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
  11.1-15.1.10, No. 302  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

Beijing stands firm on internet censorship (SCMP)
2010-01-15
China says internet censorship is essential to its social stability, after Google refused to bow to censorship and complained about hacking. Beijing also warned that all information technology companies must operate in accordance with the law. The haughty response underscored the government's determination to tighten its controls on online expression and information despite international criticism. It also highlighted trade tensions between China and the United States, mainland analysts said. Several mainland rights lawyers confirmed to the South China Morning Post that their Google e-mail accounts had been hacked. In a highly unusual rebuke of mainland authorities, Google said the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists were targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks originating from China. Jiang Tianyong, a Beijing-based rights lawyer who advised Tibetan monks and parents of children who died in collapsed schools in the Sichuan earthquake, said his e-mail account had been hacked into in November. "There are more than 20,000 important work and personal e-mails in that account, and I was unable to access it right after I came back from a US trip," he said. Jiang said Google's announcement had confirmed his speculation that he might have been targeted because of his high-profile involvement in human rights activities. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu brushed aside Google's claim yesterday, saying the government was against "any form of cyber attack, such as hacking". She said the internet was "open" in China, adding: "China welcomes international internet enterprises to conduct business in China according to law." Analysts said her remarks confirmed their speculation that Beijing would not back down when it came to curbing internet freedom, deemed essential to one-party rule. In an interview published yesterday by the People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said IT firms must enhance self-discipline and share the responsibility of maintaining internet security. Without mentioning the Google dispute, he defended heightened control of the internet, saying its development in China had been confronted by severe challenges. Along with hacker attacks, internet viruses and fraud, he also listed "the severe threat to the physical and mental health of minors from internet pornography" as major concerns for authorities. But the government appeared to worry the most about different opinions expressed on the internet. "Currently, the internet gives space for spreading rumours and issuing false information and other actions that diminish confidence, and this is causing serious damage to society and the public interest," Wang said. He urged IT firms and websites to toe the official line in their news coverage in order to help the government cope with rising social conflict. In the wake of the Google row, propaganda authorities have ordered mainland newspapers and news portals not to allow public discussions, according to mainland media reporters. A Google spokesman who declined to be named said yesterday that the company had stopped censoring search results on its mainland website, Google.cn. In Washington, the White House said US President Barack Obama was aware of Google's decision before it announced on Tuesday that it would stop censoring its Chinese-language search engine and consider shutting down its mainland operations altogether. ^ top ^

China extremely concerned about Haitian "worst quake" victims (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-15
[…] The Chinese government has voiced its sympathy to the Haitian people over the rare powerful quake since 1770, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Jiang Yu, who gave a speech Tuesday on the devastating quake that had jolted Haiti. Chinese leaders are very concerned with the safety of Chinese nationals including peacekeepers, compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and overseas Chinese, and have made arrangements and would order to help take rescue operations as soon as possible, said Jiang. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sent a letter of condolence to his Haitian counterpart Alrich Nicolas, and he said in a statement on Wednesday that the Red Cross Society of China has decided to provide emergency aid for Haiti; the Chinese international rescue team would rush to Haiti as soon as possible to carry out rescue operations; and the Center for Consular Assistance and Protection under the Chinese Foreign Ministry will be responsible for consular services round the clock, or for taking matters of questions and giving answers. "We are in the belief that the Haiti people, under the leadership of their government, will overcome difficulties and rebuild their home at an early date with the help of international community," Jiang said. More than 60 Chinese rescuers departed the Beijing International Airport late Wednesday, hours after the quake rattled the Caribbean nation on Tuesday afternoon (local time). The rescue team comprises search and rescue personnel, who have conducted a lot of rescue tasks of this kind for years, and three sniffer dogs, Liu Xiangyang, deputy chief of the National Earthquake Disaster Emergency Rescue Team, told reporters at the airport. China's international rescue team sent to Haiti is made up of three component parts, namely, the searchers and rescuers, medical staff and logistic support personnel, and it is old-team based and most members are seasoned veterans with much experience […] The team, said Liu, has a rich, wide-ranging experience and skills in quake rescue operations at home and overseas, would strive to fulfill the mission as entrusted by the Chinese government, and it is due to arrive within 72 "golden hours" after the quake to rescue survivors […] Since October 2004, the Chinese government has sent eight peacekeeping anti-riot police forces there at the request of the U.N., and China currently has a total of 125 peacekeeping police offices in Haiti. ^ top ^

China, India to lead climate meeting (China Daily)
2010-01-14
New Delhi - Four of the world's largest and fastest-growing carbon emitters will meet in New Delhi this month ahead of a Jan 31 deadline for countries to submit their action plans to fight climate change. The meeting, to be held either on Jan 24 or 25, will be attended by the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China - the BASIC bloc of nations that helped broker a political accord at last month's Copenhagen climate summit. ^ top ^

PLA navy will reach wide, US predicts (SCMP)
2010-01-14
An assessment of the People's Liberation Army Navy inadvertently released by the US Office of Naval Intelligence suggests the mainland will build a naval force over the next 10 to 15 years that is equipped for operations "well beyond its traditional operating areas around Taiwan and the South China Sea", Jane's Defence Weekly reported. The ONI report said the overall size of the PLA's navy might remain relatively steady as Beijing put emphasis on quality over quantity. It expected future naval fleets to "include one or more aircraft carriers" and many modernised attack submarines. It said the government would speed up the building of submarines and naval air forces "in the next five to 10 years before levelling off". The PLA would add approximately 10 modern submarines to the force, the report said. It said preparing for possible armed conflict over Taiwan would remain the navy's top priority. But the need to secure vital sea lanes for the mainland's growing commercial fleets, combined with rising domestic and international pressure for Beijing to take up greater security responsibilities in the region, would drive the navy to expand its operations beyond Taiwan, the American intelligence report concluded. It said East Asia contained "numerous hot spots and potential conflicts that challenge China's interests". The report, titled A Modern Navy with Chinese Characteristics, was briefly placed online as an open-source document by the ONI in November before being withdrawn from public view, Jane's said. The report noted that while the PLA had been adding impressive new ships and hardware to its naval fleet, the command-and-control structure had "yet to catch up with the sophistication of the PLA's newest surface platforms [warships]". The ONI believed the navy, as a next step, would focus more on improving the command structure, providing better training and modernising tactical doctrines. Air defence also remained the weakest link for the navy, it said. The PLA's rapid military build-up over the past few years has attracted worldwide attention. On Monday, the PLA tested a missile interceptor in space, prompting the Pentagon to ask Beijing for clarification over its plans and intentions. US State Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday called on China to step up military exchanges with the US to build confidence. "The relationship China has with its neighbours as well as the United States and the rest of the world will be crucial to what happens in the 21st century," Clinton said in Hawaii […]. ^ top ^

China says to deepen strategic ties with Saudi Arabia (Xinhua)
2010-01-14
China attaches great importance to its ties with Saudi Arabia and will further strengthen the friendly cooperation on the occasion of 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Riyadh Wednesday. In a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud bin al-Faisal, Yang said both sides should enhance friendship and consolidate political mutual trust. He said the two countries should deepen cooperation in energy, infrastructure, finance and science and technology so as to inject dynamism into the bilateral economic and trade cooperation. Both sides should also carry out various exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education to foster closer friendship between people of the two countries and strengthen the positive public opinions for bilateral relations, Yang said. China would like to join hands with Saudi Arabia in pushing forward the relations between China and the Riyadh-based Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he added. Al-Faisal said the bilateral relations have witnessed smooth development with fruitful cooperation in various areas in recent years […] The two ministers also exchanged views on some international and regional issues and met the press after their talks. The Chinese foreign minister arrived in Riyadh Tuesday afternoon, on the last leg of his first official foreign visit of the year, which has taken him to five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco. ^ top ^

Clinton plays down tension risks with China (Global Times)
2010-01-13
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton downplayed on Monday the risk of tensions between China and the US, saying she believes the two countries have "a mature relationship" to overcome "differences of opinion." Speaking on the first day of her ongoing Asia-Pacific trip, Clinton acknowledged in Hawaii that relations with China might be entering a rough period, as US President Barack Obama''s administration supports the sale of defensive arms to Taiwan and a possible meeting between the president and the Dalai Lama. "What I''m expecting is that we actually have a mature relationship that fits the description that was given at the summit between our two presidents, that it be positive, cooperative and comprehensive," Clinton said. "That means that it doesn''t go off the rails when we have differences of opinion." China has expressed its strong dissatisfaction with a US decision last week to sell almost $1 billion worth of anti-missile batteries and missiles to Taiwan […] Shen Dingli, director of the Center of American Studies at Fudan University, said Sino-US relations have always been adversarial and cooperative. Even though more friction may appear this year, according to Shen, there are also long-standing problems. Therefore the recent developments shouldn''t hurt bilateral relations fundamentally. "Both Taiwan and Tibetan issues touch the core interests of China''s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Any unwise move by the US may cause China to cancel cooperation with the US on anti-nuclear and anti-terrorism (issues), which would also touch the core interests of the US," Shen added. Clinton also reiterated that visits to Asia are a "signal that the US intends to be a leader and exercise influence in this region for this century as well as the last century," AFP reported. "There was a general sense on the part of our allies and partners in the region that we were withdrawing," AFP quoted her as saying, suggesting the previous administration of president George W. Bush had neglected the region. "But people want to see that the United States is fully engaged in Asia so that, as China rises, there is a presence of the United States as a force for peace and stability, as a guarantor of security," she added. Meanwhile, Clinton held talks with her Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada Tuesday over the disputed US air base in Japan. Clinton also said Washington intends to "exercise influence" in Asia for another century and serve as a stabilizing force in the region. This is her fourth Asia tour since becoming the chief US diplomat a year ago. She will visit Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. ^ top ^

China opposes any country accepting Chinese Guantanamo detainees (Xinhua)
2010-01-13
China opposes any country accepting the Chinese Uygurs held at the Guantanamo Bay, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Tuesday. Jiang's remarks came in response to media reports that said Switzerland was considering taking some Uygur detainees from Guantanamo. China had always resolutely opposed the United States release of the Chinese detainees on U.S. soil or their transfer to any third country taking them under any name, said Jiang. She said the detainees were suspected members of the "East Turkistan Islamic Movement," listed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council, and should be dealt with by China. According to UN Security Council resolution 1373, all states should prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for those purposes against other countries and their citizens. All countries, including Switzerland, had obligations to fulfill their international commitments, she said. "We hope the Swiss side will proceed from the overall situation of bilateral cooperation, respect China's concern, effectively carry out its international obligations and not accept the Chinese Guantanamo detainees," she said. The detainees, from China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were held during the Afghanistan war launched after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the controversial Guantanamo detention center, where about 200 inmates are still held, by Jan. 22, 2010. ^ top ^

US asks for more details on missile intercept test (SCMP)
2010-01-13
Washington asked Beijing yesterday for more information about Monday's rocket test, in which a missile destroyed an incoming warhead while it was still in space. The US said it wanted China to clarify its intentions and plans to develop such technologies. The US Defence Department confirmed it had detected a so-called mid-course test and said Beijing had not given it advance notice. "We detected two geographically separated missile launch events with an exo-atmospheric collision also being observed by space-based sensors," Major Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said. It was the first independent confirmation of China's missile interception test on Monday, which appears to have been a success as Beijing claimed. China became only the second nation, after the United States, to successfully test a mid-course anti-missile system. The Pentagon said the United States did not consider the test was related to its arms sales to Taiwan - as suggested by many mainland newspapers and military observers. Yu Wanli, a professor at Peking University's Centre for International and Strategic Studies, agreed, saying that, given the vast resources and time needed to develop and prepare such complicated technology, Monday's test was unlikely to have been a response to last week's sale of Patriot air-defence missiles to Taiwan. The high-profile manner in which China announced the test did suggest a confident Beijing was growing impatient over perceived US "muddling" of issues it considered to be at the core of its national interests. Xinhua released another commentary yesterday attacking the US decision to sell arms to Taiwan, saying it had hurt the Chinese people's feelings and damaged the mutual trust between the two sides. The arms deal and the missile test had cast a chill on the crucial bilateral relationship that could shape the region and even the world in the years ahead, analysts said. The Pentagon's request for Beijing to clarify its intentions showed that the US was more concerned with what China intended to do with the technology. However, analysts said Washington and Beijing would refrain from tough action that might jeopardise their relationship, as both sides had a wide range of issues of mutual interest and needed each other […] While ties between China and the US are expected to hit a rough patch this year, over thorny issues ranging from trade to currency to climate change to Tibet, most analysts believe outright confrontation is unthinkable for both sides. Jin Canrong, a Sino-US affairs expert and associate dean of Renmin University's School of International Studies, said Beijing and Washington had too much at stake and the Chinese leadership wanted to focus on building trust with the White House early in US President Barack Obama's term. However, that did not mean Beijing would tolerate US infringements of core national interests - such as the sovereignty of Taiwan and Tibet. As the balance of power tilted in favour of China, a more assertive Beijing might be more ready to take "counter-measures" against the US. The hawkish voices in China are growing and Beijing has been stepping up the rhetoric over the arms sale for a week. Days before Monday's missile test, China's defence ministry warned that it reserved the right to take action if Washington followed through on the sale, which it called a "severe obstacle" to China-US military ties […]. ^ top ^

Achievement triggers fear of arms race (SCMP)
2010-01-13
The missile interceptor China fired on Monday may have hit its target with precision, but critics said it sent out confusing messages to countries in the region and could trigger another arms race. China is unique among major powers as it is surrounded by at least four nations that have intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The anti-missile system China tested on Monday threatens to reduce these weapons' capability or render them useless. While this would put the Chinese military in a strong position in the region, it could raise the suspicions and concerns of other powers. Pakistan and North Korea - both of which have ICBMs - are not likely to worry given their strong alliance with Beijing. But it could be a different case with India and Japan, two of China's geopolitical rivals. Even Russia may not be entirely happy with the test. Anthony Wong Dong, who is president of the Macau-based International Military Association, said China was now behind only the United States in possessing the technology to intercept missiles in space. "China is bordered by some countries equipped with missiles," Wong said. "The plan to develop such an anti-missile system was hatched in the 1960s but abandoned later. But the bombing attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999 made the Chinese leaders realise the security threats China was facing, so the plan was restarted." Former US president George W. Bush's hostile attitude towards China when he first took office also partly prompted the decision to resume development of the anti-missile system, Wong said. China now finds itself with neighbours armed with, or developing, intercontinental missiles capable of threatening large parts of the country. One major concern might be India, which has yet to settle border disputes with Beijing after a bitter war more than 40 years ago. Japan, which shares close military ties with the US, is China's traditional geopolitical rival. The decision by Beijing to push ahead with the costly and complicated ground-based missile defence system reflected China's quest to become a prominent power. It also comes at a time of global geopolitical reconfiguration, with Western powers bogged down by financial crises. Ben Saul, director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at the University of Sydney, said the development signalled China's growing military confidence and ambition to match its economic and political prowess […] But Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said the test would prompt countries such as Japan, Russia and India to develop their own anti-ballistic missile defences. ^ top ^

Hackers attack Baidu; Iran govt denies connection (China Daily)
2010-01-13
Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, was the target of a four-hour cyber attack yesterday, the most severe since it was established in 1999. The company said it had restored services for most Internet users by 6 pm. A hacker group, calling itself Iranian Cyber Army, hijacked Baidu's home page and left a message in Farsi saying that the act was a protest against foreign involvement in Iran's domestic politics. The attack resembles the one that took down Twitter, the US-based microblogging service provider, last month, in which a group also calling itself Iranian Cyber Army claimed responsibility. "It is unprecedented," Li Yanhong, CEO and founder of Baidu, said […] In a statement yesterday, Baidu apologized to Chinese netizens for the inconvenience caused by the cyber attack. It noted that attackers did not try to break into the servers of Baidu but attacked the domain name registrar used by Baidu, which is based in the US. "It is a new phenomenon and sounds an alarm (for online security)," it said. At about 7:40 am, Baidu went offline and at times displayed an image consisting of Iran's national flag, words in Farsi and a torn national flag of Israel, a result of Baidu.com being redirected to a website located in the Netherlands. A screenshot of the defaced site showed an announcement in English that read: "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army". The sentence below declared in Farsi the establishment of "Cyber Iran to protest the intervention of foreign and Israeli sites in our internal affairs and distribution of false news". The Iranian embassy in Beijing rejected any speculation that the cyber group is related to its government and warned that someone may use the attack to damage the friendly relations between China and Iran. "We do not have any information about this group," Mohammad Ali Ziaei, the press officer of the Iranian embassy in Beijing, said […] "It surely doesn't belong to our government," said Ziaei. "Hacking is illegal and we condemn this illegal action," he added. According to Baidu, hackers ambushed the website by modifying the Domain Name System (DNS) records for the Baidu.com domain after hijacking the servers hosting these records. Anyone equipped with the right skills could hack websites in this manner and claim to be the Iranian Cyber Army, said Liu Siyu, an engineer at Rising, a Chinese security software company […]. ^ top ^

Probe of Rio four referred to prosecutor (SCMP)
2010-01-12
China has concluded its commercial espionage investigation into an executive with mining giant Rio Tinto but is yet to determine whether he would face trial. Australian Stern Hu was arrested in Shanghai in July with three Chinese colleagues and initially accused of stealing state secrets. The accusations were later watered down to industrial espionage, centering on alleged bribery during high-stakes iron ore contract talks. "Today they [Chinese authorities] informed our Shanghai consulate general that the investigation phase has concluded," a spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. The case is now in the hands of the Shanghai People's Procuratorate who will decide whether it should be brought to trial." The Australian official said they had no information on how long the case would remain with prosecutors. Details of the actual charges are not likely to be known until the prosecutors have made their decision on whether the case should proceed to trial, she said. "The Australian government continues to take a close interest in the case." Lu Feng, a press officer with the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said yesterday the authority would issue a statement on the case "soon". "We are waiting for instructions from the higher level," he said. "Once the senior officials endorse it, we will immediately make an announcement." Zhai Jian, a lawyer representing two of the Rio Tinto employees - Ge Minqiang and Wang Yong - said yesterday he had not been informed of the development. Police were not obliged to do so. Hu and the other three could face jail terms of more than 10 years under the mainland criminal law. "This case has a lot of political implications. It is hard to say when the legal procedure will formally begin," Liu Chunquan, a lawyer at Guangsheng and Partners, said. "The Australian government hopes China will conclude the case as soon as possible, but it will take some time." Prosecutors may spend another one-and-a-half months reviewing the case before any court hearing, Zhai said. Hu's arrest soured diplomatic relations with Australia and raised questions about dealing with rapidly industrialising China. It came just weeks after Rio snubbed a massive cash injection from a Chinese state firm, and during annual iron ore contract talks which later failed. Hu was detained in Shanghai on July 5 and prosecutors have gained permission to extend the probe twice, most recently for two months in November. Rio, an Anglo-Australian company, has said it does not believe its employees have done anything wrong […] Ahead of the announcement, Australia's Trade Minister, Simon Crean, called on the Chinese authorities to deal with Hu's case quickly. Crean said he was satisfied that Hu was being treated well and receiving appropriate representation in jail. ^ top ^

China, Saudi Arabia convene 4th joint meeting on economy, trade (Xinhua)
2010-01-11
China and Saudi Arabia convened Sunday the fourth meeting of their joint committee on economy and trade in the Saudi capital, co-chaired by Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming and Saudi Minister of Finance Ibrahim bin Abdel Aziz al-Asaf. Chen hailed the rapid growth of bilateral economic and trade ties since the third meeting of the joint committee in 2006, noting that bilateral trade have realized two years in advance the goal of 40 billion U.S. dollars by 2010, and Saudi Arabia has been China's biggest trade partner in West Asia for eight consecutive years. He made a five-point proposal, in which he said both countries should strive to expand bilateral trade to reach 60 billion dollars by 2015. He also proposed to maintain the long-term and steady crude oil trade between the two sides, in addition to enhancing cooperation on exploiting gas, oil projects and petrochemical industry, and establish a cooperation mechanism on trade remedy. The Chinese minister stressed that both sides should promote the negotiation process on the free trade agreement between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Al-Asaf, for his part, said that Saudi Arabia hopes to see and will provide convenience for more Chinese enterprises to participate in Saudi economic construction as the country is speeding up its petrochemical industry, urban development, and traffic and environmental protection projects. He said Saudi Arabia welcomed the progress in China-GCC FTA negotiation and will work together with the Chinese side to push forward the process for an early completion. The two ministers met the press after the meeting, during which Chen said both sides have agreed to expand the trade volume to 60 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. Chen also met with the Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Yussef Zainal on Sunday. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Police detain second Charter 08 author (SCMP)
2010-01-15
Police have detained a dissident writer who signed the Charter 08 manifesto, sparking concern that persecution is being stepped up against intellectuals critical of the government. Shenzhen-based Zhao Dagong - the secretary general of the Independent Chinese Pen Society - was taken away on Monday after plain-clothes police officers searched his home and confiscated computers, books and documents, his wife, Shi Xiaoli, said yesterday. Shi and their son were taken away by police but released after four hours of questioning. Zhao remained in custody as of yesterday. "They didn't give a reason [for his detention]," Shi said. "They said they are still investigating him." Shi said she did not know whether her husband's detention was related to Charter 08, a manifesto co-authored by writer Liu Xiaobo which called for more civil liberties, the rule of law and an end to one-party rule. Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power" on Christmas Day. Liu is also a member of the Independent Chinese Pen Society, which is affiliated with International Pen, a worldwide association of writers. With overseas connections and many dissidents as its members, the group has long been regarded by the central government as a thorn in its side. Shi said her husband had been questioned by state security agents many times before, but this was the first time authorities had searched and confiscated his belongings. She said she was extremely worried about her husband's safety. Zhao's friends feared that his detention was related to his work with the Independent Chinese Pen Society, which campaigns for the release of imprisoned writers and raises funds for their families. "Now [the government] is targeting the Chinese Pen Society and showing it won't tolerate the work of its members," said a friend of Zhao. ^ top ^

China arrests 82,000 drug suspects in 11 months last year (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-15
China's public security forces had arrested 82,000 drug suspects and cracked 70,000 drug cases from January to November last year, a senior official with the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday. The suspects included 60 key Chinese and overseas drug traffickers, said Zhang Xinfeng, vice minister of public security, at a nationwide teleconference. China's southwest Yunnan Province borders the Golden Triangle region where drugs are produced and smuggled. The ministry has launched a 100-day nationwide winter campaign to push harder on the crack down on illegal drug dealings. ^ top ^

Villager dies as police fire shots in land dispute (SCMP)
2010-01-15
Police in the Guangxi region opened fire on a group of villagers over a land requisition dispute, wounding at least five protesters, state media reported yesterday. One person later died in hospital, according to a villager. In the early hours of Tuesday, police went to arrest 12 residents in Longyatun village in Lipu county, who had allegedly attacked a judge over a land dispute ruling, but were attacked by villagers armed with hoes, knives and clubs, China News Service reported. "In order to control the situation, the police... fired warning shots, but villagers' attacks continued, so police officers had no choice but to open fire in self-defence, and wounded five attackers," the report said. Police and government officials in Lipu refused to comment yesterday. According to a villager […] more than 120 police officers who descended on the village shot and wounded seven people and one […] died in hospital on Wednesday. A picture posted on the Ziqu website shows one man lying naked with a bullet hole in his chest […] The witness claimed police were beating villagers with electric cattle prods and spraying them with chemicals before they opened fire. He said as many as 50 villagers had been arrested. He said police had come to arrest villagers because some were suing the government for illegally requisitioning their land. He also said many more villagers were injured from the beating. Police were still looking for more people to arrest, so many have gone into hiding. The Lipu county government planned to requisition 26.7 hectares of farmland from the villagers in 2007, but villagers refused to allow it, claiming that the compensation was too low. When the government tried to forcibly take over the land in June, more than 100 armed police drove bulldozers into the village to destroy villagers' watermelon fields. Three people were arrested. A spate of violent clashes over land requisition and house demolition across the mainland has been reported in recent years, with the central government worrying this could become a major source of social instability. Many disputes stem from collusion between officials and property developers seeking to cash in on the booming property market […]. ^ top ^

China's former supreme court vice president stands trail for graft (Xinhua)
2010-01-15
Former Vice President of China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) Huang Songyou went on trail for taking bribes and graft in north China's Hebei Province Thursday. Huang, 52, was accused of taking more than 3.9 million yuan (574,000 U.S. dollars) in bribes during 2005 to 2008 when he was SPC vice president, Langfang municipal procuratorate said. He was also accused of embezzling 1.2 million yuan in 1997 when he was president of the Zhanjiang municipal Intermediate People's Court in south China's Guangdong Province, according to the Langfang procuratorate. Huang, a native of Guangdong Province, became SPC vice president in 2002. ^ top ^

Beijing institute calls claim on tomb premature (SCMP)
2010-01-15
A top mainland archaeological institution has distanced itself from a claim by the Henan government that it has found the tomb of fabled ancient warlord Cao Cao, saying the conclusion is premature. Wang Wei, a director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Archaeology, said yesterday the institute still could not confirm the Henan authorities' claim because of insufficient evidence. He said it was a matter of "individual researchers' opinion" to say the tomb belonged to Cao Cao. While initial findings did suggest the find could be the grave of the warlord, it was too early to draw up a definite conclusion, he said. This came amid growing public scepticism over the find announced by Henan's Bureau of Cultural Relics at a news conference in Beijing late last month. Provincial officials claim to have uncovered the grave in Xigaoxue village, Anyang county. Cao Cao, a general, statesman and poet in the late second century who was made an emperor posthumously, has captured Chinese imagination for centuries with his Machiavellian genius and complex character. He is among the best-known and most controversial of Chinese historical figures. The finding of his tomb would be considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries for decades and would bring huge economic benefits to the local economy. Many on the mainland question the hasty conclusion of the local government and accuse it of trying to cash in on a relic they know too little about. Henan archaeologists said they had dug up more than 250 artefacts and three sets of human bones, including those of a male in his 60s thought to be Cao Cao, who died at age 66 in 220AD. But the claim set off a heated debate over the lack of conclusive evidence to back it up. Some commentators have even likened it to the "paper tiger" scandal in 2008, in which a photo purportedly taken by a Shaanxi farmer showing a south China tiger in the wild was later found to be a fake […]. ^ top ^

At least six dead, millions affected by China's cold snap (Xinhua)
2010-01-14
The death toll from extremely cold weather across north and east China rose to six on Wednesday with millions of others affected. In Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, two deaths had been reported as of Wednesday. Police said a student froze to death when he got lost after school in windy weather. Police were still investigating the other case. In Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, from Jan. 7 to 12 three people have been killed by avalanches and another froze to death. More snow was forecast from Wednesday to Friday in most parts of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia with temperatures falling by 6 to 8 degrees Celsius, according to China's Central Meteorological Station (CMS). The freezing weather has affected millions of people, with hundreds of people reported injured, and at least 8,600 evacuated in northwest China. The snow had also flattened and damaged at least 100,000 homes in Xinjiang. The direct economic loss was estimated at 550 million yuan (80.5 million U.S. dollars) in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. China's east coast had also been badly affected. Much sea water had frozen creating the most severe situation in 30 years in the northern Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea. The State Oceanic Administration had issued a sea ice alert Tuesday to cope with the problem. The icing has affected aquaculture production and left many fishing boats stranded at ports in the eastern province of Shandong, said the Shandong provincial department of oceanic and fishery. The frozen sea area would continue to expand in the coming week, local meteorological authorities said. The meteorological bureau in Tibet issued an alert on severe snowstorms expected from Wednesday night to Thursday in south Ali and Xigaze prefectures. In Beijing, the cold weather disrupted traffic. Beijing subway passenger flow rose as people went underground to avoid the freezing air. Extremely cold weather also caused coal and electricity shortages across China. As of Sunday, 598 major power plants' coal reserves were down to nine days supply. Coal storages in 205 power plants were down to seven days, according to the National Power Dispatch and Communication Center. The situation worsened for 11 percent of the power plants, which were due to stop production any time as coal reserves were insufficient for three days of power generation […] To boost production to ease coal shortages, the major coal producing province of Shanxi is also reopening some coal mines, which are up to the safety and production standards. The freezing weather was forecast to ease with temperature rising from Wednesday in most parts of north China as the cold snap moved to affect sea areas off eastern coast, according to the Central Meteorological Station. ^ top ^

China to connect Internet with telecommunications, broadcasting networks (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-14
The Chinese government plans to connect the telecommunications network, TV and radio network and the Internet in the near future, said a statement issued by the State Council in Beijing on Wednesday. Connecting the three networks would boost the development of the information and cultural sectors, said the statement issued after a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. China now had the basic technology, network infrastructure and market space to merge the three networks, the statement said. Pilot projects should be carried out to connect telecommunications, TV and radio networks from 2010 to 2012. Based on the pilot projects, other projects should be established to connect the three networks comprehensively from 2013 to 2015, it said. ^ top ^

Natural disasters kill 1,528 in China last year (Xinhua)
2010-01-13
Natural disasters had left 1,528 people killed or missing in China in 2009, and caused more than 252 billion yuan (37 billion U.S. dollars) direct economic loss, Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday. More than 90 percent of the deaths and missing were caused by flood and wind-hail in 2009, the ministry said in a statement. It said that natural disasters had caused the evacuation of 7.1million people and a total of 480 million population had been affected by natural disasters. The ministry said some areas were repeatedly hit by serious natural disasters, such as severe drought, flood, snow and typhoon. Disasters, especially drought, snow and freezing weather, swept a total of 47.2 million hectares of farmland, and nearly 5 million hectares had no harvest in 2009 […] Also in 2009, nine typhoons and tropical storms landed the Chinese mainland, leading to the evacuation of a large number of population. The heavy snow hitting the northern China in November caused large scale traffic disruption, plane delays and evacuation of 160,000 stranded people […] Earthquake, ice storm, heat and plague of insects were other major disasters, according to the ministry. ^ top ^

Ex-Caijing editor's venture hits news-stands (SCMP)
2010-01-13
One of the nation's most closely watched magazine ventures hit news-stands yesterday, entering a murky media landscape where reform plans remain yoked to state controls on editors and investors. Century Weekly is the outlet of Hu Shuli, who quit her Caijing business magazine last year, taking with her dozens of reporters who said censorship and budget constraints stifled their combative coverage. Now Hu has taken over and renamed a much less prominent magazine, vowing in the new issue to "continue defending and advancing journalistic professionalism". The venture will be closely watched as a test of the direction of the media at a time when the Communist Party has prescribed an awkward mix of commercial reforms and continued state control and censorship for the sector. "There'll certainly be a lot of attention on us, some welcome, some not," said an editor who joined the venture […] "We believe the broader trend is towards greater transparency and opening, but it will be up to us to handle the balance between going too far and going backwards." Century Weekly reported on the controversial jailing of a lawyer, an oil spill and a deadly accident at a half-built airport. The party allows expanding coverage of social ills and misdeeds, but draws a line on issues directly challenging key policies. The magazine has emerged amid government plans to refashion fragmented print outlets into nimble, profitable conglomerates. The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) spelled out these plans at the start of the year, saying in a policy document that private investment would be expanded and emerging conglomerates encouraged to list on stock markets. But against these ambitions stands the party's determination to maintain control of media content. "What the reform is about is taking what were propaganda tools and refashioning them as enterprises," said David Bandurski of Hong Kong University. "But don't forget that these are state-owned enterprises, and the Communist Party exercises strong leadership and control over all state-owned enterprises." Journalists, outlets and investors will continue navigating murky policy shoals on what is permitted. Foreign investors are likely to remain closely hemmed in by restrictions on investment levels and areas, as well as barriers to control over content. "The government wants some foreign participation to help upgrade the management, the soft skills, of its media," said David Wolf, who advises companies on China's media market. "But China doesn't need the money, and therefore there's no need to cede control." The mainland's growing economy, 1.3 billion consumers, state subsidies and advertisers' continued confidence in print have helped its publications weather the past few years better than many developed countries' traditional media. The mainland had 9,549 magazine and 1,943 newspaper titles in 2008, according to GAPP, some of them barely read ideological tracts. While most come under the ultimate ownership and control of the party, newer titles often have commercial investors and some are keen to attract readers with critical reporting. "The reforms will create greater diversity and competition in the sector," said Yu Guoming, an expert on the media sector. He said censors could also giver greater leeway to some titles to modernise the sector. However, the GAPP's documents make clear that media reforms are intended to buttress state control, not undermine it. ^ top ^

Privatising coal mines blamed for shortages: Finger pointed at Shanxi officials (SCMP)
2010-01-12
The controversial drive to privatise coal mines in Shanxi province is one of the culprits behind this winter's electricity shortages, a mainland newspaper reported yesterday. The provinces of Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Sichuan and the municipality of Chongqing were placed under rationed electricity supply last week. However, when rationing was required even in Taiyuan, the capital of coal basket Shanxi, serious questions were raised about the electricity and coal industries. According to the official Guangzhou Daily, the two biggest power plants in Taiyuan have stockpiles that are one-fifth of the normal level, and enough for just two days of electricity generation. An official at Taiyuan No 2 Power Plant was quoted as saying that "in the past two weeks, all operations managers are out in Datong [in Shanxi], Inner Mongolia and Yangquan [also in Shanxi] trying desperately to buy coal and transport coal back here". The article suggested the main reason for the shortage is the restructuring pushed forward by Shanxi's government last year. It means the majority of the province's coal mines are idle. In areas administered by Taiyuan, for example, just two or three out of 70 are in operation. Under the restructuring, small mines have been shut, and privately owned mines must merge with state-owned companies in a bid to improve work safety. By the time the reform is completed, the number of mines will drop from 2,600 to 1,053. The reform has been criticised for being ill-considered and an infringement on private ownership rights. So far Beijing has stayed out of the fray, but economist Hu Xingdou said the time has come for it to step in. "Coal is the buttress of the country's economy," Hu said. "It doesn't only belong to Shanxi, and any coal policy should not be decided by Shanxi alone." […] A CCTV programme and other mainland experts this week said there were other reasons behind the coal shortage, which has seen prices jump 50 per cent in the past six months. Besides distribution problems, the faster-than-expected economic rebound, the cold winter increasing demand for fuel and a shortage of hydroelectric power from droughts have all been blamed for aggravating the situation. But researcher Li Chaolin of the coal industry magazine Energy told CCTV-2's Economic 30 Minutes last Thursday that many coal-producing areas were still using controlled production to keep prices high. He said the market should determine prices. One senior mainland-based industry analyst […] said Shanxi province - the supplier of more than one-third of the country's commercial coal up until last year - has a huge monopoly. "The restructuring is only another way for the existing stakeholders to wield greater control over coal prices," the analyst said. "The coal industry has been giving out chaotic figures for a long time, which probably have misled the central government as well. Otherwise, I don't understand why the central government has not done anything yet." . ^ top ^

China pilots name-based train ticket sales during Spring Festival traffic rush (Xinhua)
2010-01-12
China's railway authorities are gearing up for a real-name ticket selling system to stop ticket scalping during the upcoming Spring Festival traffic rush. The pilot system announced Friday requires passengers to show their ID cards or other identification documents when purchasing train tickets at 37 stations in the southern Guangdong and Hunan provinces, and also the southwestern province of Sichuan. Millions of migrant workers from inland provinces like Sichuan and Hunan work in Guangdong, known as China's "factory of the world." The system will take effect during the Spring Festival traffic peak season, from Jan. 30 to March 30. The Spring Festival, or China's Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 14 this year. China's Spring Festival transport is seen as the world's largest annual human migration as tens of millions of migrant workers return home, often their only chances for family gatherings. The National Development and Reform Commission forecast some 210 million train trips over the holiday period, a rise of 9.5 percent from a year earlier. China's transport authorities have long been fighting against scalpers, who were blamed for worsening the ticket shortage problem by stockpiling tickets and reselling them at higher prices. "I've been working in Guangzhou for years. During each Spring Festival, I had to pay scalplers almost double the price for a ticket back home," said a migrant worker from Hunan. "And the risk of buying fake tickets was always there," he said. Shi Yanhai, a migrant worker from Sichuan, said she hadn't been back home for five years because it was too hard to buy a train ticket during the traffic peak. "Hopefully I'll be able to buy a ticket this year after the real-name system takes effect," she said. Nearly 80 percent respondents believed that the new system would help stop ticket scalping and make tickets purchasing easier during the holiday, according to an online survey […] Although welcomed by the majority, the new ticket selling system is faced with challenges. Some said the new rule might make train travel more complicated. "I now only need to tell the ticket seller the date and destination of my trip. But after the system is effective, I have to show my ID card. That will make the queue longer!" said Zuo Xiaoyan, a migrant worker from Hunan, when queuing at Guangzhou railway station ticket lobby. Under the new rule, ticket check might take much longer time at the railway station. Unlike an airplane that can only carry hundreds of passengers, a train normally carries 2,000 passengers and it will take long time to get all passengers aboard. Possible delays at the train station might cause security problems, said a railway ministry official at a press conference late last year. Fake identity cards or documents will be another problem. According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Railways, besides ID cards, other identification documents such as diplomat certificates, military IDs, and consulate certificates, are all applicable when purchasing a ticket […] The Guangzhou Railway Group also started to use a new ID recognition system, including an ID card reader, a camera and a printer, to shorten the ID verification time […]. ^ top ^

Fund chief's US$9m gift to Yale prompts torrent of net abuse (SCMP)
2010-01-11
A Chinese entrepreneur who made a record donation of almost US$9 million to Yale University has caused a stir among mainland internet users after he attributed his success to postgraduate studies at the Ivy League school. Zhang Lei, the founder and managing partner of Beijing-based Hillhouse Capital Management, last week gave the auspicious figure of US$8,888,888, the largest amount the university's management school has ever received from a "young" alumnus. Zhang, who graduated from the school with a master's degree in business administration and a master's in international relations in 2002, said he decided to make the donation because Yale's educational system had "changed his life". But this comment - and his decision to give money to a foreign university - appears to have ruffled feathers back home, prompting a flurry of angry posts on the internet. By yesterday evening more than 1,500 anonymous messages had been posted on huanqiu.com, which first broke the story on the mainland, and the vast majority were aggressively worded and even abusive. "This bird-student will have a horrible death!" wrote one, using a slang term for students who study overseas. Others called Zhang a dog, a traitor or suggested he must have mental problems. Many expressed disgust that Zhang - who studied at Renmin University in Beijing before going overseas - did not appear to value his school and undergraduate education. "You spent more than 10 years studying in Chinese universities; if it weren't for the Chinese higher educational system, you wouldn't be anything at all," wrote one poster. Others appeared to consider the prospect of Chinese money going overseas as some sort of personal affront. "You made this money in China after you graduated, so any donations should go back to China," wrote one. Though the online comments are only a straw poll of the most opinionated readers, the strength of the reaction was unmistakable. Even so, a minority did speak out in support of Zhang's decision. "Well donated! If you donated that money [in China], then more than half would fall into the wallets of corrupt officials," wrote one. Others also commented that it was a sorry indictment of the mainland educational system when a celebrated "prize student" like Zhang - who ranked first out of 100,000 students in his provincial university entrance exam - thought only his time at Yale had contributed to his success in life. Zhang set up his company - which is named after Hillhouse Avenue, the main street running through the Yale management school's campus - in 2005 using an endowment from the management school. He began managing a fund of US$30 million, but that pot has since swollen to US$2.5 billion […]. ^ top ^

24m men to be mateless by end of decade (Global Times)
2010-01-11
More than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age could find themselves without a mate by 2020, according to a government-sponsored think tank, which cited an uneven birthrate as the cause. Gender-selection abortions propelled by the centuries-old preference for boys were accused of contributing to the unbalanced sex ratio, according to Contemporary Chinese Social Structure, a book compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Sex-selective abortions remained extremely commonplace, especially in rural areas," the book says, noting that illegal sex-selection services for non-medical reasons are still available and affordable. CASS ranked the distorted sex ratio the most prominent problem in the country's population structure. The reasons behind China's imbalanced sex ratio, however, are complex, and they vary in different areas. Meanwhile, sustained low fertility and an immature social-security system were cited as practical conditions for male offspring preferences. The trend of gender imbalance among newborns has slowed since 2005, but it is still much higher than what is considered the normal sex ratio at birth (SRB) of 103-107 males for every 100 females, according to the National Population and Family Planning Commission. The nation has seen an increase in its SRB since the 1980s, from 108 boys for every 100 girls in 1982, to 111 in 1990, and 116 in 2000. The latest official indication of the ratio, from 2005, stood at 119 boys for every 100 girls. Wang Guangzhou, a researcher with the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at CASS, said reasons behind the high SRB were complicated, noting that both the traditional fertility culture and prenatal sex selection attributed to the problem. "The problem is more serious in rural areas due to the lack of a social security system there," Wang said. "Aging farmers have to rely on their offspring." […] But contrary to some beliefs, the sex imbalance isn't good news for females either, as the age gap will undoubtedly widen between spouses. China adopted its family-planning policy in the late 1970s to curb a population explosion. The plan basically limits families to one child and encourages late marriages and childbearing. The sex-imbalance problem can be traced back to the late 1980s when B-ultrasound technologies used for gender identification of fetuses became available, and some Chinese women, out of traditional male favoritism, often chose to abort after learning that they were carrying female fetuses. According to the National Population and Family Planning Commission, abductions and trafficking of women and infants are rampant in areas with a high SRB. Some places are hit by crime by cross-country abductions and illegal marriages, and even forced prostitution, the commission said. ^ top ^

Agencies to share more information to catch corrupt officials (SCMP)
2010-01-11
The mainland has set up a new system involving 17 central government agencies to prevent corrupt officials from fleeing abroad, according to the Communist Party's top anti-graft agency. Li Yufu, deputy party secretary for the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said that the cross-board system was co-ordinating efforts from the public security, finance, judiciary and diplomatic sectors […] Authorities from the agencies would have regular meetings and exchange information about graft on a regular basis to keep all relevant parties informed, the report said. The agencies involved include the People's Bank of China, the National Development and Reform Commission, the top three financial regulators, the Foreign Ministry, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the State Administration for Work Safety. The move marked Beijing's latest effort to rein in pervasive corruption, which has become a major source of discontent among the public. However, critics say the new system will not be able to do enough to uproot the long-lingering problem. Absconding abroad from government investigation and possible prosecution has been a common practice among corrupt officials since the mainland launched its market-oriented economic reform. Official media have been claiming since 2001 that, over the past 30 years, as many as 4,000 officials had fled the country with US$50 billion in public funds, which translates into about 100 million yuan per fled official. However, the figures have not been revised in recent years, suggesting no official had fled in the past 10 years. But Professor Li Chengyan, director of Peking University's Anti-corruption Research Institute, said the official figures were low out of fear of the "negative impact" on the public. He said the actual figures were much higher. He estimated at least 10,000 officials had fled the mainland taking at least US$100 billion in public funds. "The new mechanism could help rein in the problem a bit because it would make it more difficult for officials to run away," he said. "But this won't stop officials from committing corruption." "There are countless underground banks in China that are helping these officials to launder money and transfer their money overseas, mainly to fund their children's educations. These officials don't even have to leave the country," Li said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing bans newspapers from city's subways (SCMP)
2010-01-12
Forget rickety elevators, jostling on crowded platforms or terrorists. Authorities in Beijing have pinpointed the latest danger to subway passengers - newspapers. A directive by Beijing's public transport police has banned the sale of newspapers in the city's 70-plus subway stations, with one exception - a municipal government-affiliated tabloid. Rival newspapers have cried foul, saying the move is an attempt to stifle competition, while commuters have accused the government of wasting time on pointless issues. Quoting an official in charge of newspaper vending in the subway network, The Beijing News reported that newsstands would be removed from inside stations because of safety concerns. The official said all the newsstands were removed by Saturday, but the directive specifically stated that Beijing Star Daily, a tabloid under municipal mouthpiece Beijing Daily, could still be distributed because "it is the only metro paper endorsed by the municipal party publicity department". Just as in Hong Kong, Beijing's rapidly expanding subway system is an important distribution point, particularly for down-market tabloids and free sheets. Beijing Star Daily switched from a loss-making daily tabloid to a free sheet two years ago to target commuters. Management at The Beijing News […] ran several reports and a commentary accusing the police and subway authorities of creating a monopoly. It also quoted Jin Feng, an official in charge of distribution at rival Beijing Times, who said his paper would argue its case with the authorities after getting complaints from readers […] Zhou Ze, a Beijing-based media law specialist, said the move was ridiculous. "If you allow one newspaper to sell or distribute, there is no reason to stop other newspapers from doing so," he said. "What they've done is an abuse of power because it constitutes a monopoly." Zhou said there was no evidence that newsstands created a safety risk, so the reasoning behind the ban was unsound. Beijing launched a massive crackdown on subway newsstands in 2003, but mobile newspaper vendors made a quiet comeback two years later, under the watch of police and subway authorities. However, government control fetishes appear to be resurfacing, with micromanaging rules and regulations being promulgated recently […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Cover-up denied in Shanghai milk scandal (SCMP)
2010-01-13
The Shanghai government is denying accusations that its food safety bureau covered up a local dairy's link to the mainland's tainted milk scandal - despite the fact it took nearly a year for an investigation to be made public. The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision closed down operations at Shanghai Panda Dairy late last month for producing milk products that contained high levels of melamine. But officials from the bureau told local media that the investigation dated back to samples tested in February last year, and that arrests had been made in April. No details of the investigation were made public in the interim, prompting an outcry over the public being kept in the dark. At a regular municipal press conference yesterday, government spokesman Chen Qiwei insisted authorities had followed due process throughout. "As far as certain media reports about a cover-up are concerned, I can say that there was no such thing," Chen said. He said officials discovered the contaminated milk products during a routine inspection on April 23, and that all affected stocks had been confiscated to ensure there was "no impact on society". Municipal authorities then reported to "relevant national authorities" on April 28 and arrests were made the following day. He said details of the investigation had been made public only last month after the case had passed into the hands of prosecutors. "As there are legal proceedings taking place, it would not be possible for a government spokesman to make casual remarks about the case," Chen said. The episode has dented the Shanghai government's attempts to portray itself as transparent, and follows a string of similar cases where local governments have failed to warn people over dangers to public health or public safety […] The tainted-milk affair, which broke in late 2008, was the mainland's biggest food-safety scandal in recent memory. Six infants died and nearly 300,000 fell ill after consuming toxic milk products. There were suggestions exposure of the scandal was delayed to avoid damaging China's image in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Vice-mayor detained as graft crackdown spreads (SCMP)
2010-01-15
The anti-corruption storm that battered Guangdong last year is continuing to rage, with a number of senior officials in the southwestern city of Maoming being investigated for graft as the crackdown moves on to second-tier cities. A vice-mayor of the city, Yang Guangliang, was the most high-profile casualty, the Xinhua-run Oriental Outlook magazine reported. Yang's fall has been linked to that of Chen Shaoji, the former chairman of the Guangdong provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who was fired in April for taking bribes and living a degenerate lifestyle. Yang is suspected of bribing Chen, accepting bribes and selling official positions. The magazine said Yang was asked to travel to Guangzhou on October 16 for an official meeting but was soon placed under shuanggui, a Communist Party disciplinary mechanism, by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. It said Yang was being detained in Guangzhou. The report did not explain why it had taken almost three months for the investigation to be made public. Yang's profile has been removed from the Maoming government website, and the city government was unavailable for comment yesterday. Other senior Maoming officials have been taken away for investigation or removed from their posts. They include: Cheng Bin, the head of the police bureau's crime squad; Yang Qiang, a district-level police chief; and Cheng Jiazeng, head of Maoming's prison bureau, along with seven senior prison officials. Reports of irregularities at Maoming Prison emerged in August, with officers having taken more than 10 million yuan in bribes a year in exchange for reduced sentences and lenient treatment. The chief warden and three senior prison officers were sacked […] The dramatic events in Maoming are a further indication that the anti-corruption drive has spread to second-tier cities, after previously focusing on Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Ye Shuyang, the former police chief of Shaoguan, in the north of the province, will soon stand trial for allegedly accepting 34 million yuan in bribes over the past two decades. Mainland media reported he had set a target of 60 million yuan before his retirement […] Senior Guangdong officials have fallen like dominoes since early last year. In addition to Chen Shaoji, the list includes former top graft-buster Wang Huayuan, former provincial deputy police chief Zheng Shaodong and former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng. ^ top ^

Dongguan's biggest illegal casino raided (SCMP)
2010-01-14
More than 90 gamblers, including people from Europe and Southeast Asia, have been arrested in a swoop on Dongguan's biggest underground casino. In the evening of December 30, more than 500 police officers and 14 armoured vehicles converged on the casino and seized the gamblers. Authorities did not make news of the raid public until Tuesday. The Guangdong city has earned a reputation as a place where anything goes; its huge prostitution industry has made it the "sex capital" of the mainland, and gambling has also become a headache for the authorities. The casino was housed in an innocuous-looking residential building behind a hotel and entertainment venue in Dongkeng township. Spread over two floors, it contained 23 gambling tables, VIP rooms and a kitchen. A sum of between 20 million yuan and 30 million yuan was gambled on average each night, the Southern Metropolis News reported. The report said the owner was closely linked to Hong Kong triads, and the casino was run according to Macau industry standards. Well-trained croupiers from Macau ran the tables, and the casino offered a security service to ensure big winners could transport their money safely. Underground casinos require the protection of police and officials to operate, and state media reported that Dongkeng's police chief, Ding Shoujun, were dismissed along with his three subordinates. Residents living nearby said they had for three years repeatedly tried to warn the township police about the den, but no action was taken until a provincial investigation team paid two undercover visits in September. A former casino worker said the owner, a local resident, had built a relationship with cadres and police at both provincial and city levels. He said police patrolling in the area were often driven away by casino staff. On average, 200 to 300 people visited the casino each day, mostly gamblers from the Pearl River Delta and Southeast Asia, a gambler said […] Gambling remains illegal on the mainland aside from a small number of state lotteries, and the void is filled by underground casinos across the country. Dongguan police said yesterday they would continue to clamp down on gambling and other illegal businesses ahead of the Lunar New Year. In November, the Ministry of Public Security ordered the city to embark on a high-profile crackdown on prostitution. It is estimated the sex trade contributes 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the service industry's total output. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang security funds double (SCMP)
2010-01-14
Funding for public security in the nation's restive Xinjiang region will nearly double this year, state media said yesterday, following ethnic unrest that left nearly 200 people dead last year. A budget proposal placed before Xinjiang's legislature on Tuesday called for 2.89 billion yuan to be spent on public security, up from 1.54 billion yuan in 2009, the China Daily reported. "The July 5 riot in Urumqi... had an enormous impact on the Xinjiang people. It has severely damaged social stability in the region," the paper quoted regional chairman Nur Bekri as telling the Xinjiang People's Congress. He said the priority for Xinjiang security forces in 2010 would be to crack down on the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, the paper said. On Saturday, the Urumqi city government announced it has started deploying 555 vehicles to ensure "stability". The vehicles, donated by 384 firms, would take volunteers of "stability squads" around the city, according to China National Radio. The country's roughly eight million Turkic-speaking Uygurs have long complained of religious, political and cultural oppression by the authorities - which Beijing denies. Tensions in the vast and remote region bordering central Asia have simmered for years. In July, 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 people were injured, according to the government, in violence between mainly Muslim Uygurs and Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqi, according to government figures. So far 22 people, mostly ethnic Uygurs, have been sentenced to death for the violence, drawing sharp criticism from the West and rights groups concerned that the accused were denied fair trials. Nine executions have so far been reported by state press. ^ top ^

Internet returning in Xinjiang (China Daily)
2010-01-12
Local authorities further lifted the ban on Internet service in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region yesterday, allowing partial access to two of China's most popular websites following nearly six months of closure after the deadly July 5 riot in the capital, Xinjiang-based tianshannet.com.cn reported yesterday. Residents in Xinjiang yesterday started to have access to two commercial websites: sina.com.cn and sohu.com. "I am glad to see another two websites become accessible today. The government did keep its word of gradually resuming the Internet service," said Song Yingzong, a Urumqi resident in his 40's. The two websites are among the nation's favorites for their e-mail accounts with large storage capacity as well as forum and blog sections. But users in Xinjiang could not enjoy such services that people in other regions take for granted because they still lack full access to the two websites. The pages of the websites appeared to be specially designed for Xinjiang users. Selected headlines are displayed neatly on the front pages of the sites, and no advertisements or flashing banners appear, which makes them look very "plain" compared to the sina.com.cn and sohu.com that appear in other regions. Also, the website shows no links to e-mail as well as to forums and blogs on the web pages. The users can only view the content on the sites but not to communicate with others. "They are not the websites I used to know. They look fake in a way," said a 27-year-old local reporter surnamed Wu. "Without the interactive function, the sites are lifeless." Government officials said the measures were taken to ensure the area's safety. "To prevent further unrest, the government blocked access to the Web and suspended international calls and short message services in the region 24 hours after the July 5 riot because they were vital tools used by ringleaders to instigate the riots in Urumqi, capital of the region," Yang Maofa, director of the regional telecommunications administration said earlier. Limited service was restored last August and Xinjiang residents can freely access more than 100 region-based Web portals, ranging from banks and local government departments to entertainment and online games. But these sites are blocked to viewers outside the region. Tianshannet.com.cn became the first regional-based website that can be viewed by people outside the region yesterday since the implementation of Internet control in the region, according to an announcement posted on the website by the regional information office, which also runs the site. But viewers outside the region cannot log into the e-mail system on tianshannet.com.cn. Only people in Xinjiang could send and receive e-mails from their tianshannet account to each other within the region. The regional government decided to gradually lift the ban on Internet service on Dec 29 last year because the overall social situation in the region after the July 5 riot, which left 197 dead and more than 1,700 injured, has become stable. The decision was approved by the central government, according to a statement released by the regional information office earlier. On the same day Xinjiang residents were allowed access to two official websites: xinhuanet.com and people.com.cn. Although the page designs of those sites are not adjusted for Xinjiang residents, users in Xinjiang cannot leave comments or access the forum section on the websites, nor can they use the e-mail services on the websites. To gain full access to the Internet, some people even travel regularly to Dunhuang in Gansu province hundreds of miles away, which is the closest city to Urumqi. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Democrat's motion calling for Liu Xiaobo's release defeated (SCMP)
2010-01-14
Government allies on the Legislative Council defeated a motion yesterday calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo and other dissidents jailed on the mainland, saying it would amount to "interference in the mainland jurisdiction". The non-binding motion, presented by the Democratic Party's Fred Li Wah-ming, urged the central government to immediately free Liu, who is serving an 11-year sentence in Beijing for subversion. Liu was a co-author of the democracy manifesto Charter 08. The motion also urged the Hong Kong government to implement universal suffrage in accordance with principles laid out in the charter […] To express their support for Liu, pan-democrats wore paper masks on which the jailed scholar's photo was printed. They said the imprisonment of activists on the mainland amounted to suppression of free speech and that Hongkongers' rights could also be harmed one day. "Many Hong Kong citizens have signed Charter 08. If we were not in Hong Kong, we might have been arrested already," Li said. The social welfare sector's Peter Cheung Kwok-che went further: "The incident is making us worry about legislation on Article 23 of the Basic Law... If Liu Xiaobo can be imprisoned for more than a decade just for writing some articles criticising the authorities, will Hong Kong people be considered to be engaging in subversion for fighting for universal suffrage in the future?" The pro-Beijing camp hit back, arguing that Legco would be violating the "one country, two systems" principle if it passed the motion. Engineering sector representative Raymond Ho Chung-tai, a deputy to the National People's Congress, said: "Some people accuse the mainland jurisdiction from their own perspectives. This 'big Hong Kong' attitude is dictatorial and domineering." Another NPC member, Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said: "Since the Liu Xiaobo case, some people have been spreading intimidating messages that Hongkongers' freedom of speech will be threatened. Such an argument is ungrounded." There were 22 votes for the motion and 25 votes against […] The government issued a statement afterwards that said: "Based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference, it would not be appropriate for the HKSAR government to comment on the decision made under the judicial system of the mainland.". ^ top ^

Bar set low for 'referendum' on suffrage (SCMP)
2010-01-12
The Civic Party and League of Social Democrats have unveiled details of their de facto referendum on universal suffrage - but it seems there is no way they can lose. They will admit failure only if they get fewer votes than their main rivals in the by-elections and the turnout is more than 50 per cent. That makes it hard for them to lose, since it is rare for such a high turnout in a by-election, and the democrats traditionally get more votes than the pro-Beijing camp. They also fare better in elections when the turnout is high. Although the two groups said the mechanism was designed with reference to international standards, critics say it raises questions about the credibility of the exercise, which is being billed as a showdown between advocates of full democracy and those opposed to it. The government says the by-elections, triggered by the resignations of one lawmaker from each of the five geographical constituencies, will cost taxpayers about HK$150 million. The two groups announced yesterday they would launch the resignations plan on January 27. All three lawmakers from the league - Wong Yuk-man, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Chan Wai-yip - will stand down, plus two from the Civic Party, expected to be Tanya Chan and Alan Leong Kah-kit. They will then immediately declare themselves candidates in the resulting by-elections. The main demands for the de facto referendum will include the introduction of universal suffrage by 2012 or, if that is not possible, a pledge by Beijing that genuine universal suffrage will be introduced for electing the chief executive in 2017 and all members of Legco in 2020. But the two groups agreed that whether the de facto referendum - genuine universal suffrage as soon as possible, and the abolition of functional constituencies - would be considered "passed" would hinge on two conditions, rather than whether the five were re-elected. First, overall voter turnout should be higher than 50 per cent of total registered voters. Second, only the total vote share of the pan-democrats' main election rivals will be counted, omitting the various independents standing. Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, secretary general of the Civic Party, said the two groups would concede defeat only if both conditions were met. Andrew To Kwan-hang, the league's spokesman on the exercise, denied the benchmark was set too high, saying that the 50 per cent turnout was in line with international standards for referendums […] Discussing why the vote share of minor rivals would be discounted, Chan said: "This is to highlight the clear-cut fact that the referendum will be a showdown between democracy and those who oppose it." In previous elections, pan-democrats received roughly 60 per cent of the popular vote and the government-friendly camp 40 per cent. Chan Kin-man, associate professor at Chinese University's department of sociology, said it was unfair for the two groups not to count the vote share of minor candidates who might be opposed to the idea of a de facto referendum […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan detrimental to Sino-U.S. relations (Xinhua)
2010-01-12
The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties. The U.S. side is fully aware that the Taiwan issue is related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and involves China's core interests and the national sentiment of 1.3 billion Chinese people. The China-U.S. Joint Statement clearly pointed out that "the fundamental principle of respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity is at the core of the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques which guide China-U.S. relations. Neither side supports any attempt by any force to undermine this principle. The two sides agreed that respecting each other's core interests is extremely important to ensure steady progress in China-U.S. relations." The words were fixed in history. However, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States' sincerity to take concrete actions to "respect each other's core interests." It is evident that China's cross-Straits relationship has achieved breakthrough and has been oriented onto the track of peaceful development thanks to joint efforts made by the Chinese compatriots across the Taiwan Straits in recent years […] The U.S. government has repeated for several times that the peace across the Taiwan Straits is "in the U.S. interest," […] Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits. This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China's core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development. Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development. This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations. As influential major states in the world, China and the United States share broad common interests. Therefore, the strengthening of their cooperation is beneficial not only to the two countries, but also to the whole world. The United States should recognize the serious harm caused by arms sales to Taiwan, scrupulously abide by the principles of the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, especially those of the "August17 Communique," and immediately stop arms sales to Taiwan, in order to avoid damaging bilateral cooperation in key fields. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetan governor to step down early (SCMP)
2010-01-13
The governor of Tibet tendered his resignation yesterday, three years before his official retirement age and days after President Hu Jintao convened a meeting of the powerful Politburo to map out future policies for the autonomous region. Qiangba Puncog, a 62-year-old ethnic Tibetan, was governor during the deadly demonstrations by Tibetans in their capital, Lhasa, on March 14, 2008. The report by Xinhua did not give a reason for his resignation, which can also indicate a person is destined for another post. The decision was made at the annual session of the regional people's congress. Xinhua did not indicate who his replacement would be. "Everyone is looking to see whether an official will be made to pay for the policy failures indicated by the events of the spring of 2008," said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University in New York. "Qiangba was seen as one of the heavier people in the administration, but not as someone who initiates policies." The major policy conference on Tibet stressed increased industrial development and investment from Beijing as well as continued controls on religious institutions. Observers said Baima Chilin, the region's vice-president, who was promoted to Communist Party vice-secretary last Wednesday, was likely to succeed Qiangba Puncog. Another resignation yesterday came from Legqog, chairman of the Tibet People's Congress. Legqog was Tibet's governor before being appointed chairman of the regional people's congress in 2003. Retired governors are usually appointed chairman of the people's congress. The most powerful official in Tibet is party secretary Zhang Qingli, a Han Chinese and a protege of Hu. Both Zhang and Qiangba Puncog were in Beijing for the National People's Congress annual session when the 2008 demonstrations broke out. Baima Chilin, 58, was born in Tibet and joined the army in 1969. After serving for nearly 20 years, he was transferred to a secretary position in the regional government in 1986. He became a vice-chairman of the region in 2003 and was elevated to the local party's standing committee, the top decision-making body, in 2006. Analysts said Baima Chilin's military background and his role in cracking down on the 2008 riots may have helped his rise. His appointment also sent a signal that Beijing had no intention of relinquishing its iron-fist approach to the restive Himalayan region. The emphasis on greater investment implies that the mainland is recognising some of the economic causes of discontent by Tibetans, many of whom feel that Chinese migrants have benefited more from large projects, including mining and a train line to Lhasa. Tibetans demanded greater religious and civil freedoms during demonstrations in March 2008 in towns across the plateau. ^ top ^

China plans world's highest airport in Tibet (Xinhua)
2010-01-13
China plans to break a new record and build the world's highest airport in Tibet at an elevation of 4,436 m, the regional civil aviation director announced. Xu Bo, director of the Tibetan Branch of the China Civil Aviation Administration, said the airport, planned for the Nagqu prefecture, would be 102 meters higher than Bamda Airport in Tibet's Qamdo prefecture, which was built in 1994 and is currently the world's highest airport. Xu Jian, director of the Nagqu Committee of Development and Reform, said the airport included in Tibet's development plan. The committee has yet to confirm a site for the airport. "The construction is planned for 2011. It will take three years to build the airport, which is expected to cost 1.8 billion yuan ($263 million) and cover between 233 to 266 hectares," he said. This airport, the sixth in Tibet, would be named Nagqu Dagring Airport after the area of its expected location. "The civil aviation network in Tibet has taken shape. The objective for the next stage of development is to open direct air routes from Tibet to south Asian countries," he said. Nagqu, about 300 km from Lhasa, capital of Tibet, is in the center of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The prefecture has a population of about 400,000. "With the airport, Nagqu, which is also on the Qinghai-Tibet railway line, is expected to become an economic hub in the plateau region," said Tan Yongshou, commissioner of Nagqu prefecture. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China sees fastest housing price rise in 18 months last December (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-15
China's property prices rose at the fastest pace in 18 months in December, ending the year with rising fears of bubbles in the property market. Housing prices in China's 70 large and medium-sized cities rose7.8 percent in December 2009 from a year earlier, and were up 1.5 percent compared to the previous month, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday. The property price increase stood at 5.7 percent in November year-on-year, accelerating from the 3.9 percent in October. "The growth is within expectation due to the low base of the property prices in December of 2008 amid the ongoing global economic downturn", said Hao Daming, an economist with the China Galaxy Securities. The country's property market was depressed by the global economic downturn at the end of 2008, with property prices in the 70 major cities down 0.4 percent year on year in December and down 0.5 percent from the previous month. The hike was also a result purchase rush in the fourth quarter on expectations of tightening policies, he said […] The climbing property prices, driven up by record high bank lending, favorable policies and speculation, has become a headache for Chinese residents and also stirred up concerns of a property bubble. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in December that housing prices in some cities were rising too fast, which drew "great attention" of the central government. Wen pledged to cool property prices with tools of taxes, interest rates and land policies. Since December the government has made a series of moves to cool the market, including reimposing a sales tax on homes sold within five years of their purchase from this year and increasing the down payment requirement for land purchases to at least 50 percent of the total price. The latest one came from the State Council which issued guidelines over the weekend that strictly required the down payment at no less than 40 percent for those applying to buy a second or more houses backed with loans. The government also renewed its pledge on Wednesday to stabilize home prices by providing more affordable housing and cracking down on speculation […]. ^ top ^

China's State Grids 2009 profits down (Xinhua)
2010-01-15
The State Grid Corporation of China, the nation's biggest power transmission and distribution company, reported falling profits last year. Last year's profits shrunken to 4.52 billion yuan (665 million U.S. dollars) from 9.75 billion yuan in 2008, Liu Zhenya, general manager of the company, said at a meeting on Thursday. The decline was within market expectation as the power consumption had suffered decline as many industrial factories temporarily halted production amid falling orders during the global economic crisis. That subjected the company to a loss of 16.05 billion yuan during January to September. Investment in 2009 rose 22.5 percent year on year to 305.9 billion yuan for the expansion and upgrading of power networks. Liu estimated the company's profits would rise to 35.05 billion yuan in 2010, given the higher electricity prices and demand recovery. He noted the company would invest 227.4 billion yuan in 2010 on the expansion of ultra-high voltage power transmission lines, rural network and smart grids. ^ top ^

Norway, China expect to sign FTA accord this year: minister (Xinhua)
2010-01-14
Norway is willing to enhance economic and trade cooperation with China, and make efforts to promote Norway-China free trade agreement to be reached as early as this year, said Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske in Beijing Wednesday. The minister said his main purpose to China this time was to further the relevant process of FTA (Free Trade Area) talks. The FTA talks between China and Norway were launched in Oslo, capital of Norway, on Sept. 18, 2008. The next round of talks will be held in Beijing in March 2010. Giske said Norway hoped the talks could be concluded this year, and his Chinese colleagues also expressed their interest in this goal. . ^ top ^

Trade protectionism charges against China growing (China Daily)
2010-01-14
The commerce ministry is forecasting a glum outlook for trade relations with the European Union (EU) as China is expected to remain the main target of EU trade remedy investigations again in 2010. Last year, the EU initiated seven new trade remedy investigations, and all are anti-dumping cases against China, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a statement yesterday. That figure is one more than the previous year, and accounts for 58 percent of all cases the region launched worldwide during the same period. The cases included aluminum wheels, scanners and ironing boards. Trade remedies are government measures to minimize the adverse impact of imports on domestic industries. The EU also launched 12 review investigations against China in 2009, making up 50 percent of all EU reviews conducted […] China has been a major target of trade protectionist measures worldwide since late 2008. By the end of November 2009, 19 nations and regions launched 103 cases against China. The United States was atop that list after launching the highest US dollar volume of cases, including a $1.2 billion tire case and a $2.8 billion steel pipe case. It will be a long way before the EU economy "fully recovers" and "China's market economy status (MES) has not yet been recognized", and therefore trade remedy cases by the EU will not turn for the better, said MOFCOM. "The unemployment rate is expected to remain high, forcing European industries to resort to protectionism. Without MES recognition, Chinese exporters will continue to be charged at an unreasonably high rate," it said. Cheng Yongru, a division director in MOFCOM's Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports & Exports, said China and the EU need to engage in more frequent dialogue and work together to identify win-win solutions in the current financial climate […] Late last year, the Chinese government brought a steel fastener case against the EU before the World Trade Organization, the first time the nation did so against the region. Before that, the EU announced it would impose duties of up to 87 percent on steel-fastener imports from China. ^ top ^

China builds six new airports in 2009: official (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-14
China built six new airports last year, bringing the total number to 166 as of last December, Wang Changshun, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said Wednesday. The six new airports are Tuofeng airport in Yunnan Province, Batang airport in Qinghai Province, Lindu airport and Saertu airport in Heilongjiang Province as well as Shadi airport in Guangdong Province. The country's civil aviation industry invested roughly 60 billion yuan (8.82 billion U.S. dollars) in fixed assets in 2009, said Wang. "Increasing fixed-asset investment is a crucial measure to boost the industry during the financial crisis," Wang said. Total floor space of China's civil airport terminals rose by 660,000 square meters last year. Wang also said the fast development of China's tourist industry was spurring the civil aviation industry's expansion. ^ top ^

China raises reserve ratio to curb bubbles (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-13
China's central bank, in an abrupt move Tuesday, raised the amount of reserves that commercial banks must hold, in an effort to curb investment bubbles and possible inflationary pressure in the building. To what extent the readjustment of the country's monetary policy will impact the world's 3rd largest economy remains to be known. Currently, while the rest of the world is trying to recover from a two-year-long severe recession, China is trying to slow its economy down a little bit. The central bank raised the amount of reserves that banks must hold by 0.5 percentage point, to 15 percent of their deposits. U.S. banks must hold 10 percent in reserve. The central bank, the People's Bank of China, hopes cooling the pace of lending will keep its economy growing without creating inflation and overheating. It acted after CPI edged up considerably in December and increasing news reports said bank lending soared in the first week of January. The Obama administration has cautioned other countries not to withdraw their stimulus aid until a global recovery is firmly in place. But private economists said Beijing's action was wise, given the surge in Chinese lending. Some economists have warned of a potential real estate bubble in China. Theoretically, Beijing can dictate lending patterns to most of its commercial banks, which are majority-owned by the State. It's been far more successful than the U.S. government in loosening the flow of credit. Bank lending has remained tight in the United States since the financial crisis erupted. In 2009, lenders in China lent $1.3 trillion in January-October — more than double the level for all of 2008. However, In the United States, lending by the biggest banks dropped 9 percent last October compared with a year earlier. Another concern for the Chinese leadership is China's banks could become stuck with bad loans, once its equity markets run into a downward spiral. The prices of housing in most Chinese cities have skyrocketed in 2009, as the government encouraged investment on properties to generate domestic consumption […] China's action to restrict lending on Tuesday came sooner than expected. Analysts suggested it might have been prompted by reports that Chinese banks lent 600 billion yuan, or about $88 billion, in the first week of January — nearly double the total for all of December. The government is clamping down on lending for second homes as a way to cool a surge in housing prices. But it says it wants to promote consumer credit to encourage spending at stores. The minimum down payment on a second home was raised from 30 percent to 40 percent in 2007 to try to curb speculative purchases. ^ top ^

New zone expected to boost output (Global Times)
2010-01-13
A newly established economic development zone was unveiled Monday and it's expected to rein in more efficient governance and provide better services for investors in what's described as the largest booming economic zone in northern China. The new administrative district, Tianjin Binhai New Area, brings together the districts of Tanggu, Hangu and Dagang. It now spans 2,000 square kilometers and has a population of 2 million. The State Council approved the plan in November. The structure of management has now been simplified with the number of government departments slashed to just a quarter of what it was. Officials said this will significantly improve efficiency. Binhai has three administrative districts and nine functional districts like the Tianjin Free Trade Zone. "Binhai's internal administrative efficiency was low and the planning lacked overall coordination as each district was independent and had its own way," said Zhou Liqun, vice-president of the Binhai Development Institute of Nankai University. There were seven public security bureaus, five industry and commerce administrations, six national tax bureaus, five local taxation bureaus and five procuratorates. "The overlap led to redundant construction, inefficient allocation of resources and poor flow of land, capital and talent," said Lu Jun, an urban management expert at Peking University. It's estimated that Binhai's total output value would increased 23.5 percent to pass 370 billion yuan ($54 billion) in 2009, accounting for about 54 percent of Tianjin's output […]. ^ top ^

Google scraps meeting over online books (SCMP)
2010-01-13
Google has pulled out of talks with a government-affiliated writers' group in which the US firm was supposed to produce a complete list of the Chinese books it had scanned for its online library without authorisation. The withdrawal by the California-based internet giant followed its formal apology over its poor communication with Chinese authors and a promise to work out a settlement with them by March. Zhang Hongbo, deputy secretary general of China Written Works Copyright Society, said that yesterday morning Google announced it wanted to postpone the talks but did not specify to what date, China News Service reported yesterday. Zhang said his organisation had asked Google why it had postponed what would have been the fourth round of negotiations. According to the copyright society, nearly 18,000 books by Chinese authors had been added to Google Books without permission from the authors in a controversial project to digitise books and post them online. On Sunday, Google formally apologised to Chinese authors about scanning their books into its online library and said it was ready to work out a settlement to allay copyright concerns. The Chinese Writers' Association (CWA) said it received a letter from Google acknowledging its efforts had upset Chinese authors. "Following discussions and communications in recent months, we do believe that our communication with Chinese writers has not been good enough," Google said in the letter posted on the association's website. "Google is ready to apologise to Chinese writers about this." The letter bore the signature of Erik Hartmann, Asia-Pacific head of Google Books. Google planned to work out a settlement by March and reach a formal agreement by June, the letter said. It said it would take the "unprecedented move" of producing a complete list of Chinese books it has scanned, in response to a request from the writers' group […] For five years, Google has been working to scan all the world's books into a digital library accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Google describes the project is an invaluable chance for books to get more exposure, but many authors and publishers argue it is a copyright violation. The project has also raised objections from authors and publishers in the United States, France, Germany and elsewhere. ^ top ^

China overtakes US as world's largest auto market (China Daily)
2010-01-12
China's auto sales surged past the United States to reach record levels in 2009, industry figures showed on Monday, underscoring China's importance to the global auto industry as the world's biggest market. The figures came as PSA Peugeot Citroen of France said markets were expected to show signs of recovery around the world in 2010, while Volkswagen AG said it aims to at least double its US sales in coming years. After a year in which Chinese automakers made key acquisitions abroad, Beijing's renewed incentives to bolster demand will likely keep it as a bright spot for car makers battered by the financial crisis. Vehicle sales in the country came to a record 13.6 million units in 2009, marking an increase of 46.15 percent from the 9.4 million units sold in 2008, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said, well above a previous target of 10 million units and compared with annual sales of 10.4 million cars and light trucks in the United States, the lowest level in 27 years. The Chinese tally, which also includes heavy vehicles, is still higher than that of the United States after deducting roughly 650,000 units of heavy trucks, Orient Securities said […] The past year has seen Chinese automakers venturing on to the global stage for the first time in a major way, ready to snap up brands such as Volvo and Hummer which they previously admired from afar. "We are still optimistic about the outlook for this year but it will be quite difficult to achieve the growth rates of 2009," said John Zeng, a Shanghai-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. This year will see a high single-digits growth rate of nine to 10 percent." Sedans made up 56 percent of total auto sales in 2009, with Shanghai Volkswagen, a joint venture between Volkswagen AG and China's SAIC, selling the most, Xinhua said […] Several foreign auto manufacturers last week reported massive increases in their China sales -- in contrast with sharp falls in their home markets. US auto giant General Motors said sales surged 66.9 percent to 1.83 million vehicles in 2009, while Ford Motor Company and its Chinese partners said sales rose 44 percent to more than 440,000 units. Volkswagen, the biggest European carmaker, said its Chinese sales soared 36.7 percent to a record 1.4 million vehicles. Auto sales have surged in recent years due to rising incomes that have put private car ownership -- once an unthinkable luxury -- within reach for millions. In Beijing alone, the number of registered cars topped four million in December, meaning a quarter of the capital's 16 million permanent residents have cars. Government incentives included slashing taxes on cars with engines smaller than 1.6 litres and subsidising clean-technology vehicles. The government also subsidised auto purchases for farmers. ^ top ^

Beijing warned over inflation: 'Tighten the reins or face 16pc growth' (SCMP)
2010-01-12
Beijing needs to tighten its monetary policy to avoid a property bubble and runaway inflation, or face an economy growing at a superheated 16 per cent this year, a top government research institute warns. The assessment, by economists He Fan and Yao Zhizhong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, comes in the face of a promise by Premier Wen Jiabao two weeks ago to keep a "moderately loose" monetary regime this year. But sticking to a loose monetary policy could force up consumer prices and result in "serious economic overheating", the economists warn. Predicting property prices to remain high, they say the bigger the property bubble, the greater the risks to the economy. "If the loose monetary measures are withdrawn, the economy will grow at 7.7 per cent this year," He and Yao wrote in yesterday's China Securities Journal. "If they remain the same, the economy is destined for serious overheating." An appropriate level of monetary stimulus would propel the economy ahead with 11.6 per cent growth this year, they added. Other leading state researchers, including Fan Gang, an adviser to the People's Bank of China, last month warned of bubbles in stock, real estate and commodity prices. At the weekend, Beijing ordered the central bank and China Banking Regulatory Commission to step up scrutiny of bank lending to prevent an illegal flow of funds and foreign "hot money" into the property market. He and Yao said loose monetary measures had added to new lending in the first 10 months of last year, with about six trillion yuan, or two-thirds of a total of 8.9 trillion yuan, pouring into stock and property markets. The surge in new lending spilled into the first week of this month, with loans totalling 600 billion yuan […] In January last year, new loans skyrocketed to 1.62 trillion yuan after the government loosened lending to kick-start a slowing economy. He and Yao said a tougher monetary regime could cool the rapid growth in broad money supply, or M2, to about 20 per cent this year. M2 jumped 29.5 per cent between January and October last year. That would also keep inflation in consumer prices in check. Peter Wong Tung-shun, an executive director at HSBC's Asia-Pacific unit, said the mainland's import sector, which was driven by domestic demand, would grow faster than exports even though China had became the world's largest exporter. "The challenge for China is to strive for balanced growth, further stimulate domestic consumption and to build on an increasingly broad-based expansion," Wong said. Merrill Lynch-Bank of America economist Lu Ting said a sharper-than-expected rebound in exports, at 18 per cent growth, and imports, at 56 per cent growth, last month, set the stage for a faster economic recovery on the mainland. "China is on the eve of a monetary tightening," Lu said, forecasting economic growth of 10 per cent this year. "But, we are not there yet." UBS economist Wang Tao said he would not be surprised to see new loans surpassing 1 trillion yuan in the first three months of this year. ^ top ^

China might become top world exporter, but weakness remains (Xinhua)
2010-01-11
China will probably overtake Germany to become the world's largest exporter though its exports in 2009 had fallen 16 percent from a year earlier, according to figures released Sunday by the General Administration of Customs (GAC). But Chinese experts and officials said the country was far from being a real trade power if measured by exports structure, technological innovation and industry competitiveness. GAC figures showed China's monthly exports in December 2009 were worth 130.7 billion U.S. dollars, up 17.7 percent from a year earlier. It was the first rise since November 2008, when the country's exports contracted 2.2 percent year on year after sluggish overseas demand crippled China's export engine. In total, GAC figures showed that China's exports in 2009 stood at 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars, down 16 percent from 2008. Germany, which had been since 2002 holding the title as the world's largest exporter, didn't unveil its export value in 2009 yet. But BGA, the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade, had forecast that Germany's exports in 2009 might fall 18 percent to 816 billion euros (about 1.18 trillion U.S. dollars). "The prospect that China will overtake Germany to become top global exporter only means that China has indeed become a large trading country in terms of exporting scale," said Zhao Jinping, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council (cabinet). "But in terms of the structure of exports, technological innovation and industry competitiveness, China is far from being eligible for the title of 'trade power'," he told Xinhua. According to Zhao, China's exports had changed from labor-intensive products in the 1990s to current technology-intensive products, and electrical and electronic products as well as high-tech products have become a most important part of China's exports. But China's technology-intensive exports fell in the category of processing and assembling trade. About 83 percent of its high-tech exports and 75 percent of electronic exports were made by foreign-funded enterprises, Zhao said. He said German enterprises put more emphasis on technology, branding, quality and services, which generated higher added-value. Zhao said a full recovery of China's trade might take another several years. China should promote exports of high value-added products through branding and technological innovation, he added […] In December 2009, China's imports hit record monthly high to reach 112.3 billion U.S. dollars, up 55.9 percent from the same period of 2008 […] In December 2009, China's foreign trade amounted to 243 billion U.S. dollars, which represented a year-on-year increase of 32.7 percent and a month-to-month rise of 16.7 percent. In total, China's foreign trade in 2009 dropped 13.9 percent from a year earlier to 2.21 trillion U.S. dollars and its trade surplus last year slid 34.2 percent year on year to 196.1 billion U.S. dollars. According to the GAC, the European Union (EU) continued to be China's biggest trading partner in 2009, with two-way trade totaling 364.1 billion U.S. dollars, down 14.5 percent from a year earlier. Trade between China and the United States, the country's second biggest trade partner, fell 10.6 percent to 298.3 billion U.S. dollars. Japan remained China's No. 3 trade partner with bilateral trade totaling 228.9 billion U.S. dollars, down 14.2 percent from 2008 […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula takes new turn (Xinhua)
2010-01-15
At the beginning of the year 2010, the conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on one side and the United States and South Korea on the other over the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula took a new turn. In a statement issued on Monday, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said it is ready to discuss signing a peace treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement with relevant states within the framework of the six-party talks. The DPRK indicated in the statement that only with the signing of the peace treaty is it possible for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula to materialize, and the lifting of sanctions against the DPRK and other obstacle to confidence building would eventually lead to the restart of the six-party talks. In response, the White house said the DPRK had to return to the six-party talks first and take steps towards denuclearization before discussion on the peace treaty can make real progress. Meanwhile, South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Tae-yong said Tuesday that progress in the DPRK's denuclearization efforts and the resumption of the six-party talks should come first before South Korea and the DPRK can discuss replacing an armistice with a peace treaty. In fact, the conflict derives from U.S. insistence on "denuclearization first" and the DPRK's adherence to "peace first." Their different priorities are clear indications of their respective strategic interests. By making another gesture at the beginning of the year, Pyongyang reiterated that its "consistent position" is to strive for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and contribute to peace and stability in Northeastern Asia and the denuclearization of the world. While attributing the setbacks of the six-party talks to a lack of confidence among the related parties, the DPRK put forward its own solution -- to discuss among the relevant parties of the Armistice Agreement the signing of a peace treaty to replace it. It also proposed to hold separate talks on establishing peace mechanism on the Peninsula, or discuss the issue within the framework of the six-party talks. Despite the DPRK's emphasis on a new peace treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement, a close look at its proposal indicates that Pyongyang's understanding of the need to resume the six-party talks and fulfill the Joint Statement on September 2005. In line with the Obama administration's policy on the Korea Peninsular issues, Washington rejected Pyongyang's new proposal. "We've made clear, going back several months, we're not going to pay North Korea (DPRK) for coming back to the six-party process," said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. Crowley's remarks echoed with U.S. President Barack Obama's commitments in June when meeting with visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Obama vowed to "end a cycle of allowing Pyongyang to create a crisis and then be rewarded with incentives to back down. Analysts said the U.S. response showed that the Obama administration, while sticking to its current policy on issues related to the Korean Peninsula, is not eager to create a more favorable diplomatic atmosphere with the DPRK for the time being. However, it does not mean the U.S. does not care whether the DPRK would return to the six-party talks, an expert with the U.S. think tank Cato Institute said. Some analysts said it might well turn out to be a feasible alternative to have simultaneous talks on denuclearization and peace mechanism on the Peninsula. ^ top ^

S.Korea to consider DPRK's proposal on reopening border tourism (Xinhua)
2010-01-15
South Korea will consider the latest proposal made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on discussing the resumption of the border tourism between the two countries, Seoul's Ministry of Unification said on Thursday. The ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung confirmed that the DPRK side sent a notice late Thursday to South Korea suggesting to hold a inter-Korean working contact at Mt. Kumgang Resort on Jan. 26-27to discuss the reopening of tourism of the Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong city. Chun said the proposal is currently under review, and the government will make its stand later. Local media said the South Korean government is likely to accept the proposal, but also set aside time for consideration. The Kumgang tour program, run by South Korea's Hyundai Asian Corp., has been launched in 1998. More than 1.9 million South Koreans have visited the resort. On July 11, 2008, 53-year-old South Korean housewife Park Wang-ja was shot dead while she was wandering into a controlled military zone at the Mount Kumgang at the DPRK's east coast. South Korea, in response, immediately suspended the tour program, requesting a thorough investigation, which the DPRK rejected. As for the tourism program to Kaesong city, it has been launched in December 2007, but was stopped a year later as the inter-Korean ties rapidly soured. Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of South Korea's Hyundai Group, paid a visit to Pyongyang in August last year and met with the DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. The two sides reached a five-point agreement on the resumption of the cross-border tourism project. However, the South Korean government repeatedly reaffirmed that the DPRK side should first carry out a thorough investigation over the 2008 shooting case, work out effective preventive measures and set up systems to guarantee tourists' safety. ^ top ^

S Korea, DPRK to hold evaluation meeting on joint survey to foreign industrial complexes (People's Daily Online)
2010-01-14
South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have agreed to hold a bilateral meeting to evaluate their joint survey to China and Vietnam last month, news agency Yonhap reported Thursday citing a government source. According to the report, South Korea first proposed holding an evaluation meeting to the DPRK during their joint trip and the DPRK accepted it Wednesday. ^ top ^

Pyongyang raps South Korea for scattering anti-DPRK leaflets (Xinhua)
2010-01-14
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Wednesday rapped South Korea for scattering anti-DPRK leaflets, saying it pushed inter-Korean relations to the phase of confrontation, local media reported. A large number of leaflets attached to balloons had been launched recently in Kimhwa County, Jangphung County, the Mt. Kumgang tourist zone and other areas in the DPRK, said the head of the DPRK's delegation to the north-south military working talks, in a notice to South Korean military authorities […] On Jan. 1 alone, hundreds of thousands leaflets insulting the DPRK leaders were scattered over areas of the north side by the People's Alliance for Sending Leaflets to the North, according to the notice. The group is made up of several ultra-right conservative organizations in South Korea. The DPRK army would never tolerate such acts and South Korean authorities must take measures to disband the ultra-right conservative organizations which continued scattering anti-DPRK leaflets to the DPRK people, the KCNA news agency said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

A journalist's ethics are not for sale (News.mn)
2010-01-13
The draft Press Freedom Law is being discussed by the Civil Chamber now. Twelve years have passed since Parliament approved the law which has two references. The main merit of the law, drafted by E.Bat-Uul, was that it freed news organizations from Government control. This way, they were no longer dependent on finance from the state and no longer needed to be the mouthpiece for the Government. Since then, the media have come a long way. The present draft allows journalists to protect the secrecy of their source and also says police, prosecutors, and administrative organization cannot ask the publisher, journalist, editor, and the media union to reveal the source of any information, published or not. Also, no pictures and documents collected to be used for any article, including recordings, tapes and computer files, can be seized. On the other hand, the draft also says there must be special procedures for journalists to get information about daily work in the government. The draft also proposes to establish an organization to regulate press ethics. Something like a Press Council, as it is called in many countries, is greatly needed in Mongolia. These countries understand what press freedom is, and why it is needed. At the same time, media work must be marked by a sense of high individual and ethical responsibility. There are groups within the media sector which have abandoned their right to freedom and opted to be paid publicists, working for certain officials and not for truth. ^ top ^

Severe winter hits 198 soums in 19 provinces (News.mn)
2010-01-12
Following the National Emergency Commission's (NEC) recent review of the winter situation in the country, including heating, energy and coal reserves, M. Enkhbold, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the NEC, has issued several instructions to connected officials. The General Emergency Authority says the winter is severe in 198 soums of 19 provinces. There is deep snow on the steppes and on the mountainside. Main roads remain closed in Altai, Uench, Bulgan soums of Khovd province, some soums of Gobi-Altai provinces, Gants, Zagastai, Solongot soums of Zavkhan and Gurvanbileg, Bayanbulag of Bayankhongor province etc. With no pasture and no proper shelter, 322,000 heads of livestock have already died in Gobi-Altai, Uvurkhangai, Umnugobi, Bayankhongor, Khovd, Arkhangai, Khuvsgul, Bayanulgii and Zavkhan. The fodder is already finished in Gobi-Altai, Umnugobi, Bayankhongor, Dundgobi and Zavkhan. T. Badamjunai, Minister of Food and Agriculture and Light Industry, has given the assurance that fodder will be sent to all provinces and is looking for funds to provide health and other essential services to herdsmen. ^ top ^

Mongolia and France enhance cooperation in uranium sector (MONTSAME)
2010-01-12
President of France Nicolas Sarkozy has sent a letter to his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhia Elbegdorj in which he invites the Mongolian representatives to attend an international conference on atomic energy that is initiated by France. Mr Sarkozy mentions in his letter that nuclear energy has become the key factor to solve urgent issues of global nature and environment and economics. "In the connection with an increase in number of countries interested in using the nuclear energy for civil purposes, it is of importance to intensify international co-operation in this sector and to achieve a united understanding of pressing issues. Mongolia may play an important role in atomic energy sphere". The international conference initiated by France will be co-organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Economic Cooperation and Development Organization and other largest international bodies. President Elbegdorj met with Sarkozy at the UN Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen in December last year. The French Areva Company has been operating in Mongolia for 10 years on uranium prospect and it is going to increase its investments to Mongolia by setting up a uranium concentration plant. ^ top ^

Earthquake in Dundgobi and Ulaanbaatar City (UB Post)
2010-01-12
The Astronomy and Geophysical Research Center reported that an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 struck last Saturday in Dundgobi Province. According to the AGRC, the earthquake struck at 15.10 PM in the province. As the quake struck unpopulated areas, there is no reported human or animal casualties, or property damages. On the same day, an earthquake with magnitude of 3.5 affected some southern parts of Ulaanbaatar City. No human casualties were recorded, only some cracks in several buildings were reported. ^ top ^

PM explains new social welfare policy (News.mn)
2010-01-11
Prime Minister S.Batbold has clarified the thrust of the proposed reforms in the social welfare program. Last year, MNT 71 billion was distributed to 1.3 million people, about 45,900 people were helped find jobs and 18,900 people were enrolled in professional training courses. The Government is working to reduce poverty and create jobs and aims to reduce the number of poor families by 12,500 per year. Money spent on welfare programs has been increasing during the past few years, but poverty has not decreased. He also felt the benefits of the present welfare programs had failed to reach the really needy groups and has also led to dependence, blunting the initiative in many cases to find and hold on to a job. The Government now thinks it is best to aim welfare programs at the disabled, single elders, orphans, and families which run most risks of becoming poor. The four current laws regulating social welfare will be made into two, and the 62 types of welfare allowances at present will be reduced to 17. Welfare allowance recipients will be divided into two groups: members of poor families, and citizens in the greatest need for assistance. ^ 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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage