SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  10.5-14.5.10, No. 319  
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Table of contents

H1N1 flu

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese Premier urges upgrading China-Arab cooperation (Global Times)
2010-05-14
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday called for deeper cooperation between China and Arab states to create a peaceful international environment for development, fight the financial crisis, safeguard energy security and tackle climate change. Wen made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the fourth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held in the north Chinese port city of Tianjin. During the two-day forum, the two sides will discuss upgrading their relationship to a strategic level and release an action plan for a cooperation blueprint in the next two years. […]

Wen said energy exporters and importers should step up dialogue and contacts and carry out cooperation in energy development. Investment in the energy sector should be encouraged to maintain a basic balance in energy supply and demand and reasonable global energy prices, he said. The international community should work to maintain stability in energy producing countries and curb excessive speculation to maintain order in the international energy markets, he said. Talking about economic and trade with the Arab states, Wen said China was ready to stabilize trade in oil and natural gas with the 22 Arab League nations, while expanding imports of non-oil products. "China at the same time will increase exports of high value-added machinery and electronic products and high-tech products to the Arab countries."

Trade between China and Arab states surged to 107.4 billion U.S. dollars last year from 36.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2004. China would continue to encourage businesses to invest in Arab states and welcome investment from Arab states, he said. China was ready to promote cooperation in infrastructure, including power, railways and roads, and to deepen cooperation in oil and gas projects, he said. […] Wen said China and Arab states should increase exchanges by senior officials and consultations on strategic issues, and boost coordination in major international and regional affairs.

Wen urged developed countries to shoulder the main responsibility in helping developing nations to maintain financial stability and economic growth to reduce the imbalance of development, the fundamental imbalance of the world economy. China would as always provide aid without conditions to developing countries, he said. China and Arab countries have relations dating back to the Silk Road about 2,000 years ago. China has diplomatic ties with all 22 members of the Arab League. The forum was initiated in January 2004, when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. It has since served as a platform for exchanging views between China and Arab nations and for enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation. ^ top ^

China warns US against Falun Gong ties (SCMP)
2010-05-14
China yesterday warned the United States against associating with the Falun Gong after Washington said it may fund a group linked to the spiritual sect, which is banned by Beijing.

The comments came as the two sides prepared to meet in Washington for a human rights dialogue after a two-year hiatus. "We firmly oppose any government or organisation providing support to anti-China forces in their anti-China activities," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said. Ma's comments came after a US State Department spokesman confirmed Washington was considering funding an internet freedom group composed mainly of Falun Gong practitioners exiled from China. The Global Internet Freedom Consortium offers software to circumvent internet censorship around the world. "The process is ongoing. They have submitted a proposal but... no final decisions have been made," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Wednesday of the possible funding plan.

Falun Gong, whose Buddhist-inspired teachings focus on meditative, martial arts-like exercises, was banned by China in 1999. Beijing has branded it an "evil cult", and the group alleges its practitioners are treated brutally in China and even killed. Ma said he hoped the two-day human rights dialogue could lead to better relations but also indicated Washington must respect China's position. "I believe dialogue is better than confrontation and China would like to work on the basis of equality and mutual respect to conduct dialogue and communication with the US in the field of human rights," he said. The dialogue comes amid what some activists and human rights lawyers say is a worsening climate for them, with several prominent individuals jailed or alleging government harassment. The talks will be the first under US President Barack Obama, who has been criticised by activists who say he has downplayed human rights in his quest for broader ties with China.

China suspended the dialogue in 2002 in anger over US criticism at the United Nations of its rights record. It had only agreed to one other round of talks since, which were held in Beijing in May 2008. The two nations had initially planned to hold talks earlier this year but no date was set amid China's anger over US arms sales to Taiwan and Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama. "This is about helping them understand and identify issues that are part of our core agenda... " Crowley said. New York-based Human Rights Watch pressed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure the talks would not be "largely a rhetorical shell". It said: "Over the past year, the Chinese government has tightened controls on Uygurs and Tibetans, launched attacks on lawyers and human rights defenders, maintained a chokehold on media freedom and bolstered government surveillance and censoring of internet communications.". ^ top ^

U.S. to cooperate with China on economic recovery, green technology (People's Daily Online)
2010-05-13
The United States wants to work with China to expand the global economy and promote the development of the green economy, said a U.S. Commerce Department official Wednesday in Beijing. Cameron Kerry, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said at a news briefing at the U.S. embassy that the two countries faced an important time in their relations. "My visit here this week is an appetizer in the banquet of events between the U.S. and China."

According to U.S. Commerce Department, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will lead the first cabinet-level trade delegation to China next week to promote exports of leading technologies as part of President Barack Obama's state export plan to increase U.S. employment. The department said the mission was intended to promote exports of leading U.S. technologies related to clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution. The two sides would also exchange views on issues such as trade and the investment environment, innovation and the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, said Kerry. Locke will also attend the economic track dialogue of the second round of Sino-U.S. strategic and economic dialogue in Beijing in late May. Twenty-four U.S. companies will join Locke for the China leg of the trade mission. The delegation will stop in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Jakarta. ^ top ^

China, Denmark benefit from close cooperation, says vice FM (People's Daily Online)
2010-05-12
China and Denmark had forged good cooperation and friendship in the past six decades, bringing "real and tremendous" benefits to both peoples, a senior Chinese diplomat said Tuesday. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying made the remarks in Beijing at a reception held by the Danish embassy to China celebrating the 60 years of China-Denmark diplomatic relations.

Working as an interpreter and accompanying the Queen Mother of Denmark on her visit to China in the mid-1980s, Fu said nobody expected the trade volume between the two countries would grow the way it had. "For many years now China has been the largest trade partner of Denmark in Asia." Even in the most remote areas of China, the Danish beer, Carlsberg, could be seen and many garment brands from Denmark were very popular among Chinese young people, she said.

In 2008, China and Denmark established an all-around strategic partnership to expand bilateral relations, as evidenced by closer cooperation in clean energy technologies, research and education and growing people-to-people exchanges. "On clean technology, Denmark has been a first mover. And China is certainly a fast mover. Eventually, we will become the leading clean-tech economies of tomorrow," Danish Permanent Secretary of State Claus Grube said at the event. One in every 1,000 Danes were studying, working or traveling in China and Chinese businesses were establishing themselves in Denmark, which increased mutual understanding, said Grube. ^ top ^

Chinese, Russian leaders agree to enhance bilateral strategic ties (Global Times)
2010-05-09
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met here Saturday and agreed to further enhance the strategic relations of cooperation and partnership between their two countries. President Hu is in Moscow for celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War over Nazi Germany. At the meeting, Hu said that both China and Russia made great historic contributions to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and China takes the same stance toward the history of World War II as Russia. China and Russia should strengthen communication and coordination to firmly safeguard the truthfulness and seriousness of history, Hu said, adding that China would like to work together with Russia to hold a series of events to mark the 65th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.

Hu told Putin that China-Russia relations are now enjoying a sound momentum of development and the two countries have made much headway in their cooperation in all fields. The two countries have also had close interaction and coordination in dealing with international and regional affairs, he said. […] President Hu stressed that as strategic cooperative partners, China and Russia share extensive interests on many major issues. Under the current circumstances, he added, the two countries should work together, support each other and deepen their all-round strategic cooperation to better safeguard their common interests and world peace and promote common development. The two countries should continue strengthening their cooperation in the field of energy and lift their practical cooperation to a new height, he noted. China stands ready to bolster anti-terrorism communication and cooperation with Russia and make joint efforts in combating the "Three Forces" (terrorism, extremism and separatism) and in maintaining regional peace and stability, Hu said.

Extending his warm welcome, Putin said Hu's very presence at the ceremonies demonstrates the high level strategic partnership between the two nations, which fought shoulder to shoulder during World War II and contributed greatly to the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japanese militarism. The Russian prime minister noted that currently the two countries are conducting comprehensive and effective cooperation, actively coordinating on a series of important international and regional issues and defending their common interests. The "Year of the Chinese Language" launched recently in Russia will further enhance bilateral relations, he added. Putin stressed that Russia is willing to strengthen pragmatic cooperation with China in all areas and expand the scope of cooperation, so as to constantly deepen the bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership.

He congratulated Hu on the successful opening of Shanghai Expo, which he described as another splendid global event hosted by China after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The expo not only demonstrates China's growing capabilities, but also acts as an important platform for conducting exchanges among the people of all nations, Putin added. The Chinese president told Putin that he highly appreciated Russia's substantial support for the expo and its active participation in the event that has caught the world's attention. ^ top ^

China to resolve EU fastener trade dispute under WTO rules: official (Global Times)
2010-05-11
China will conduct consultations with the European Union on the steel fastener trade dispute in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization's disputes settlement system, said an official with the Ministry of Commerce Monday. China's anti-dumping investigation into carbon-steel fastener imports from the EU was based on Chinese regulations and the assessment of the harm to the domestic industry, said the official. The remarks came after the EU filed a complaint Sunday against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing's decision to impose anti-dumping measures against carbon-steel fastener imports, which included self-tapping screws, bolts and gaskets.

Chinese fastener importers were required to pay a deposit to customs based on the margins -- ranging from 16.8 to 24.6 percent -- between the normal value of the products and the alleged dumping price since Dec. 28, 2009. Initial investigations by the Chinese authorities showed the EU had allegedly dumped carbon-steel fasteners on the Chinese market, which caused substantial damage to the local industry. The temporary anti-dumping measures were adopted to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the domestic producers, the official said. China started an anti-dumping probe into EU carbon steel fasteners on Dec. 29, 2008, after an application for a probe by the fastener branch of the China General Machine Components Industry Association on behalf of Chinese fastener producers. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Wen admits attacks lay bare deep ills (SCMP)
2010-05-14
Premier Wen Jiabao says the recent spate of school attacks has laid bare deeply rooted social ills which deserve attention from the authorities and the utmost efforts to solve them. His brief interview with Phoenix TV yesterday marked the first time a top Communist Party leader had commented publicly on the brutal assaults on young children, which have sparked shock and outrage across the country. Wen said he felt extremely sorry for the young victims and their families. "Apart from taking immediate action to beef up school security nationwide, we should dig deeper and look for the root reasons for the problems," he said. "These (reasons) include a certain level of social tension."

The central government has launched a 10-day nationwide inspection to shore up school security following a series of killings and attacks at kindergartens and schools in the past two months. Initiated by the Public Security and Education ministries and the State Administration of Work Safety, it will attempt to heighten security awareness and will dole out extra security funding and upgrade infrastructure. […] In Beijing, education authorities have hired 2,000 security guards for 500 primary schools and kindergartens. And police officers armed with submachine guns have been seen on patrol at schools and kindergartens in Changsha, the capital of the central province of Hunan.

During a joint video conference organised by the ministries of Public Security and Education on Wednesday, Public Security minister Meng Jianzhu pledged to strike hard against such gross crimes. "We must come down so hard on the perpetrators that they wouldn't dare to put their hands on children, and we must shore up security to such a level that they are unable to lay their hands on children," Meng said.

The string of attacks stands in stark contrast to the much-touted harmonious society message pushed by the Communist Party in recent years. Many commentators attributed the attacks to growing public anger over social problems, corruption, police brutality, the widening wealth gap and an overall brutalisation of Chinese society that has led to widespread, untreated mental illness. Tsinghua University professor of sociology Li Dun said attacks against school children were particularly challenging because it was impossible to say where the next one would occur. ^ top ^

10,000 grieving parents still waiting for answers (SCMP)
2010-05-13
It hardly seems only two years since Sichuan was convulsed by an earthquake so powerful that this column observed the next day that "a great disaster has befallen China". How great was soon to become apparent as the death toll grew towards the eventual official tally of 87,000. So eventful is China's emergence, however, that defining events like an inspiring national response to catastrophe and the triumph of the Beijing Olympics are soon overtaken. Now the world is awed by the country's unstoppable economic progress amid recession and debt crises in the West.

The anniversary is a reminder that the earthquake rescue, relief and ongoing rehabilitation efforts also represent a triumph. A global audience followed the salvage and rescue operation, thanks to unprecedented media access. The official openness generated goodwill towards China ahead of the Olympics three months later.

Regrettably, that openness has not continued. Positive news about reconstruction and resettlement - and there is an abundance of it - is welcome, but questions about poor school construction or corruption are not. Material rehabilitation certainly is important, but that alone cannot heal the loss of loved ones and suffering. Survivors must be allowed to find emotional closure. In the stricken areas, parents of children crushed as their schools collapsed while buildings around them remained standing, are still mired in grief and despair. Only the truth about why it happened will enable them to move on. But those who try to raise their concerns with officials or the media risk harassment. Officials flatly refuse to investigate claims of structural weaknesses at "tofu" (shoddily built) school buildings, attributable to rampant official corruption.

Sadly, as a result, a day of solemn remembrance yesterday has now been added to China's calendar of politically sensitive anniversaries, alongside that of the June 4 crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Security was tightened significantly as May 12 approached. The nation needs to help bring closure to more than 10,000 grieving parents. ^ top ^

Vice Premier orders reconstruction finished in three years in Qinghai quake zone (Global Times)
2010-05-12
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has called on reconstruction teams to finish their work within three years in the earthquake stricken areas of the northwestern Qinghai Province. Li, also member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remark during a visit Monday and Tuesday in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, epicenter of a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on April 14.

He asked relief workers to finish removing debris, select the site of a new township and the layout of urban and rural areas by the end of May. By the end of this year, reconstruction teams should strive to finish all reinforcement work for reparable buildings in the quake zone, finish building new homes for most rural residents and herdsmen, and start building new homes for most urban residents, Li said. He asked local government officials to ensure that all quake survivors get enough and safe food, water and other necessities. Li urged local health and disease control personnel to prevent disease outbreaks and prepare effective treatments for altitude sickness before reconstruction workers arrived. Visiting a residential construction site in Jiegu Town, Li urged that the quality of new homes should be guaranteed. He also encouraged local quake survivors to overcome difficulties to resume their normal lives.

Supplies of water and electricity as well as transport are being restored in the severely damaged Jiegu Town. Li outlined five aspects for the future relief work:

-- Funding for quake survivors' subsidies, emergency rescue and temporary resettlement must be secured.
-- Authorities should work out a general plan and special projects for reconstruction as soon as possible. The central government would provide favorable tax, loans, land and employment policies.
-- Before large-scale reconstruction, designs for residential houses and public facilities should be prioritized.
-- Heating and winter tents should be prepared for survivors who could not move into new buildings before cold weather arrives.
-- School buildings, hospitals as well as water, electricity, telecommunications and transport facilities should be prioritized in reconstruction.

Ethnic customs and traditions should be respected, he said. ^ top ^

China's relief authorities launch flood response plan in Guangdong (Global Times)
2010-05-11
China's disaster relief authorities Monday launched an emergency response plan to cope with flooding in south China's Guangdong Province that left 19 people dead and more than 1 million affected. A level IV plan, the lowest of four responses, was initiated by China National Committee for Disaster Reduction (NCDR) and Civil Affairs Ministry Monday. Under the plan, the committee and the ministry will send a disaster relief working team within 24 hours to the region to guide relief work and help the people affected. The team will also be responsible for gauging damages by flooding.

The storm, which started Wednesday, affected regions in the north and east of Guangdong, including Guangzhou, Qingyuan, Shaoguan and Meizhou. As of 7 am Monday, the flooding in Guangdong has left at least 19 people dead, six missing, more than 80,000 relocated and 10,174 residential buildings destroyed. The province's civil affairs office has sent 1,000 quilts, 1,000 blankets and 2,000 sets of clothing to the flooding-stricken areas. ^ top ^

I had to leave, Aids activist says (SCMP)
2010-05-10
Wan Yanhai, the mainland's leading activist on Aids and sexual minorities, has left China for the US with his family, saying harassment from the authorities has forced him into a self-imposed exile. The director of the Aizhixing Institute - arguably the mainland's most vocal NGO - told the South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) that he and his family arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night last week. For now, he is staying at a friend's place in Philadelphia.

"Before we left China, I was under a lot of pressure and was harassed by many [government] departments," Wan said in a phone interview late on Saturday. Wan said not only had the local tax, commerce and industry bureaus investigated his group in recent months, but the fire department had also visited his office checking if any regulations had been breached. Beijing police also made dozens of phone calls to him last month and visited his home when he was out of town, he said. Phone calls to the departments went unanswered yesterday.

"I felt my personal safety was at stake," he said. "The mental pressure was just too much, so I've come out for a bit of breathing space."

Wan said his family had not received political or financial assistance from the US. He said he and his wife were travelling on business visas that were issued in September when they went to the United States for an alumni reunion at Yale University. Wan was on the Yale World Fellows Programme in 2003. […]

Wan said he did not know the reason behind the harassment but believed officials may be sending a message that they would like him to leave the country. "I'm not sure but it looks like they might be forcing me to leave... the aim of the harassment is probably to give you pressure so you'll leave of your own accord," he said. Wan's fellow Aids campaigner, Dr Gao Yaojie, the mainland's most high-profile HIV/Aids whistle-blower, also left China for the US last year. Another fellow activist, Hu Jia, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on the charge of "inciting subversion of state authority" in 2008.

While acknowledging that the central government has also made significant progress in its Aids projects, Wan said it did not like criticism, especially when it could potentially embarrass officials. Wan had accused provincial officials in Henan of covering up a blood-selling scandal in which at least 150,000 people became HIV-positive. "If you criticise them and tell the truth about the blood [contamination], they'll persecute you," he said. Wan said he did not know how long he could stay in the US, but hoped to remain for two or three years. "In China, I was a bird in a cage... by leaving China I'll be out of their control and they might have more consideration for your influence," he said. ^ top ^

At least 70 dead, millions affected as rainstorms batter southern China (Global Times)
2010-05-09
The death toll from fierce rainstorms ravaging southern China this week has climbed to 70, with five people previously listed as missing in Jiangxi Province being found dead on Sunday.

The rainstorms have affected millions in the provinces of Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Guangdong and Hunan, and more storms are forecast for coming days.

The rainstorms began battering southern China on Wednesday. As of Friday, the storms had affected up to 2.55 million residents and 100,000 hectares of arable land, and toppled 9,900 houses, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in a statement on its website. The rainstorms triggered flash floods and mud-rock flows, swollen rivers, burst dikes, threatened reservoirs, and damaged highways, bridges and power and telecommunication facilities. The office has ordered local authorities to closely monitor the development of rainstorms, prevent disasters like floods and landslides, and provide early warnings. The office has also dispatched work teams to the storm-hit regions to help in the relief effort. In Hunan, about 5,000 reservoirs are threatened by rising water levels. In Jiangxi, 264,600 people have been affected, and 5,884 homes have been toppled. Direct economic losses are estimated at 526.6 million yuan. Local authorities are relocating residents and repairing damaged facilities. Strong rains are forecast to pound Jiangxi and Hunan province in coming days, according to local meteorological authorities. ^ top ^

China launches level-four emergency response as storms sweep its south (Global Times)
2010-05-08
China initiated a level-four emergency response on Friday to cope with the chaos caused by storms sweeping its southern provinces. Heavy rain has poured down in south China since Wednesday, including provinces of Guangdong, Sichuan and Guizhou, causing floods, mountain torrents and mud flows, said the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters in a statement on its website. As of Friday, the storms had affected up to 2.55 million people and 100,000 hectares of arable land, leaving 65 people dead, 14 missing. The office has ordered local authorities to closely monitor the development of the rainstorms, prevent weather-triggered disasters like floods and landslides and provide early warnings. The office has also dispatched working teams to storm-hit regions to enhance storm-relief work, it said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing's pleasure houses closed in big police crackdown (SCMP)
2010-05-14
Being a patron of prestigious nightclubs in Beijing was once regarded as a status symbol. Today the clubs' days might be numbered. In a surprise move, city authorities on Tuesday closed the infamous Passion Club, also known as Tianshang Renjian ("paradise"), amid a wider crackdown on entertainment venues connected with the sex industry, according to state media yesterday.

The Passion Club is well known as one of the most prestigious pleasure houses popular among the rich and the powerful. It used to be owned by flamboyant mainland businessman Qin Hui, who controlled the Hong Kong-listed SMI Corporation. Other clubs frequented by the rich, including many Hong Kong businessmen - such as Mansion 8, Mingmen Yeyan, Huadu and Kaifu - are among 35 entertainment venues that have been shut down for six months in the latest campaign. According to the Beijing Morning Post, police raided the nightclubs on Tuesday night and found them providing "escort services" and breaching fire safety regulations.

"Many in the trade are lamenting that the police really mean it this time," said the newspaper, which quoted police insiders as saying that this was the highlight of the anti-prostitution campaign in the capital's Chaoyang district. The Beijing Times quoted a police officer as saying that the six-month closure is the maximum penalty for entertainment venues which provide escort services. Police told state media they would continue to clean up the industry and adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards prostitution.

The latest campaign came as Beijing's new police chief, Fu Zhenghua, vowed to clean up prostitution in the city. The crackdown started last month. Thousands of entertainment venues were raided, 35 venues closed and 1,132 people detained, according to Xinhua. Police had also closed 256 "hair salons" that provided sex services, Xinhua said. Police said it was harder to crack down on some entertainment venues because they did not advertise openly and had a members-only system, making them more difficult to identify.

The crackdown has become a hot topic among the city's powerful and rich as well as visiting businessmen from Hong Kong. Some club owners are said to be well connected to the family members of former top government officials. Previous crack-downs usually led to fines, but the clubs would be allowed to continue operating. This is the first time they have been shut down for such a long period and it will seriously hurt their business. Previously, Beijing authorities typically cracked down on entertainment venues before important national events such as the National People's Congress and the National Day. But this latest crackdown has many people puzzled given that many powerful officials and their cronies regularly patronised the nightclubs which appeared to enjoy special protection from high authorities. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Organisers of expo try selling tickets in stores (SCMP)
2010-05-11
Tickets to the World Expo in Shanghai went on sale in convenience stores and supermarkets across the city yesterday, a move apparently aimed at kick-starting lacklustre interest in the multibillion-yuan fair. The tickets are now also available in railway booking offices and even on express trains arriving at the city, local media reported yesterday. Organisers claim they have sold over 33 million advance tickets, but so far the predicted crowds have failed to materialise, and officials privately admit they are desperate to attract more people.

Almost 1.56 million people have visited the expo during its first 10 days - 40 per cent of what had been expected. The fair needs to maintain a daily average of 380,000 over its six-month run to hit the target of 70 million visitors. The latest move to ease access to tickets to the expo - the largest and most expensive in history - is just the latest sign that organisers are worried about reaching that target.

A month ahead of the May 1 opening, the city government unexpectedly announced that it would give away one free ticket to every household in the city - over seven million in total, or one-tenth of the target. However, there are signs that the fair is too expensive for most mainlanders. Full-price expo tickets cost 160 yuan (HK$180) on off-peak days and 200 yuan during peak holidays. Even in relatively affluent Shanghai that is a significant outlay for most families. Average per capita disposable income in the city was just over 2,200 yuan per month in 2008, the latest figures available. A government official close to the expo organisation admitted that organisers seemed to have overestimated how much ordinary residents would be willing to pay to see the expo. "It seems that the ticket price is too expensive for a lot of people," he said. "Many people have suggested we could reduce the price, but that isn't possible." The Shanghai expo bureau did not have control over ticket prices, as they had been laid down in formal agreements with the Bureau of International Expositions, the expo's governing body, he said, and "they can only be changed with the BIE's permission".

The official said the city government was actively seeking ways to make the expo more attractive to visitors, including increasing the amount of shade and considering hiring performers to entertain visitors in hours-long queues for the most popular pavilions. "The expo certainly doesn't have the same draw as the Olympics," he said. "We know that much already." Shanghai has spent 18 billion yuan building the park, and has set aside a further 10.6 billion yuan for its operational costs. The city has spent several hundred billion yuan more upgrading its transport infrastructure in the eight years running up to the mega event. The vast park contains pavilions from 189 countries and 52 international organisations, the highest number at any expo during the event's 159-year history. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Slippery slope (SCMP)
2010-05-11
Taiwan's execution of four of its 44 death row prisoners on April 30 seems insignificant compared to the many thousands executed in mainland China each year. Yet it attracted international attention, especially from Europe, because it ended a de facto moratorium that had been in place since December 2005 and punctured the hope of many reformers that Taiwan's moratorium would encourage other Asian nations that retain the death penalty to follow a gradual path towards its abolition. Informed observers, at home and abroad, are also upset by the unnecessary procedural confusion that undermined the executions' legitimacy. The ensuing controversy, however, may lead to important improvements in handling such cases. Since Taiwan seems destined to retain capital punishment in practice as well as principle for the immediate future, and since the mainland is seeking to revise its own death penalty review procedures, these improvements can have great significance for how those governments and others deal with the greatest human right of all - the right to life.

The four sudden, secret executions were triggered by the forced resignation in March of minister of justice Wang Ching-feng, following her dramatic announcement that she would never sign any execution warrants. Immediately afterwards, a prominent civic group, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, applied on behalf of all death row prisoners for a constitutional review by the Council of Grand Justices, Taiwan's constitutional court. Since some prisoners had yet to sign the power of attorney required for the application, the council asked the lawyers to submit the missing ones before May 3.

Among the four executed, two eventually refused to authorise the application. But another's power of attorney reached the alliance on April 28. The alliance prepared to submit it before the May 3 deadline after ascertaining the fourth prisoner's intention. Prison officials, however, denied the alliance a meeting on the grounds that the prisoner had violated some unspecified rule, and it is unclear whether he had also been denied communication by mail. The surprise executions on April 30, which were reportedly decided upon two days earlier and not announced in advance, not even to the families, cut off the two prisoners' right to file for final review and postpone, if not avoid, their deaths. The government claimed the executions were legal, but the process raised serious issues. Under its regulations, as it recently confirmed, the Ministry of Justice must stay the execution of any prisoner who has applied for constitutional review. Yet the ministry ignored the council's filing deadline, depriving the two prisoners of at least a stay of execution.

Was the ministry not aware of this deadline? Or was it racing to execute all four, who had been convicted of the most heinous crimes, before any of them could stay execution? Did the ministry ask the prisoners or their lawyers if they had applied for the review? Could the fourth prisoner's violation of prison rules justify denying him a meeting to discuss his life-or-death application? And why, above all, were the executions carried out secretly? The ministry should answer these questions. If not, the Control Yuan should investigate.

Whatever the outcome, certain reforms already seem needed. First, the Ministry of Justice should be required to give adequate public notice of its intent to carry out any execution. Had it done so in these cases, there would have been time to overcome confusion and unfairness. The government claims that it broke the moratorium because of its obligation to implement the will of the majority in accordance with democratic principles. Yet meaningful democracy depends on transparency, not furtive acts.

Second, the ministry should be required to confirm in writing from the condemned, his lawyers and the Council of Grand Justices that no request for review has been made or is about to be filed. Moreover, legislation, not merely regulation, should provide that a pending request automatically stays execution.

Third, no condemned person - for any reason - should be denied the right to promptly meet his lawyer and also communicate in writing, and every condemned should have the right to a government-compensated lawyer at both the Supreme Court and the council.

Fourth, as some government officials have recognised, to ensure the death penalty is used with great caution, a death sentence should require the unanimous decision of the participating judges, and Supreme Court review should always involve oral argument by defence counsel.

Finally, since Taiwan has incorporated into its domestic law the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that prisoners be given a right to seek a pardon or commutation of their sentence, the Law on Pardon should be revised to establish a specific procedure for reviewing the pardon and commutation issues of death row inmates.

These proposals should be acceptable to the government, the legislature and the courts. After the executions, President Ma Ying-jeou, Premier Wu Den-yih and new Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu all reaffirmed the importance of procedural protections in capital cases, and the Presidential Office stated that "respect for legal procedures is one of the nation's basic principles".

These reforms will further strengthen the legal institutions and procedural protections that every fair system requires. They should also provide stimulating reference materials for mainland China's ongoing efforts to make similar progress. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang's dovish leader shows his claws (SCMP)
2010-05-11
Xinjiang's new party secretary has stressed the need to safeguard regional stability and fight separatism in hardline remarks that contrast with his image as an open-minded moderate. Zhang Chunxian has held a series of meetings with representatives from the Xinjiang Regional Military Area, Regional Armed Police Force, the Production and Construction Corps and the regional Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since being named the restive region's Communist Party secretary late last month. The Xinjiang Daily reported that during meetings with military officers on Thursday and Saturday, Zhang called on those present to keep clear heads and take their jobs seriously, stressing that "the battle against separatist forces in Xinjiang is severe, complex and intense, while the basis for maintaining stability remains fragile". Zhang told the military personnel that stability was an overriding priority and safeguarding it was their most important duty, the report said. "Please make an all-out effort in preventing and combatting various separatist and sabotage activities, particularly those in relation to the `three forces' of terrorism, separatism and extremism," he said.

The media-savvy Zhang was one of the most popular regional leaders on the mainland when party secretary of Hunan, before being sent to Xinjiang to replace the hardline Wang Lequan. The reshuffle was generally regarded as a sign of a possible subtle change in Beijing's rule over the Uygur-dominated region. In contrast, Wang was widely considered one of the most unpopular regional party heads, long accused of pursuing iron-fisted policies that were blamed by some for triggering the bloody clashes between Han Chinese and Uygurs in July that left nearly 200 dead and thousands injured.

Political observers said Zhang's remarks showed that he was attempting to win favour with the regional military forces first and that maintaining political stability in Xinjiang remained Beijing's top priority. "This kind of rhetoric shows the basic political line and analysis towards the Uygur-dominated region has hardly changed," said Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong, "though Zhang may put things, such as the implementation of certain policies, in a more skilful, softer and moderate way". "After all, such principal policies are concerned with the country's stability and profound national interests which are something not decided solely by Zhang, nor even his predecessor." Cheng also said that the audiences Zhang chose to address with his hardline remarks were also significant, saying: "As a newcomer who took over the reign of the restive area, Zhang had to keep up the morale of the local military force and show his respect."

Cheng's viewpoint was echoed by another Hong Kong-based political commentator, Johnny Lau Yui-siu. "In an attempt to maintain the internal morale of an instrument of the dictatorship, there's no doubt that the newcomer Zhang would pay visits to the military forces." He predicted that Zhang would soon paint himself a more moderate and open-minded image, going to see local Uygurs and delivering some more flexible remarks on ethnic policy to fulfil domestic and overseas expectations. "But should there be an eruption of more, similar ethnic Hunrest in Xinjiang, I'm 100 per cent sure that Zhang would stick to the central government policy and carry out its suppression ordered against protesters without the least hesitation," Lau said. "It's just like Hu Jintao, who cracked down on the violence in Tibet when he was the party chief of the region and was nothing more than an executor of the will of then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.". ^ top ^

 

Economy

Even the tea leaves some questions unanswered (SCMP)
2010-05-13
When will Beijing loose its iron grip on the value of the yuan and allow its appreciation to resume? No one has a definitive answer to that question. But, until quite recently, the signs in the tea leaves suggested a resumption of appreciation was imminent and that a first move might even be on the agenda for this month or next. Why so confident? Three factors seemed to suggest Beijing was gearing up for a policy shift.

First, China's exports are moving back onto an even keel. The factories of the Pearl and Yangtze river deltas are shifting up to full capacity, and exports for March and April have returned to pre-crisis levels.

Second, inflation has returned to the mainland's economy. Increases in consumer prices might be contained but prices at the factory gate are way up, and one of the main reasons is higher costs for imported crude oil and iron ore. The appreciation of the yuan would help keep a lid on imported price rises.

Third, China's trade partners are ratcheting up the pressure. A meeting of the US-China strategic and economic dialogue at the end of this month and a G20 summit at the end of next month will increase the volume of calls for appreciation. Beijing faces its own domestic pressures and nationalist sentiment might make it difficult to kowtow to the United States. But with the European Union and other emerging market economies like Brazil and India also calling for appreciation, China's leaders might find themselves with few friends and many enemies round the G20 table. The signs in the trade, inflation and political tea leaves seemed to point towards an imminent resumption of appreciation. But a vanishing trade surplus in March and April and the European sovereign debt crisis have thrown the tea leaves into a new configuration.

Central to the case for China's trade partners is the idea that the appreciation of the yuan will help bring China's trade account, and so also the world economy, back into balance. An undervalued yuan, the argument goes, gives China's exporters an unfair advantage and cripples the competitiveness of exporters in the EU and US. The result is bumper trade surpluses in China and corresponding deficits elsewhere in the world. But a deficit in China's trade account in March and a tiny surplus in April have called this argument into question. If China's trade account is moving back into balance at the current exchange rate, what is the urgency in resuming the yuan's stalled appreciation?

The European sovereign debt crisis has also changed the calculation. For China's leaders, the Greek drama signals that the international outlook remains uncertain. If the path to recovery is rockier than was previously thought or, even worse, might lead off another cliff, that is bad news for China's exporters. The EU seems to have moved decisively, if belatedly, to restore confidence and stability. But with the outlook uncertain, China's leaders are hardly likely to kick away the main support for the most important sector of the economy.

The Greek crisis also affects the way the European side views the exchange rate. A silver lining to the Greek cloud has been a fall in the value of the euro against the yuan - strengthening the competitiveness of European exporters. With plenty to worry about at home and the exchange rate moving in their favour in any case, Brussels is likely to dial down the volume of complaints on China's exchange rate regime. All this changes the calculation on China's exchange rate regime. The signs in the tea leaves are no longer as clear as they were. If the Greek drama develops into a European tragedy, or China's trade account stays close to balance this month, it might even be time to brew a fresh pot. ^ top ^

State Council opens previously closed sectors to private investment (Global Times)
2010-05-14
The State Council Tuesday issued guidelines permitting private investment in sectors previously open only to State-owned enterprises, including transport, telecommunications and energy, public utilities and scientific and technological programs for national defense. The State Council announced similar measures during its executive meeting in March, but they were only officially issued Tuesday. "The Guidance is significant and came in time as there is really nowhere currently for private investment to go," said Cai Hua, secretary-general of the Zhejiang Zheshang Capital Investment Promotion Association, which represents local entrepreneurs. Cai was referring to the recent tightening measures to constrain continued investment in the housing market, the plunging stock market, and negative deposits eroded by inflation. But Cai said what is more important than the right to participate in a sector is the right for private companies to run their own businesses in previously closed sectors. Construction of power stations, highways and water transportation infrastructure, ports and piers can be with exclusive private investment. However, only partial investment in cooperation with SOEs is allowed in sectors such as oil and natural gas development and telecommunications, according to the State Council's measures. ^ top ^

Chinese premier warns of complications of financial crisis (Global Times)
2010-05-14
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday that the complication of the global financial crisis with deepening sovereign debt crisis in some nations should not be underestimated. Wen made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the fourth Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum held in the north Chinese port city of Tianjin. "We should never underestimate the seriousness and complication of the financial crisis and its deep impact on international politics and the economy," Wen said. The global economy was slowly recovering, but its foundation was not solid, he said. Wen blamed the fragile recovery on deepening sovereign debt crises in some countries, high unemployment rates in major economies, high commodities prices and rising trade protectionism.

The international governing system required deep reforms and the global economic structure needed deep transformation, he said. Wen said reforms of international economic and financial systems should be pushed forward and the establishment of a new just and reasonable international economic and financial order should be accelerated. "(We) should improve the decision-making processes and mechanisms at international financial institutions and boost cooperation in international financial supervision," he said.

While calling for opposition to all forms of protectionism, support for free trade, Wen said:"it is imperative to advance the Doha Round talks of the World Trade Organization toward achieving reasonable and balanced results as soon as possible." He urged major economies to transform the economic growth pattern of low savings and high consumption and to strengthen financial supervision to curb excessive speculation. China would unswervingly carry out its mutually beneficial opening strategy and unveil more measures to facilitate trade and investment, he said. ^ top ^

Riding the dragon (SCMP)
2010-05-10
Powerful interest groups have paralysed China's macro policy, with ominous long-term consequences. Local governments consider high land prices their lifeline. State-owned enterprises don't want interest rates to rise. Exporters are vehemently against currency appreciation. China's macro policies have been reduced to psychotherapy, relying on sound bites and small technical moves to scare speculators. In the meantime, inflation continues to pick up momentum. Unless the central government bites the bullet and makes choices, the economy might experience a disruptive adjustment in the foreseeable future.

The first key point is that local governments have become dependent on the property sector for revenue as profits from manufacturing decline and spending needs rise. Attracting industry has been the main means of economic development and fiscal revenue for two decades. Coastal provinces grew rich by nurturing export-oriented industries. But those economics have changed in the past five years. Rising costs have sharply curtailed manufacturers' profits, and most local governments now offer subsidies to attract industries. The real revenue game has shifted to property.

Second, preferential lending treatment for state-owned enterprises has led to their rapid expansion. Most debt on the mainland is owed by state-owned enterprises. The debts of households and property developers are really payments to government. Keeping interest rates exceptionally low has become a national policy for protecting the state sector. Other considerations, such as inflation, have been suppressed.

Third, China's exporters are suffering from rising costs and weak global demand. They are vehemently opposed to currency appreciation. The new labour law, rising tax rates and tougher environmental standards are their other grievances. They still represent half of China's manufacturing sector, and are in a position to influence government policy.

China's current policy mix is another form of subsidy to the supply side. Low wages and resource prices were the subsidies before. Now, resource prices are high and wages are rising. High land prices and low interest rates have become the pillars for the state sector, alleviating the burden on the export sector. High land prices and low interest rates are really taxes on the household sector. Essentially, Chinese people have made gains on wages but lost big on housing affordability and interest income. This situation shows the state sector is too big, and not efficient enough to survive on market forces alone. The macro dilemma really reflects structural problems.

China's policies have travelled the path of least immediate resistance - monetary expansion and asset inflation. The main purpose behind asset inflation is that the government can tax it. It provides a place for people to chase their get-rich-quick dreams and is popular as long as the market goes up. It also offers insiders who have disproportionate influence to play the game at the expense of little people. It is no coincidence that China's policies have been so pro-asset-inflation in the past few years.

China's asset bubble has probably grown more quickly than any in the past. The stock of residential properties, works in progress and land banks may be worth three times the gross domestic product, or about 100 trillion yuan (HK$113.6 trillion). Their value was negligible seven years ago. The ratio of residential property value to GDP in Beijing and Shanghai is similar to Hong Kong's in 1997. Their rental yields are also similar to Hong Kong's then. In addition, the mainland has created a unique phenomenon of empty flats: I suspect the number is 10-20 million.

When China's bubble bursts, there will be considerable economic damage. But many in China want to keep the bubble where it is - not expanding, not shrinking. Yes, government officials are the best and the brightest in the country. Combined with the nation's size, they have been able to maintain situations that seem unreal from a market perspective. This has cultivated the enormous popular faith that the government can get what it wants. But the longer the market is distorted, the bigger the eventual payback.

The current round of property tightening relies on credit restrictions and pressure. The former aims to keep out repeat flat buyers in favour of first-time buyers. But alas, the price is too high for first-time buyers. Local governments still have money from last year's property sales and can continue to spend. But how will they keep the economy going when their money runs out in a few months? Would the policies be relaxed again? It happened during previous rounds of tightening.

Beijing can still cope with the consequences of the bubble bursting, given its enormous assets. But it may be harder to handle if the bubble continues for two more years. To rein it in, Beijing must raise interest rates quickly. Some worry that raising rates would increase the pressure for currency appreciation, but this is probably not true. The yuan is not undervalued. When the subsidy to manufacturing for asset inflation is removed, it could be equivalent to a 20 per cent appreciation in the exchange rate.

When asset prices revert to normal levels, China needs to get its fiscal house in order to prevent the bubble repeating. First, the government must limit its spending. Local governments' performance is benchmarked for economic performance, so they will always try to maximise revenue. This is tied in with the lack of an urbanisation strategy. Such a strategy should be limited to big cities. In other places, governments should be given social rather than economic mandates.

Second, the tax system should be unified and simplified. Local governments shouldn't have the authority to offer tax concessions, either directly or indirectly. Tax competition among local governments is destructive for the country's revenue base and encourages overcapacity.

Finally, China must fight corruption in a life-or-death struggle. Corruption may cost the economy 10 per cent of GDP. If that were collected in the government's coffers, high property prices would no longer be needed. The net benefit to government from the asset game and low interest rates is about 10 per cent of GDP. If the government wants to have its cake and eat it too, it must fight corruption. ^ top ^

 

H1N1 flu
New flu outbreak (Global Times)
2010-05-11
Some 159 personnel at two Taiwanese military camps have been suspected of having contracted the A(H1N1) flu, local media quoting the Taiwan disease control center reported Monday. At a military camp in Chiayi, 112 soldiers displayed flu symptoms, and 10 of them have tested positive to A (H1N1) flu, the report said. At a military camp in Taichung, of 47 suspected infections, 45 tested positive. On Wednesday, a 15-year-old student who once suffered diabetes died after contracting A(H1N1). It was the first A(H1N1) death in three months. Since the outbreak of the A(H1N1) flu on the island in July 2009, a total of 922 people have been infected and 42 have died. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

What is the reason for Kim Jong Il's China visit? (People's Daily Online)
2010-05-13
According to an article published on Global Times Thursday, DPRK leader Kim Jong Il's recent unofficial four-day visit to China was made public by official media in both China and DPRK. Although the two sides said nothing about the visit previously, international media made special coverage on every detail of Kim's China tour the moment Kim set foot in China.

As a matter of fact, Kim's China tour is not a secret anymore. Wang Jiarui, minister of the International Department of Communist Party of China (CPC) extended invitation on behalf of President Hu Jintao to Kim to visit China at an appropriate date when he visited DPRK in February this year. On one hand, China did not want the visit to be shrouded in mystery. On the other hand, China was ready for Kim's visit and let DPRK to choose the time.

Analysts said it was politically wise for DPRK to set the visit at this time. According to some media reports, Kim left Beijing for home without watching the DPRK opera, which was adapted from the Chinese masterpiece "A Dream of the Red Chamber" with officials from both countries because his visit has met all the goals.

On May 3, the first day of Kim's visit, The 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) kicked off a the U.N. Headquarters in New York. This conference and the Nuclear Security Summit held last month in the U.S. have made the people aware of the threat of nuclear proliferation and security. DPRK, the only one country that signed but later withdrew from the treaty, didn't care much about the global opposition of its nuclear tests in densely populated areas. The world can not tolerate a nuclear-armed DPRK and the country is to face international sanctions and moral pressure. It is like a well-played card that leader of DPRK kicked off his secret China visit in this kind of situation and kept the world in suspense. The country has already won one point even before Kim's visit.

On March 26, a South Korean naval vessel with 104 crew members onboard sank into waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsular, killing 46. South Korea invited many countries to take part in the investigation but no official results have been released yet. However, for South Korea, DPRK was implicated in the case, adding more uncertainties between the two Koreas. South Korea chose to refer the incident to the United Nations once it published the results and the evidence. In this way, the position of China, one of the permanent members of U.N. Security Council, will matter a great deal. One of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak's goals during his trip to China on April 30 was to discuss the sunken ship. Kim's visit to China, which closely followed Lee's, irritated many South Koreans. In their view, China stood with DPRK and was in a standoff with the South. Although China repeatedly made it clear that Kim's visit had nothing to do with the sunken vessel, the China-South Korea riff has given DPRK another point and made the vessel incident more mysterious.

The U.N. Security Council passed the Resolution 1874 imposing political and economic sanctions on DPRK in response to the country's second nuclear test in May last year. The economic sanctions included restriction on arms trade, prevention of capital flow into DPRK for the development of missile and nuclear arms. Political sanctions called for the member states, in addition to implementing their obligations pursuant to Resolution 1718 (2006), to prevent the provision of financial services or persons or financial institutions in their territory that could contribute to DPRK's nuclear-related activities. DPRK never stopped calling for the end of the sanctions and Kim's visit to China with many key figures this time, beyond doubt, was part of the endeavor.

DPRK is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Humanitarian aid to the country has become harder and harder following its repeated nuclear tests. Food and chemical fertilizers are something badly needed in DPRK, considering the food shortages in spring days. It is Kim's main purpose to seek food and capital aid from China, and to push forward economic cooperation in large projects. And, he made it. ^ top ^

N Korean refugees sold, and resold, as wives in China (SCMP)
2010-05-14
Young female refugees from North Korea are increasingly becoming a commodity in China, where they are sold to farmers for up to US$1,500 a head, a Seoul campaigner says. The human trafficking is far from new but has become more prevalent as prices soar amid a shortage of Chinese women in the countryside, the Reverend Chun Ki-Won, head of the Durihana Association, which offers aid to refugees, said. Chun, who has helped more than 900 North Koreans escape from China, said women are forced to live "like animals" because of Beijing's policy of repatriating the refugees as economic migrants. If the women were not in danger of being sent back, "they would not have to live such an inhumane life as this" in China, he said. Women make up about 80 per cent of the tens of thousands of North Koreans hiding in China, Chun said. More than 90 per cent fall victim to human trafficking.

Chinese brokers bribe the North's border guards between 500 yuan (HK$570) and 1,000 yuan to let each woman through, he said. One of two fates awaits the women who make it through: marriage to a farmer, often elderly or disabled, or taking their clothes off for internet sex shows. About 20-30 per cent are destined for marriage and sold to another broker for about 2,000 yuan. They are then resold to farmers, normally for 5,000-10,000 yuan. If the customer does not like his wife, he can resell her and add about 2,000 yuan to the original price. Some women are sold seven or eight times, Chun said.

Women destined to appear on internet sex shows are promised a job at a "computer company". The reality is confinement in a tiny room with a webcam so they can engage in a "body chat" with clients worldwide. They earn up to 2,000 yuan per month, but most of this is confiscated to repay the cost of smuggling them. "When South Korean [online] clients get in touch with these women, [some] become friends and help the women find organisations that would rescue them," Chun said.

Children fathered by Chinese men and North Korean women are the biggest problem, he said. "The Chinese government does not recognise children whose mother is not registered. If the mother runs away or is taken back to North Korea, the children are left with nothing - no nationality, no parents and no identity." The children can be officially registered if the father pays a fine, but most cannot afford this. ^ top ^

Top leaders of China, DPRK hold talks in Beijing (Xinhua)
2010-05-07

Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, held talks in Beijing with Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Kim paid an unofficial visit to China from May 3 to 7 as Hu's guest. (…)

Wu Bangguo, member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and Wen Jiabao, member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese premier, met with Kim respectively.

Other members of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, respectively accompanied Kim for the visiting tour. (…)

Hu said China always handles, maintains and pushes forward the relations with the DPRK in a strategic and long-term perspective, and will make joint efforts with the DPRK to upgrade the relationship to benefit the two peoples and to contribute to lasting regional peace and common prosperity. Hu said boosting Sino-DPRK cooperation helps the two countries promote their own socialist construction, and safeguard and develop the common interests as well as regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Hu put forward five proposals to strengthen ties with the DPRK:

--To maintain high-level contacts. The leaders of the two countries should keep in touch by exchanging visits, as well as sending special envoys and messages.
--To reinforce strategic coordination. The two sides should exchange views in a timely manner and regularly on major domestic and diplomatic issues, international and regional situation, as well as on governance experience.
--To deepen economic and trade cooperation. The relevant departments of the two governments should discuss and explore ways on expanding economic and trade cooperation.
--To increase personnel exchanges. The two sides should expand exchanges in the cultural, sports, and educational fields, and the contacts between the youth in particular to inherit the traditional friendship from generation to generation.
--To strengthen coordination in international and regional affairs to better serve regional peace and stability.

Kim said he fully agrees with Hu's proposals on pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

The traditional DPRK-China friendship, established and cultivated by leaders of old generations of the two states, has stood tests of the times, and will not change due to the change of time and alteration of generations, Kim said. (…)

With the principle of mutual benefit and win-win, the DPRK welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in the country and will actively lift the level and quality of bilateral pragmatic cooperation, Kim said.

The DPRK Party and government always view and handle relations with China from a strategic and long-term point of view, and are determined to inherit and pass on the DPRK-China relations, which have seen continuous consolidation and development, he said. (…)

Hu spoke highly of DPRK's active measures which have been taken to maintain stability, boost economy and improve people's living conditions. He also expressed his wishes for the DPRK to achieve greater goals in the nation's development under the leadership of the WPK, headed by Kim. (…)

Kim invited Hu to visit DPRK at his convenience. Hu appreciated and accepted the invitation.

Hu also accompanied Kim in a visit to a bio-company in Beijing. During the visit, Kim said he got new understandings of China's development and progress in relevant fields, especially in harmonious development and innovation, compared with the last visit to China four years ago.

The DPRK people are proud of China's achievements in its national development, he said.

During the China tour, Kim also visited some economic development zones, bonded ports, and several food-processing, hi-tech and machinery companies in the cities of Dalian, Tianjin, Beijing and Shenyang.

In Dalian, a booming coastal city in northeast China, Kim instructed DPRK officials in his delegation to study the experience of China's renovation of its old industrial base.

In Tianjin, Kim spoke highly of the development of a bonded port in the economic hub in north China.

Kim's entourage included Kim Yong Chun, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, and senior officials with the DPRK's foreign ministry, the WPK Central Committee and the DRPK cabinet. ^ top ^

Kim visits China, says DPRK committed to denuclearization (Xinhua)
2010-05-07

Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Il paid an unofficial visit to China from May 3 to 7, pledging his country is committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK remains unchanged in sticking to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Kim, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, told Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The two leaders agreed that the peace, stability, prosperity on the Peninsula is in line with the common interests of China, the DPRK and the Northeast Asian countries, and the two sides will make joint efforts for denuclearization on the Peninsula in accordance with the joint statement the six parties involved in the nuclear talks released on Sept. 19, 2005.

The six parties, namely China, the United States, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia, should demonstrate sincerity and make positive efforts for pushing forward the talks, said the two leaders.

Kim, also chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, said the DPRK will work with China to create favorable conditions for restarting the six-party talks, which was launched in 2003 but hit a snag in April 2009 when Pyongyang pulled out of the talks in protest of the UN condemnation of its missile tests. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President names his advisor as Prosecutor General (News.mn)
2010-05-13
President Ts.Elbegdorj has nominated Mr. D. Dorligjav, currently head of the President's Office and Senior Advisor to the President, to take over as State Prosecutor General.

After returning from Russia President Ts.Elbegdorj on Monday accepted the resignation of M.Altankhuyag as Prosecutor General and asked his present Deputy, B.Tserenbaltav, to take charge until a new appointment is made.

On May 6, State Prosecutor General M.Altankhuyag submitted his letter of resignation on health reasons. This was not unexpected as the reputation of Mongolian law enforcing organizations suffered in the aftermath of the July 1 incidents and ever since he assumed office, President Elbegdorj has been nudging Altankhuyag to go. He made the suggestion in his speech at the opening of the Spring session of Parliament also. Altankhuyag has one year left of his six-year term. The Prosecutor General is appointed by the President and takes office after Parliament's approval. ^ top ^

S. Bayartsogt warns of inflation, signals interest rate hike (UB Post)
2010-05-10
On Monday, Bank of Mongolia (central bank) increased its 10 percent policy interest rate up to 11 percent after the country's policy makers admitted the inflation has soared into double-digits thanks to the government's recent social transfers.

At the press conference, the country's top bankers grounded inflation rate as the main reason which saw an increase by 11 percent compared to last month. Minister of Finance S.Bayartsogt said at the Parliament hearing that the government's cash give-away program of MNT70,000 to each eligible citizens from its sovereign wealth fund “Human Development Fund” and decision to increase salary and pension by 30 percent effective from October have caused inflation hike.

Top bankers feared that the inflation may reach same level of last year's 34 percent.

Last year, the central bank has cut policy rate down to 10 percent after implementing tight monetary policy. ^ top ^

Nuclear-weapon free status of Mongolia supported (Montsame)
2010-05-12
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, /MONTSAME/ An international conference themed "Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone and Mongolia" has been held in the UN Headquarters, New York City, USA.

Countries at the conference concluded last 5-year activities regarding the nuclear weapon free status and expressed their willingness to strengthen their further collaboration and to expand area of the nuclear weapon-free zone. Final document issued from the conference have supported the policy of Mongolia that aims to having its nuclear weapon free status get a international law basis. The conference's participants underlined that they appreciated Mongolia's talks with Russia and China on establishing related legal documents.

An observer from the USA who attended the general discussion said the USA have a willingness to continue a cooperation with Mongolia in strengthening its status through special talks. ^ top ^

S. Bayar and D. Zorigt called to opening hearing (News.mn)
2010-05-10
Former Prime Minister S.Bayar, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy D.Zorigt, Chairman of the State Property Committee B.Sugar, Chairman of the Mineral Authority B.Erdenebileg, Director of MIAT R.Bat-Erdene, and Bayangol district Governor L.Amgalan are among those who have been sent notice by the Standing Committee on Justice to attend a public hearing on May 12. Other important officials to have been sent the notice include S.Tsetsegee, chairman of the Customs Authority of Ulaanbaatar, and B.Hurts, recently appointed head of administration at the National Security Council.

While most of them will be asked to reply to allegations that they submitted false declarations of their income and assets or did not submit any declaration at all, in breach of law, Sugar and Zorigt will be questioned on why they took no action against Bat-Erdene and Erdenebileg respectively for such violation. The committee has collected the names from the Independent Authority against Corruption (IAAC). The penalty for incorrect declaration by a public official is dismissal from service.

It is not clear why the committee has summoned S.Bayar. In any case, he is abroad for medical treatment, and Ch.Khurelbaatar, head of the Government Office, will represent him. Bayar's declaration showed his income increased 20 times in just a year.

This will be the second open parliamentary hearing. The previous one in December last year, held by the Human Rights Committee, was on the July 1 incidents. Another hearing scheduled for April 21 on use of firearms during that day's events was put off by the Speaker after the Prosecutors' Office said it would not be able to testify. ^ top ^

 

Corentin Buela
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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