuesday. Yucai's school building had four exits, but when the evening study session ended at around 9:10 pm Monday, hundreds of students surged toward the one closest to their dormitory building to avoid heavy rain. They swarmed downstairs on a 1.5-meter-wide staircase when a girl tripped and caused dozens to lose their balance and fall in a 3 to 5-square meters area. The school, founded in 1997, has 3,626 junior high students, mostly aged 11 to 14. The campus was closed to the media Wednesday. An announcement from the local public security department was aired, saying outsiders were no longer allowed on campus. The tragedy has aroused widespread concern over campus safety. Zhang Fangping, head of the Hunan provincial education department, vowed to penalize school officials responsible for similar disasters. "In case of similar disasters, the principal will be sacked immediately and we'll advise the local government and Party committees to take action against those who are responsible," Zhang said at Wednesday's televised conference with principals of all kindergartens and primary and secondary schools in the province […]. ^ top ^

Xinjiang arrests 94 fugitives over unrest (SCMP)
2009-12-09
Authorities in restive Xinjiang region have arrested 94 fugitives suspected of involvement in deadly ethnic violence in July, state-run media said on Wednesday. The report by Xinhua news agency appeared to indicate that further harsh sentences could be forthcoming over the violence, for which Beijing has already executed nine people and sentenced eight others to death. Violence erupted in the streets of the Xinjiang capital Urumqi on July 5, when Uygurs – a Muslim minority that has long complained of repression under Chinese rule – attacked members of China's Han ethnic majority. The fugitives were seized as part of a month-long large-scale crackdown on general crime in November that busted 66 criminal gangs and resulted in the arrests of 382 people, Xinhua said. It quoted Xinjiang police as saying the crackdown was aimed at “consolidating stability and eliminating security risks.” It gave no information on the ethnicity of those arrested. China's roughly eight million Turkic-speaking Uygurs accuse authorities of decades of religious, political and cultural oppression – which Beijing denies – and tensions have simmered in Xinjiang for years. The violence in July was the worst in the mainland in decades and left nearly 200 people dead and more than 1,600 injured, according to official figures. So far, 41 people have been tried and sentenced over the unrest. Most of those sentenced to death have been Uygurs, based on names provided in state media reports. Uygurs say the violence was initially triggered when police cracked down harshly on peaceful protests in Urumqi sparked by a brawl at a factory in Guangdong that state media said left two Uygurs dead. Beijing claims China faces a serious separatist threat in Xinjiang. But exiled Uygurs say Beijing hypes the threat to justify harsh controls in the strategic western region, which is rich in energy reserves. ^ top ^

440,000 to be resettled for water project (SCMP)
2009-12-09
Mainland authorities will resettle at least 440,000 people to make way for a massive and much-delayed project aimed at diverting water to meet growing demand in the parched north, state media said Wednesday. Authorities will move around 100,000 residents a year to allow construction of the South-to-North Water Diversion project […] which aims to divert water from a tributary of the Yangtze river to northern China. The project, long criticised by environmentalists for its huge costs, will include a three-line system of canals and pipes. According to the report, the relocation of the 440,000 people is only related to the first construction phase of the eastern and central lines of the project. A western line is also planned. Water was originally due to begin flowing from the central line to Beijing by next year but was postponed to 2014 largely due to the resettlement issue, media reports have said. The delay will further complicate water shortages in northern China that experts blame on global warming, drought, and rising demand in the booming Beijing region. Currently water is being diverted from parched Hebei province to provide emergencies supplies for neighbouring Beijing. According to the report, the government will provide each resettled resident with 19,000 yuan – a sum that does not include compensation for the houses they will leave behind. ^ top ^

Five sentenced to death in southwest China gang trial (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-08
Five people were sentenced Monday to death after being convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering, fraud and selling counterfeit currency in southwest China. The five were convicted at the Intermediate Court of Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, of organizing a 41-strong criminal gang. The court handed down death sentences on Jiang Jiatian, leader of the gang, his mistress Yang Jufen, Yang's father Yang Guoying, and Xie Mingxiang, another core member. Li Wencai, a woman who played a lead role in the gang's drug trafficking, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Other 36 members of the gang received jail terms ranging from 18 months to life. A court spokesman said Jiang Jiatian, 56, made a fortune from drug trafficking in the mid 1990s and had invested his illicit income in at least 10 teahouses, Internet cafes and hotels in Kunming. Almost all his businesses turned out to be dens for prostitution, extortion, racketeering, and sales of drugs and counterfeit banknotes […] He said Jiang had involved relatives and friends in his gang. Most of them were jobless, and some were former convicts. The gang had disrupted social order in at least three villages in the suburbs of Kunming, and many villagers wrote to local governments complaining they felt "unsafe." Some said they were forced to pay up to 1,000 yuan for a kettle of tea at Jiang's teahouses, under threat of violence, the spokesman said. Many customers complained they were given counterfeit banknotes in change, and that they were beaten up when they protested. The trial of the gang began in late September, a year after its cardinal members were arrested […] China's police launched a long-term campaign against criminal gangs in 2006. As of September, 1,267 cases of gang crimes had been dealt with across the country, with more than 13,000 gangs broken up and at least 89,000 people arrested. ^ top ^

Youth league pours millions into recruiting (SCMP)
2009-12-08
The Communist Youth League poured 110 million yuan into bolstering its grass-roots branches across the mainland in an attempt to attract more young people to join a party that has lost much of its ideological appeal, state media reported yesterday. It has developed tens of thousands of job-training bases to help more than 200,000 youngsters gain short-term experience […] together with several state banks and agricultural co-operatives, it has also launched a loan scheme for young people who want to start their own businesses. More than two million young people had taken part in vocational training courses organised by the youth league […] The report also detailed schemes to mobilize university graduates to work as village officials. The Communist Youth League - the power base of President Hu Jintao - is the training ground for grooming capable young people to be future leaders in the Communist Party. Analysts say ordinary mainlanders have long lost their belief in communism and the party has, to a large extent, turned into an elite club for people who seek social and career advancement. Professor Chan Kin-man, a sociologist at Hong Kong's Chinese University, said the party did not have problems attracting a lot of bright young people, although they did not necessarily join for the right reason. Many young people now wanted to join the party because it was a ticket to a good job in the civil service, he said. On the mainland, the civil service is still seen as a guarantee for a life-long job, stable income and lucrative fringe benefits. Party membership remains an important criterion for getting into the government. "Very few join because of socialist or communist ideologies now," Chan said. "They join because of more pragmatic reasons, and many just want to be civil servants." […] While young people were previously keen on working in the private sector, the state's monopoly over many lucrative sectors nowadays meant government-sector positions were highly sought after, said Zhou Xiaozheng, sociology professor at Beijing-based Renmin University. "Official power is central [to Chinese society] - once you have power you have everything - so young people are all keen on getting into the civil service […] In a mainland internet chat room, someone who was in the process of filling in a youth league application form posted a message to solicit help: "What is the purpose of joining the youth league? I don't even know. What am I going to write? Could someone please help me?". ^ top ^

Ambitious cadres face long march to the top (SCMP)
2009-12-07
No one would doubt that climbing the ladder of power in the Communist Party takes a long time. But just how long does it take to become a provincial party boss - a crucial career step for would-be Politburo members? The answer is an average of 35 years of impeccable apprenticeship, according to a recent study of 31 incumbent provincial party chiefs. They became party chiefs at an average age of 57, said the study […] More than half were governors before that, with an average age at appointment of 53. The report followed a round of provincial-level reshuffles last week, marking the start of preparations for top leadership changes in 2012 […] Mainland cadres usually have to rise through the party ranks, which results in most senior Chinese leaders being well into their 60s. That was the reason the party introduced a mandatory retirement age of 65 for provincial and ministry officials and set the ceiling age for appointment as a county chief at 45. But officials who have a background in the Communist Youth League - Hu's power base - can be significantly younger […] Unlike Western countries, where elections can result in meteoric rises, China's top-down political system seriously restricts such possibilities. "There are too many ranks officials have to go through before they climb to the top of the party ladder, and it is not good news for competent officials or the country," said Professor Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based political analyst. ^ top ^

Lawyers under fire for defending gangs (Global Times)
2009-12-07
A growing number of Beijing attorneys are being hired to defend alleged perpetrators of organized crime in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, as local lawyers have come under fire from the public and are facing restrictions in contacting their clients. Yang Kuangsheng, a senior attorney from the Beijng-based Zhongtong law firm, is expected to defend Wen Qiang, former head of the judicial administrative bureau of Chongqing, the Beijing News reported Sunday. Wen, arrested September 24 on allegations of protecting underworld organizations and taking bribery of reportedly more than 10 million yuan ($1.47 million), is the most senior official targeted in Chongqing's crackdown on criminal syndicates and their "protective umbrellas." […] Several well-known Beijing lawyers will also to go to Chonqing to defend alledged gang members […] Defense attorney Zhao Changqing has been condemned by netizens as "an evil adviser of organized crime" after entering a not-guilty plea for his client Li Qiang, who in October faced nine charges of organizing and leading mafia groups, disturbing social order and criminal operation. "The public's rage toward organized crime is understandable, but the denunciation of lawyers can only reflect a failure of legal education in China," the 75-year-old Zhao told Time Weekly earlier this month. Zhou Litai, 43, a local lawyer defending an alleged gang member, became the first target of furious netizens after he warned against the expansion of the crackdown on organized crime. "Defense lawyers are not representing organized gangs. Defense leads to justice," Zhou said, emphasizing the importance of "different voices" for the realization of real justice and criticizing some Web users as "an opinion mob." Zhou, however, denied that there were any local lawyers forced to drop out by pressure from the public and local government, saying many local defense lawyers were involved in many other cases. "Families of the suspects may believe lawyers in Beijing have better professional skills and have means to work around local restrictions," Zhou said. No defense lawyers in gang-related cases were allowed to meet with their clients during the investigation process, and had no access to archives during the trial, according to Zhou. "Those lawyers from Beijing will be trapped in similar difficult positions, I'm afraid," Zhou said. During Saturday's trial of a 26-member crime syndicate, Xiao Ying, a defense attorney, argued that the rights of the suspects were violated, as their lawyers had neither access to clients nor case archives […] The five-day trial concluded Saturday with six of the defendants pleading guilty in court, while 19 claimed Wednesday they suffered torture during interrogation […]. ^ top ^

Rights activist speaks out from inside 'black jail' (SCMP)
2009-12-07
A Chinese activist who has spoken out about the country's "black jails" said he was being held against his will in one of the unofficial detention centres used to discourage people from complaining to central government authorities. Zheng Dajing stood behind a locked metal door, with a screen window covered with semi-opaque plastic, and answered questions on Saturday. The location was a two-storey building in the dim courtyard of an alley-side hotel in western Beijing. The stocky 48-year-old recited his wife's mobile phone number to confirm who he was. "I have no idea when I can leave," he said. Beijing has denied the existence of "black jails", but a state-run magazine last month described the secret detention centres where petitioners - citizens who come to Beijing with complaints about corruption in their hometowns - are held and sometimes beaten. The report said officials were under pressure to reduce the number of petitioners from their localities to zero, and pay people to detain those who came to Beijing before they could complain. Zheng said he was detained on Friday with several thousand other people marking the mainland's annual Legal Publicity Day - meant to promote awareness of the mainland legal system - with many protests around the capital. The mainland-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders reported on Saturday that Zheng, from Hubei province, was an organiser of the protests, but Zheng said he had merely been standing near a Beijing railway station observing them when he was taken away […] Zheng was being watched by a guard inside the locked room, who protested loudly at first to the interview, but then walked away. Other guards earlier on Saturday stopped Zheng's wife from getting inside to see him. Zheng said he and others were taken to Majialou, which a Chinese rights group described as "a central 'black jail' for petitioners", for processing before being taken to his current location, a dingy guesthouse with "Siyuan Hotel" spelled out in neon lights […] Zheng, who has spoken with foreign media in the past about being held in "black jails", said he had not been beaten. Last month's surprisingly open report in the state-run magazine Outlook said officials pay "black jail" operators 100 yuan (HK$113) to 200 yuan per day for each petitioner held captive […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangzhou to set up protest zone for Games (SCMP)
2009-12-10
Guangzhou will follow Beijing's lead by establishing a protest zone during next year's Asian Games, though there are fears of a repeat of the fiasco at last year's Olympics when nobody was permitted to use it. An Yaozhen, deputy chief of the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau's operation centre, said the city would designate an area for demonstrators to air their grievances, the Nanfang Daily reported yesterday. "Whoever wants to go, can go," An, who is also deputy security chief for the Games, told representatives of the Guangzhou People's Congress during a meeting on Games security. Three parks in Beijing were designated protest zones last August, but police later revealed that all 77 applications to use them were denied. Authorities were embarrassed when two elderly women went ahead with a protest over land rights. The women - Wu Dianyuan, 79, and Wang Xiuying, 77 - were given suspended one-year sentences of re-education through labour, prompting an international outcry. They won a reprieve less than two weeks after the decision was delivered. The pair had applied for permits to demonstrate in officially designated protests zones during the Games. Another activist, Ji Sizun, who was in his late 50s, travelled to Beijing from Fuijan to seek permission to protest, and made his application on August 8, the day of the opening ceremony. When he returned to check on the progress of his application, he was detained. It was later reported that he had been jailed for three years by a court in Fuzhou for "forging official documents and seals". These cases were among examples cited by human rights groups of the mainland's crackdown on dissent as it hosted the Olympics. Authorities agreed to the protest zones under foreign pressure to allow greater freedom of expression, but police finally decided not to allow any protests during the Olympics. Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based commentator and professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said protests would be allowed at the Asian Games as Guangzhou was more open-minded than Beijing. "This shows the government is willing to protect certain civil rights by letting the public express different opinions. This is a way to measure how rational and mature the government is," he said. "I believe Guangzhou will allow authorised protests". But Tang Jingling, a Guangzhou-based human rights lawyer, was unimpressed. "I just think the whole idea of zoning protests is a downright joke. What kind of protest would that be if demonstrators were confined to a designated area? Even if people are authorised to demonstrate, they won't be real protests," he said. "I've seen many previous requests for demonstrations fall on deaf ears. I can't think of any genuine protestors who would step up." A delegate at the security meeting raised concerns over the targeting of petitioners in anti-terrorism drills. "Why do Guangzhou's anti-terrorism drills always target petitioners claiming their unpaid wages?" Liu Xiaogang, a member of the city's People's Congress and a labour unionist, asked. An said police would be deployed only as a last resort to maintain order during the Games. ^ top ^

Guangdong migrants to 'earn' residency (SCMP)
2009-12-08
Migrants working in Guangdong will be able to "earn" residency, and therefore rights similar to those of permanent residents, through a points system already implemented in one city. Vice-governor Xiao Zhiheng pledged on Friday to a group of inspectors from the State Council that the provincial government would focus on the system in order to help migrant workers […] Xiao also said the province would, during the current financial crisis, take care of migrant workers' social security, including their pension, unemployment and industrial injury insurance. These would be provided apart from the points system. Guangdong acted as the annual Central Economic Work Conference called on provinces to speed up measures to boost the rural economy, and remove barriers between permanent and migrant populations in the urban areas. Guangdong has more than 26 million migrant workers, the most of any province, and the points system is reportedly a first for the mainland. The report quoted Xiao as saying migrant workers could collect points to earn access to several residence and welfare services, such as allowing their children to study in public schools, and even receive permanent household registration, or hukou. Zhongshan has already released and detailed its points system for migrant workers. Under the 100-point system, diplomas, certificates, and investment in and purchase of property in the city all score points […] However, many migrant workers have doubts about the system. "I haven't heard of the points system yet. I'm not confident of getting a high score, and neither will newly arrived workers be," said Hu Xiaoyan, a Sichuan native who became one of three migrant-worker deputies to the National People's Congress last year. Hu, with a decade of experience working in Guangdong's factories, still cannot take her daughters to study there, as they have no urban residence and would have to pay much higher enrolment fees. Zhang Min, a migrant worker who has worked in several cities in Guangdong, said: "I don't think I can score 20 points in my whole life […] "The points system is definitely for talented or rich people, not for real migrant workers of our kind. The authorities say it helps to encourage us to become urban residents. I say it is a signal to kick us out.. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Democrats to stay out of vote to end probe on legislator (SCMP)
2009-12-09
The Democratic Party will abstain from voting on a motion to call off a Legislative Council investigation into lawmaker Kam Nai-wai's allegedly unfair dismissal of a female aide. The investigation is likely to go ahead as the motion - moved by tourism-sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun - might not be able to secure sufficient support from the legislature. Legco is to debate and vote today on Tse's motion to scrap the investigation. If the motion is defeated, an earlier motion seeking to censure Kam would take effect without a vote, and investigations into his alleged misbehaviour, including a sexual harassment claim, would begin. If found guilty, Kam would be sacked from office […] If a censure motion was passed, it would be the first time a Legco probe seeks to censure and disqualify a lawmaker. The former aide, Kimmie Wong, gave her first public account last Thursday of how Kam made advances to her and later sacked her. She has refused to take part in the Legco probe. Yesterday, Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said that if a probe were launched, the investigators should seek Wong's co-operation. She should appear before the investigation panel and answer questions from both the panel and the defendant, and written statements should not be accepted to protect the rights of the defendant, Ho said […] Kam, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, might give a brief address at today's debate but would not vote on the motion. The original motion, moved by the Liberal Party's Miriam Lau Kin-yee, raps Kam for his inconsistent public statements, leading to doubts about his integrity, and his unfair dismissal of his assistant after she rejected his expression of affection. Kam had initially denied media allegations he made advances to Wong. A few days later, in early October, he admitted on a radio programme to having feelings for her, but said it did not amount to making advances. Kam, who has been married for over 20 years, said he sacked Wong over her work performance, and not because she rejected him. Ho challenged the charges levelled at his party colleague. "How can media reports be used as proof to censure a lawmaker or even to disqualify him? It is trifling. [We] should not set a precedent for future cases," he said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Beijing reiterates stance on US arms sales (SCMP)
2009-12-11
The central government said yesterday it opposed any new US arms sales to Taiwan, following comments from an Obama administration official who said Washington was weighing fresh sales to the island, including submarines. "We are firmly opposed to US arms sales to Taiwan," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular briefing. "Our position is consistent in this regard." She said communiques issued before by the two countries established that the United States should not sell weapons to Taiwan. Washington says it is entitled to do so, as a US law spells out its obligations to help Taiwan defend itself. The Obama administration was moving towards possible new arms sales, including design work on diesel-electric submarines, Robert Kovac, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for defence trade, said. Beijing strongly opposes arms sales to Taiwan, which it claims as its own, as interference in its domestic affairs. New submarines could help challenge a seaborne assault on the self-ruled island, which Beijing reserves the right to take by force if it formally declares independence. Any sale is likely to add to strains in Sino-US ties, a relationship President Barack Obama said during a visit to China last month was increasingly important in global affairs. ^ top ^

Kuomintang appoints new secretary general (Xinhua)
2009-12-10
The Kuomintang (KMT) Wednesday appointed King Pu-tsung as the party's new secretary general. King, former vice mayor of Taipei, replaced Chan Chun-po to take the position. Chan is now holding the post of the party's vice chairman. The party made the decision at a Central Standing Committee meeting […] KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou said he hoped the new appointment would bring fresh energy to the party and create more space and innovation for the party's reform. ^ top ^

Wu says only 'idiots' want independence (SCMP)
2009-12-09
Taiwan's anti-China opposition was up in arms on Wednesday after Premier Wu Den-yih of the pro-Beijing Kuomintang party said only "idiots" want independence from the mainland. “It's simply impossible for Taiwan to become independent. Even if it did, it would lead to an internal split and cause pressure from abroad,” Wu told a local radio station on Tuesday. “Only irresponsible people or idiots want Taiwan independence.” Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan if the island, which it claims as part of its territory, were to declare formal independence. The two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949. Wu's statement triggered outrage from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favours independence. “Taiwan is already an independent country, no matter its name. Now can you see who is the idiot?” DPP legislator Chiu Yi-ying said. Taiwan, whose official name is “Republic of China”, saw ties with China hit a low point under DPP rule from 2000 to last year. But relations have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang became president last year on a platform of boosting trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists. ^ top ^

Setback for KMT in election could affect Chinese mainland (China Daily)
2009-12-07
The electoral setback of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) in Saturday's local elections may pose a new challenge to its Chinese mainland-friendly leader Ma Ying-jeou as well as cross-Straits relations, experts warned yesterday. Seventeen counties and cities were up for grabs in Saturday's poll, and Ma's KMT lost control of two, while the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gained one. "It is definitely bad news for the mainland," said Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He expected more of a power struggle between the KMT and DPP on major political issues, ranging from bilateral talks to the proposed trade pact across the Straits. Ma and his government will likely face more obstacles if he continues his push for closer ties with the mainland, the Taipei-based United Daily newspaper said in a commentary yesterday. Speaking to reporters in Taipei on Saturday, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen called the results "an important step in the DPP's comeback", saying they also show people are not happy with the government. The DPP took more than 45 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent in the magistrate and mayoral polls four years ago. "The outcome is not as good as we'd hoped," said Ma, who also acts as KMT chairman […] But Ma insisted his positive cross-Straits policies are welcome by most Taiwan people. The DPP, however, got a boost in its morale, and DPP's Tsai, a possible candidate for the island's "presidential" elections in 2012, is putting more pressure on Ma. Tsai interpreted the poll as a resounding rejection of Ma's policies, which center on improved relations with the mainland, AFP reported […] Ma was seen a favorable figure by the Chinese mainland because of his promotion of positive cross-Straits ties, which froze up during the DPP's rule of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008. He also once enjoyed a high support rate with his incorruptible character and refreshing image. Ma had an approval rating of 66 percent when he took office in May 2008, and polled 52 percent on his first anniversary. But challenges keep popping up as the financial crisis loomed over Taiwan and a serious typhoon hit the island in August […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Top negotiator claims Dalai Lama lies (Global Times)
2009-12-08
[…] Zhu Weiqun, vice minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the CPC Central Committee, dismissed recent remarks by the Dalai Lama that China is aware that he is not seeking an independent Tibet. "This is yet another lie from the Dalai Lama," Zhu told reporters Monday. "I represent the government during talks with his man. It is impossible for me, or anyone from my team, to say something like ‘the Dalai Lama has stopped separatist activities.'" During a visit to Australia earlier this month, the Dalai Lama said in Sydney that, during the fifth-round of talks in 2006, officials from the UFWD had told his representative, Lodi Gyari, that they knew the Dalai Lama hadn't sought an independent Tibet, according to Voice of Tibet Radio. Thus, any comments since then by the Chinese government condemning his separatist acts were pure political propaganda, the radio reported. "During the talks with Gyari, he did tell me that the Dalai Lama had no intention of seeking independence and was willing to solve the issue under the Chinese Constitution," Zhu said. "What he said was good, but still far from enough. The 'middle way' solution the Dalai Lama proposed still claims Tibet as occupied by China and demands the abolishment of the current social system. His so-called ‘greater Tibet' idea also demands the pull-out of all non-Tibetans and military from Tibetan-inhabited areas. Those ideas all oppose the Chinese constitution and the Law on Regional National Autonomy. He should seriously rethink his 'middle way' plan and make thorough explanations," Zhu said, adding that this is not the first time the Dalai Lama has spoken such lies […] Zhu also pointed out that, no matter how the Dalai Lama repeats the lies, Gyari has always remained silent in the corner, which may reflect the dilemma of Gyari: while refusing perjury in favor of the Dalai Lama, he is either reluctant or unable to correct his master […] By allegedly masterminding the March 14 riots in Lhasa last year, the Dalai Lama had intended to hijack the Beijing Olympics to broker talks with Beijing to achieve a breakthrough on independence, "but only in vain," Zhu said. Shortly after the riots, the Dalai Lama called the slaying of innocent citizens a "peaceful demonstration" and denied his demands for the withdrawal of the military and non-Tibetans. He never admitted his lies even after being exposed, Zhu added. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Housing prices go on rising (China Daily)
2009-12-11
The cost of the average home in China rose by 5.7 percent year-on-year in November, continuing an escalation that pundits think could carry into next year, despite new policies from the State Council aimed at reining in speculative deals. The rise last month was 1.8 percentage points higher than the jump in October, according to a statement from the National Statistics Bureau. It was the ninth consecutive month that house prices rose in the survey of real estate across 70 major Chinese cities. The sharp increase in house prices came despite the efforts of the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded on Monday, and the annual work conference of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which both tried to pour cold water on the red hot property market. Delegates at the Central Economic Work Conference decided to increase the supply of ordinary houses and support the public's demand for more non-market housing. Zhang Ping, minister of the NDRC, said during the commission's national conference on Wednesday that more affordable housing would be made available for middle- and low-income families, and efforts would be stepped up to curtail speculation in the housing market. Members of the State Council, the country's top administrative authority, decided during the council's executive meeting on Wednesday that individuals will need to own their homes for five years before they will be eligible for sales tax exemption. The increase from the previous minimum of two years was aimed at making it harder for speculators to flip houses in short-term deals. Despite the efforts, analysts predicted that house prices will remain high during the coming months and said they could rise even higher. "It is not possible that house prices will fall significantly in the coming months," said Carlby Xie, an associate director with Colliers' North China Division […] Xie said demand remained strong and developers were financially secure because the country had made huge amounts of liquidity available through its efforts to counter the global financial crisis. He said that will mean developers will be unlikely to slash house prices in the coming months, even if demand weakens. State Council policy will dampen demand for second-hand houses, said Yin Bocheng, director of the Real Estate Center of Fudan University. "But it will not fundamentally change the expectation for further rises in house prices" […]. ^ top ^

China issues initial ruling on US and Russia steel (Global Times)
2009-12-11
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday that the US and Russia had dumped oriented electrical steel on the Chinese market, exports the US had subsidized. The dumping and subsidies have caused damage to the domestic industry, and China will charge deposits on the imports from the two economies from today, the MOC ruled. The amount of the deposit paid at customs would be decided by the dumping margins of different producers. The dumping margins ranged from 10.7 percent to 25 percent by the US companies, and 4.6 percent to 25 percent by the Russian companies. China launched the anti-dumping probes into imports of the oriented electrical steel from the US and Russia, and countervailing investigations into the imports from the US, on June 1. It is China's first anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations of imported products from a single nation, and the initial ruling was made by strictly following regulations of the WTO and domestic trade laws, said an MOC official. ^ top ^

China's first carbon neutral label issued (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-11
On December 9, Shanghai Pacific Millennium Packaging & Paper Industries Co. received China's first carbon neutral label. On November 17, this company conducted China's first VER (Voluntary Emission Reduction)-based carbon neutral transaction at the Tianjin Climate Exchange, offsetting 6,266 tons of carbon emissions from January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. Now, Shanghai Pacific Millennium Packaging & Paper Industries Co. has become China's first packaging enterprise to conduct a carbon neutral transaction […] all of the packaging businesses under Pacific Millennium Holdings Corporation (the parent company of Shanghai Pacific Millennium) will gradually introduce the carbon management and carbon neutral measures in 2010. As relevant experts point out, solving environment-related problems by using the market mechanism will help to create an open and fair playing field, all the while reducing social costs and attracting more businesses. ^ top ^

US companies find an oasis of profit in China (China Daily)
2009-12-10
Many US companies hit hard around the world by the global economic downturn have reported profits from their dealings in China, according to a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. The chamber's China Business Report 2009, which was released yesterday, shows most corporate members saw a growth in revenue and profit in China and the report ranked the nation a top investment destination for 2010. "Many American companies are finding that their performance in China has outshone those in other markets," said J. Norwell Coquillard, chairman of AmCham Shanghai […] More than 40 percent of respondents said the profit margins of their China operations in 2009 were better than their global averages. This was in stark contrast to the situation a decade ago, when 58 percent of US companies surveyed said their margins in China were narrower than in many other countries. Most respondents were positive about doing business in China. More than 90 percent said they were "optimistic" or "slightly optimistic" about the five-year outlook. That compared to 81 percent in 2008 […] Companies said they faced new challenges in 2009 that were mainly centered on sales and the retention of customers. Competition from Chinese companies was also increasing, said the US firms. One silver lining from the global financial crisis was the fact that it had become easier to recruit new talented individuals, said the report. ^ top ^

Mainland to close smaller steel firms (SCMP)
2009-12-09
Mainland steel firms with production capacity of less than 1 million tonnes per year will be eliminated from the sector, according to a draft policy document released on Wednesday. As part of its efforts to impose “order” on the fragmented steel sector, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will also raise environmental standards on steel mills, forcing them to upgrade their equipment or have their licences revoked. Mills should not use more than 92 kg of coal and 6 tonnes of water for each tonne of steel produced. Waste water emissions should not exceed 2 cubic metres per tonne of steel produced, and sulphur dioxide emissions should also be limited to 1.8 kg per tonne of steel. Those enterprises that fail to meet the new standards will be forced to restructure, while “those enterprises with no hope of rectification must gradually withdraw from steel production”. The proposals will help step up the campaign to curb overcapacity in the sector, the ministry said. The ministry has identified excess capacity as one of the major challenges facing the steel sector, saying that enterprises are continuing to produce at record levels despite a heavy decline in exports over this year. It said earlier this month that it would ensure that as much as 16.91 million tonnes of outdated capacity would be closed down by the end of February next year in order to meet its environmental and safety targets for the industry. Total crude steel output for this year is expected to come in at a record 571 million tonnes, with production capacity standing at 700 million tonnes. ^ top ^

Mainland firms may list in Taiwan from 2010 (Global Times)
2009-12-09
Chinese mainland companies may list on the Taiwan market next year, according to a Bloomberg report Tuesday citing Schive Chi, chairman of the Taiwan Stock Exchange (Taiex). Schive said this initiative is dependent upon the completion of an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with the talks between the mainland and Taiwan scheduled to start this month and the agreement would be a "good opportunity" for mainland firms. "When the ECFA is signed with China next year, it's a good opportunity for mainland firms to list in Taiwan and we aim for that to happen in the next year," Schive said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. "There will be more choices for Taiwan investors and this will also be beneficial for Taiwan to develop as a financial center," said Parker Wu, a fund manager at the Agriculture Bank of Taiwan. "Investors can take their pick of shares in Taiwan without needing to go overseas and the Taiex will become more appealing," he added. The mainland and Taiwan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing to increase access to each other's banks, insurers and brokerages last month. ^ top ^

Beijing steers a steady course on economic front (SCMP)
2009-12-08
China's leadership yesterday pledged to boost domestic consumption and promote urbanisation while maintaining pro-growth policies at the end of a conference to draw up economic plans for next year. The mainland would also continue its "moderately loose" monetary policy, said a statement released after the three-day annual Central Economic Work Conference, which was chaired by President Hu Jintao and attended by all the top leaders, including Premier Wen Jiabao. Policymakers vowed to keep in place stimulus policies aimed at preventing a renewed downturn. They emphasised the need to increase domestic demand, particularly private consumption. They pledged to maintain appropriate investment growth while ensuring steady growth in exports. A year after Beijing launched its 4 trillion yuan stimulus package aimed at countering the impact of slumping exports, economists said they expected gross domestic product this year to grow by more than the government's target of 8 per cent. The world's third-largest economy has seen a strong recovery in recent months. Growth rebounded to 8.9 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, up from 7.9 per cent in the second quarter and 6.1 per cent in the first three months, which was the slowest pace in more than a decade. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank, forecast economic growth would accelerate to 9.1 per cent next year and that inflation would hit 2 per cent after falling to 0.5 per cent this year […] The policymakers' statement said the government would "try to make marked progress in restructuring China's economy by steadily pushing forward urbanisation and optimising the structure of industry next year". The government planned to encourage farmers to migrate to cities and at the same time ease restrictions on gaining permanent residency in the nation's small and medium-sized cities, it said. The wealth gap between urban and rural areas is one of the biggest in the world and the hukou system of residence permits, introduced in the 1950s to restrict the movement of farmers to the cities - where they can enjoy much better social security and welfare benefits - has been criticised for contributing to this disparity […] Tim Condon, head of Asian research for Dutch financial group ING, expects a gradual tightening in monetary policy, with the interest rate paid on bank deposits rising in each of the next four quarters […]. ^ top ^

China's trade surplus to US to narrow (China Daily)
2009-12-08
China's exports have dropped considerably to the United States since the financial meltdown and its trade surplus to the US will decrease this year by $100 billion, according to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong. "We're aware of the importance of changing the growth mode," he said. "We're decreasing exports while increasing domestic consumption. But that will take time." Zhou made the remarks after a speech addressing the 2009 Gala Dinner of the National Committee on United States-China Relations (NCUSCR) held last Thursday in New York. According to China's General Administration of Customs, China's exports from January through October dropped by 20.5 percent compared with the same period last year. During the same period, its export volume to the US dropped by 11.3 percent, while the export price declined by 5.3 percent. China-US trade volume decreased by 15 percent, according to Chinese customs. "We're in the same boat [in fighting against the financial crisis]," the ambassador added. "I truly believe that in the new situation, the interests of China and the US are interconnected to such a degree that one could hardly do without the other." Such "comprehensive, strategic and cooperative" bilateral relations were also acknowledged by US President Barack Obama […] The gala also honored Google and ITT Corporation for their contributions to the China-US relationship. The NCUSCR is set to hold a China Town Hall event next week to provide American businesses a chance to discuss with scholars how the development of Sino-US relations is impacting Americans. It will also co-host a forum with the China Center for Economic Research early next month on the prospect of China's economy in 2010. ^ top ^

China opens key economic work meeting, policies expected to continue (Xinhua)
2009-12-07
China's decision makers gathered in Beijing Saturday to determine economic policies for 2010, aiming to better deal with the impact of the international financial crisis and consolidate the foundation for economic recovery. The Central Economic Work Conference, an annual event initiated more than a decade ago, started days after China said it would continue the proactive fiscal policy and moderately easy monetary policy next year. Analysts with the Development Research Center of the State Council, a government think tank, said coping with further impact of the international financial crisis would remain a major task for China in 2010. To continue the fiscal and monetary policies and implement and enrich the economic stimulus package would help China achieve full economic recovery […] They expected more efforts to transform the mode of development and in economic restructuring next year […] However, they cautioned China should still prepare for a bumpy ride next year as the road of global economic recovery would be "long and winding." Increase in the country's exports would still be difficult with a grim forecast of overseas demand, and domestic consumption should be further boosted to drive economic growth, they said. It is also expected decision makers at the conference would address issues such as tackling overcapacity in some industries and promoting the development of some strategic emerging industries. Despite the global downturn, China had outperformed other major economies in 2009. Gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 8.9 percent year on year in the third quarter, and the economic growth for the year is expected to exceed 8 percent. ^ top ^

87 million Chinese shopping online (China Daily)
2009-12-11
More than 87 million Chinese bought goods on the Internet this year, about 24 million more than last year and an increase of 38.9 percent year-on-year, the Beijing Times reported, citing a recent report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). Most online shoppers are students or white collar workers between the ages of 18 and 30, with a monthly income of 1,000 yuan ($146) to 3,000 yuan ($439). More women shop online than men, and clothing and home-use products are the most popular goods bought online. According to the "Report on China's Online Shopping 2009", the total sum of national online consumption for the first half of the year was 119.5 billion yuan ($17.5 billion), 89 percent of which through consumer to consumer websites like Taobao.com. CNNIC estimates the total sum of annual online shopping will reach 250 billion yuan ($36.6 billion) this year. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu

China's A/H1N1 flu death toll on faster rise (Xinhua)
2009-12-10
The Chinese mainland reported 125 deaths from the A/H1N1 influenza in the week from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, nearly 65 percent of those reported in whole November, the Ministry of Health announced Wednesday. About 13.7 percent of all the 326 deaths reported so far were pregnant women, the ministry said, correcting an earlier figure of eighty percent given by Zhong Nanshan, a medical expert in south China's Guangdong Province. Cao Zhixin, a doctor at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said the high percentage was because pregnant women were generally unwilling to take medicines or X-ray checks. The ministry also said 47 percent of the dead patients suffered from chronic diseases and 18 percent were obese. The total number of confirmed cases of A/H1N1 flu in the mainland had topped 100,000 and 31.61 million people had been vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

80 percent of A/H1N1 flu deaths are pregnant women (People's Daily Online)
2009-12-09
Statistics show that to date, 80 percent of over 200 A/H1N1 flu deaths in China have been pregnant women, and the majority of them had been pregnant for more than six months, said academician Zhong Nanshan when he visited health service centers in the Jiangnan Zhongjie Community, Haizhu District […] Zhong said […] that about half of Guangzhou's patients who saw doctors because of having a cold or fever were flu patients, 90 percent of which were A/H1N1 patients. It is more convenient for A/H1N1 patients to go to community hospitals than large-sized hospitals. Zhong noted that ordinary treatment is enough for most patients with mild symptoms. Aside from providing treatment services, community health service centers also play a monitoring role. "If there are more flu patients, community health service centers should report to departments at a higher level; if there are many flu patients in a community, the community health service center should take timely preventive and control measures such as quarantine to prevent the spread of the epidemic. Patients can immediately access treatment at community health service centers after contracting the flu, this is the most effective method to prevent and control the A/H1N1 flu," […] Zhong added that once the condition of pregnant women who contracted A/H1N1 flu became severe, it is very difficult to cure and there is a high rate of fetal mortality. He suggested that pregnant women who have A/H1N1 flu symptoms such as fever or cough should receive the Tamiflu injection […] Zhong also disclosed that at present, China has reserved 26 million doses of Tamiflu, which account for 2 percent of China's population. The Tamiflu will initially be delivered to provinces and cities, and then to villages and communities. State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) reaffirmed that the A/H1N1 vaccine is safe […] spokesperson Yan Jiangying reaffirmed in terms of the safety of the A/H1N1 vaccine that the Ministry of Health had specially explained the four death cases. The cases occurred after the patients were vaccinated, but they were not directly related to the vaccine […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

US, N.Korea reach 'common understanding' (Global Times)
2009-12-11
The US and North Korea have a "common understanding" on the need to resume stalled nuclear-disarmament negotiations, US envoy Stephen Bosworth said Thursday after a three-day visit to Pyongyang. "We identified some common understandings on the need for and the role of the Six-Party Talks and the importance of the implementation of the 2005 Joint Statement," the special envoy told a press conference on his return to South Korea. In the 2005 September Joint Statement, North Korea pledged to abandon its nuclear arms program in exchange for massive aid and better diplomatic standing. Bosworth said he had "extensive and useful talks in candid and businesslike" discussions with North Korean officials in Pyongyang. However, it remains to be seen when or how North Korea returns to the nuclear talks. "This is something that will require further consultations among all six of us," he said, referring to the nations involved in the talks Pyongyang abandoned. Asked if he met with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, he said he did not request a meeting and did not see him during his trip. He met Kang Sok-ju, first vice foreign minister, the man regarded as the mastermind of North Korea's nuclear diplomacy, and Kim Kye-gwan, top negotiator to the Six-Party Talks. The envoy said he told North Korea that the US remains committed to full implementation of the joint statement, including the establishment of a peace pact to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. Analysts believe Pyongyang's main goal is to negotiate a peace treaty with Washington, which says this must be discussed within the six-party format. Yang Moo-jin, of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, told the AFP that Bosworth made "meaningful progress" despite failing to set a date for the North's return to negotiations. "Both sides have reached a common understanding of the usefulness of the six-party process," Yang said. "I'm positive that the Six-Party Talks will eventually resume." Bosworth will visit China today to discuss the result of the talks with Chinese officials and then fly to Japan and Russia, the other participating nations of the Six-Party Talks. "All parties concerned need to seize the eased situation on the Korean Peninsula," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a regular press conference, adding that China is willing to communicate with others on the restarting of the talks. Bosworth's trip to the North Korean capital is the first by a US official since US President Barack Obama took office in January. ^ top ^

DPRK says nuclear issue bilateral one with U.S. (Xinhua)
2009-12-10
The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was a "totally bilateral issue between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States," DPRK official daily Rodong Sinmun said on Wednesday. It had "nothing to do with relations between the two Koreas," it said, adding that the issue had been an outcome of the hostile U.S. policy towards the DPRK. As long as the United States dropped its anti-DPRK policy, eradicated the military threat against the DPRK, and stopped the provocation for nuclear war, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula "would be solved spontaneously," it said. The paper slammed the South Korean government for insisting a solution of the nuclear issue a prerequisite for improvement in inter-Korean relations. South Korea's stand was "imposing pressure on the DPRK" and it would "pay for its policy," said the paper. The comment comes as U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy, Stephen Bosworth, is in Pyongyang in an effort to bring the DPRK back to international nuclear disarmament talks. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Hearing Questions on Human Rights Violations (The Mongol Messenger)
2009-12-09
December 2, 2009, Parliament subcommittee on human rights organized an Open Hearing entitled “July 1 and Human Rights”. The subcommittee became aquainted with the National Human Rights Commisions 2008 report on the state of human rights in Mongolia and July 1, 2009 set up a working group responsible for studying and reviewing human rights were violated during the July 1 riot. The subcommittee received 6 complaints from families of those who died and injured from firearms, 18 complaints about beating, torture and coercion, 13 complaints about unfair prosecution and court proceedings and 18 complaints about recovering losses and other issues. Victims, attorneys, police officers who participated in dispersing and detaining people during and after the riot, and heads of relevant police organizations made reports and answered questions of MPs at the Open Hearing that lasted for 6 hours. Victims claimed that policemen treated people very badly, while police officials denied the information. Attorneys stresses that a total of 21 dossiers were written exactly the same as if they were copied, courts were biased so much. Representatives from relevant prosecutors were invited to participate in the Open Hearing, but no one participated. MPs expressed opinions to amend laws comprehensively regarding defects in police, judical and prosecutor organizations, reform legal and judical organizations with the goal to protect human rights. ^ top ^

WB's Mongolia Monthly Brief - November 2009 (MONTSAME)
2009-12-11
World Bank has released a Mongolia monthly report on economic situation. The report's brief version is as follows: On November 27, 2009, Parliament approved the 2010 budget which projects a 5 percent of GDP deficit and two new laws were passed supporting social welfare reforms. However, Parliament had to increase the copper price assumption to achieve the deficit target. A significant increase in total social spending was also approved, including that under a newly created Human Development Fund (HDF) which is earmarked to pay pension and health insurance, housing, education and health services, and cash transfers to Mongolian citizens. On the external sector, the trends of recent months have continued narrowing of the trade deficit and accumulation of international reserves and stability of the nominal exchange rate. Indeed the export contraction seems to be bottoming out and the imports decline moderating. Preliminary balance of payment figures for Q3 indicate a narrowing of the current account deficit to US$470 million (10.9 percent of GDP), after it peaked in the first quarter of 2009. In banking sector developments, Zoos Bank was taken into receivership at the end of November 2009. Anod Bank was also, finally, put under receivership. Third quarter real GDP data, down by 3.7 percent year-on-year after growth of 0.7 percent in the second quarter, along with recent industrial production figures, highlight the continued weakness in the real sector. The latest World Bank commissioned survey of the daily wage of unskilled workers in key informal labor markets in Ulaanbaatar in December 2009 also shows no improvements in real income relative to September 2009, pointing to continued economic stagnation and the on-set of winter. New analysis by the World Bank of poverty trends between 2002/3 and 2007/8 using the national household survey data from the NSO, but using the same, absolute poverty line in both years, shows a sharp reduction in poverty during that period of high economic growth. Recall that the official consumption-based poverty headcount in 2007/8 was 35.2%, as estimated. ^ top ^

Mongolian Authorities declared Swine Flu is now contaned (UB Post)
2009-12-08
Mongolia authorities have declared that it has contained the outbreak of human influenza A/H1N1 pandemic strain, reporting no additional deaths since last week, when the laboratory confirmed cases had reached 24. As of Monday the country has registered a total of 1,175 human cases of swine flu, 13 of them are still in the hospital at the National Research Center Hospital of Communicable Diseases. The Government has lifted 28-day high state of quarantine regime citing “a notable decrease in the registration of additional A/H1N1 pandemic influenza cases by local health laboratories”. On December 7, primary and secondary school students and kindergarten children were allowed to go back to their schools. ^ top ^

Ivanhoe Mines Announces Construction Budget of US$758 Million For Development Work in 2010 at Oyu Tolgoi Mining Complex in Mongolia (news.mn)
2009-12-08
President and Chief Executive Officer John Macken announced today that the joint Ivanhoe Mines-Rio Tinto Oyu Tolgoi Technical Committee has approved a conditional US$758 million budget for 2010 to begin full-scale construction of the copper-gold mining complex in southern Mongolia. "The approval of the 2010 construction budget represents the next big step toward bringing this project into production," Mr. Macken said. "Ivanhoe is considering a schedule that could see construction of the initial open-pit mine completed in 2012 and commercial production begin in 2013." The 2010 budget provides for an early start on a site-wide development program, pending the successful completion of the remaining conditions precedent required to give full effect to the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement signed October 6, 2009. ^ top ^

 

Manuel Muehlebach
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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