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
  19-23.7.10, No. 329  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Hillary Clinton says US an active partner with ASEAN (Global Times)
2010-07-23
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Hanoi Thursday that the United States is committed to being an active partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and advancing shared interests and values. Clinton made the commitment at the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting with participation of foreign ministers or their representatives from ten ASEAN member states and the United States. […] "The American future is intimately tied to that of the Asia- Pacific," she said. "The United States is a Pacific nation and we are committed to being an active partner with the ASEAN and with all of you." The United States commits to assisting nations of the Southeast Asia to remain strong and independent and ensuring that each nation enjoys peace, stability, prosperity and access to universal human rights, said Clinton. The secretary of state said that the US is supportive and optimistic about the future of the region, as the ASEAN is America 's sixth largest export market and hosts more US business and investment than China, she said. […] To enhance influence in Southeast Asia, particularly amid competition from other partners of ASEAN, the United States has recently expressed interest to join the East Asia Summit (EAS), a regional macro-level dialogue platform gathering ten ASEAN member states and six partners including China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand. At the EAS Foreign Ministers' Informal Consultations here Wednesday, ministers expressed support for the United States to join the EAS and decided to present the issue at the 17th ASEAN Summit to be held later this year for a formal decision. The ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ^ top ^

China, Japan to start negotiation on East China Sea issue July 27 (Xinhua)
2010-07-23
China and Japan will on July 27 hold the first round of negotiation on the implementation of the principles of consensus concerning the East China Sea issue. The decision came after a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Japanese counterpart, Okada Katsuya, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, according to Foreign Ministry press release Thursday. The decision was reached after consultations between the two nations' relevant departments, foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in the release. According to Qin, the two countries' foreign ministers expressed their satisfaction about the state of China-Japan relations in their meeting. ^ top ^

Warship sinking to dominate regional summit (SCMP)
2010-07-22
North Korea's torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March has led to ongoing collateral damage - and China's regional agenda is among the wounded. Beijing's envoys led by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi have arrived in Hanoi for annual regional security talks tomorrow to find unresolved tensions following the fatal sinking of the Cheonan still dominating discussions. South Korea is still pushing for international action and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in Hanoi today threatening fresh sanctions against the North after a high-profile trip to the demilitarised zone. The presence in Hanoi, too, of North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun - the Asean Regional Forum is one of the few international events attended by Pyongyang - is further driving interest. Tomorrow's meeting also comes just ahead of joint South Korean-US naval exercises in the Sea of Japan, called the East Sea by Koreans, at the weekend. With the spotlight on China's unique position as the hermit state's only ally, other regional challenges are on the back-burner. […] Speaking after a meeting last night between Asean and China, Japan and South Korea, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa confirmed that Beijing had agreed to the Asean ministers' recommendation to pull the US into the grouping. The US involvement is expected to be finalised when Asean leaders meet in Hanoi in October. […] South Korean officials are urging a stronger statement of condemnation from the forum than that issued by the UN Security Council this month. Some have even suggested saying nothing at all would be better than a watered down statement. […] "Reconciliation is possible only when the North shows an apologetic attitude over its provocation," a Foreign Ministry official said in Seoul, Associated Press reported. In Hanoi, another South Korean official warned of potential damage to Beijing's regional status. "We are all still waiting for China to step up and show leadership on this... this is actually a chance for them. Instead, from our perspective, they are protecting Pyongyang after nothing short of an act of war." […]. ^ top ^

China wants to see peaceful Afghanistan: FM (Xinhua)
2010-07-21
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday called for continued support of the international community to the war-torn Afghanistan. "We want to see a peaceful, stable and independent Afghanistan that enjoys development and good neighborhood," Yang said addressing one-day international conference on Afghanistan in the Afghan capital Kabul. "We should respect Afghanistan's sovereignty, and work together for the realization of Afghanistan run by the Afghans," he stressed. To achieve the goal, he proposed four points including ensuring security, political reconciliation, speeding up economic reconstruction and enhancing international cooperation. "We call on international community to channel more assistance to infrastructure and other projects that will bring immediate benefit to ordinary Afghans," Yang said. He added that it is important to enhance coordination between regional and international cooperation so that they will complement and reinforce each other. The international community, he said, should remain committed to bringing durable peace and stability to Afghanistan. He also urged the international community to provide more help to Afghanistan in capacity-building and human resources development. China had contributed more than 900 million Yuan (over 123 million U.S. dollars) besides canceling 19.5 million U.S. dollars worth of debt owed by Afghanistan from 2002 to 2009. The first ever international conference hosted by post-Taliban Afghanistan with the participation of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and some 40 foreign ministers among other delegates from over 70 countries and international organizations wrapped up with renewing support to Afghanistan. ^ top ^

Top Chinese legislator urges immediate action to achieve MDGs (Global Times)
2010-07-20
Wu Bangguo, China's top legislator, on Monday called for the international community to demonstrate confidence, strengthen cooperation and safeguard peace to speed up the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "The parliament should supervise and support its own government to implement the MDGs, to take peaceful and friendly foreign policy, and to properly handle sensitive issues in bilateral ties and international relations," Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said at the opening ceremony of the third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament. The MDGs, endorsed by UN members in 2000, set out eight targets ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015. "Over the past decade, the world has been achieving results on the MDGs, but the progress remains slow," Wu said. […] Wu said that implementation of the MDGs becomes more crucial under the impact of the global financial crisis in particular. He said confidence is the premise of realizing the MDGs. The global financial crisis has an impact that can not be neglected on the implementation of the MDGs, but the world should aware that the MDGs and dealing with the crisis are not contradictory, Wu said. […] Wu noted cooperation is an effective way to achieve the MDGs. The international community would achieve common interest only if all nations shared responsibilities and reciprocity, he said. […] Wu said safeguarding peace is the guarantee to realize the MDGs. He noted all nations should observe the principles and purposes of the United Nations charter, and adhere to the new security concept of mutual trust and benefit, equality and coordination, properly handle disputes and regional issues by peaceful means. On the domestic situation, Wu said China, as the largest developing nation of the world, has pursued the way of peace and development, adopted the state policy of gender equality, resource conservation and environmental protection, and has taken actual actions to push forward the implementation of the MDGs. China also offer assistance to other developing nations within its capacity. China advocated to build up cooperation forums with Africa, the Arabian nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Pacific islands nations. […]. ^ top ^

Top Chinese legislator, Swiss president agree to expand bilateral cooperation (Global Times)
2010-07-19
Top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo and Doris Leuthard, president of the Swiss Confederation, held talks on Sunday and agreed to expand their bilateral cooperation. Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), delivered Chinese President Hu Jintao's regards to Leuthard. He said China will work together with Switzerland to push forward the Sino-Swiss ties. The Chinese and Swiss economies are highly complementary and have large potential in economic cooperation, said Wu. China expects to make joint efforts with Switzerland to strengthen cooperation in such areas as financial service, environmental protection, green economy and low-carbon technology while deepening cooperation in traditional fields, he said. Leuthard highly commended the progress in Sino-Swiss relations in recent years. She said Switzerland, which is one of the earliest western countries to establish diplomatic ties with China, gives great attention to a friendly cooperation with China and is willing to deepen the bilateral ties. Switzerland regards China as an important partner and looks forward to carrying out cooperation in environmental protection, energy-saving and sustainable economic development, she added. She reaffirmed the Swiss government's stance on one-China policy. During the talks, the two leaders also exchanged views on global issues such as financial crisis and climate changes. Wu is Zurich on an official goodwill visit to Switzerland. He is set to leave for Geneva to attend the third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament later on the day. ^ top ^

Parliamentary leaders pledge to promote Sino-Swiss ties (People's Daily Online)
2010-07-18
Parliamentary leaders of China and Switzerland on Saturday exchanged views on bilateral ties, parliamentary exchanges and mutual concerns and agreed on closer exchanges between legislative bodies of the two nations for better Sino-Swiss ties. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), expressed satisfaction over the significant progress in Sino-Swiss relationship during the recent years at a meeting with Pascale Bruderer, president of the National Council of Swiss Federal Assembly, and Erika Forster-Vannini, president of the Council of States of Swiss Federal Assembly. The development of Sino-Swiss relationship has brought substantial interests to both people and China looks forward to working together with Switzerland to further develop the comprehensive friendship and mutual-beneficial cooperation, Wu said. Switzerland is China's main trade partner in Europe and a major source of foreign investment and technology and China is Switzerland's second largest trade partner in Asia. Wu appealed that both sides should properly deal with sensitive issues between the two nations to maintain the momentum of the Sino-Swiss relationship. He suggested that China and Switzerland should take more actions to continuously deepen mutual political trust, expand economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. The friendly exchange and cooperation between legislative bodies of China and Switzerland will help promote an all-round development of the bilateral ties and are in interest of both people, Wu said. The NPC will work together with the National Council of Swiss Federal Assembly and the Council of States of Swiss Federal Assembly to conduct various exchanges between the two nations' legislative bodies, he added. Bruderer and Vannini said Wu's visit will further promote the Sino-Swiss ties and offer an opportunity for more exchanges between the two nations' legislative bodies. They agreed to conduct closer parliamentary exchanges with China. A further development of Swiss-Chinese ties is interest of Swiss government, legislative bodies and people. The legislative bodies of Swiss will positively push forward the substantial cooperation with China in all areas, they said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

More rain to come as floods claim over 1,000 (SCMP)
2010-07-22
More than 1,000 people have died or disappeared in severe flooding on the mainland so far this year, and the heaviest rains are still to come, a senior official warned yesterday. This year's floods, which have caused billions of dollars in damage already, have exacted the highest death toll since 1998, when the highest water levels in five decades claimed 4,150 lives. With the typhoon season rolling in, Liu Ning, general secretary of the central government's flood prevention agency, told a news conference authorities must ramp up preparations. "Since 60 to 80 per cent of the annual rainfall occurs in June, July and August, we should be prepared to prevent disasters," Liu said. Tropical Storm Chanthu is expected to hit Hainan Island and Guangdong this weekend. Six to eight typhoons are expected this year. Already, three-quarters of mainland provinces have been plagued by flooding and 25 rivers have seen record-high water levels, Liu said. […] The waters have killed 701 people and left 347 missing. The overall damage totals 142.2 billion yuan (HK$162.8 billion), Liu said. This year's torrential floods have hit farms especially hard, affecting 930,000 hectares of crops, with more than 133 hectares destroyed by floods as of July 10, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. ^ top ^

Beijing moves to keep spill from reaching international waters (SCMP)
2010-07-22
The mainland rushed to keep the oil spill from reaching international waters, while an environmental group tried to assess if the country's largest reported spill was worse than has been disclosed. […] The government says the slick has spread across a 180-square-kilometre stretch of ocean. […] Images of 30-metre-high flames shooting up near part of the nation's strategic oil reserves drew the attention of President Hu Jintao and other top leaders. Now the challenge is cleaning up the greasy brown plume floating off the shores of Dalian, once named the country's most livable city. […] Officials told Xinhua they did not yet know how much oil had leaked, but China Central Television reported no more pollution, including oil and firefighting chemicals, had entered the sea on Tuesday. It was not clear how far the spill was from China's closest neighbour in the region, North Korea. The Dalian port is the mainland's second largest for crude oil imports, and last week's spill appears to be the country's largest in recent memory. "In terms of what is known to the public, this is definitely the biggest," Greenpeace China spokeswoman Yang Ailun said. "Government and business leaders have been telling the media that there's no environmental impact. From Greenpeace's perspective, that's very irresponsible. It's too early to tell. Oil is still floating around." While the public has not seized on the accident as its own version of the massive BP spill in the United States, warnings over the country's increasing dependence on oil were clear. ^ top ^

Union urges collective bargaining set-up (SCMP)
2010-07-22
The mainland's officially sanctioned trade union wants the Beijing authorities to introduce legislation to establish a collective bargaining system in an effort to protect workers' rights following a string of strikes and work-related suicides. Zhang Jianguo, head of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions' (ACFTU) collective contract department, said it planned to spend 10 million yuan (HK$11.45 million) this year on a 10-province pilot scheme. The scheme would teach union officials how to conduct collective bargaining negotiations on wages and other benefits for workers, the Beijing Times reported yesterday. "Currently, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions is actively pushing for related government departments to speed up the legislation of the Wage Regulation," Zhang said. He said that a collective bargaining system should be introduced to cover negotiations on workers' wages, overtime payments, the distribution of bonuses and benefits. Zhang said the union aimed to introduce the collective contract system to all enterprises which had ACFTU-affiliated trade unions by 2012. It also aimed to introduce a collective bargaining system at those enterprises at the same time. […] The ACFTU, the mainland's sole trade union, is regulated by the central government and represents 170 million workers in almost 3 million enterprises and institutions. Its leaders are hand-picked government appointees, and it's illegal to start an independent union. Liu Kaiming, a labour affairs expert and director of the Institute of Contemporary Observation in Shenzhen said local trade unions usually sided with the local government or employer. However, the official union appears to have become more sympathetic to workers recently amid a wave of labour unrest, mostly at foreign-funded companies. […] Analysts said rising labour costs had been partly encouraged by a government that wanted to turn farmers and workers into more confident consumers, even as it tried to keep a lid on strikes. Just over a week ago, Wang Zhaoguo, a member of the all-powerful Politburo and chairman of ACFTU, urged trade unions across the country to implement the collective wage negotiation system "in earnest" and to determine wage standards in a scientific way. "This is to ensure that employees can share the rewards of business growth," Wang said on July 11. ^ top ^

Dam withstands peak flood test (SCMP)
2010-07-21
The controversial Three Gorges Dam met its toughest test yesterday - and cleared the first hurdle. When peak floodwaters hit at about 8am, a record 70,000 cubic metres of water was slamming into the massive dam every second. That is even more water than passed through that section of the Yangtze River during the catastrophic floods of 1954 and 1998. But the dam proved its flood-control value by holding back 40 per cent of the torrent behind its colossal concrete wall - officials only allowed 41,400 cubic metres per second to flow downstream. By last night the water level at the dam remained around 152 metres - up four metres from Monday night and well below its 175-metre limit. […] However, water control officials and hydro-engineering experts warn it is too early to claim the giant dam a complete success, and say that it "can't solve every problem". […] Officials played down the extent of the dam's flood-control capacity yesterday and tried to lower expectations - particularly as the record flow rate is expected to last for several days. The dam has yet to be tested to its full capacity. Waters have never reached the 175-metre maximum, and questions remain over whether the reservoir can do so safely. Levels at the dam reached 171 metres in a test in October, but the authorities unexpectedly held back from going for the limit. The official explanation at the time was that water was released to relieve droughts affecting regions downstream, but some experts suggested it was due to fears it could trigger landslides. […] Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the dam's apparent success needed to be weighed up in context. "There is no denying that the dam has some worthwhile aspects in terms of flood control. Nobody ever argued that it would not be any use at all," he said. "But the question is whether that offsets the huge costs." Ma said the creation of the reservoir had called for the relocation of more than one million people, had inundated important spawning grounds and disrupted key fish migration routes, been responsible for landslides along the gorge's slopes and even been blamed for a number of minor earthquakes. In contrast, Ma described the project's potential for flood prevention as "limited". […] He said there needed to be a change in approach from flood defences to flood management, which would call for a more comprehensive range of measures instead of a single headline-grabbing construction. […]. ^ top ^

China disputes energy-use rank (Global Times)
2010-07-21
[…] China consumed the equivalent of 2.25 billion tons of oil last year from sources such as coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power and hydropower, about 4 percent more than the US' 2.17 billion tons, a report released Monday by the IEA said, according to the Financial Times. The newspaper quoted IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, as saying, "In the year 2000, the US consumed twice as much energy as China; now, China consumes more than the US." The calculation ran contradictory to one seen in a report by China's National Bureau of Statistics in February, which said China's energy consumption in 2009 stood at 3.1 billion tons of standard coal, which is equivalent to about 2.13 billion tons of oil. Hu Xiulian, a researcher at the Energy Research Institute with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told the Global Times that "The IEA data on China's energy use is somehow not very accurate because the agency's criteria for calculating the volume of energy use is different from that used by China." Zhou, of the NEA, said China has outpaced the US in new energy expansion, as the nation boasts the world's largest hydropower capacity, solar power use for water heating, and nuclear power capacity under construction. It also has the world's fastest growth of wind power generation, he said. In a statement e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday, the IEA said "China's demand today would be even higher still if the government had not made such progress in reducing the energy intensity of the economy." […] The IEA went on to say that China's unprecedented pace of economic development will require ever more energy, but it will transform living standards for its billion-plus citizens. […] Ding Yifan, a researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, told the Global Times that China will sooner or later become the biggest energy user in the world. "But there is no need for China to feel bad about it. Nor is it necessary for the world to be surprised. The energy growth is compliant with the economic expansion," he said. Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that the world's No. 1 title isn't that significant, since the country's population is four times that of the US. "What matters is the per capita energy use," he said. The IEA report said energy consumption in China is around one-fifth of that in the US on a per capita basis. […]. ^ top ^

Police rescue over 14,000 kidnapped children, women in crackdown on human trafficking (Global Times)
2010-07-20
Chinese police had rescued 14,717 kidnapped children and women this year as of June 28 amid a special year-long campaign against human trafficking. Police arrested 17,528 suspects for human trafficking crimes, including 19 of the 20 most-wanted suspects, a statement released by the Ministry of Public Security Monday said. The ministry urged the promotion of the use of DNA comparison to connect the rescued and adopted children with parents whose children have gone missing. The ministry also said it would urge the public to report any suspected human trafficking activity, while continuing to publicize its most-wanted list for the capture of suspects. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing permanent residents hit 19.7 million (People's Daily Online)
2010-07-23
According to official statistics, the permanent residents of Beijing totaled more than 19.7 million by the end of 2009, well over the State Council's goal of limiting the number to fewer than 18 million by 2020, Beijing Daily reported today. The report said that of the total registered population, registered permanent residents account for around 12.5 million and about 7.6 million are members of the registered floating population, nearly 7.3 million of which have been living in Beijing for three or more months. And according to the report, the population has increased by 1.52 million in the past four years, with an average increase of 0.4 million every year. This suggests that the floating population is the major source of growth in Beijing. The report also said that the young adults, who form the majority of the floating population, helped to avert worker shortages in Beijing. However, their rising numbers have also brought challenges for Beijing's limited resources and environmental carrying capacity. ^ top ^

Protesting parents hurt in scuffle with police (SCMP)
2010-07-21
Ten parents protesting about substandard vaccines, which they blamed for their children's health problems, were injured and detained after a scuffle with police outside the Ministry of Health headquarters in Beijing on Monday. One parent suffered a fractured rib and a broken finger. The parents, from Shanxi, Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangxi, Henan and Beijing, had gathered at the ministry's main entrance since June 25, trying to get authorities to address their concerns. Parents across the country who believe their children have been the victims of substandard vaccines started seeking government action after the China Economic Times published a series of investigative stories linking the deaths of several children in Shanxi to the improper storage of vaccines provided by the government. The reports, which linked vaccines to four deaths and 72 illnesses among children, caused an uproar in the mainland media and prompted an investigation by the ministry, which concluded that the allegations were not true. Its findings, however, failed to convince many parents. […] Sun Hongli, a parent from Shandong, said they had used a metal chain to lock themselves together after one protester, Lu Weiwei from Shangqiu, Henan, was taken away by six people from his hometown a week ago and had not been heard from since. Monday's scuffle started around noon when police tried to seize a camera from Ren Yufeng, a parent from Shanxi, as she took pictures of the group holding banners and shouting slogans. The parents, chained together, tried to help Ren as more police came. "They dragged and kicked us and beat us up. We were still chained together and at one point I felt like I was about to die," Sun said. […] The protesters said someone cut the chain and they were dragged to a police station where they were forced to sign a statement saying they had disturbed social order by blocking traffic and shouting slogans. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

World Expo brings incredible progress to Shanghai (People's Daily Online)
2010-07-22
[…] People's ethical conduct has improved significantly ever since the Expo 2010 Shanghai, China was launched on 1 May, according to the leadership of the The Bureau of shanghai World Expo Coordination, and there is a marked decline in such improper practices of not lining-up, littering and spitting. Although the number of visitors has reached over half a million daily at times, line-waiting at the Expo is a bit like taking the Beijing subway – an orderly flow. At the 83 pavilions that have been inspected, the public performance is amazing without any hubbub of voices among visitors, and some of them look around quietly as if tuning to learn all the things of real interest to them. Shanghai municipal authority proposed for upgrading the quality of local residents by taking the Expo as a rare opportunity. […] China have attached great importance to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 as they take it as a great event that has been arresting immense attention worldwide, and they do not want to impair or sabotage the reputation of their country with their uncivilized behavior. […] The World Expo has improved the ethical conduct of people in a variety of ways. […]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Typhoon Chanthu kills two, affects one million people in south China (Xinhua)
2010-07-23
[…] Two pedestrians were killed by walls that blew over in strong gales accompanying Chanthu after it went ashore at Wuchuan City at around 1:45 p.m., according to officials at the provincial flood control headquarters. […] As of 8 p.m., more than 1.35 million people in 20 counties or cities in Guangdong were affected and 2,915 houses collapsed in the rainstorms and strong gales, with economic losses estimated at 2.2 billion yuan (about 324 million U.S. dollars), according to statistics from the headquarters. […]. ^ top ^

Zijin toxic leaks spread south to Guangdong (SCMP)
2010-07-21
Toxic leaks at the Zijinshan Copper Mine in Fujian have spread southwards to Guangdong province, threatening the safety of local water and fisheries, government press releases said. Government work groups monitoring water quality in the Ting River, down stream in Meizhou, Guangdong, found that the copper level almost doubled from Thursday to Friday, when it measured 0.0233 milligrams a litre, and failed to meet the government standard for fisheries water quality, the Guangdong Oceanic and Fisheries Administration said. Yet it said it had not found dead fish in the river and, as of last Wednesday, tests on fish it sampled such as carp and tilapia had not exceeded acceptable levels of copper and other heavy metals. Xinhua reported that the concentration of toxic hexavalent chromium, a human carcinogen, was below limits at 0.004 milligram a litre. […] The Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau has put up monitoring stations in areas near the Fujian border to monitor water quality and detect levels of heavy metals and toxic substances, the report said. […] The Ting is a main tributary of the Han River in Guangdong - the main water source for millions of residents of Shantou and Meizhou. A report on the website of China National Radio said the copper level in Guangdong water was increasing. "Water quality in Meizhou is suffering more seriously and fisheries and aquaculture will be facing greater risks," it warned. The report came as Zijin Mining Group (SEHK: 2899) issued a statement apologising for the July 3 mishap - which killed nearly 1,900 tonnes of fish - and its "improper handling" of information about the spill. […] Zijin has confirmed police have detained three executives over the spill. Three local officials had been sacked, and the head of the county government had been suspended pending further investigation, state media said. ^ top ^

Honda supplier hires replacement workers (SCMP)
2010-07-21
A mainland supplier of parts to Honda Motor has taken a tougher line in a labour dispute, saying it will fire some striking workers after bringing in replacements at the weekend. Management of the factory owned by Atsumitec, an affiliate of Honda, said it would dismiss the nearly 200 strikers if they continued to stay off the job, a worker said yesterday, confirming a Xinhua report the previous day. Workers at the plant in Foshan, Guangdong province, handed in a letter signed by 150 of the 200 strikers demanding a wage increase of 500 yuan (HK$573) per month, according to Xinhua. The company hired nearly 100 replacement workers on Saturday to keep the plant operating, said the worker. Fearing they might be violating rules if they did not report for work, some striking workers returned to the factory and stood at their usual stations on the production line yesterday but refused to work, the striking worker said. […] "How can we live with just 1,000 yuan and everything is so expensive now," said the worker. "The government is not helping us and the management rejected our demands and is not talking to us." The walkout, which entered its ninth day yesterday, is the latest in a string of stoppages by Chinese workers demanding better pay. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet report claims forces shot and kicked rioters (SCMP)
2010-07-23
[…] The Human Rights Watch report released yesterday gives a detailed examination — based on eyewitness accounts — of the crackdown on the broadest anti-government uprising the country has faced from Tibetans in 20 years. Riots started in the capital, Lhasa, and then spread to communities across the nation's western region. […] Among the report's findings, witnesses say on March 14, 2008, security forces in Lhasa opened fire on protesters near the Barkhor, the heart of the old city. They say that at several rallies, security forces also hit demonstrators with batons and rifle butts until they were no longer moving. […] They said the police had refrained from shooting at rioters during the daylight hours on March 14, when tourists were still on the streets, but that the scene had become bloody once darkness fell. But the witnesses also said that the unrest was started by what appeared to be premeditated rioting, with some Tibetans carried out systematic attacks on Han and Muslim Hui residents, setting shops on fire. Surveillance camera footage provided by the Tibetan government also showed an angry mob filling the small back alleyways leading to Barkhor Street and Jokhang temple, many carrying sticks or knives, while a knife-wielding Tibetan was shown standing on a van shouting. Authorities have said 22 people died in the Lhasa riots. Overseas Tibet supporters say many times that number had been killed in protests and the ensuing security crackdown. The Human Rights Watch report says security forces tortured protesters and others during arrests and in detention by beating them and depriving them of food and sanitary conditions. It points out that hundreds of Tibetans arrested in the crackdown remain unaccounted for. To compile its account, New York-based Human Rights Watch said its researchers interviewed 203 Tibetan refugees and visitors between March 2008 and April this year. The report investigates cases in which it claims security forces shot at demonstrators in Lhasa and in the Tibetan communities of Aba and Ganzi in Sichuan province. ^ top ^

Largest state-owned mining project in Tibet starts operation (People's Daily Online)
2010-07-21
A metal ore mining project held by the China National Gold Group Corporation in Jiama village of Lhasa city was put into operation on July 19. It is currently the largest mining project operated by a central state-owned enterprise in Tibet. Hao Peng, deputy Party secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said the formal operation of this project marks a shift from large-scale investment to an extensive output stage. It is reported that the first stage of this project currently has a daily processing capacity of 6,000 tons. Located in the Maizhokunggar County of Lhasa, which has an altitude of 3,900 meters to 5,300 meters, the Jiama mining project is one of the eight priority construction projects in Tibet. The project, which involves gross investments of 8 billion yuan, is designed to have a total daily processing capacity of 15,000 tons. It is expected to pay 700 million yuan in taxes annually. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Boss of Uygur website faces trial on state security count (SCMP)
2010-07-23
[…] Gheyret Niyaz, whose trial is to take place on July 28, was one of a number of Uygur journalists, webmasters and bloggers detained after ethnic unrest in energy-rich Xinjiang in July last year, the Uyghur American Association (UAA) said. […] Police reportedly informed the 51-year-old Niyaz when he was initially detained in October that he was being detained because he had talked with foreign journalists about the unrest that took place in Urumqi, the UAA said. "The Uyghur American Association is extremely concerned about the upcoming trial of Uyghur journalist and webmaster Gheyret Niyaz on charges of 'endangering state security'." The Xinjiang government declined immediate comment. However, in an online transcript of at least one of those interviews, with Hong Kong magazine Yazhou Zhoukan, he expressed views broadly in line with the government stance on the rioting, blaming outside instigators. Niyaz was also regarded as broadly supportive of Beijing's policy by overseas Uygurs, who were surprised by his detention, the UAA report said. But he criticised economic inequalities and parts of a campaign against "separatism". Niyaz was an administrator for the website Uygurbiz and a journalist with the Xinjiang Economic Daily. […] "Although national criminal justice statistics in China are rarely broken down by offence or region, Dui Hua research has established that since the early 2000s, trials of Uygur defendants have accounted for as much as two-thirds of all the country's trials for endangering state security," the group said. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

US may delay jet-fighter sales to Taiwan (SCMP)
2010-07-23
The United States may refrain from selling advanced jet fighters to Taiwan in the near future, with military analysts saying that the mainland's rising clout has put US military ties with the island temporarily on hold. Taiwanese lawmakers who met US State Department and Pentagon officials in Washington recently were given the impression that supplying advanced jet fighters was a step too far for the Americans. Military analysts said it was inevitable that the US would hold back on sales of F-16 C/D block fighters to Taiwan at a sensitive time which sees Washington and Beijing locked in dispute over a planned joint US-South Korean naval drill in waters close to China. […] Military expert Dr Arthur Ding Shu-fan, secretary general of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taipei, said the rising clout of the mainland had put more pressure on the US. "The US has chosen not to confront China over this issue," he said. He said that by holding back arms sales to Taiwan, Washington also stood to regain its diplomatic and military influence in Northeast Asia, with Beijing's relations with South Korea and Japan hitting a rough patch due to its reluctance to criticise North Korea. […]. ^ top ^

Cross-strait flights hit snag as two sides blame each other (SCMP)
2010-07-22
Taiwan's talks with the mainland on new cross-strait flights hit a snag after Beijing refused to reopen talks on scheduling and destination arrangements for the island's airlines, a Taiwanese official said yesterday. […] Taiwan and the mainland agreed in May to increase the number of weekly cross-strait flights from 270 to 370. Fourteen new Taiwanese flights have operated since the middle of last month travelling between Taipei and Shanghai. However, Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration has said the mainland is demanding that 20 new Taiwan flights land in Xiamen and Fuzhou on the mainland, where few Taiwanese visit, and that several take off from the island at midnight. "We signed an agreement to include 20 new flights to Xiamen and Fuzhou. We thought we can adjust existing flights to cancel them out, but we did not write that into the pact," Yeh said. He said Beijing has refused Taipei's request to reopen negotiations, saying it can wait until October. Yeh said Taiwan is considering cancelling some new mainland flights to Taiwan if Beijing does not respond soon. On Tuesday, an unidentified Chinese aeronautics official told Taiwan's government-owned Central News Agency that the mainland made it clear at the May meeting that new Taiwanese flights may suffer from poor scheduling because of limits in mainland airport capacity. "My sense is that with more trade, more disputes," said Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei. "That's a reality and will happen again. Law enforcement and legal practice are different on each side." […]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Beijing says policy stability is its top priority for the rest of the year (SCMP)
2010-07-23
Chinese leaders pledged policy stability after speculation that the government could ease lending controls to spur growth in the world's third-biggest economy. Policy stability should be the main theme in the second half, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday at a meeting with non-communist political parties. […] China's growth cooled in the second quarter, but top officials have said the slowdown is in line with the aim of expanding the share of consumption at the expense of net exports and heavy industry. "We must keep expanding domestic demand, especially consumption, and make sure we implement and improve policies to stimulate consumption," Wen said. China will also push forward with reforms to tax, finance, pricing, social security and real estate, President Hu Jintao told the meeting, according to Xinhua. Some analysts fear a bubble is building in parts of the property market, something that the rulers fear could in turn endanger social stability by fuelling resentment over widening income inequalities. […] The Politburo also announced yesterday that the 5th plenary session of the 17th Party Congress will be held this October, with a focus on mapping out the 12th Five-Year Plan for the country's economic and social developments, Xinhua reported. Boosting domestic demand, adjusting economic development structure, building a new countryside and improving overall living standard have been some main thrusts of the current five-year plan, which ends this year. The plan would then be tabled for approval at next year's National People's Congress. […]. ^ top ^

Central bank may let yuan fall to support export firms (Global Times)
2010-07-22
China's central bank may allow the yuan to fall against the dollar if necessary, a central bank advisor was quoted as saying by a Japanese newspaper Wednesday. China shows no signs of a double-dip, "but now that there is flexibility in the yuan, the exchange rate of the currency will decline if it becomes necessary to support exports," Zhou Qiren, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China (PBC), told Asahi Shimbun. China's exports rose to a record high of $137.4 billion in June. But such a surge is not expected to continue in the second half of the year, giving uncertainties that remain both home and abroad. The yuan's value against the dollar is approaching an appropriate level, and there is little room for further substantial appreciation, said Lu Zhengwei, a senior economist with Industrial Bank. The yuan's central parity rate was set at 6.7802 against the dollar Wednesday, a rise of roughly 0.7 percent after the PBC announced the proceeding with the exchange rate regime reform one month ago. The currency reform, initially launched in 2005, was suspended during the financial crisis. The yuan has risen 22 percent against the dollar as of Wednesday over the past five years. The exchange rate has seen an obvious two-way fluctuation over the past month, with widening yuan fluctuation, but it has not fluctuated as much as before the crisis, Lu said. Over the past month, the yuan's central parity rate against the dollar saw a high of 6.7718 and a low of 6.8275, with the fluctuation range reaching 0.8 percent. The yuan is on the way to becoming a more flexible currency, Lu said. "The yuan has already been quite flexible against other currencies such as the euro, pound sterling and yen. The next step for the yuan should be more flexibility against the dollar," Lu added. ^ top ^

'Made in China' - but for how long? (People's Daily Online)
2010-07-20
How long will companies be able to afford to manufacture in China? That such a question can be asked would have seemed absurd until very recently. For the past decade and more, China has been the manufacturing workshop of the world. Last year, according to IHS Global Insight, the leading financial research company, China exported some $1.7 trillion of goods, 80 percent of which were manufactured in factories, and is set to end the United States. […] Manufacturing wages across China have increased by 14 per cent over the past year, making the prospect of producing goods in nearby Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam or in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even Africa seem a viable alternative. […] A recent survey by EEF, Britain's leading manufacturing association, said one in seven of its members were looking at shifting production back to the UK, fed up with problems in countries such as China. "Getting goods of the right quality, issues such as time to market and rising fuel costs have been driving this trend," said Lee Hopley, EEF's chief economist. Dr Eric Thun, lecturer in Chinese Business Studies at the University of Oxford China Center, said too much can be read into recent labor unrest. "Strikes happen all the time. The current generation of workers have higher aspirations than perhaps their parents had," he said. […] "One of the problems that China historically has faced is that it has never been pushed into innovation-based activities because of this excess supply of labor," he said. "Pushing manufacturing into high value-added activity is very much what the government wants. This kind of cost pressure stimulates upgrading." Alistair Thornton, an analyst with IHS Global Insight, said it was difficult to interpret what was happening to China's manufacturing sector. He said one likely explanation was that China had reached the so-called "Lewis Turning Point" (named after the British economist Arthur Lewis) at which an economy reaches a point in its development when it exhausts its supply of rural migrant workers, thus putting pressure on wages. "Another explanation is that we are seeing the effects of the stimulus package which has created jobs in infrastructure development in western and central China, reducing the pool of labor for manufacturing. It is not likely to be one or the other but a combination of both," he said. What the Chinese government would like to happen over the medium term would be for the coastal regions to become centers of manufacturing excellence while low-tech manufacturing moves inland. If some Chinese or foreign companies decide to switch manufacturing to Southeast Asian countries, the economic damage need not be that great. During this process, however, China still needs to retain a sizeable labor-intensive manufacturing sector because its unusually large population is always hungry for jobs. Thun added China could not get into a game of chasing ever lower labor costs because this would be ultimately self-defeating. "The only way labor costs are going to be kept low is if development doesn't succeed. Development inevitably is going to raise your costs," he added. "It is nonetheless a dilemma for the government. From an employment perspective they still need low-end manufacturing but, on the other hand, the fact that labor costs are rising is to some extent a sign of success." […]. ^ top ^

Morgan Stanley economist forecasts China's economy to expand over 10 pct in 2010 (Global Times)
2010-07-19
Hong Kong-based Morgan Stanley's chief Asia economist, Wang Qing said he was relatively optimistic about China's economic outlook and the world's third largest economy was expected to expand by more than 10 percent this year. In a recent interview with Xinhua, Wang said China's consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, was likely to peak in July at 3.5 percent to 3.6 percent. For the entire year of 2010, he forecast the CPI to stand at around 3 percent. China's economic growth in the second quarter this year slowed down to 10.3 percent, which fell within Morgan Stanley's expectation made early this year, said Wang, who attributed the slowdown to waning effects of the Chinese government's stimulus package and the increasingly higher quarterly comparative bases in 2009. He expected China's growth to continue slowing down in the second half, with the third quarter to expand by about 10 percent and the fourth quarter at about 9 percent or even lower. The economist attributed the accelerating slowdown in China's economy to a simultaneous slowdown in the U.S. and European economies, as well as China's measures to cool down the property market. Wang maintained it was not of much significance regarding a slowdown and what really mattered was that whether the growth rates fell within expectations and within an acceptable range. As inflation expectations started to go lower, Wang said there could be little possibility for the People's Bank of China, or the central bank, to raise the interest rate in the near future. He also expected Chinese financial institutions to meet their target of 7.5 trillion yuan ($1.11 trillion) in new loans for 2010. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Pyongyang slams US-South Korea drill (Global Times)
2010-07-23
North Korea Thursday condemned the imminent US-South Korea naval exercises as a threat to global peace, a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Vietnam for Asia-Pacific security talks. "Such movements pose a great threat not only to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula but also to global peace and security," Ri Tong-il, a spokesman for the North Korean delegation at the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi, told reporters. "If the US is truly interested in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it must take the lead in creating an atmosphere (for dialogue) rather than staging military exercises or imposing sanctions," he added. […]. ^ top ^

US plans to squeeze N Korean bank deals (SCMP)
2010-07-23
US officials are preparing to unleash a fresh crackdown on North Korea's offshore banking activities in an echo of its controversial squeeze on Macau's Banco Delta Asia five years ago.

The measures - part of tighter sanctions announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday in the wake of North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship in March - will see Washington seek fresh co-operation from Beijing, North Korea's chief ally, US officials said. That co-operation could involve targeting specific Chinese banking transactions and enforcing broader measures against Pyongyang's elite. "That Banco Delta Asia crackdown hurt Pyongyang... it really made them feel pressure and we want to find ways of exerting that kind of heat again," one official said. Specific actions have yet to be detailed. The delegation of Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, now visiting Hanoi along with Clinton for annual regional security talks, has yet to comment on the news of fresh US sanctions. […] Macau was one of the few places North Korea could do its banking, and it had long done so; the hermit communist state is so isolated financially that it still cannot transfer funds electronically. From the mid-1970s onwards, strongboxes of cash and gold were shipped to Macau. The US and other Western and allied Asian nations have since been trying to track how North Korea has rebuilt its banking networks. They have been looking for illicit funds linked to illegal arms trades and a range of suspected criminal activity, including drug dealing and counterfeiting. […] "The message has been clear for some time... you don't want to risk one of your banks becoming the next Banco Delta Asia," one Asian diplomat said. "It is a message that the US Treasury has spread very effectively down to the banking level, especially for banks in developing nations." […] Banks in China, Singapore and Switzerland were believed to have been targeted by North Korean enterprises in recent times, he said, and Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia had taken action under recent US pressure. Hong Kong, which hosts one of North Korea's few overseas diplomatic missions, was also a potential bolt-hole, with several North Korea-linked trading firms and occasional shipping traffic. […]. ^ top ^

US boosts sanctions against North Korea (SCMP)
2010-07-22
[…] Clinton announced the new measures - targeting the sale or purchase of arms and related goods used to fund the communist regime's nuclear activities, and the acquisition of luxury items to reward its elite - after she and Gates toured the heavily fortified border in a symbolic trip four months after the sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North. The penalties are intended to further isolate the North and persuade its leaders to return to talks aimed at getting it to abandon nuclear weapons. […] Gates said the visit was intended "to send a strong signal to the North, to the region and to the world that our commitment to South Korea's security is steadfast". "In fact, our military alliance has never been stronger and should deter any potential aggressor," he said. […] Clinton urged North Korea to turn away from the isolation that has left its people suffering. "We continue to send a message to the North: there is another way, there is a way that can benefit the people of the North," she said. "But until they change direction, the United States stands firmly on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of Korea, where we provide a stalwart defence along with our allies and partners." Details of the sanctions are being finalised, but Clinton and other US officials said they would enhance and expand on existing international financial and travel sanctions. The US would freeze additional assets, prevent more individuals from travelling abroad and collaborate with banks to stop suspect transactions, they said. The US would also attempt to stop North Korea's abuse of diplomatic privileges to carry out illegal activities, notably cigarette and currency counterfeiting and money laundering. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia, China's Xinjiang region vow to boost ties (Global Times)
2010-07-19
Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar said Friday that his country wants to develop ties with China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Enhancing cooperation at the border areas of the two countries plays an important role in widening bilateral trade and economic cooperation, and Mongolia has been paying attention to developing its relations with the border areas and autonomous regions of China, the prime minister said. Sukhbaatar spoke during talks with a Chinese delegation led by Arken Imirbaki, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Regional People's Congress. Mongolia and China have 13 ports at the border, four located in Xinjiang. Sukhbaatar said that Mongolia aims to resolve the questions concerning infrastructure, industry and services at the ports. He said that Mongolia wants to boost ties with Xinjiang in developing agriculture, animal husbandry, ancillary sectors and working industries. Imirbaki said that he values development of the bilateral ties. He said that the Xinjiang region is ready to develop together with Mongolia. ^ 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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