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
  6-10.9.10, No. 336  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China warns Japan over Diaoyu seizure (SCMP)
2010-09-10
[…] Beijing said Tokyo was playing a risky game when it arrested the captain of a boat that collided with two Japanese coastguard boats near the Diaoyu Islands. […] "Disputes over territorial sovereignty are highly sensitive. If improperly handled they can hurt broader China-Japan relations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in Beijing. "The Diaoyu islands are China's inseparable territory, and the Japanese side applying domestic law to Chinese fishing boats operating in this area is absurd, illegal and invalid, and China will never accept that. "We hope that the Japanese side recognises the seriousness and gravity of the situation." […] Jiang said Beijing had sent armed fisheries administration ships, which are usually converted naval vessels, to patrol in China's exclusive economic zone in waters near the Diaoyus to protect the safety and operations of Chinese fishermen. […] Activists from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau said that they were planning to sail to the Diaoyus, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, early next month to emphasise China's sovereignty over them and to protest against Zhan's arrest. […] "The union symbolises that all Chinese in the world have united in the movement to defend the Diaoyus," Li Yiqiang, a mainland activist said. […] "Shipowners told me that the local government warned them not to rent any boats to activists involved in defending the Diaoyu Islands," Li said. "But we will try to sail to the Diaoyus early next month." […]. ^ top ^

Beijing's UN envoy 'in drunken rant' (SCMP)
2010-09-10
The most senior Chinese diplomat at the United Nations delivered a drunken rant last week against his boss, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Americans at a retreat in Austria, a report said yesterday. Sha Zukang, the UN undersecretary general for economic and social affairs, did not pull punches in a toast at a dinner in Alpbach, Foreign Policy magazine reported on its website, citing a senior UN official who attended the event. "I know you never liked me, Mr Secretary General - well, I never liked you either," the official quoted Sha as saying in a toast to Ban. The 62-year-old Sha made the remarks after consuming "a few drinks", according to the report. He said Ban had been "trying to get rid" of him and could fire him "anytime". "I didn't want to come to New York. It was the last thing I wanted to do," the career diplomat said, before tempering his speech with some positive words about the UN chief and his persistence. "I've come to love the UN and I'm coming to admire some things about you," Sha reportedly said. He also singled out a US colleague for criticism, saying: "I really don't like Americans." Sha, who took up his UN post in July 2007, apologised the following day for his outburst and then maintained a low profile at the retreat, the report said. ^ top ^

Major challenges ahead as China seeks to assert power in region (SCMP)
2010-09-09
News that Sino-US military exchanges are poised to resume may appear like a triumph of common sense, but if suspicions between the People's Liberation Army and the Pentagon are to be reduced long-term, the challenges ahead should not be underestimated. The freeze has highlighted the difficulties brought about by a shift in the strategic assumptions that have governed the region. Beijing has shown itself increasingly unwilling to accept US military operations off its coast, even if they fall within what the US and other nations deem "international waters"; Washington feels the need to reassert these rights, in part to ease the fears of old allies and new friends. Then there is China's assertion of its claim to the disputed South China Sea - one of the world's most strategic waterways - as a sovereign "core interest". And there is the issue of US arms sales to Taiwan. Even the nature of the possible resumption in exchanges illustrates the struggle. Chinese diplomats appear ready to use the resumption of exchanges as a "gift" ahead of President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington in January; US officials, meanwhile, have long stressed the importance of military ties for their own sake, rather than something that can be proffered as punishment or reward during times of tension. […] On the US side, there is a marked unease over why China has, for example, suddenly raised its objections to routine US and South Korean manoeuvres in the Yellow Sea. "I just don't get it," one US military officer said recently. "We've been doing this for 50 years. It is clearly international waters, and we have clear obligations to a treaty partner, South Korea. If we were doing anything different, I would understand. But we're not... the only difference is the sudden concern of China." Another problem is the limited nature of the exchanges over the years, best described as fledgling - and moving far more slowly than the overall Sino-US relationship. […] If the talks do start soon, one item on the agenda is likely to be a US push for some kind of mutually agreed rules of the road at sea - the kind of working protocol that Washington and Moscow used to keep the Cold War from turning hot. Officials on either side suggest progress is unlikely any time soon. For all that, there are a few flickers of hope. As East Asia steadily integrates, there are growing opportunities for contact. Next month will see Vietnam host the first gathering of defence ministers from the 10 members of the Association of South East Asian Nations with China, Japan, South Korea, the US and Russia. PLA brass, meanwhile, now regularly attend the informal annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore - a favourite of the US and its allies. Less visibly, there are working- level contacts in various international settings, from the ongoing fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa to a recent submarine exercise hosted by Singapore. China sent observers along with several other countries, and the PLA naval officers mingled freely with the US officers and other representatives. PLA officials, meanwhile, have maintained contacts with US scholars and analysts, both formally and informally. There is little doubt that the stakes are high and rising for the whole of East Asia as the region adjusts to China's military modernisation and new assertiveness. "You simply can't have two militaries as large and interconnected as the US and China not talking to each other," said one South Korean envoy. "It is an accident looking for somewhere to happen.". ^ top ^

Beijing will offer to help US recovery by surge of imports (SCMP)
2010-09-09
Premier Wen Jiabao is planning to use a meeting with US President Barack Obama later this month to offer to "vigorously" increase imports from the United States, in an effort to aid economic recovery and ward off American protectionism, diplomats say. The closed-door meeting, on the sidelines of a UN meeting, is another sign that the two countries are seeking to repair ties. […] Wen will attend the annual session of the UN General Assembly. […] At his meeting with Obama, Wen will pledge to step up efforts and take appropriate measures to cut the mainland's trade surplus with the US. The surplus, which totalled US$96.45 billion in the first seven months of the year, could become a hot topic of debate ahead of US midterm elections in November. Wen will tell Obama that Beijing will encourage imports of products in short supply, especially advanced technology and key equipment from the US, the diplomat said. Wen will also pledge that Beijing will streamline non-tariff measures that could potentially impede imports and that it will simplify import procedures. Analysts said that with his Democratic Party under pressure in upcoming congressional elections amid continued economic weakness and worsening unemployment, Obama is looking to Beijing for concessions on trade and currency issues. […] Two congressional hearings are planned this month on China's currency policies and possible retaliatory measures. […] "I believe that the Chinese government will take steps to improve the situation, as both nations are moving towards closer relations ahead of President Hu's state visit to the United States [in January]," Tao Wenzhao, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of American Studies said. Tao said Beijing's initiatives would be partly aimed at accommodating Obama's plan to double US exports in five years to revive the US economy and create more jobs. On Monday, deputy international trade representative Chong Quan told a trade forum that the mainland, the world's largest exporter, would loosen regulations governing imports and lower import costs, among other measures. Beijing's monthly trade surplus in July was the largest since January last year. Some economists think the surplus continued to widen last month, to about US$30 billion. Although the US is the mainland's second-largest trade partner, following the European Union, the mainland's trade surplus with the US accounted for two-thirds of July's total surplus. Nonetheless, in the first six months of this year, US exports to the mainland increased by 35.7 per cent year on year, 13 percentage points higher than overall US export growth, according to US figures. Another focus of the meeting is likely to be the yuan exchange rate. The diplomat said Wen would stick to Beijing's existing policy while pledging further reform of the currency regime once economic recovery became more solid. ^ top ^

Chinese president holds talks with Myanmar's top leader on deepening ties (Xinhua)
2010-09-09
China and Myanmar agreed on Wednesday to took the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties to consolidate traditional friendship and enhance cooperation in key areas including energy and infrastructure building. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Myanmar's top leader reached the agreement in their one-hour-long talks in the Great Hall of the People. […] Hu told Than Shwe China highly valued its relations with the country, and it was an unswerving policy of China to solidify and develop good-neighborly cooperation with Myanmar. "The policy will remain unchanged regardless of changes of international situation," he added. […] "Our bilateral relations have seen consolidation and growth ever since, and has set an example for friendly relations between countries with different social systems," said the Chinese president. Hailing the profound friendship between the two countries, Than Shwe said the two countries supported and understood each other over the years, citing enhanced friendship and trust, frequent high-level visits and rapid growth of win-win cooperation in various areas. […] Hu proposed to keep regular contact between the two countries' leaders through visits and meetings on multilateral occasions, in a bid to maintain timely communication on bilateral ties and major issues of common concern. […] "China is willing to increase imports from Myanmar," he said, adding the Chinese market welcomes more investment from Myanmar enterprises. […] Hu called on both sides to jointly safeguard peace and stability of the frontier and boost economic and social development of the border areas. "China respects sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar, understands and supports the Myanmar government's efforts for national reconciliation," Hu said. He vowed to enhance cooperation with the country in border management, intensify efforts to jointly combat cross-border crimes for sound production and life order of the border regions. Than Shwe agreed with Hu's proposals, saying it was of vital importance for both countries to maintain peace and stability of the border areas. He pledged joint efforts with China to this end. […] China's top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao will meet with Than Shwe on Thursday. Besides Beijing, Than Shwe will also visit the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and the economic hub of Shenzhen in Guangdong province. ^ top ^

Sino-US military ties poised to resume (SCMP)
2010-09-08
[…] Senior officials from both sides - Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg - agreed at a meeting in Virginia late last month to get negotiations on the resumption of military links off the ground so the breakdown in military relations could be repaired before the summit. Hu's state visit has twice been postponed this year amid fresh frictions in the fraught relationship. "Cui and Sternberg have finalised an agreement to work towards the summit in January, although the US side is trying hard to materialise the visit sooner," a Chinese diplomat said. […] Beijing also feared that China would be used as a whipping boy in the lead-up to mid-term congressional elections in the US in November, as Obama's Democratic Party is losing ground to Republicans. […] The summit in January will be finalised through two levels of talks. The lower vice-ministerial-level talks will be between Cui and Kurt Campbell, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the cabinet-level ones led by State Councillor Dai Bingguo and his US counterpart, Steinberg, the Chinese diplomats said. The news comes as the two sides try to put months of tension behind them. On Monday, Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and Li Yuanchao, head of the Communist Party's Organisation Department, told US National Economic Council director Larry Summers and Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon in Beijing that bilateral ties were "sound", though some sectors needed to be improved. Premier Wen Jiabao told Summers and Donilon yesterday the two countries should not treat each other as rivals. Wang told Summers and Donilon on Monday "there is strong inter-dependence and complementarity between the Chinese and US economies" and that relations were developing in a "generally healthy way". The comments show Beijing wants to contain friction with Washington, said Jin Canrong, of Renmin University's School of International Relations. ^ top ^

Indian PM warns of concerted Beijing push in South Asia (SCMP)
2010-09-08
China is seeking to expand its influence in South Asia at India's expense, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned in rare public criticism of his country's rival for regional resources and geopolitical clout. […] "China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality," Singh was quoted as saying by The Times of India yesterday. "We have to be aware of this. There is a new assertiveness among the Chinese. It is difficult to tell which way it will go. So it's important to be prepared." The newspaper quoted Singh as saying China could use India's "soft underbelly" of Kashmir, a region disputed with Pakistan, "to keep India in low-level equilibrium". But it also quoted him as saying he believed the world was large enough for India and China to "co-operate and compete". An official at the prime minister's office, on condition of anonymity, said the newspaper quotes were correct. The Chinese foreign ministry had no immediate comment. Analysts said that despite decades of mistrust, the present spat is unlikely to snowball if past diplomatic sparring is anything to go by. China is now India's biggest trade partner. […] "[Singh's] understanding is China has crossed the red lines that affect India's core sovereignty concerns," said Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman of the Centre for East Asian Studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. "There are green lines such as trade but there are concerns there as well such as the [trade] imbalance and anti-dumping concerns. There is also a realisation in India that you have to make your displeasure more explicit to be taken seriously." Last month, India criticised China's denial of a visa to an Indian army general who had operated in Kashmir. New Delhi later said it was worried by China's growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. China has invested in ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and mining and energy in Myanmar, irking India as it seeks to protect shipping lanes in an area that feeds 80 per cent of China's and 65 per cent of India's oil needs. […] Indian worries constantly surface, particularly over Chinese development projects in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and near their disputed border. Politics aside, the value of bilateral deals between China and India was expected to exceed US$60 billion this year, a 30-fold increase since 2000, raising the stakes in maintaining peace. However, India has imposed tougher security measures on some business with China, including telecommunications imports. […]. ^ top ^

China summons Japanese ambassador on boat interception (Global Times)
2010-09-08
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao on Tuesday summoned Japanese ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa and lodged solemn representations on Japan's interception of Chinese fishing boats. […] Song urged Japanese patrol boats to stop their illegal interception against Chinese fishing boats. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu earlier Tuesday had expressed grave concern over the incident. "The Diaoyu islands and its adjacent islets have been Chinese territory since ancient times," Jiang said at a regular press conference when asked to comment on the collision. "We demand Japanese patrol boats refrain from so-called law enforcement activities in waters off the Diaoyu islands and refrain from actions that would threaten the security of Chinese fishing boats and their crew," said Jiang. "We will closely follow the situation and reserve our right to take further actions," Jiang said. ^ top ^

China is high on EU agenda: European expert (Global Times)
2010-09-07
[…] As underlined by Shada Islam, head of Asian Program at the European Policy Center (EPC), an independent think-tank based in Brussels, in a recent interview with Xinhua, the dialogue was a symbolic get-to-know China mission designed to strengthen cooperation and show that "China is high on the EU agenda." From Aug. 30 to Sept. 4, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton, met Chinese leaders to discuss EU-China relations, major international and regional issues, and the bloc's perspectives on China's development. Ashton first visited Shanghai World Expo before going to Guiyang, capital city of southwestern China's Guizhou Province, to co-chair the Strategic Dialogue with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Wednesday. Then, she traveled to Beijing for a ministerial dialogue with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and held talks with Premier Wen Jiabao. Several issues were discussed during the meeting, with a special focus on security, environment and economic questions. Concerning China's opposition to economic sanctions imposed on Iran, Islam said that the EU would maintain its decision while remaining open to debate and negotiations with Iran. At the same time, the expert believed the EU should change its environment strategy towards China. The Chinese authorities will not follow EU's legally-binding standards, arguing that such measures could slow down the country's development. Islam therefore suggested that the EU help China move to a low- carbon development path by promoting cooperation and knowledge sharing. As EU is calling for greater market access, Islam insisted that China would do more to open its market. "The EU opened its market and it should be the other way round,"she told Xinhua. Increased market access will not have a direct impact on China' s position as EU's second largest trade partner. In other words, China will not replace the United States in the short term," Islam declared, pointing out EU-US long-standing economic relationships. […]. ^ top ^

New groups influence foreign policy in China: think tank (Global Times)
2010-09-07
Forces outside China's traditional power bases are increasingly shaping the country's foreign policy and pushing for more international participation, the SIPRI think tank said in a report Monday. "These are still groups on the margins. But it is significant that the top leadership now has to take into account diverse views," director of China program at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Linda Jakobson, told AFP in Helsinki, where the report was launched. New pressure groups such as state-owned enterprises, local governments, expert advisers, as well as public input via media and online communities, are all being heard to some extent in the inner sanctum of the Communist Party of China, the report said. These rising pressure groups are able to make an impact not only through traditional channels such as personal networks, but increasingly by writing newspaper columns, blogs, making public speeches and even through television debates. SIPRI's report said that these new groups are especially eager to see China more strongly defend its interests on the global stage, which would involve becoming more active internationally. ^ top ^

China to provide flood-hit Pakistan additional aid worth 29 mln USD (Xinhua)
2010-09-07
The Chinese government announced Monday that it would provide an additional 200 million yuan (29.4 million U.S. dollars) of humanitarian aid to flood-hit Pakistan for disaster relief and reconstruction. The Chinese government had previously given 120 million yuan in humanitarian relief to its neighbor, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu confirmed the 200-million-yuan aid on Monday evening. […] As Pakistan's "close neighbor and all-weather friend," China would continue to support Pakistan's disaster relief and reconstruction efforts, said Jiang. […] ^ top ^

Senior US officials in China for 3-day trip (Global Times)
2010-09-06
[…] China's foreign ministry said Thursday that US National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers and Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon would visit China from September 5 to 8 to "have an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and other major issues of common interest." The White House also said in a statement Thursday that the two officials would travel to China to "discuss a wide range of issues touching on bilateral and international issues." Wu Xinbo, a professor at the Center for American Studies of Fudan University, told the Global Times that the visit by the American officials is a routine one agreed upon in June, when President Hu Jintao met with the US President Barack Obama in Canada, and it shows that both governments hope to improve current bilateral relations. Tensions between China and the US have risen in recent months due to differences in a series of issues. […] Forbes Columnist Gordon Chang suggested that the visit could be an "apology tour." However, Jin Canrong from the International Relations Department at the People's University of China believes such speculation is not reality. "It is more like a trip to communicate with Chinese. Both sides realize they need dialog because they share many mutual interests," Jin said. "The scheduled visit shows that recent diplomatic frictions haven't affected bilateral relations on the whole," said Wang Yizhou, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, adding that confrontation should not dominate the ties between China and the US, the two major economic powers in the world. "However, we can't expect the bilateral relations to be smooth forever," Wang said. "When the ties deteriorate, we shall not be overly pessimistic; when they improve, we shall not be overly optimistic, either.". ^ top ^

US, S Korea postpone drills as tropical storm nears (SCMP)
2010-09-05
[…] "Due to an approaching tropical storm, we have postponed anti-submarine warfare exercises between the US and Republic of Korea that were due to start [today]," Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the United States Seventh Fleet, said. "Tropical storm 10W is forecast to enter the Yellow Sea in the next day. Both high winds and heavy seas are expected to directly impact the exercise area, creating potentially unsafe conditions for exercise participants." He said the exercises would be rescheduled for a later date, without saying when. […] The drills would not involve an aircraft carrier this time, Davis said, but he would not rule out the possibility of a carrier operating in the Yellow Sea in the future. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Action not taken on fatal illness for 3 years (SCMP)
2010-09-10
Henan health authorities admitted they waited three years to launch a large-scale campaign over a fatal disease caused by tick bites after the first case was reported. The department denied the media accusation of a cover-up but conceded it wasn't until May that it began to carry out surveillance of symptoms and training of medical staff that "involved more people" at the request of the Ministry of Health. Eighteen people have died out of 557 reported cases of suspected human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) since May 2007. Most of the cases were in counties and districts under the jurisdiction of Xinyang, the department said in a statement published on its website. This information followed a report that criticised the local government for not disseminating information about the cases on a timely basis. HGA reduces the white blood cell and platelet counts in the blood, leading to organ failure and death, but is curable if caught early. China National Radio also reported 11 people had died of a similar tick-borne disease in Penglai, Shandong, this year and victim's relatives have complained about the slow response from the government. The Beijing News reported on Wednesday that at least five deaths this year and two last year were related to tick bites, and that rumours about the bites had caused panic in Xinyang and nearby. Angry residents accused authorities of keeping the public in the dark for months about the risk and spread of the disease. The newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying the decision to impose a news blackout was made by the city's mayor in April, citing "fears over panic and instability". An official with the Henan Health Department's emergency response office said the province's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was aware of tick-borne HGA when it was reported in May 2007 but did not carry out a large-scale awareness campaign then because of "limited knowledge about the disease". […] The Beijing News reported, citing grass-roots-level doctors, that some had never heard of such diseases. Some cases were treated like colds and even mental illnesses. Some patients died because village doctors treated them incorrectly, it said. ^ top ^

Thugs beat TV reporters (Global Times)
2010-09-10
[…] A fire broke out in a cafeteria at the City College of the Jilin Architectural and Civil Engi-neering Institute around 10:30 am Tuesday. There were no casualties reported in the blaze, according to a report in the City Evening News Thursday. Local media, including four reporters from Jilin and Changchun TV stations, rushed to the scene, but they were stopped and chased by 50 or so security guards, teachers and students at the gate, reports said. Three of the TV reporters were beaten and taken to the hospital. "The fire was nearly out when a man, who claimed to be the president, arrived and demanded us to stop shooting. I wanted to film the burned-out building with black stains on it, but a number of security guards rushed out to grab my camera," Wang Maoji, one of the injured reporters from Changchun TV, told the Global Times. "Suddenly I heard somebody cry 'beat him,' then 40 to 50 people, including security guards, began to chase and hit me," the reporter said in a telephone interview, adding that he hardly had time to react. Denying the accusation that he had quarreled with the security guards, Wang said that he was beaten because the university didn't want him to cover the incident. An hour later, a college official surnamed He held a group interview in a meeting room but refused the entry of the four TV journalists, the newspaper said. The college Thursday denied that it had the journalists beaten, insisting it just wanted to protect their safety. Wang Caijie, the secretary general of the Jilin Journalists' Association, told the Global Times Thursday that the incident is still under investigation, but she condemned the "barbaric beating." "Reporters' legitimate interview activities are subject to the protection of law. All reporters in China have the right to interview, report and comment," she said, adding that the incident has been transferred to the local police for further investigation. […] In all, 57 percent of journalists say they have been verbally abused during interviews, and 34 percent were attacked, according to the Investigative Report on Media Workers in Television and Broadcasting Institutions, published in August. Some experts think new legislation will help protect members of the media, while others say relative laws are in place but need to be strictly enforced. […]. ^ top ^

Concerns mount over huge measles vaccination push (SCMP)
2010-09-09
[…] The Ministry of Health announced last week that from Saturday, nearly 100 million children on the mainland aged from eight months to 14 years would be vaccinated within 10 days. It will be the biggest inoculation campaign in the nation's history. Beijing is answering the World Health Organisation's call to eliminate measles […] by 2012. The ministry has taken unusual steps to raise awareness of the need for vaccinations by holding press briefings and online talks, with the WHO supporting and defending the campaign. However, there is serious concern among parents and immunologists about whether a non-selective vaccination campaign of this size is necessary. The country's senior leaders are also looking into the matter. The mainland reported 52,000 cases of measles with 39 deaths last year, a 60 per cent drop from the year before, according to ministry figures. The number of cases in the first half of this year was down by more than one-quarter year on year. But voices challenging the campaign have been quickly muffled. Blogs by a professor of immunology and He Xin, an outspoken veteran deputy to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, raising concerns about the vaccination effort, were closed. The ministry also promptly published a response through Xinhua to doubts and concerns circulating via mobile phone messages and word of mouth. […] The WHO, which is providing technical support for the campaign, said in a statement that vaccinating every child - even those who have been vaccinated in the past - is "essential in stopping the virus with a wall of immunity in the population". The statement said the immune system could handle multiple or repeated vaccinations. But immunology experts said the worthiness of the goal did not justify the campaign, and there was no good reason to conduct a blind immunisation on such a large scale without doing a sample test. Wang Yuedan, associate professor of immunology at the Peking University Health Science Centre, said it was essential to conduct a survey of a good portion of the population to make sure the immunisation campaign was really necessary. "You don't know how well immunised the population is. In some places, 98 per cent of the population has developed immunity. Is it really necessary for parents to take the risk of their children developing adverse affects after the shot?" Wang said some babies might be immunised against the disease from their mothers, and a dose of the vaccine at eight months might actually diminish that effect. Also, a developed immunity against measles would also make later shots less effective. […] Rumours and theories about the campaign are rife on the internet and in conversation, with some suggesting the campaign is driven by business interests, even though there is no strong evidence of it. […]. ^ top ^

Bribery cases on the rise in China (People's Daily Online)
2010-09-08
The number of bribery cases involving government officials has increased by 13 percent since 2003, a senior anti-corruption official from the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) said. Prosecutors charged 9,476 governmental officials in nearly 9,000 bribery cases nationwide from January to June this year alone, Song Hansong, deputy-director of the SPP's anti-dereliction and infringement department, told China Daily in an exclusive interview. Among the cases, 2,067 concerned the offer of bribes, in which 2,369 official suspects were involved. The number of cases increased 18.4 percent from the preceding year and the number of suspects involved rose 20.5 percent for the same period. In 2009, 41,531 officials were charged for their involvement in 32,439 corruption and bribery cases. About 12,897 cases, or about 40 percent of them, were related to bribery, an increase from 12,471 in 2008, according to statistics from the anti-corruption department of the SPP. […] Officials from State-owned enterprises, major construction projects, financial and securities, administrative and law enforcement departments, as well as Party and government organizations, accounted for the majority of the suspects, Song said. […] Excessive bidding also remains the focus of corruption and bribery attempts in the construction sector, because relevant laws and regulations are not sound enough, Song said. Those who offer bribes receive lighter punishments than those who receive them, Song said. In an effort to tackle these challenges, in 2008 the SPP established a work plan for the prevention of corruption from 2008 to 2012, which introduced a blacklist for graft cases. "The plan stipulates that, if any person or work unit is found to have offered bribes, they will be banned from entering the bidding market," Song said. If the amount of money involved exceeds 10,000 yuan, he added, those found to have violated the plan will also be held criminally accountable and possibly receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. ^ top ^

Plan to revise capital punishment draws controversy and optimism (Global Times)
2010-09-07
[…] The draft amendment to the Criminal Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) last month. It seeks to eliminate capital punishment for 13 crimes such as smuggling cultural relics and rare animals and for fraudulent activities involving counterfeit money. […] As of May 2007, 89 counties and regions had abolished the death penalty, but some common crimes are still subjected to the death sentence in 56 countries and regions, including China. Under the current Criminal Law, there are 68 crimes eligible for the death penalty, accounting for 15.3 percent of the 444 categories. Forty-four of the 68 crimes are non-violent offenses and 17 of 44 are economic-related. The latest revision, if passed, will reduce the use of the death penalty for the first time since it was enacted in 1979. It shows more respect for human life, a core value of modern society, and is compatible with the trend of modern criminal laws, observers say. Cheng Tao, a lawyer with the Beijing Lawyers Association who specializes in criminal law, expressed support for such a move, noting that it comes as a result of years of lobbying from scholars and after public debate. ^ top ^

China's auto ownership expected to exceed 200 million in 2020 (People's Daily Online)
2010-09-07
It is estimated that automobile ownership in China will exceed 200 million in 2020, causing serious energy security and environmental issues, said Wang Fuchang, director of the Department of Equipment Industry under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, on Sept. 5. […] First, developing energy-efficient and alternative-energy automobiles are both significant and either of them cannot be neglected, Wang said. Second, the relationship between independent development and opening up and international cooperation should be handled properly. Wang said China should adhere to the principle that technological innovations are the principal driving force for the development of China's energy-efficient and new-energy automobile industry. At the same time it must make full use of global innovative resources by advancing international technological exchanges and cooperation through various cooperation mechanisms and channels. […] Wang said that China's auto industry should achieve the following objectives in 2020 after 10 years of efforts. First, the country should master the core technology for energy-efficient and new-energy cars, and the overall technologies for these cars should meet high international standards. Second, a fairly complete new-energy car industrial system should be developed, and some internationally competitive auto manufacturers and key parts suppliers should be established. Third, the sales of pure-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should increase by a large margin. Fourth, fuel economy should reach high international standards, he said. Wang said that China will encourage automakers to increase their capacity for independent innovation and to master core technologies, develop a rational industrial plan and set clear development priorities, perfect the laws and regulations for energy-efficient and new-energy cars, carry out more pilot projects, as well as provide consumers and users of energy-efficient cars with tax incentives. […]. ^ top ^

Officials cover up cholera outbreak (SCMP)
2010-09-06
Authorities in eastern Anhui province covered up an outbreak of cholera for 12 days out of fears that publicising the often fatal disease would shock the local population, state press reported yesterday. According to the website of the Anhui provincial health department, 38 people had contracted cholera since August 16 but the number of cases was diminishing. Five patients remained in hospital, it said. […] Although health authorities have not reported any deaths, internet chatrooms were abuzz with rumours that several people had died from the disease. At the same time, state media criticised the government for covering up the epidemic and refusing to alert the local population. "On August 16, the Anhui centre for disease control confirmed the outbreak of cholera, but it was not until August 28 that it was publicised," the Beijing News said. "The government covered up the outbreak for 12 days." The paper quoted Wang Jianjun, vice-director of the Anhui centre for disease control, as saying that local officials were powerless to publicise disease outbreaks and had to wait for approval from more senior officials. "Besides, if every outbreak of disease is publicised every time, this will easily lead the public to become paralysed in their thinking," the report cited him as saying without elaboration. The cholera outbreak has been traced to a soybean milk shop in Anhui's Mengcheng city. Poor sanitation and lax food safety have repeatedly led to health crises on the mainland. Last week, 87 children were admitted to hospital after eating tainted yogurt at a kindergarten in northwest Gansu province, state media reported on Saturday. Also last week, a cooking oil company in central China acknowledged it had waited five months before notifying the public that one of its products had been found to contain excessive carcinogens. […]. ^ top ^

Declining air quality blamed on rapid growth of car industry (SCMP)
2010-09-06
The air in a fifth of the mainland's cities is seriously polluted, according to the Environmental Protection Ministry. Liu Zhiquan, deputy chief of the Technology Standards Department, also said yesterday the air quality in a third of 113 major cities did not reach the national second-level standard of less than 0.15mg of particulates per cubic millimetre. The main reason for the pollution was vehicle emissions, Liu said. The mainland had more than 63 million vehicles at the end of last year, according to State Information Centre data, and this was expected to climb to 75 million by the end of next year. The rapid growth of the automobile industry had brought serious air pollution, Liu said. Since the end of the 1980s, the number of vehicles had increased by a factor of more than 24 and the amount of emissions by a factor of more than 12. Liu said control of emissions would be tightened. ^ top ^

Fines of up to 5m yuan for mine bosses who refuse to work in pits (SCMP)
2010-09-06
[…] A State Council edict two months ago that ordered coal mine managers down the pits was never effectively implemented, and the central government has now warned it will hand out punishments ranging from verbal warnings to dismissal if mine owners flout the regulation, as well as fines of 150,000 yuan. It said on Thursday that the fines would be increased to up to five million yuan if managers were not in mines when major accidents happened. Compensation payments to the families of miners who die in mine accidents will also be increased to 20 times a city dweller's average annual income from next year. Premier Wen Jiabao told a State Council meeting in July that he hoped mine safety could be improved by forcing managers to share the same risks as miners, and that mine bosses should take charge of work in the pits by descending into shafts with their workers. However, very few mine bosses actually follow the regulation. Lu Rizhou, a former political adviser from Shanxi province, which sees the country's highest number of casualties from mine accidents, said he saw a county party secretary cry when forced to enter a mine. According to the edict, mine bosses are required to stay in the pits for at least eight hours at a time and return to the surface with their workers. Managers of mid-sized mines will need to go underground between eight and 15 times a month. State media quoted mine workers as saying that the new regulation could force mine bosses to attach more importance to work safety and ensure more effective evacuation procedures - but only if it was followed by the bosses. […] The authorities reiterate safety regulations every time a mine tragedy occurs on the mainland, but very few mine bosses obey the regulations because of widespread corruption and lax supervision. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Chinese President calls on teachers to embrace innovation (China Daily)
2010-09-10
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday, the eve of Teachers' Day, called on teachers to embrace reform and innovation in teaching and enhance teaching standards. Hu made the call during a visit to the Renmin University of China in Beijing and its affiliated high school. […] At the high school, Hu urged school authorities to respect students' individuality, tap their potentials, and help students improve their overall competence. At a lecture hall of the university, he called on university professors to be more productive in their scientific research so as to provide more reference for the government in decision-making. Hu also urged the university administration and teaching faculty to promote glorious university traditions, embrace reform and innovation, and improve its education quality. After the tour to the university, Hu met national model teachers and teachers who made outstanding contributions during the country's earthquake-relief work. […]. ^ top ^

Diplomats raise 1.4m yuan for disabled (Global Times)
2010-09-06
Diplomats and workers from 65 embassies and foreign representative offices in Beijing raised 1.4 million yuan ($205,840) over the weekend for disabled people, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The International Charity Sale for Persons with Disabilities, co-organized by the foreign ministry and the China Foundation for Disabled Persons, was held in Sun Park in Chaoyang District, with 90 booths taking part. Items sold in this year's event included food, wine, books and handicrafts - all were made in foreign countries. Funds collected will be used to construct two rehabilitation centers for disabled people, one in the landslide-stricken Zhouqu county, in Northwestern Gansu Province, and the other in Xibaipo, in Northern Hebei Province. In the opening address, Le Aimei, wife of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who presided over the event, expressed gratitude toward the participants and stressed the significance of this international charity event. […] "This event is aimed at directing social attentions to care and further support the disabled, especially those living in rural areas," she said. Babakhan Aslami, the first secretary at the embassy of Afghanistan, told the Global Times that the event produced two positive results: raising funds for disabled persons and promoting Afghanistan's culture and image. But, he conceded that more people could have donated if the location of the event was more accessible to visitors. Chin Siat Yoon, the Singaporean ambassador to China, told China National Radio that the event had more significance this year because it helps the people in Zhouqu, a city still recovering from devastating landslides last month. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Residents protest over airport noise (SCMP)
2010-09-07
A crowd of angry Shanghai residents took to the streets yesterday to complain about noise pollution from the increasingly busy Hongqiao International Airport. […] "We have been complaining to our local government for months, but they refuse to listen," said one retiree, showing copies of letters he had sent to various bodies. "We want to meet party secretary Yu Zhengsheng or mayor Han Zheng. That's all we're asking for: a chance to be heard." Police broke up the unauthorised gathering just before 1pm, bussing most protesters back to their homes - all in two residential complexes next to the airport. Witnesses said at least two protesters had been detained, and some accused police officers of using excessive force. […] "They even dragged an 80-year-old woman onto a bus, pulling her by her hands and feet. A young student was trying to film the scuffle, but the police arrested him" said one protester who, like others involved in the incident, asked not to be named. The residents are fighting for compensation and relocation from their homes - in Maosheng Flower Garden and Shashen New Village, two medium-sized residential complexes right at the end of the airport's runway - because of increased air traffic since the opening of a new terminal and second runway in March. […] "Since the new terminal opened, there have been planes going over our house every two or three minutes right up to three in the morning. The noise often starts again shortly after 5am, so we can only get about two hours' sleep a night. Nobody can live like this" a middle-aged resident said. […] Others claimed they had begun experiencing health problems as a result of the increased noise pollution, ranging from hair loss and mood swings to aggravating heart and kidney conditions. Parents said they worried that their children's development was being adversely affected. A 70-year-old woman, who was one of the most vocal protesters, said she felt basic freedoms were the key issue. "The right to food and to sleep are some of the most basic rights of any person," she said. "You will starve to death if you don't eat, but sleep deprivation can kill, too.". ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Tenth tropical storm may hit southeast China with waves 6 meters high (Xinhua)
2010-09-09
The tenth tropical storm this year might strike southeast China Thursday night or Friday, bringing waves as high as six meters, said local flood control officials Wednesday. The storm could make landfall in the coastal areas between eastern Guangdong and southern Fujian Provinces, said Guangdong Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters in a statement. The storm was tracked at 21 degrees north latitude and 119.4 degrees east longitude in the South China Sea at 6 p.m. For the next 12 hours, it is expected to move westward at a speed of 10 to 15 km per hour, said the statement. Further, the storm was packing wind gusts of 72 kilometers per hour near its center at 6 p.m. Torrential rains of 30 to 80 mm are expected in central and eastern Guangdong if landfall is made. Headquarters officials have asked fishing boats to stay clear of the waters east of the Pearl River estuary. Checks on reservoirs should also be beefed up, they said. ^ top ^

Shenzhen speeches show divide on 'political reform' (SCMP)
2010-09-07
[…] President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao's back-to-back visits to the economic boomtown have accentuated the sharp division between their ideas about the country's political future. Hu yesterday celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen special economic zone with promises of further reform and opening up, although he kept his views on political reform as ambiguous as ever. "We must persist with the road of political development with Chinese characteristics... and advance the socialist political system's self improvement and development," Hu said. He made one passing mention of "political reform" in his 30-minute speech to a full house at a Shenzhen University stadium, pledging a reform package for the city - including "economic reform, political reform, cultural reform and societal reform". Expectations had run high that Hu might elaborate on Shenzhen's political future in his speech, following Wen's debate-stirring remarks on political reform in the vanguard city two weeks ago. The premier raised a few eyebrows during his trip to the city by stressing the necessity of political reform in advancing its economic development. "Without the safeguard of political reform, the fruits of economic reform would be lost and the goal of modernisation would not materialise," Wen was quoted by the liberal, Guangzhou-based The Southern Metropolis News as saying. Wen said political reform must take place to keep power in check, to allow people to criticise and monitor the performance of the government, to crack down on corruption and to build a fair and just society. Wen's speech was played down by the mainstream state media. The orthodox Guangming Daily published an article stressing the difference between the concept of democracy on the mainland and in the West, hinting that what works in the West cannot be foisted upon Beijing, while liberal-minded media such as the Southern Daily and Caixin have published articles supporting Wen's reform efforts. In contrast, Hu's speech yesterday was heralded with much pomp and circumstance across the state media, even though analysts saw little new in it. "To me, he said the minimum. He paid lip service to the term [political reform] but didn't flesh out what it means," said Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong's Baptist University. Beijing-based independent analyst Chen Ziming said: "So long as it is talking about Chinese characteristics, there won't be anything new. That means it is unwilling to acknowledge internationally accepted values." "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" has long come to represent a conservative political view that refuses to acknowledge the universality of values such as democracy, rule of law, equality, freedom and human rights but instead insists on Beijing's right to pursue a developmental model that is economically free but politically repressive. […] It was not surprising that Wen's speech caused a stir among the country's liberal intellectuals, with that excitement spreading across the internet. There was widespread speculation about whether his words represented just his personal opinion or signified preparations for a bold move by the central government. Wen has long been rapped by party conservatives for touting universal values such as democracy, rule of law, freedom and human rights, and Chen said the fact that he was able to continue talking about such values in public meant he still wielded a certain level of influence. Even though many analysts doubt that Wen's championing of political reform will have much effect, as he is stepping down as premier in just two years' time, some said his words would make it easier for upcoming leaders to follow through on his dreams. Others who are less optimistic say it is only Wen's last efforts to set the record straight. "I think these are his last words for the political system," said Zhang Lifan, a former Chinese Academy of Social Sciences historian. "If there are problems in the future, he could say `I told you so but nobody listened to me'. He is in fact powerless to do anything about reforms." […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Two more Tibetan writers arrested, press group says (SCMP)
2010-09-08
Two Tibetan journalists have been arrested in northwestern China after writing about a government crackdown on 2008 ethnic unrest in Tibet, a press freedom group said on Tuesday. The writers, identified as Buddha and Kalsang Jinpa, were taken into police custody in Qinghai province in June and July respectively, and were accused of “separatism,” the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. It said the arrests bring the number of Tibetan journalists and writers jailed in China to 15, “almost half the number of journalists detained in China” for their writings. At least another 50 Tibetans are in custody for sending information abroad, the group said, without elaborating. “There has been no let-up in these arrests since March 2008 and their effect is to drastically curtail the ability of Tibetan intellectuals to make their voices heard,” the group said, while demanding the pair's release. The India-based Tibet Post International said the two writers were arrested after publishing their articles outside China. Police in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, denied any knowledge of the matter when contacted by reporters. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taipei reminds Beijing about Japan war facts (SCMP)
2010-09-07
Taiwan made a rare rejection of Communist Party claims that its leadership was fundamental to China's victory in the war against Japanese invaders 65 years ago. "The anti-Japanese war was won under the government of the Republic of China, which was led by the Kuomintang at the time. This is a fact and the only historical truth," a spokesman quoting Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou was reported by the Central News Service as saying on Saturday. He was responding to an editorial in the People's Daily, the party's mouthpiece, on Friday, the anniversary of the end of the war. The editorial claimed that "the most fundamental reason [for China's victory] was the Communist Party, representing the will of all Chinese, leading and pushing forward the anti-Japanese war, using its sacrificial spirit and love for the country, sustaining the hopes of the country and its people, and becoming pioneers in seizing the ultimate victory". Taiwan's Ministry of Defence issued a statement on Saturday calling the editorial "inconsistent with historical facts" and saying "it is not acceptable for anyone to alter or misinterpret this history". Beijing's stance has always been that the communists took the initiative to work with the Kuomintang ruling party, to set aside domestic differences and fight the Japanese. But it is rare for official opinion pieces not to mention the Kuomintang's contribution at all. Five years ago, on the 60th anniversary of the victory, President Hu Jintao extensively remarked on the Kuomintang's contribution to the success of the war, saying it fought most of Japan's direct attacks, especially during the early days, while the Communist Party was launching guerilla resistance. ^ top ^

Cultural relations next on agenda but Taiwan not so keen (SCMP)
2010-09-07
Cultural relations will be the next big focus between Taiwan and the mainland now that the two sides have signed a trade agreement. But the Taiwanese seem reluctant to take that next step, at least in the eyes of political analysts. The latest move corresponds with the mainland's plan to kick off the next level of cross-strait talks before moving on to political negotiations, analysts said. In what was considered a further breakthrough, mainland Cultural Minister Cai Wu arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for a weeklong visit, becoming the highest-ranking mainland official to visit in 12 years. […] Cai said economic and trade ties were very important, but cross-strait peace and prosperity could not rely merely on the materialistic aspect, especially when there was "no substitute for exchanges of culture and thought". […] Cai said the two sides should study revising policies that hinder cross-strait cultural exchanges and to simplify application procedures for exchanges and co-operation. He also called for increases in exchange visits by high-level cultural officials. But Cai's Taiwanese counterpart, Emile Sheng Chih-jen, of the Council for Cultural Affairs, said while the island was open to the discussions of a possible pact and opening of offices to formalise cultural ties, "we have no timetable for this". He said Cai's visit served to improve bilateral understanding over exchange issues, but "for our two sides to sign a cultural agreement, it still requires us to make long-term efforts and work hard before it could be possible". Jonathan Liu Te-shun, a spokesman for the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top mainland policy planning body, said Cai's visit had nothing to do with the discussion of signing a cultural pact. […] Analysts said the comments by Sheng and Liu meant that Taiwan was not ready to enter the next level of talks. […] In a recent interview with the China Times, President Ma Ying-jeou said he did not think the two sides should hurry other talks after ECFA. Lo Chih-cheng, a professor of political science at Soochow University, said under the mainland's plan, Beijing hopes to move on to the next level of talks to pave the way for political negotiations. "But with fears of a possible backlash from voters worried about the policy of leaning too heavily towards China, the Ma government will maintain this attitude at least until after the November 27 municipality elections," he said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China moves up the global ladder (China Daily)
2010-09-10
China continued its upward march in the rankings of a global competitiveness report released on Thursday, while the United States was displaced from the top of the table by Switzerland. The nation's ranking improved by two notches on the back of advances made in the financial sector and the massive infrastructure construction, said the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2010-2011, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). China has also increased its lead over other emerging economies like Brazil, Russia and India, whose rankings remained stable, the report said. The nation is now ranked 27th in the GCR compared with 29th place a year back, the report said. The GCR was based on the Global Competitiveness Index, which includes the 12 pillars of competitiveness such as infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education. […] Brazil, India and Russia were ranked 58, 51 and 63 in the WEF report. Switzerland dislodged the US to grab the top slot. "The biggest strength of China is its large and growing market," said Jennifer Blanke, chief economist of the WEF. She expressed confidence that China will continue to rise in the ranking. According to the report, China has scored well in several assessment factors such as market size and microeconomic environment, with rankings of second and fourth respectively. But in areas such as higher education and training, technological readiness and financial market development, the country still needs to make more advances. […] China has made rapid advances in shifting its economic focus to innovation rather than efficiency, but it will take some time before the efforts bear fruit, said Robert Greenhill, managing director and chief business officer of WEF. Policy instability, and corruption and access to financing are still the major issues confronting investors in China, the report said. ^ top ^

Commerce minister signals stronger yuan (SCMP)
2010-09-09
Minister of Commerce Chen Deming says mainland exporters should be prepared for a stronger yuan after the currency drifted to a monthly peak against the US dollar. Appreciation of the currency gained steam yesterday, jumping to a month's high of 6.7907 to the dollar. It has added 0.1 per cent in the past three days, based on the average rate of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. Chen said yesterday that he did not "see any signals of abnormal volatility" but exporters should be prepared to counter the impact of a stronger currency. […] Exporters complain that for every 1 per cent rise in the yuan's value, their wafer-thin profit margin could drop 3 per cent, bringing them close to a loss. Beijing has pressed on with plans to make the yuan more global in the past few months by allowing more mainland cities to settle trade in yuan and overseas institutions, including Hong Kong lenders, to invest in the mainland interbank bond market. However, that globalisation was proving tough because the mainland lacked the experience and talent, Chen said. "It is a very long process," he said. "We haven't seen any currency which is strong enough to replace the greenback." The value of the yuan is a touchy issue in Sino-US trade relations, with Washington accusing Beijing of keeping the exchange rate so low that it favours Chinese exporters. Despite the recent strength in the yuan, Chen said growth in mainland exports would taper off in the second half. The trade surplus could be larger on a full-year basis this year on stronger imports. "The US economy did not recover as fast as we anticipated," he said, pointing to slower than expected economic growth in the second quarter of this year. "Then, Europe had a debt crisis, which added uncertainty to the global trade landscape." He said the Ministry of Commerce had revised its forecast on the trade surplus to US$150 billion this year from US$100 billion at the beginning of this year. "However, we don't think it will exceed last year's level," Chen said. China's trade surplus stood at US$196 billion last year. The consensus of economists' forecasts was for August export growth of 32 per cent, slower than the 38.1 per cent rise in July. However, imports were expected to grow at a faster pace of 30.2 per cent compared with the 22.7 per cent increase in July as a combined result of higher commodity prices globally and domestic consumption. This was likely to result in a surplus of US$26 billion. […]. ^ top ^

Property surge defies Beijing's cooling efforts (SCMP)
2010-09-09
So much for cooling the market. China Vanke, the mainland's largest listed property developer, said it pulled in a record 11.9 billion yuan (HK$13.61 billion) in sales last month. Sales in Shenzhen soared by 84 per cent, in Guangzhou they were up 56 per cent, and there were steep rises in Shanghai (31 per cent) and Beijijing (23 per cent). Two Hong Kong-listed mainland developers said combined sales for August were close to 10 billion yuan. The renewed boom has prompted fears that Beijing may be lining up new austerity measures. The rising sales belie fears that the world's second-biggest economy is slowing due to tighter lending to the real estate sector. Ironically, earlier cooling measures may have had the unintended effect of boosting sales by making homes more affordable. […] Surging prices - which threatened to put property out of the reach of the growing middle class - forced the central government to introduce a series of cooling measures in April. Home values in the biggest cities soared last year, with prices in Shenzhen surging 95 per cent, Beijing rising 88 per cent, Shanghai 43 per cent and Guangzhou 41 per cent. […] The austerity measures initially had a big impact, with property sales falling as much as 60 per cent in major cities. However, transactions picked up in July before getting a full head of steam in August. […] Lee Wee-liat, regional property research head at Samsung Securities attributed the rebound to the release of pent-up demand, the diminishing effect of the policy tightening and developers being more flexible on prices. "Some of the demand was held back temporarily as buyers waited" to see if prices would drop further, he said. But given renewed demand some developers, such as China Vanke and Evergrande, had started to raise prices and scrap discounts. Meggie Qin, head of research in Beijing for Jones Lang LaSalle, said some banks in smaller cities were still providing mortgages for buyers of second and third homes. Property stocks slid yesterday on concern new curbs may be on the way. […] Alan Chiang, head of residential for China at DTZ, said the market was driven by excess liquidity with capital diverted into real estate to hedge against inflation. […]. ^ top ^

Import boost to target US, EU (Global Times)
2010-09-07
Measures will be taken to gradually boost the country's imports and improve the trade imbalance, an official at the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said Monday. The country's export growth has been recovering, while the imports have slowed in recent months, according to data from the General Administration of Customs. The sub-index measuring imports of the purchasing managers' index also continued to drop in August. The government's vow to boost imports is part of the goal to shift from an export-driven economic model to one based more on domestic consumer spending, Chong Quan, a deputy international trade representative of the MOFCOM, said Monday at a forum in Beijing. Yao Jian, spokesperson of MOFCOM, said in August that the country will further increase imports to better balance trade. The country is in the process of industrialization and urbanization, which will spur the growth of a vast domestic demand market in the long-term, while boosting other country's exports to China, Chong said. A series of measures will be taken to increase imports, according to Chong. Trade frictions and disputes will be properly dealt with and the country will encourage imports from major countries that have trade deficits with China, he said. China will take the initiative to import resources, advanced technology and important equipment. The country will further improve the tariff structure to help enterprises increase imports, he added. The nation's general import tariffs have been lowered to 9.8 percent, compared to an average level of 46.6 percent in developing countries across the world. Major trading partners like the US and EU member countries will be the target import sources. The government's efforts to boost imports will help soothe trade frictions with the US and the EU while helping to revive their economic growth, given uncertainties in the recovery, said Wang Yuesheng, director of the Department of International Economics and Trade at Peking University. But the imports of goods such as advanced technology also depends on trading partners' willingness to loosen restraints on their exports, Wang said. Every country should cooperate to resist trade protectionism and open up markets to quicken the pace of global economic recovery, Chong also said. ^ top ^

China surges to 5th largest global investor (China Daily)
2010-09-06
[…] China now ranks as the fifth largest global investor in outbound direct investment (ODI) with a total volume of $56.5 billion, compared to a ranking of 12th in 2008, the Ministry of Commerce said on Sunday. On top of this, foreign direct investment (FDI) this year was set to "surpass $100 billion", compared to $90 billion last year, ministry officials predicted. Globally, foreign investment decreased by almost 40 percent last year amid the financial downturn and is expected to show only marginal growth this year. The growth in both outbound investment from, and inbound investment to, China reflects the nation's rising economic power and attractiveness as an investment destination. […] According to the ministry, China's ODI grew by 1.1 percent from a year earlier to $56.53 billion, which includes investment of $47.8 billion in non-financial sectors worldwide, up 14.2 percent year-on-year. Last year was the eighth consecutive year that the nation's ODI had grown. In this period the average annual growth rate stood at more than 50 percent. […] In 2009, global ODI volume reached $1.1 trillion, and China contributed about 5.1 percent of the total. But "this is just a beginning." Although the figure is already "quite amazing," the volume is "not large enough" considering China's economic growth and local companies' expanding demand for international opportunities, Shen said. "The growth rate (for ODI) in the next few years will be much higher than previous years," Shen said, without elaborating. […] But while more Chinese companies were investing overseas, barriers and protectionism against Chinese investment were strengthened as well. Fan Chunyong, standing deputy chief of the China Industrial Overseas Development and Planning Association, said the challenge would not affect the upward trend of the ODI. […] According to the ministry, by the end of 2009, 13,000 Chinese enterprises had invested in 177 nations and regions worldwide, and the largest volume of funds went to the Asia-Pacific region. Europe and Africa ranked second and third in absorbing Chinese investment. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

No succession hint as North Korea marks its 62nd anniversary (SCMP)
2010-09-10
North Korea celebrated its 62nd anniversary yesterday with odes to supreme leader Kim Jong-il and Pyongyang decked in flags, but there were no signs that a keenly expected meeting of the country's top political figures was going ahead. […] There was no official confirmation that the meeting had begun and a senior official at a pro-Pyongyang association in Tokyo said it would take place "in a few days". […] A Pyongyang resident hinted to video news service APTN that the conference had not yet begun. "We are significantly commemorating the 62nd anniversary... ahead of the meeting of Workers' Party representatives," Ri Pyong-song said. […] Senior government and Workers' Party officials paid homage at Pyongyang's Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where the founder's embalmed body lies in state, official media reported. North Korea watchers say the Workers' Party meeting may have been postponed. "It's because of Kim Jong-il's health. There is no other reason," said Ha Tae-keung, chief of Seoul-based Open Radio for North Korea, citing unidentified sources in Pyongyang. "He has to be in the conference at least five hours... I think he's trying to find a day when he is well enough to do that." State television broadcast patriotic songs calling for loyalty to Kim Jong-il, a "great, friendly general". The main Rodong newspaper urged North Korea's 24 million people to unite behind Kim to support his "military-first policy". […]. ^ top ^

DPRK to release S Korean fishing boat (Global Times)
2010-09-06
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Monday it will release a South Korean fishing boat and crew members held there for alleged trespass into its exclusive economic zone. South Korea's Red Cross was notified earlier in the day by its DPRK counterpart that seven crew members and the seized boat "Daeseung 55" will be returned to South Korea on Tuesday, Seoul's unification ministry said. The release will be made "from the compatriotic and humanitarian points of view," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The boat was seized on Aug. 8 presumably in waters within the DPRK's exclusive economic zone. The announcement comes after South Korean authorities repeatedly urged Pyongyang to release four South Koreans and three Chinese onboard the 41-ton vessel, who the DPRK claimed infringed upon its sovereignty. ^ top ^

Kim Jong-il prepares to appoint son to key post (SCMP)
2010-09-05
North Korea is preparing its largest political meeting in 30 years, and leader Kim Jong-il is expected to appoint a son to a key Workers' Party position, in what would be the strongest sign yet of a succession movement in the secretive country. The meeting would be the first important party gathering since the landmark 1980 congress where Kim was confirmed as the man who would take over from his father as the country's next leader. […] The exact date of the political gathering, set for "early September", has not been announced, but analysts have said it could open as soon as Monday. […] While the conference is not a top-level party congress such as the one held in 1980, it is the biggest Workers' Party meeting since then and appears to have been convened to address urgent matters - quite likely a transfer of power, analysts said. […] The regime has launched a propaganda campaign promoting the succession, including songs and poems praising the junior Kim, according to South Korea's spy agency. North Korean soldiers and workers reportedly pledged allegiance to the son on his birthday in January. The process has been shrouded in secrecy. There are no confirmed photos of Kim Jong-un, apart from one widely circulated by the foreign media of him as a boy. His name is never mentioned in state media, and though he is said to be in his late 20s, even his exact age remains unclear. When asked about him, North Korean government officials routinely deny knowing anything about him. […] The young son is expected to step into the limelight at this month's political gathering of local representatives by assuming his first public party role, analysts say. "It's almost certain that he will get a crucial party post," said Cheong Seong-chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, a North expert who has followed the succession issue closely for years. "If he doesn't get a post, that will be news." […] Some believe he will be granted the same post his father took 37 years ago: party secretary authorised to supervise party members and appoint top party, government and military officials, and he may be elected to the powerful "politburo" of the party's Central Committee as well. Others don't think Kim Jong-il will give the son a high-profile job quite yet, since he is still young and needs time to learn about state affairs. "Jong-un would be given a working-level job that would give him room to take measure of the party's operations," Professor Kim Yong-hyun at Seoul's Dongguk University said. However, Kim Jong-un may not have the benefit of two decades of training that his father had. […] "Another hereditary succession will be completed in 2012," predicted Ha Tae-keung, chief of Open Radio for North Korea, a Seoul-based station that claims to have an extensive network of contacts inside the North. The year 2012 is the centenary of Kim Il-sung's birth, and the date is already being promoted as a significant milestone in North Korean history. After the conference, the son can be expected to assume other top jobs one by one, including supreme commander of the North's 1.2-million-member army and general secretary of the Workers' Party, analysts said. Jong-il took up those positions in the years before taking over as leader. Cheong said he expected the son's name to appear in state media from the first day of the meeting, which he said would be aimed at dispelling questions at home and abroad about Kim Jong-un's status as heir apparent. However, Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the son's presence would be kept out of official dispatches. Publicly presenting the son as the successor would make Kim Jong-il a lame-duck leader, he said. The world can expect a new era in the impoverished, nuclear-armed nation once Kim Jong-un takes power, Ha said. "He'll be provocative until he feels his leadership is bolstered, but he will eventually choose the path for openness and reform," he said. "There is no other option.". ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Parliament to hold special session to mark 20th anniversary (New.mn)
2010-09-06
The Autumn session of Parliament will begin on October 5 and will observe the 20th anniversary of Parliamentary politics in Mongolia. About 260 former elected representatives at all levels, and senior officials, as well as former media personnel will be invited to a special session in the grand hall of Government House. ^ top ^

Mongolia Mining lures big backers (Montsame)
2010-09-06
Mongolia Mining (earlier known as Energy Resources), the first Mongolian firm to tap the Hong Kong IPO market, has already secured several strategic investors as it seeks to raise USD1 billion. They include Kerry Group, which owns a 10 percent stake, US fund Ancora Capital holds 7.6 percent, while two Mongolian oil miners, Petrovis and Shunkhlai, own a combined 20.1 percent, sources said. Also, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development bought a 5 percent stake in the miner"s largest shareholder, MCS Group, which owns 57 percent of the company. ^ top ^

About official visit of N. Altankhuyag to China (Montsame)
2010-09-07
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, /MONTSAME/ The First Deputy Premier of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag paid an official visit September 1-4 to the People's Republic of China (PRC). In its scope, he participated in the summit forum of the Northeast Asian Commercial and Economic Cooperation held in Changchun city. He chaired the delegation that comprised Ts.Bayarsaikhan, head of the Standing committee on economics; T.Purevdorj, the Vice Minister of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development; Kh.Ariunsan, the Vice Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy; and Erdenebulgan, deputy head of the State Property Committee. Mr. Altankhuyag held meetings with Sun Zhengcai, the Secretary of the Communist Party of China for Jilin province; Wang Gang, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC). China's officials thanked Mr. Altankhuyag for attending the measure and expressed a hope that this participation will significantly contribute to widening of the relations and cooperation between Mongolia and China. The Chinese side also expressed a confidence that deepening of the collaboration in the spheres of trade, economy, culture and education will accelerate opportunities for the two countries' development. ^ top ^

Mongolian Week starts in Brussels (Montsame)
2010-09-05
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, /MONTSAME/ An opening ceremony of Mongolia's week named "Discover Mongolia" took place September 2 in Brussels, Belgium, to propagandize the Mongolian culture, arts, history and tourism. The action has begun at the Berlaymont building, the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels co-organized by the Embassy of Mongolia in the European Union (EU) and the European Commission. At the beginning of the ceremony speeches have been given by Mr. Karel Kovanda, an acting head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the European Commission (EC), and by Mr. A.Battor, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the EU. They have expressed their satisfaction with widening of the relations and cooperation between Mongolia and EU. The Ambassador noted that Mongolia always appreciates the support the EU gives it in developing the democracy and thanked the EU on behalf of Mongolia's government for rendering a non-refundable aid of EUR 2 million to overcome difficulties of the zud disaster. The Director-General of the International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO) Henrik Kuffner gave a report on the sector of wool and textile of Mongolia and its development and cooperation. An exhibition about Mongolia has been mounted by Ts.Enkhjin, a State Prize Holder and head of the Committee of Mongolian Creative Artists (CMCA), and by professor S.Badral, a teacher of Mongolia's University of Culture and Arts and senior member of the CMCA. Paintings and photo exhibitions have been offered as well. A Mongolian ger (national dwelling) has been set up in the Berlaymont building to present fashion show of Mongolian cashmere costumes, a concert of "Jamukh" folk group and a fair of handicrafts. In addition, the Mongolian foods have been offered. For the time being, the Mongolian week measure has attracted 5,000 people, including the EC's officials and some Mongolians. ^ top ^

Chicken farm under quarantine (Mongol Messenger)
2010-09-05
On August 28, an outbreak of the contagious bird disease “Newcastle” was announced for the first tim in Mongolia. The outbreak occurred at “Nionshel”, a commercial chicken farm in Khan-uul District of Ulaanbaatar. The disease was confirmed by tests according to calls about chincken deaths over 10 days ago. It was preliminary considered that the disease was caused by chicken feed. The most dangerous thing about the disease is that it has the potential to be transmitted to humans by air and eggs. There are a total of about 270.000 chickens in Ulaanbaatar's chicken farms, of which about 240.000 are in Khan-uul district. In conjunction with the outbreak, quarantine was imposed, field staff was set up and permanent and mobile patrols have been set up around the area under the ordinance of the Khan-Uul district governor. ^ top ^

 

Corentin Büla
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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