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
  31.5-4.6.10, No. 322  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Wen advances ties with Myanmar (SCMP)
2010-06-04
[…] Wen said he and Myanmese Prime Minister Thein Sein "reached a broad understanding on protecting the peace and stability of the border regions" and signed agreements that "signified another step forward in bilateral relations". "We are willing to deepen our friendship with Myanmar and expand co-operation, always acting as a good neighbour, good friend and good partner," Wen told Myanmar's prime minister. China is one of the few countries that keeps close ties with the Southeast Asian nation once called Burma, ruled by a military junta largely shunned by the West. But relations have been frayed by unrest along Myanmar's borderlands with China. Many of the hilly, remote areas on Myanmar's side of the border are run by armed groups drawn from a patchwork of ethnic minorities resistant to direct rule by the government. Some are narco-states producing and selling drugs into China. Myanmar's military overran one last year, sending about 37,000 refugees streaming into China. The agreements signed in the two leaders' presence included ones on a natural gas pipeline, a hydro project, trade and finance, Xinhua reported. China also offered more aid, the news agency said, without giving details. The deals were signed while Wen was in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, where he also met Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, the military-led body that controls the country. The two countries should strive to ensure that major energy and transport projects China had under way in Myanmar were completed on time, Wen said. ^ top ^

US-India talks could put more pressure on China (People's Daily Online)
2010-06-03
Washington is hosting the first-ever strategic dialogue between the United States and India in hopes of forging stronger ties, a move observers say may put more pressure on China. It is expected that cooperation on counter-terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, India's role in Afghanistan, South Asian relations, science and technology will be discussed during the meeting. "(The dialogue) elevates India to the rank of our most important global partners, allowing us to discuss and coordinate policies of global importance, including on the future shape of the international economic system and on what we can do together to promote human development in other parts of the world," William Burns, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, said on Tuesday as the dialogue began. The current US administration "has been, and will remain, deeply committed to supporting India's rise and to building the strongest possible partnership between us," Burns said. As the first of its kind, the dialogue is thought to be laying the foundation for US President Barack Obama's visit to India later this year, while international observers fear hopes for the talk may be too high as the two nations still haven't formed a close bond yet. […] India, as a major power in Asia, has long placed its relationship with the US at its heart especially in regards to its rising regional influence, said Hu Shisheng, a scholar of South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Hu said New Dehli hopes to see more dedication to practical fields such as nuclear cooperation and technology transfer, while Washington wants its partner to further open its market and show continual support on the Iranian nuclear issue. "But the dialogue will be more ceremonious than effective. The US has already held many such dialogues with China and Pakistan, and now India needs to verify its importance to the US through the same channel," Hu said. […] The dialogue with India is an opportunity to strengthen ties with nations that share common security interests, including "concern over China's rising influence". "The US may hope to get from India what it failed to get from China, and through a strengthened cooperation with another Asian giant, pressure China more on many issues," Hu said. ^ top ^

Beijing calls on Tehran to cooperate more with IAEA (Global Times)
2010-06-02
China called on Iran Tuesday to improve its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after the agency said in a report that Tehran was pressing ahead with its atomic program. "We hope Iran will further step up cooperation with the IAEA and resolve the pending issues at an early date," Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters, adding that Beijing "appreciated" the efforts of the nuclear watchdog. The IAEA said in a restricted report obtained by AFP that it remained concerned about the true nature of Tehran's nuclear activities, which Iran insists are peaceful. The report said Iran was producing higher-enriched uranium and noted indications of "past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities" including some linked to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. "We hope relevant parties can seize the opportunities, step up diplomatic efforts and seek an early resumption of dialogue and negotiations," Ma said, reiterating China's usual call for further talks to resolve the standoff. Michael Hammer, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said the IAEA report showed Iran's "continued failure to comply with its international obligations and its sustained lack of cooperation." The IAEA report "underscores that Iran has refused to take any of the steps required of it ... which are necessary to enable constructive negotiations on the future of its nuclear program," Hammer added. ^ top ^

Beijing, Tokyo agree to establish hotline to ease maritime friction (SCMP)
2010-06-01
China and Japan agreed yesterday to set up an emergency hotline and set in place ways to prevent maritime friction sparked by Beijing's growing naval reach from getting out of hand. […] At Monday's summit, wartime historical disputes did not come up. The two leaders agreed on steps aimed at easing military tensions that have continued to keep a cool distance between the two Asian neighbours. They agreed to resume talks on jointly exploring disputed gas fields in seas between them. The summit, however, brought small steps, not big breakthroughs. The hotline between Beijing and Tokyo would allow leaders to discuss quickly what Wen called "important issues" between the two nations, a Japanese government official said. Wen later told business executives the huge economic flows between the nations, with bilateral trade worth US$238.7 billion last year, would cement closer ties. […] China's increasing naval activities in seas near Japan have made Tokyo nervous. "We are concerned about your recent activities. I hope they won't happen again," the Japanese official quoted Hatoyama as telling Wen. Wen did not respond directly to Tokyo's concerns but, the two leaders also agreed to set up a crisis management mechanism for maritime incidents, the official said. […] The two nations have also argued over China's exploration for natural gas in the East China Sea, in areas Japan says could impinge on gas fields in its maritime jurisdiction. In June 2008, they struck a broad agreement intended to solve the row by jointly developing the fields. Informal talks have recently started, but progress has been slow. Wen and Hatoyama agreed to start formal negotiations on the issue as soon as possible. […]. ^ top ^

China urges "quick" Security Council response to Israeli attack on aid convoy (Global Times)
2010-06-01
China on Monday called on the UN Security Council to quickly respond to and take actions on Israel's deadly attack against a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza. "China is shocked by Israel's attack on a multinational convoy carrying international aid to Gaza which resulted in heavy casualties," said Yang Tao, a counsellor of the Chinese permanent mission to the United Nations, at the 15-nation council's emergency meeting. "We condemn Israel's actions targeting humanitarian workers and civilians," he said. "We support a quick response by the Security Council and take necessary actions." […] "We urge Israel immediately and fully implement Security Council resolution 1860, fully open border crossings, lift blockade on the Gaza Strip so as to allow unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and allow local people to achieve early recovery and restore a normal life," he added. The council was currently meeting behind closed doors to discuss the text of a draft presidential statement submitted by Turkey. ^ top ^

China, Japan, South Korea issue document on 10-year cooperation (Global Times)
2010-05-30
[…] Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who are meeting in South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju for an annual trilateral summit, […] agreed that after making clear the detailed objectives and long-term goals within the next decade, all sides need to concentrate efforts on boosting trilateral cooperation to a new height, so as to further consolidate partnership, achieve more in mutually beneficial cooperation in all aspects and enhance friendship between the peoples of the three countries. The three leaders agreed to set up a more cooperative mechanism to increase strategic mutual trust, which involves setting up a trilateral cooperation secretariat in South Korea in 2011 to jointly tackle natural disasters, discuss the possibility of a mechanism of trilateral defense dialogue to enhance security contacts, strengthen political dialogue and cooperation in police affairs, and boost government exchanges at local levels among the three nations. On developing sustainable economic cooperation and common prosperity, the leaders pledged efforts to finish by 2012 a joint feasibility study of trilateral free trade agreement, which was launched in May 2010, and to expand trade volume ahead of 2020 for the benefit of regional economic growth and integration. […] "An open, fair and liberalized multilateral trade system is not only conducive to China, Japan and South Korea, but also important for the world. We must oppose protectionism of any form to safeguard and consolidate the system," said the document. On cooperation in environmental protection, the leaders said the three countries should jointly push for achievements at the climate change summit to be held in Mexico this year, including an effective international cooperation framework in this regard after 2012, under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. On regional peace and stability, the three leaders said the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula is very much conducive to lasting peace, security and economic prosperity in Northeast Asia. "Therefore, we will make efforts to achieve the goals set in the Sept. 19 joint statement in 2005 through the Six-Party talks," the document said. […]. ^ top ^

Reception held to mark 60th anniversary of China-India ties (Global Times)
2010-05-29
Visiting Indian President Pratibha Patil and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping Friday in Beijing attended a reception to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties. […] He [Vice President Xi Jinping] called on both sides to further increase understanding and trust, enhance strategic cooperation and promote sustainable development of bilateral ties. […] Patil said India-China relationship was a time-tested friendship based on frequent cultural and religious exchange between the two countries over the past centuries. […] "Our common interests and shared concerns provide the basis for working together," she said, vowing to further boost India-China cooperation and facilitate greater growth of bilateral relations. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Beijing must face up to Tiananmen tragedy (SCMP)
2010-06-04
Today, we mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. More than two decades have passed since People's Liberation Army troops crushed China's biggest peaceful protest, causing a terrible loss of life. But memories of this dark day in the nation's history have not faded. The tragic events of June 4, 1989, continue to influence perceptions of China around the world. […] Relatives of those who died continue to mourn their loved ones, clinging to the hope that one day, the truth will be told and justice done. The wounds will begin to heal and reconciliation be possible only if the central government faces up to the tragedy and deals with its legacy. It should, at the very least, recognise that those involved in the pro-democracy movement were not counter-revolutionaries determined to plunge China into turmoil. […] They were peacefully exercising their right of free expression, not threatening the nation. Sadly, such a step seems almost as unlikely now as it did at the time. […] It has been argued that crushing the demonstrations was justified in order to pave the way for China's stable development and economic growth. […] There is a need for China to move on from the Tiananmen tragedy. But this will not be possible until it faces up to what happened in 1989. Beijing cannot expect to wait out an entire generation who remember the crackdown, nor should it attempt to do so. The longer that discussion of these events on the mainland is suppressed, the harder it will be to come to terms with the truth. The sense of injustice felt by the families of the victims will only grow as time passes, making reconciliation more difficult to achieve. The crackdown will not be forgotten. Beijing should have the courage to deal with it openly, fairly and compassionately, so that June 4 no longer casts such a shadow over China's achievements. ^ top ^

Honda strike marks a critical turning point (SCMP)
2010-06-04
[…] Within a week the workers - nearly 1,900 of them, many in their teens and early 20s - had forced assembly lines across Honda's four mainland factories to a standstill in the biggest and most effective strike witnessed against a multinational in China. "The Honda strike may point the way to what is to come in the future," said Lee Chang-hee, a Beijing-based senior specialist on industrial relations at the International Labour Organisation (ILO). "The labour market in China is going through a critical turning point - from unlimited to limited supply of labour and from first- to second-generation migrant workers, the post-80s generation. "This is the point when workers begin to take collective action to improve their wages and other working conditions, while previously they protested only when their legal rights were violated. It happened in the United States, Japan and Korea at a similar stage." […] From the viewpoint of a foreign investor or importer, the mainland offered a cheap and seemingly endless labour pool presided over by an authoritarian but investment-hungry government: it was a foregone conclusion that the workers in the world's workshop wouldn't down tools […] Pure strikes - as opposed to protests against labour law violations - have remained scarce. […] But as the Honda strike shows, this dynamic appears to be shifting. "This [stike] is different because it doesn't seem that any law has been violated. The workers are fighting for better wages and a better wage structure and it looks like they are well organised and know what they are doing," said Anita Chan, a mainland labour relations expert at Australian National University's Contemporary China Centre. Co-ordinating via online chat rooms, instant messaging services, mobile phones and word of mouth, the "post-80s" workers at the Honda parts plant pushed an average 800 yuan or 50 per cent pay increase, from about 1,500 yuan per month to 2,300 yuan per month. They also called for democratic elections for the representatives to the local chapter of the official Communist Party-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which has historically been more closely aligned with management than workers. […] "How the Honda strike will be resolved and how workers' demands will be accommodated has huge implications not only for the future of labour relations but also for the future economic development pattern," the ILO's Lee said. […]. ^ top ^

Tiananmen Mothers plead for answers (SCMP)
2010-06-03
Families of those killed in the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, yesterday demanded China end its silence and open a dialogue on the bloodshed. In an annual open letter, 128 members of the Tiananmen Mothers castigated the government for ignoring its calls for openness on the crackdown that occurred on June 3-4, 1989 and vowed never to give up their fight. "The Chinese Communist authorities should have heard our voices, and yet there has been no answer," the letter said, citing repeated requests for dialogue and an inquiry into the massacre. "Can it be that you really want to wear us all down or wait for our deaths so that the problem will naturally disappear?" said the letter, distributed by the New York-based group Human Rights in China. The group issues a similar call each year as the anniversary approaches, but is annually rebuffed by the government which claims the matter has already been laid to rest. […] "We have gradually come to understand from the blood, tears, and suffering that June 4 is not only the misfortune of any single family, but rather it is the misfortune of the entire nation," the letter said. The group demanded the government stop persecuting its members. "You have posted guards in front of the home of each victim's family, followed us closely, watched us, eavesdropped on our phone conversations, interfered with our computer communications, and opened and confiscated our mail," the letter said. "All of this wicked conduct ... leaves one bristling with anger.". ^ top ^

Emergency response plan launched for flood relief in south China (People's Daily Online)
2010-06-03
[…] The China National Committee for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Civil Affairs initiated a level IV emergency response plan and dispatched a working team to help guide relief work in the flood-hit zone. Heavy rains began pounding many places in Guangxi Monday and triggered landslides early Wednesday. The disaster has left 30 dead and 18 missing, according to latest official figures. More than 80,000 local people had been evacuated from their homes as of 7 p.m. Wednesday, said a notice on the ministry website. More than 2.1 million people in Guangxi were affected by the disaster and more than 4,200 homes had been damaged, the notice said. […] Under a level IV plan, the lowest of the four responses, the committee and the ministry should send a working team within 24 hours to the disaster zone and allocate relief materials within 48 hours. […]. ^ top ^

Foxconn staff to get second pay rise (SCMP)
2010-06-03
Production line workers at Foxconn would be given pay rises of at least 30 per cent from Monday, the company told all its mainland workers yesterday. […] Foxconn put out a statement at its Shenzhen plants yesterday, saying that the minimum basic wage for production line workers would rise by 33 per cent, from 900 yuan (HK$1,025) to 1,200 yuan a month. Senior workers and shift supervisors, whose basic salary was already higher than 900 yuan, will receive rises of 30 per cent. Only last week Foxconn had announced pay rises averaging 20 per cent, saying they were due to the improved economy. Factory workers in Shenzhen cheered the new increase, calling it a success in social supervision by internet users and the media. […] "I've been working for Foxconn for five years. Before, I had to work about 70 or 80 hours of overtime per month to earn 2,000 yuan. Now I'll earn more if I keep working hard, or I can think of having one or two days off for fun." A spokesman for Hon Hai Precision Industry, Foxconn's parent company in Taiwan, refused to say why two rises had been awarded within a week but said the idea was to ensure the workers had more spare time to relax and enjoy life. "After the pay rise, our workers can choose to decrease overtime while keeping the same incomes as before," he said. "The pay rise was not related to the extreme reactions of some activists against Foxconn but a show of caring to our workers that we do admit they need more time to relax." But another worker said the pay rises would not solve workers' problem of work overload. "We still need to work overtime frequently," he said. "If we don't, we'll have only the basic salary of about 1,200 yuan per month. It's too little to support our basic expenses, let alone entertainment or sending money home to parents." The spokesman would not say whether Foxconn plans to ask workers to reduce their overtime but insisted the company never broke the mainland's labour law, which prohibits forcing people to work overtime. […]. ^ top ^

Residence permits to replace hukou (SCMP)
2010-06-02
[…] In a document on deepening economic reforms released on Monday, the State Council proposed gradually implementing a system of residence permits nationwide and easing hukou requirements in small and medium cities. […] "To those who currently can't have their hukou transferred to cities, efforts should be made to solve their problems regarding employment, salaries, education of their children and social securities," Vice-Premier Li Keqiang wrote. Adopted in the late 1950s to control population movement, the hukou system has faced increasing criticism as many see it as the root cause of a widening rural-urban wealth gap because it is tied to social benefits, such as housing, education and health care. It has also become an obstacle to domestic spending as the government endeavors to shift from exports to domestic consumption to further economic growth. […] Residence permits are being implemented in 10 cities - Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Dongguan in Guangdong; Shanghai, Cixi and Jiaxing in Zhejiang; Taiyuan in Shanxi; Dalian in Liaoning; and Changchun in Jilin. With such permits, migrants can enjoy the same social security benefits as urban residents. They can apply for hukou after holding the permits for a number of years, and if they meet requirements including having no criminal record, obeying the one-child policy and paying taxes and social insurance on time. Taiyuan has the shortest time limit, five years, and Shenzhen has the longest, 10. ^ top ^

Gunman kills 3 judges then commits suicide (SCMP)
2010-06-02
[…] The attacker, identified as Zhu Jun, 46, was head of the security department of a local postal savings bank. He rushed into the court building and went to an office on the third floor. He killed three senior judges, but only two have been identified - Zhao Hulin and Jiang Qidong . The wounded people included another judge, Huang Lan , and two clerks. The judges were discussing a case in which Zhu was not involved, said a spokesman of the city's Communist Party Propaganda Department. As news of the tragedy spread, gleeful comments about the tragedy on internet forums reflected the corruption of the mainland's judiciary system in the eyes of ordinary people. But authorities moved quickly to block the many posts calling Zhu a hero. Sympathetic posts were minimal. News reports of the killings were blocked or removed from several mainland news websites. Xinhua released reports in the late afternoon yesterday identifying Zhu, saying he had tricked colleagues at the bank into giving him the guns. It also said Zhu had been divorced for three years and lived with his son and parents. […] China News Service speculated that Zhu was angry that the court had once ordered him to pay 20,000 yuan to his former wife in the division of property after their divorce. […] The online reactions to the killings resembled those in the case of Yang Jia in 2008 in Shanghai. As a man ultimately convicted of killing six police officers in an attack on a bureau, Yang made an unlikely choice for a hero. Hundreds of people would flock to the courthouse whenever a hearing was scheduled, some holding signs saying "Long live the hero with a knife."Yang, 28, who was unemployed, was executed on November 26, 2008. […] "We have reached the stage where the public is no longer concerned with details of the case, and just vents their anger based on their experiences and perceptions of the judicial system," said Beijing-based lawyer Xia Lin . "They're just angry in general, and all they need is an outlet." Dr Zhou Ze , of the China Youth University for Political Sciences, said such sentiment should sound an alarm to authorities. "Why would a deed so brutal be applauded by the people?" he said. "This is because the situation of our judicial fairness has already deteriorated to a critical point. There are so many unfair court judgments that people immediately connect the deaths of the judges to possible unfair court judgments they made before. "This deeper and broader distrust of the courts is more alarming than the case itself.". ^ top ^

Dissident Liu transferred to Liaoning prison (SCMP)
2010-06-01
Liu Xiaobo , one of the mainland's most prominent dissidents, has been transferred from a Beijing detention centre to a prison in the country's northeast to serve out an 11-year sentence for inciting the subversion of state power, according to his lawyer and his wife. Liu was sent to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning province last Wednesday, his lawyer Shang Baojun said. […] Liu's sentence is the harshest for inciting subversion since the crime was introduced in 1997. […] The official explanation for Liu's transfer to Jinzhou Prison was that his household registration, or hukou, was in Liaoning. Liu's hukou had been in Beijing, but it was revoked because of his role in the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989. […] Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said the transfer to a distant prison would result in additional hardship for his wife and leave him at greater risk of ill-treatment and health issues. […] "He has become a universal symbol of the struggle for truth and human rights in the face of oppression." A former university professor, Liu is among China's most prominent political activists. He was detained in 2008 after calling for stronger civil rights and an end to the political dominance of the Communist Party. ^ top ^

Evidence guidelines ban torture in capital cases (SCMP)
2010-05-31
Beijing has introduced key guidelines on evidence aimed at stopping the use of torture to obtain confessions in the most serious cases. Their release was expedited after the wrongful imprisonment of a Henan farmer brought the criminal justice system back into the spotlight, according to a legal expert close to the drafting of the guidelines who asked not to be named. […] The first guideline deals with evidence in death penalty cases. Under it, evidence obtained illegally must not be used for conviction. That includes testimony obtained through torture, violence or threats, physical evidence obtained without being properly documented, and evidence certified by unqualified organisations. The guideline includes for the first time the fundamental principle of criminal justice that "every fact must be supported by evidence", which has never previously been spelled out in legal documents. It stresses that the evidence in death penalty cases "must be of the highest" quality. While the standard of proof in criminal cases is generally "beyond a reasonable doubt", proof in death penalty cases must be absolute and "exclude all other possibilities". A second guideline, on the exclusion of illegal evidence in criminal cases, sets out a clear procedure for a defendant to dispute the legality of a piece of testimony. […] The two guidelines - "The Assessment of Evidence in Death Penalty Cases" and "The Exclusion of Illegal Evidence in Criminal Cases" - add flesh to the skeletal principles already set out in the Criminal Procedure Law, which "had not been systematic and complete enough for the use of the judicial system", a government spokesman said yesterday. […] Professor Bian Jianlin , of the China University of Political Science and Law, said the new illegal evidence guideline does not cover physical evidence, which he said would require a more delicate balancing act between combating crime and protecting human rights. But he added that the reform of criminal procedure had to take place "one step at a time". ^ top ^

Hu pledges more funding to ensure basic health care coverage (Xinhua)
2010-05-30
President Hu Jintao has asked governments at different levels to make sure all urban and rural residents receive basic health care. Hu made the call at a Politburo meeting to study the issue on Friday afternoon, according to Xinhua. Politburo members held discussions with two research fellows - Rao Keqin from the Ministry of Health and Ge Yanfeng from the State Council's Development Research Centre - who spoke about China's heath care reform and the development of global health care. Hu said the reform package must ensure basic health care for everyone and that the government should speed up the provision of services. China launched its health care reform last year, which seeks to provide adequate and affordable health care services to all. The State Council issued a circular last month detailing specific goals for the reform. Hu pledged more government funding for health care services, saying people's right to health care must be a top priority. He also called for more effort in setting up a system to provide cheap essential drugs to those who needed them. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Minimum wage going up (Global Times)
2010-06-04
The Chinese government is deliberating to re-divide the cake of national wealth among businesses, workers and its own revenues with a move to raise salaries and cut taxes, as a round of minimum-wage hikes kicks off this year. The Beijing Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security announced Thursday that, from July 1, the city's minimum wage will rise by 160 yuan ($23.50), or 20 percent, from the current 800 yuan ($117.30) per month. The capital city has set a minimum wage since 1994, and the average annual increase rate is 10.02 percent, according to the bureau, which estimates 100,000 people in the capital will benefit from the increase. Beijing is one of about 30 provinces or municipalities that have raised or will raise their minimum wage this year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. […] In a circular released Monday by the State Council, China's Cabinet, raising people's income is listed as one of the economic reform goals of this year. Vice Premier Li Keqiang noted in an article published Tuesday by Qiushi magazine that the government will try to increase the proportion of the middle-income group and create an "olive type" wealth distribution system. In May, officials of the National People's Congress Financial and Economic Committee carried out a study of income distribution in different localities and made a suggestion to cut taxes of enterprises in order to make room for a wage increase for workers. Beijing News commented in an editorial Thursday that though wage increases and tax reductions are not new topics, it is a new initiative to include them in the outline of the income distribution reform, which reflects that the central government is now seriously confronting the distorted distribution of wealth among the government, enterprises and citizens. Wang Chongfu, a professor of finance at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, noted that income-distribution reform is the biggest challenge for China this year, and raising the wages of workers should be the core of the adjustment policy. […] Zhang Jianguo, an official with the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, said that the wages proportion of China's GDP growth has been decreasing for 22 years, despite the fact that China is on track to replace Japan as the world's second-largest economy. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Receipts 25pc short but visitor surge expected (SCMP)
2010-06-02
The first month's gate for the World Expo in Shanghai was 25 per cent below the organisers' initial target but they are confident of seeing a surge in visitors this month. Slightly more than 8 million people visited in the expo's first month, so it will need to average more than 410,000 a day for the remaining 152 days to meet the target of 70 million visitors. Hong Hao , director of the Shanghai Expo Bureau, said at a press conference yesterday that authorities were preparing for a larger number of visitors this month. […] Although the gate figures for the first week made abysmal reading - only 100,000 visitors a day on average for what is billed as the biggest world expo - things have improved since. The number went up to 200,000 visitors a day in the second week and 300,000 a day for the period of May 21 to 28. Saturday was the expo's best day so far, with 505,100 visitors. […] Queues to the most popular pavilions are averaging three hours, but the Saudi Arabia pavilion has had one as long as seven hours, security guards said. The media reported that many people tried to beat the long queues by pretending to be pregnant women, disabled or elderly people in wheelchairs. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Workers, unionists clash at Honda plant in Foshan (SCMP)
2010-06-01
Tempers at a key Honda component factory in Guangdong reached boiling point yesterday as workers and government-backed trade union staff clashed amid failure to persuade employees to return to work. Analysts said the incident showed that the lack of independent trade unions, which can truly represent workers' interests, could lead to escalating social conflict. […] Some workers on the early shift were told yesterday to join a meeting to negotiate pay issues with Honda's representatives in the presence of local Shishan town Federation of Trade Union staff and government officials. The negotiations broke down when the workers refused to sign a document guaranteeing they would end the strike, said the workers, who considered the company's offer too low. One of the section heads had threatened to sack his workers if they did not agree to sign, they said. Staff at the plant are demanding that their monthly pay be raised to between 1,700 yuan and 2,500 yuan a month, according to workers. Honda said last night some employees had returned to work at the plant in Foshan after the company offered to lift the starting salary from 1,544 yuan to 1,910 yuan, a 24 per cent rise, Xinhua reported. […] Some workers cast doubt on the identities of the local trade union staff as they had never seen them before. […] Independent trade unions are banned on the mainland, and collective bargaining is rare. All trade unions in the country are part of the Communist Party-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which is the only official union and historically has been more closely aligned with management than workers. […] Geoffrey Crothall of China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based workers' rights group, said the incident showed the official trade union had failed to represent the rights of mainland workers. "[…] The trade union will not listen to the workers. They are out of touch, and they cannot represent their interests, so the workers are taking action themselves," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Police rescue 311 kids in child abduction crackdown in south China (Xinhua)
2010-06-01
A total of 311 children have been rescued in a crackdown on child smuggling in south China's Guangdong Province over the past year, police authorities said Monday. Police arrested 645 people in 276 child smuggling cases from April last year to May 25 this year, said Zhai Kaixia, deputy director of the criminal investigation department under the provincial public security department. The nationwide DNA database designed to tracing missing children and cash rewards for information were instrumental in the crackdown, Zhai said. Zhai said the DNA database had helped reunite a boy in Shantou City with his parents in Kunming, capital of southwestern Yunnan Province, 11 years after he was sold to a man surnamed Chen for 13,800 yuan (2,020 U.S. dollars). The reward for tip-offs leading to the arrest of a suspect is 5,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan for information leading to the rescue of a child. The reward for a tip-off was capped at 50,000 yuan, he said. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao's GDP surges 31% in Q1 (Global Times)
2010-06-01
Boosted by strong growth in the city's gaming and tourism sectors, Macao saw its GDP grow significantly by 30.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2010, according to the figures released on Monday by the city's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). In the first quarter, the city's total gaming revenues went up by 57.1 percent, and visitor spending also rose by 14.3 percent, the figures indicated. As regards major GDP components, local private consumption expenditure and Household final consumption expenditure in the domestic market respectively rose by 2.3 percent and seven percent year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the DSEC. Meanwhile, government final consumption expenditure increased by 1.7 percent year-on-year in the period, with compensation of employees rising by 5.3 percent whereas net purchases of goods and services declining by 16.9 percent. However, as a gauge of investment, gross fixed capital formation contracted by 38.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, and total private investment shrank by 39.2 percent, with construction and equipment investment decreasing by 55.6 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, according to the DSEC. In terms of visible trade, decrease in the total value of merchandise exports tapered off substantially from the previous quarter to decline by 12.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. Analyzed by destination, merchandise exports to the United States, the European Union and the Chinese mainland dropped by 58.8 percent, 48.2 percent and 7.2 percent respectively in the period, while merchandise exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan rose by 24.6 percent and 40.7 percent respectively, according to the DSEC. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Official deals with Taipei blocked (SCMP)
2010-06-03
Warming cross-strait ties have suffered their first chill, as Beijing objects to its allies entering any official deals with Taipei. The latest twist will put tremendous pressure on mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou, who has been hoping that signing the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (Ecfa) - a semi-free-trade pact - with Beijing could facilitate free-trade deals between the island and other countries. […] "We do not object to non-governmental economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China, but we firmly oppose any form of official accord with Taiwan," Dr Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said. His comment came at a critical time, with the two sides expected to sign the Ecfa later this month. Ruling Kuomintang lawmakers yesterday were concerned about a possible delay or even break-up of the deal. […] Tsai Cheng-yuan, another KMT lawmaker, said Beijing was in no hurry to sign the Ecfa with Taiwan and might want to delay signing it, given that the deal would be more advantageous to the island. But the comment also gave the opposition camp, led by the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, much-needed ammunition to attack Ma Ying-jeou's plan to sign the Ecfa with the mainland, as well as his broader policy of engaging Beijing. […] In response to mounting criticism, the Ma government yesterday said it was the island's right to sign free-trade deals with partners who were diplomatic allies or otherwise. "We demand that the mainland Chinese authorities not block Taiwan from signing free-trade agreements with its trading partners," Ma said through his spokesman, Lo Chih-cheng. He said Taiwan and the mainland were both World Trade Organisation members and had a right to sign free-trade pacts with any countries. Ma also said it was up to any country that had signed a pact with Taiwan to determine by its own criteria whether that accord was official. Analysts said Ma Zhaoxu's comment could have been an accident, as the Foreign Ministry later revised the wording of Ma Zhaoxu's comment on its website to "official contacts" instead of "official accords". "It has long been the mainland's position to oppose its allies having diplomatic contact with Taiwan," Sun Yang-ming, vice-president of the Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation, said. He said Ma Ying-jeou's remarks were in line with Beijing's stance that it could compromise as long as it was not diplomatic. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang starts 5% tax on gas, oil sales (Global Times)
2010-06-03
Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region commenced levying a 5 percent resources tax June 1, an increase from the present tax rate of less than 1 percent, China's Finance Ministry said on its website Wednesday. "Taxpayers have to pay a 5 percent resources tax on crude oil and natural gas, unless it is for their own use," the ministry said. The statement referred to producers of oil and natural gas who retain some of their product for their own usage - they will only have to pay the tax on the gas and oil that they sell. The government decided to implement the tax reform on a trial basis at last month's Xinjiang work conference. The original resources tax, based on oil and gas output volume, was less than 1 percent in the region. Professor An Tifu with the School of Finance of Renmin University said the new tax will help resources extraction regions get more revenue, which can compensate them for the destruction of resources, as well as help to better protect local environments. Crude oil output in the area has surpassed 25 million tons, while natural gas output has reached 23 billion cubic meters, ranking third in China, following Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and East China's Shandong Province. […] "It's widely believed that reform will be implemented nationwide this year. The Xinjiang local government will boost its fiscal revenues," said Liu Gu, an analyst with Guotai Junan Securities. Based on last year's oil and gas output volume, Xinjiang will add 4-5 billion yuan ($586- $732 million) in resource taxes each year if oil prices stabilize at $80 per barrel, according to data released by the Xinjiang Finance Department. Xinjiang is rich in oil and gas resources, with total proven oil reserves of 2.62 billion tons, and total proven natural gas reserves of 647.23 billion cubic meters. […] "(We will) strive to make Xinjiang an important base and gateway for China's opening up," Zhang Chunxian, the new Party Director of the autonomous region, said last week. ^ top ^

Uygur professor battles for his people (SCMP)
2010-05-31
Most people learned the name of Beijing-based Uygur professor Ilham Tohti only after he was detained following the deadly riots in Urumqi last July. His Xinjiang -focused Chinese-language website, uighurbiz.cn, was attacked by authorities for "inciting propaganda and spreading rumours". But Tohti, 41, said he had actually begun writing about the plight of Uygurs 17 years ago, and different forms of government surveillance and harassment had been a fixture of his and his family's lives ever since. […] He spoke to the South China Morning Post over several interviews at Minzu University of China. He has been teaching there since 1991: first law, then economics and more recently two sensitive electives - Xinjiang population studies and Central Asian politics and culture. […] As Chinese leaders held an unprecedented high-level work conference concerning Xinjiang earlier this month, talking about "leapfrog development and long-term stability", Tohti cautioned that raising the gross domestic product is not enough. […] "We have our own religion, culture, language and history. But there are very few Han scholars who speak Uygur or who have tried to understand us," Tohti said, as opposed to Western scholars, who studied the region with respect and vigour. True autonomy - which is clearly set out in existing laws, in particular the 1984 Ethnic Regional Autonomy Law - would ensure at least that Uygur is adopted as an official language and that officials there would learn the language. It would also guarantee that any economic development would include benefits for the locals. […] "The authorities are now making it a reason to celebrate that the internet is back on in Xinjiang, but what was the legal basis for shutting it down in the first place?" the professor asked his audience. […] "They call us `the ignorant mass easily incited by outside force'. Is the shutting down of the internet an attempt to keep this ignorance going?" […] He wants to set up a research centre on Uygur issues, and he appeals to the government for the freedom to do so, as well as the freedom to raise funds within the country. […] Bad law enforcement and a general lack of understanding of the Uygurs are for Tohti the two key causes of the plight of his people, and the July 5 riots. The professor says he has many Han friends, but in his view the majority of Han hold a dual attitude towards the Uygurs, which was largely shaped by bad government policies and contradictory portrayals of Uygurs in the media. […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China opposes U.S. penalties on Chinese steel gratings: Commerce Ministry (Xinhua)
2010-06-03
China opposes the U.S. decision to set final duties of up to more than 200 percent on imports of steel gratings from China, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said in a statement Wednesday. This came after the U.S. Commerce Department Tuesday announced final anti-dumping duties of 136.76 to 145.18 percent on the gratings to "offset below-market pricing." It also set a countervailing duty of 62.46 percent. MOC said the United States had acted "discriminatorily" in the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation and made the wrong conclusion, and China is dissatisfied and is opposed to this. […] China urged the U.S. to take effective measures to correct the mistake, it said. According to the U.S. trade remedy procedure, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will also make its final injury determination about the product soon. If the ITC makes affirmative final determinations that imports of steel gratings from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry, the Commerce Department will issue anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties orders. In 2009, the United States imposed a series of trade remedy measures on Chinese products, and the value involved was eight times more than that in 2008, the MOC statement said. "Such action not only hurts the interests of China, but also has an adverse impact on bilateral economic and trade ties," it said. China hoped the United States could show restraint in using trade remedy measures and act to fight trade protectionism, it said. ^ top ^

WTO criticism of China's export restraints 'picky' (Global Times)
2010-06-02
[…] In its biennial review of China's trade policy, the WTO said China's curbs on exports of some raw materials may not meet the stated goals while giving Chinese manufacturers an unfair advantage. China uses restrictions such as prohibitions, licensing, quotas, taxes and partial tax rebates to manage certain exports in order to conserve resources and energy, the report said. "The WTO had made it clear that its member states faced with issues such as environ-mental protection and resource depletion have a right to reduce the export of energy-intensive and other environmentally destructive goods," said Huo Jianguo, dean of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) under the Ministry of Commerce. Therefore, he said, China did not violate the relevant WTO provisions.

The US and the EU seized on the WTO report as vindication of its criticism Tuesday. "China has demonstrated a highly selective interest in continuing to open its market more fully and fairly to foreign participation," US Ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke said in a statement in the review. John Clarke, head of the EU's delegation to the WTO, called on China "as a global economic power to free its exports from unreasonable restrictions." The report, which is not binding, does not mean the opening of a trade dispute settlement mechanism, and it was one-sided because it only reflected the interests of the US and the EU that are highly dependent on imports of raw materials and resources, said Liang Yanfen, a trade expert with the CAITEC. China's export restrictions policy, which is in line with Chinese law and the relevant provisions of the WTO, is based on the needs of environmental protection and resource conservation, and other countries have no reason to be picky about it, Liang added. Addressing the WTO report, Yi Xiaozhun, China's vice minister of commerce, reiterated that "China firmly supports multilateralism and always regards the multilateral trading system as the cornerstone of its trade policy.". ^ top ^

Wen lays bare an unscripted view on the global economy (SCMP)
2010-06-01
[…] Wen told an audience of Japanese business executives that it was too early for economies to consider exiting stimulus spending that has shored up growth since the global financial crisis hit in 2008. But he also warned that mounting government debt risks could frustrate full economic recovery. "Some people say the global economy has already recovered, and now we can consider exit mechanisms. I believe that this judgment is premature," Wen said in the speech, given on the second day of a three-day visit to Japan. High joblessness in the United States and other economies, and sovereign debt risks laid bare by Greece's crisis could all drag down the global recovery and trigger a second dip in growth, Wen said. […] "The world economy is stable and beginning to revive, but this revival is slow and there are many uncertainties and destabilising factors." […] Wen stayed away from mentioning the yuan exchange rate, which many politicians and economists in the United States and elsewhere say is held artificially low and is exacerbating the global economic imbalances that he described. Wen's cautious assessment of China's trade outlook suggested that he could see dangers in quickly moving to lift the value of the yuan, which would make the country's exports relatively more costly. The nation's exports appeared to have bounced back in the first quarter, but that was compared to a low base last year, Wen said. The mainland recorded a US$1.7 billion trade surplus last month, defying expectations of a second straight deficit after March's US$7.2 billion shortfall. […]. ^ top ^

China unlikely to see serious inflation in short term: CICC chief economist (Global Times)
2010-05-31
Growth in China's consumer price index (CPI) is likely to see a reverse "V" shape this year and the possibility of a serious inflation is easing, said Ha Jiming, chief economist at the China International Capital Corp. (CICC). Speaking at an investor education activity in Beijing Saturday, Ha expected China's CPI to increase 3.2 percent in May from a year earlier, and said the CPI annual growth rate would even peak at 4 percent in June and July. The country's CPI rose 2.4 percent year on year in March and the growth for April accelerated to 2.8 percent, according to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics. The pick-up in CPI growth was a result of lower comparison base last year and the risk for a serious inflation in short term was defusing because both the global commodity prices and domestic meat and vegetable prices were falling, he said. In China, food prices accounted for one third of the CPI weight. The CICC has cut its estimate for China's economic growth this year to 9.5 percent from 10.5 percent, he said. Interest rate hikes would be unlikely this year as growth in consumer prices was expected to fall in the second half, he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

China to be 'impartial' on S. Korean warship sinking: premier (Global Times)
2010-06-02
Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday reiterated China's pledge to take an "impartial" stand on the sinking of a South Korean warship. "The sinking of the warship Cheonan is an unfortunate incident," Wen said during an interview with Japanese public broadcaster NHK. "We have offered condolences to the victims on many occasions." What China has in mind in approaching the incident, in which 46 South Korean sailors died after their warship sank in March, is maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, he said. China attaches importance to the joint investigation conducted by South Korea and other countries and the reactions of various parties, and will take its position on the basis of truth and facts, he added. China appealed for calm on the part of the concerned parties so as to avoid a further escalation of tension and even conflict, he said. The Chinese premier said China understands the current difficult situation President Lee Myung-bak and the South Korean government are facing. China will seek information from various sources and seriously study it before making clear its stand in "a fair and objective manner," he said. "We will adopt an impartial position," he said. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing resists pressure to censure North Korea (SCMP)
2010-05-31
[…] South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama teamed up at the two-day summit to nudge Premier Wen Jiabao to declare Pyongyang responsible for the March sinking of the South Korean corvette. But Wen gave no sign that China is ready to back UN Security Council action against its ally over the sinking, which cost 46 lives. "The urgent task now is to defuse the impact of the Cheonan incident, change the tense situation and avoid clashes," Wen said. […] "China will actively communicate with relevant parties and lead the situation to help promote peace and stability in the region, which fits our common and long-term interests best." […] In Pyongyang, some 100,000 North Koreans held a rally accusing Seoul of heightening cross-border tensions over the sinking. Clapping and pumping their fists in the air, the protesters shouted anti-South Korean slogans, held signs and carried a huge portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, according to video footage. "Because of the South Korean war-loving, mad puppets and American invaders, the North and South relationship is being driven to a catastrophe," Choi Yong-rim, secretary of the North Korean Workers' Party in Pyongyang, told the crowd. […] At a meeting with Lee that day he [Wen] said Beijing would, before determining its position, review the results of the international investigation into the Cheonan's sinking but would not protect whoever was responsible. Paik Hak-soon, of the Sejong Institute think tank, said Wen's comments "indicate that China is still questioning the authenticity and authority of the investigation". "There would be no point in taking this issue to the UN Security Council without securing support from China in advance," Paik said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

US$500m goes to Mongolia for development (SCMP)
2010-06-03
China agreed to lend Mongolia US$500 million to help develop the landlocked nation's mining, infrastructure and finance sectors. A total of nine agreements were signed during Premier Wen Jiabao's meeting with his Mongolian counterpart Sukhbaatar Batbold in Ulan Bator on Tuesday. […] Other deals related to education and nuclear energy. […] Further details on the loan agreement were not provided. During the talks, China's National Nuclear Corporation signed a preliminary agreement with Mongolia's Nuclear Energy Agency to co-operate in the development of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy. Mongolia, which is wedged between China and Russia, has struggled to develop its economy since turning to capitalism two decades ago. But its rich deposits of copper, gold, uranium, silver and oil have caught the eye of foreign investors. In October, the Mongolian government sealed a multibillion-dollar deal with Canada's Ivanhoe Mines and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto to develop one of the world's richest copper deposits, after years of negotiations. Since last Friday Wen has visited South Korea and Japan. His next stop is Myanmar - ahead of its first elections in two decades. ^ 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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