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
  20-24.9.10, No. 338  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Obama hails co-operation after Wen talks tough on the yuan (SCMP)
2010-09-24
[…] Obama's comments came a day after Wen struck a tough note on the yuan ahead of a crucial vote by the US Congress on the thorny issue between the world's two biggest economies. Obama, standing by Wen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, said co-operation between the US and China "has been absolutely critical" to easing the financial crisis. He praised Chinese leaders for working with the US on economic, nuclear non-proliferation and Asian security issues. But, Obama said: "Obviously, we continue to have more work to do on the economic front. It is going to be very important for us to have frank discussions and continue to do more work co-operatively in order to achieve the kind of balance of sustained economic growth that is so important." […] Wen warned in a Wednesday night speech that the yuan must not be turned into a political issue between the countries. However, he expressed optimism that China and the US could resolve major sources of friction now that tensions have begun to ease. […] If Beijing were to allow the yuan to appreciate by 20 to 40 per cent, as some US politicians have demanded, a wave of job losses and business bankruptcies would engulf the mainland, causing "major turbulence" in society, Wen told business leaders gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. […] "The main reason for the US trade deficit with China is not the renminbi exchange rate, but the structure of trade and investment between the two countries," he said. […] The currency dispute escalated as it became clear that Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives would proceed with a bill that classified currency undervaluation as an export subsidy, which would allow Washington to retaliate. The bill, whose scope has been shrunk in an attempt to stave off a legal challenge, is going to committee today, while a vote by the full House could take place as soon as next week. […] The politically sensitive US trade deficit with China rose to US$26.2 billion in June, the largest one-month leap since October 2008. Wen said China had never pursued surplus in trade and his government had tried to improve the situation by launching an unprecedented stimulus programme recently to bolster domestic demand. Still, he was optimistic in his speech, saying the countries' common interests far outweighed their differences. Ahead of a US mid-term election on November 2, legislators have seized on the exchange rate as a cause of hardship for local manufacturers. Wen sounded a warning not to turn trade and the yuan into political issues. […] The premier touted China's role in pushing the global economy towards recovery, adding that its exports benefited the US companies that set up shop there as well as American consumers. He said China and the US were "not rivals in competition but partners in co-operation", in an attempt to play down economic, military and diplomatic tensions. In one of the most significant developments that show both sides are trying to put months of tension behind them, Wen suggested Sino-US military exchanges had resumed. […] Wen confirmed Beijing had invited US Secretary of Defence Dr Robert Gates to visit China this year - one of the most significant planned exchanges between the two militaries that had been halted. ^ top ^

Summit in US marks shift in wary region (SCMP)
2010-09-24
A bruising year for China in East Asia is about to get even tougher. Today's summit meeting between 10 Southeast Asian leaders and US President Barack Obama, the first such meeting in the US, will cement two trends increasingly evident in recent months - the region is determined to have the US around to balance China's rise, and Washington is finally fully awake to the potential in a region it has previously neglected. The meeting also takes place against the backdrop of rising Sino-Japanese tensions. […] Some in the wary region see those tensions as confirming a new era of assertiveness by Beijing. Most worrying for Beijing is the fact the disputed South China Sea will be a key part of the agenda when Obama meets his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. […] As well as security issues, they will discuss greater economic co-operation and the creation of a formal strategic partnership - a relationship Asean has forged with both China and Japan during similar summits in recent years. […] The region's strategic balance has shifted in less than a year. Just 10 months ago, backroom pressure from Beijing was enough to keep the South China Sea off the Asean agenda, despite signs of growing tensions over the strategic waterway that links East Asia to Middle Eastern oil and European markets. China instead started quietly insisting any claimants settle directly with Beijing - a move which played to China's rising strength. And despite rising Asean concern - and Obama's Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declaring in late July that Washington wanted to foster multilateral solutions as a priority - that remains Beijing's official position. […] Behind the scenes, a Chinese note to the UN appeared to confirm a sweeping Chinese claim to virtually the entire sea, while Chinese officials told US State Department and National Security Council officials that the sea was now a "core interest" of Beijing - diplomatic code that puts it on par with Tibet and Taiwan in terms of sensitivity. A chorus of concern from Asean leaders about a harder edge to China's diplomacy resonated with an Obama administration looking to re-engage the region. Today's communique is expected to underscore the importance of a 2002 declaration signed between China and Asean that calls, among other peaceful gestures, for the creation of a legally binding code of conduct in the area. Keen observers of the Sino-US relationship said today's statement would push Beijing into a difficult position because it would confirm formal US involvement in what had been a regional issue. "Beijing is very unhappy because it doesn't want its territorial disputes with some Southeast Asian countries to turn into a complicated and multilateral issue," said Dr Richard Hu, director of international relations at the University of Hong Kong. "Indeed, the joint statement will also send a message to the world that `the US is formally back in Asia as well as back in the game - which aims at rebalancing China's influence in Southeast Asia'." Jia Qingguo, a professor at Peking University's school of international studies, said Beijing had long been ready to deal with Washington's long-term intervention in the Asia-Pacific region, but recent PLA actions may have played into US hands. "We know the US is everywhere... Maybe our current high-profile military demonstrations in the Yellow Sea, and the East and South China seas made our neighbours nervous, which provided the US the best opportunity to come back," Jia said. Another Peking University professor, Yu Wanli, said Beijing needed to clarify to the world its precise position on the "core interest" remark, saying that no leader had used such a phrase in a speech or official document. "Maybe it was a misinterpretation from the earlier meeting between Chinese and US officials in Beijing," Yu said. "I think Beijing needs to clarify its standpoint to the outside world." […] Ian Storey, a scholar at Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said there was a lot of talk that China would be "recalibrating" its approach. "We haven't seen any sign of it yet," he said. "Maybe the summit will be enough to produce just that kind of reaction. " […] China has grown to become Asean's biggest trading partner. While playing catch-up on trade, the US remains by far the biggest investor within Asean, with three times as much capital invested by US firms in Southeast Asia than across the whole of China. The pressure is likely to remain on China for some time yet, however. Much of the push to drive the South China Sea issue has come from Vietnam in its year as chair of Asean. It is, after all, the only other country that claims all the Paracel and Spratly islands. Soon it will pass the baton to Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia and one that has long voiced concerns about China's South China Sea claims. ^ top ^

Four Japanese investigated in China for illegally videotaping military targets (Xinhua)
2010-09-24
Four Japanese are being investigated in China for having entered a military zone without authorization and illegally videotaped military targets in northern Hebei Province, local state security authorities said Thursday. The state security authorities in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, have taken measures against the four people according to law after receiving a report about their illegal activities. The authorities only gave one name of the four Japanese nationals, Sada Takahashi. "Currently, the case is being investigated," the state security authorities in Shijiazhuang said in a statement. No further details were provided. ^ top ^

A 'warm spring' in relations turns chilly (SCMP)
2010-09-23
[…] Wen, whose ice-melting trip to Tokyo in 2007 restored bilateral ties after six rock-bottom low years under the premiership of conservative Junichiro Koizumi, lashed out at Japan on Tuesday night, threatening "further actions" towards China's major trading partner if Tokyo failed to free the Chinese skipper immediately. "Sino-Japanese relations only improved and developed after years of hard work from both sides; now severe damage has been done to this positive trend and it is entirely Japan's fault," Wen said in New York when he met overseas Chinese communities before attending the UN General Assembly today. […] Wen's comment was the highest-level one from Beijing so far in the two-week-old row. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, asked to comment on Wen's remarks, said: "It would be good to have high-level talks as soon as possible, on issues including broad, strategic matters." Analysts in Tokyo are debating whether the collision in waters near the isles was a carefully thought-out attempt by Beijing to gauge Japan's response, or a mere accident. Others believe that while the Chinese captain's actions were not premeditated, incidents like this were bound to happen sooner or later and Beijing was certainly trying to make the most of it. "I don't think the accident was orchestrated by Beijing, but I feel that everything that has happened since has been very carefully managed by the authorities there," said Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Studies at Temple University, Japan. "There was an orderly crowd of 100 people protesting at the Japanese embassy in Beijing; that is stage-management." Most agreed that Japan could not back down once legal procedures were set in motion. Jun Okumura, a senior adviser and political analyst with the Eurasia Group, said: "When the Chinese ship bumped the coast guard vessel, the captain of that ship had no choice but to arrest him because it happened inside Japanese territorial waters. Had he [the Japanese captain] returned to port without apprehending the Chinese skipper, then Seiji Maehara [who was then transport minister, but is now foreign minister] would have made sure he took early retirement." […] The Democratic Party of Japan swept to power in August last year with a vow to build closer ties with the nation's Asian neighbours, a promise that was interpreted in some quarters as turning its back on the United States. That opinion was borne out by the dispute over the relocation of the US Marine Corp from their Futenma air base to an enlarged facility on the northeast coast of Okinawa. Before the first year of the administration was over, however, geopolitical reality had set in. The new administration realised that Japan still needs Washington to ensure its defence, and there has been a subtle swing back to the American orbit. Dujarric said Beijing misjudged the situation and its tough stance after the East China Sea collisions had backfired. […] Dujarric said after Zhan was charged, Beijing had no choice but to demand his release because otherwise it would appear that China was not protecting its claims over the isles. But the newly formed administration in Tokyo could not afford to cave in and send Zhan back to China. "It will be seen as being weak and may encourage Beijing to become more aggressive in the region," he said. "This will also give ammunition to those in the United States who think Japan was not being tough with Beijing." […] Dujarric said there was a fear in Japan that Beijing might no longer be able to keep a lid on burgeoning nationalism. "The Chinese Communist Party's legitimacy used to be based on its ideology, but nobody believes that any more. So we are left with getting rich, which is not sufficient. And then nationalism," he said. […] It does not help, of course, that Japan has had three prime ministers in the past year or so and it is difficult to discern a firm and consistent policy towards China. But it is clear that Kan is more wary in his dealings with Beijing than his predecessor. […]. ^ top ^

China hopes for greater cooperation among BRIC states: FM (Xinhua)
2010-09-22
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Tuesday expressed hope that the four BRIC countries -- China, India, Russia and Brazil -- will further strengthen coordination and cooperation. Yang made the appeal as he chaired a meeting of BRIC foreign ministers in New York. Yang told his BRIC counterparts that the four countries have constantly enhanced their cooperation in a more defined direction and within an increasingly mature mechanism, thus increasing their influences in the international arena. He hoped that the four countries will further strengthen coordination, build a solid foundation for cooperation and broaden areas of cooperation so as to uphold the common interests of developing countries. The foreign ministers held discussions over issues including cooperation among emerging market countries, the reform of the international financial architecture and global economic governance as well as international development cooperation. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the UN high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which began Monday. On Tuesday, the Chinese foreign minister also held a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. Yang told Lavrov that frequent contacts at high-levels between China and Russia have fully demonstrated the high standard of Sino- Russian strategic partnership of cooperation. China hopes both sides will further enhance communication and coordination so as to elevate their cooperation in all areas to a new level, Yang said. Lavrov said that Russia is willing to work with China to deepen cooperation in all areas and strengthen coordination and cooperation on major international and regional issues so as to continue to move forward bilateral relations. ^ top ^

Leaders review MDG progress (Global Times)
2010-09-21
[…] More than 140 heads of state, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, US President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are attending the three-day summit to discuss the development commitments they signed a decade ago. At the dawn of the century, world leaders pledged to cut extreme poverty and hunger by half, achieve universal primary education, reduce child mortality, protect mothers from dying during childbirth, promote gender equality, empower women, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, improve the environment, and promote fair trade and improved financial systems - all by 2015. But the financial crisis has limited funding for development projects, and a lack of political will in some parts of the world seems to have fueled pessimism over the outlook of the goals in the next five years. […] Wu Guobao, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences specializing in poverty reduction in China, expressed his concerns over the possibility of achieving MDGs globally. "The driving force to poverty reduction is robust economic growth, which has been slowed down by the global financial and economic crisis. And traditional poverty-reduction policies are being challenged by a new social environment," Wu told the Global Times. "Besides the global economic crisis, frequent natural disasters have hit the world, further complicating the MDGs. But it is still early to decide whether we will fail in delivering these goals," he said, adding that stepped-up international efforts are needed. Also on the agenda are proposals to change strategy to make up the shortfalls, as well as proposals to tax plane tickets, the Internet, mobile phones and financial transactions, AFP reported. "I know there is skepticism, but this MDG is a promise, a blueprint, by world leaders to lift billions of people out of poverty. This must be met and delivered," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying by AFP ahead of the summit. […] The European Union is expected to announce the allocation of $1 billion for MDG funds and the World Bank will give $750 million for education, AFP reported, citing aid groups. That still leaves more than $120 billion to be found over the next five years. "What's distinctly lacking is a concerted global action agenda to get all the important players pushing in the same direction at the same time on the same issues," John Sayer, director-general of Oxfam Hong Kong, said in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times Monday. "This is a good start, but an action plan for the MDGs is overdue. It's now up to leaders meeting in New York to decide exactly how they will make good on their promises to the world's poorest people," the statement says. […] "China is likely to achieve all its MDGs by 2015," Ajay Chhibber, the United Nations' assistant secretary-general, said in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times. While acknowledging China's advancements, Chhibber said "this progress was not smooth. Significantly, half of the reduction occurred in the first half of the 1980s, and the decline was not continual thereafter, with periods of some setbacks for China's poor (such as the late 1980s and late 1990s)." "Here are warning signs that income inequality, on the rise since the mid- 1980s, is slowing down poverty reduction in China. The country will need to address this problem if it is to maintain its past rate of progress against poverty," he added. ^ top ^

China supports greater role for UN General Assembly: FM (Global Times)
2010-09-21
China supports for UN General Assembly to play an even greater role in handling international affairs, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Monday. Yang made the remarks in a meeting with UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss at UN Headquarters on the sidelines of a high-level meeting on anti-poverty goals. The foreign minister voiced hope for the General Assembly to attach greater importance to development issues, proactively implement the outcomes of the UN high-level meeting, pay attention to the concerns of developing countries and further promote international development cooperation. On Monday morning, Yang also held separate meetings with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and the foreign ministers of Khazakstan, Indonesia and Switzerland. He told Mousa that China hopes for a stronger Sina-Arab strategic relationship of cooperation, and that China remains committed to supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people in seeking legitimate national interests. ^ top ^

Japan urges calm after China severs contacts (SCMP)
2010-09-20
Japan urged China to remain calm and not inflame their diplomatic spat further on Monday after Beijing severed high-level contacts over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands.China's rare move late Sunday pushed already-tense relations to a new low, and showed Beijing's willingness to play hardball with its Asian rival on issues of territorial integrity, which include sparring with Japan over natural gas fields in the East China Sea. […]The latest dispute was sparked when a Chinese fishing vessel collided with two Japanese coast guard ships on September 7 near islands in the East China Sea – called Senkaku by Japan and known as Diaoyu or Diaoyutai in Chinese and claimed by both countries.The 14 Chinese crew were released last week, but the captain's detention for further questioning – pending a decision about whether to press charges – has inflamed ever-present anti-Japanese sentiment in China. In Tokyo, a Japanese spokesman said the government was assessing the situation but it had not yet been officially informed of the severing of ties. Noriyuki Shikata, spokesman for Prime Minister Naoto Kan, told reporters if China did make such a decision, “it is truly regrettable.” “We call for calm and prudent action by China in order not to further escalate the situation,” Shikata said. The investigation into the Chinese captain's case is based on Japan's domestic law and is “not based on any political intent,” he said. China's Foreign Ministry said Japan's refusal to release the boat captain had caused “severe damage” to relations. A ministry statement said Beijing had suspended ministerial and provincial-level contacts, halted talks on aviation issues and postponed a meeting to discuss coal. “If Japan acts willfully, making mistake after mistake, China will take strong countermeasures, and all the consequences will be borne by the Japanese side,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a separate statement. The move raises questions about cooperation between China and Japan at international forums such as this week's summit in New York on United Nations goals to fight poverty, which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Kan are attending.[…]. ^ top ^

Moon landing gets timetable (Global Times)
2010-09-20
The timetable for China's first manned moon landing, as well as the launch of a space station, lab and probes to explore Mars and Venus, was announced by scientists over the weekend.

Chinese analysts, however, dismissed international concerns that Beijing is engaging in an outer-space arms race, stressing that recent activities and future missions are for scientific purposes and for the benefit of mankind. In a visit to the country's space base in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, Saturday, Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut to voyage beyond the planet's atmosphere in 2003, revealed plans to launch the country's first unmanned space laboratory, Tiangong-1, next year, which is expected to accomplish the country's first unmanned docking with Shenzhen-8, a crucial step toward building a space station. ^ top ^

Chinese president appoints new ambassadors (Global Times)
2010-09-20
Chinese President Hu Jintao has formally appointed nine new ambassadors to foreign countries, according to a statement from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Sunday. Hu made the appointments in line with the decision made by the NPC Standing Committee. Zeng Xianqi was appointed ambassador to Luxemburg, replacing Ma Zhixue. Shi Mingde was appointed ambassador to Austria, replacing Wu Ken. Wu Ken was appointed ambassador to Switzerland, replacing Dong Jinyi. Deng Boqing was dismissed ambassador to Dominica and appointed ambassador to Nigeria, replacing Xu Jianguo. Pan Hejun was appointed ambassador to Malawi, replacing Lin Songtian.Yu Qingtai was appointed ambassador to Czech, replacing Huo Yuzhen. Xu Jianguo was appointed ambassador to New Zealand and the Cook Islands, as well as ambassador to the Island of Niue, replacing Zhang Limin. Liu Guangyuan was appointed ambassador to Kenya, replacing Deng Hongbo. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

White paper on retirement age prompts fresh debate (SCMP)
2010-09-23
The issue of the mainland's retirement age has resurfaced after a government white paper stated that there will be one pensioner for every two taxpayers by 2035, and that it was time to think critically about the ageing population. The paper, released on September 10, triggered a debate over the possibility of raising the retirement age, currently 60 for men and 50 to 55 for women depending on the job sector. Wang Xiaochu, human resources and social security vice-minister, reiterated last week there were no immediate plans to raise the retirement age. Wang also said 92 per cent of 200,000 respondents to an online survey by the ministry were against raising the retirement age. A similar survey on Web portal qq.com had 115,000 people supporting later retirement and 1.15 million opposed as of Sunday evening. […] Although three million people retire across the mainland every year, there are another 10 million entering the urban workforce. A later retirement age would reduce immediate opportunities for new city workers, especially recent graduates, who are already struggling to compete with an increasing number of their peers entering the workforce every year. Some 6.3 million new graduates were expected to join the workforce this year. […] According to the Ministry of Human Resources' figures, around 24 million people across the mainland will have looked for work this year, with only half that number of openings available. Despite the concern surrounding limited employment opportunities, an increase in the retirement age will soon be inevitable. "China is an ageing society," said Professor Yang Yansui, director of Tsinghua University's Research Centre of Employment and Social Security. "From 2015 onwards, the Chinese labour population will start decreasing, so the Chinese government really needs to address the problem of retirement and find a solution in the next five years." Yang spoke of 2035 as a crisis point, when 810 million workers will be supporting 294 million pensioners aged 65 and older. The one-child policy is further exacerbating the country's age ratio, and because of a rising standard of living, life expectancy has risen to 73 years. "For the past few years, the government has been carefully discussing the issue," Yang said. "They want to increase it, but when it comes into the public forum, it becomes a hot topic, and everyone is concerned about the repercussions.". ^ top ^

Urbanization could cost 24 trillion yuan (China Daily)
2010-09-23
China may need to invest up to 24 trillion yuan ($3.6 trillion) in urban infrastructure by 2020 to accommodate the increasing number of rural residents moving to the cities, according to a new report by a government think tank. China's urbanization rate is currently around 47 percent and is increasing by about 1 percentage point each year. If the nation continues its urbanization-friendly policies, the rate could rise to 65 percent by 2020, according to the report released on Tuesday by the China Development Research Foundation. To accommodate this increase in the urban population, the report said the country may need to invest at least 16 trillion yuan in roads, railways, power plants, water systems and social services. But it added that this could be a conservative estimate. "If the ratio of urban infrastructure investment to the country's gross domestic product reaches 4 percent, which is the average rate in developing countries, then the total investment could amount to 24 trillion yuan." New transportation networks, including roads, bridges and subways, will account for about 56 percent of the estimated investment, the report said. Financing the expected urban expansion poses a major challenge. The report said that in 2008, about 32 percent of the funding for urban infrastructure came from the government, 30 percent from bank loans and the remainder from the relevant enterprises. However, at present, all local government finance channels rely on land prices, as they either sell land to raise money or use land to secure loans. Such a financing model will not be sustainable, the report concludes. Once the property market cools, it will have a detrimental effect on the ability of local governments to raise funds. To meet the projected financing requirements, the report suggests non-State investors should provide a larger proportion of funds for future urban infrastructure projects. ^ top ^

Government to counter energy surge with more green buildings (SCMP)
2010-09-21
[…] Li Bingren, chief economist at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD), said at a press conference Monday that authorities had made numerous efforts to save energy and reduce emissions, yet energy use efficiency remains low. He said authorities have taken a series of measures to tackle the problem, such as promoting the use of renewable energy and construction of green buildings. Official data showed that the annual per capita consumption of energy has quadrupled from half a ton of coal in 1978 to two tons in 2007. Growing energy consumption is being caused by rapid urbanization, an increase in the use of household electrical appliances, and rising demands in housing quality among both urban and rural residents, Li said. […] By the end of 2009, only 2,175 of China's 29,000 government buildings and large public buildings had undergone energy audits. Li said the government has signed a memorandum of understanding on green buildings with a number of other countries, including the US, France, Germany and Singapore. Several seminars concerning climate change and green buildings were held by the ministry, which allowed China to learn from the experience of foreign countries, Li added. He said while the use of renewable energy will be promoted, improvements are also needed in manpower training, design and maintenance of facilities and production standards. To meet the growing need for energy, the government also pledged to increase the use of natural gas, which currently accounts for just four percent of the country's energy use, the Financial Times reported Monday. Wu Yin, deputy head of the National Energy Administration, said earlier this year that the 4 percent is low compared with the global average of 24.1 percent. Wu added that authorities are set to enhance exploration efforts, build gas reserves and increase imports. Natural gas is favored because it is cleaner burning than coal, which accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy supply, according to a Financial Times report. ^ top ^

Energy target slips from Beijing's grasp (SCMP)
2010-09-20
With a little more than three months to go, China's target to cut energy intensity still looks elusive. Last week Premier Wen Jiabao made an embarrassing confession that the mainland's plan to cut energy intensity by 20 per cent in five years from 2006 had suffered a setback. In the first six months of this year, energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product, a measure of energy intensity, edged up. Official data also indicate that energy-intensive industries continued to expand in July. As the world watches and the central government scrambles to meet its goal, authorities across the country have imposed power cuts in last-ditch efforts that have not just affected key industries but also homes and even hospitals. The rebound in energy intensity, albeit slight, came after a successful cut of 15.6 per cent by last year and is a result of Beijing's 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.6 trillion) stimulus package, which led to a rise in heavy industry plants.The National Development and Reform Commission responded on Thursday by issuing warnings to eight provinces to take urgent action. It also told five others to take appropriate measures to meet the target to cut emissions. The NDRC urged local governments to come up with alternatives to blackouts, but environmentalists fear that that those authorities have no other options. Well aware of the stakes, Wen appeared undeterred when he faced scepticism from the audience at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin. He went on to promise to deliver on the commitment at all costs, even at the expense of economic growth, which has long been Beijing's overriding priority. "We have rolled out targets to shut energy-intensive enterprises for the second half of the year, including small plants in the thermal power, steel and cement sectors," he said. "We will spare no effort in meeting the target." Wen's brave talk at least partly explains the desperate measures adopted by local authorities in recent weeks. […]. ^ top ^

China's crackdown on human trafficking frees 16,517 abducted women, children (Xinhua)
2010-09-20
Chinese police freed 10,621 women and 5,896 children who had been abducted for human trafficking as of September 6,since the Ministry of Public Security launched a crackdown on trafficking the crime in April last year. In the campaign, police nationwide apprehended 2,398 human trafficking gangs and handled 13,500 such cases, said the ministry in a statement on Sunday.Further, the police put 15,673 suspects under criminal detention and handed out administrative penalties on 1,518 people, it said. In addition to the tough crackdown, the police have stepped up measures to return the children who have been trafficked to their biological parents, including building a database that collects the DNA of those children who may have fallen victims to human trafficking and their parents. The database had helped 813 children to find their biological parents. ^ top ^

China upgrades warning level for strong Typhoon Fanapi (Xinhua)
2010-09-20
China's meteorological authority raised the level of alert for Typhoon Fanapi to the second highest on Sunday as it nears the country's south coast.Fanapi, the 11th typhoon to hit China this year, will move westward at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour, and make landfall between Monday morning and noon at the coast between Guangdong and Fujian provinces, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said.The shipping route linking Xiamen in Fujian Province, and Jinmen, in Taiwan, was closed Sunday with Fanapi approaching, said local authorities.CMA urged local authorities to make full preparations to guard against the strongest typhoon this year. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing embraces Car-Free Day in traffic jams (Global Times)
2010-09-22
[…] This year's Mid-Autumn Festival falls on Sept. 22, which is also Car-Free Day, observed by over 110 cities around China. To promote a "greener" concept of transport, the Beijing municipal government will set up a special car-free zone around Wangfujing, a business hub in the central city, said Li Xiaosong, spokeswoman of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport. The city will also launch five more bus routes on that day to encourage people to travel by public transport, rather than private cars, Li said. […] Friends of Nature (FON), a Beijing-based non-governmental organization, also launched a campaign called "Bike for Better Beijing" from Sept. 19 to 21, to advocate for more people traveling by bicycle. […] Beijing suffered a record 140 traffic jams in a single evening last Friday, and the situation seemed to be little improved during the following days. […] The deteriorating situation of traffic jams in Beijing was also caused by the rapid increase in private cars in Beijing, said Guo Jifu, director of the Beijing Transportation Research Center (BTRC). Statistics from a BTRC research program revealed that the number of registered cars in Beijing had topped 4.5 million as of this September, and the number will possibly exceed 7 million by 2015. By 2015 it is expected the city' s road system will be over-burdened, as its full capacity is estimated to be 6.7 million vehicles, Guo said. "If we do not take measures to contain that, the average speed of cars in the city will be somewhere less than 15 km per hour," Guo added. Moreover, Guo said citizens' willingness to travel by bicycle was dropping. The rate of bicycle transport in Beijing had dropped from 34.7 percent in 2003 to 18.1 percent in 2009, according to the BTRC research. "As people's lives are improving, some tend to think that driving their private cars is a way to display their decent social status. But we are campaigning for more traveling by bike instead of driving, to promote the idea that greener transport is a more environmentally-friendly way in modern time," Xu said. For their part, the city's traffic authorities are also improving mass transit services to make it more attractive to residents. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Holiday brings 480,000 to Shanghai Expo (Global times)
2010-09-24
More than 480,000 people visited the Expo site yesterday on the Mid-Autumn Festival, surprising some foreigners who assumed few Chinese visitors would come on the nation's traditional family-union day. Francis Briano from France said he could hardly feel the festival atmosphere amid the crowds of visitors. […] Briano said he especially chose to visit the Expo on the festival day because he thought Chinese visitors would stay at home with relatives. He was astonished that the site was filled with people. Xiao Liping from Shanghai took her two German friends to the site and planned to take them to the China Pavilion and China's Joint Provincial Pavilion to give them the feel the traditional festival. But she had to change the plan because the waiting lines were too long. People had to wait for more than six hours for the Oil Pavilion in Puxi, the longest at the site Wednesday, followed by the Saudi Arabia, Japan and Germany pavilions, which needed more than four hours. One of Xiao's guests, Thomas Bock, said the one good thing about visiting yesterday was the suddenly cooler weather. ^ top ^

Fake medicine caused eye infections at hospital (SCMP)
2010-09-24
Fake medicine is to blame for the eye infections that 61 patients developed after treatment at one of Shanghai's main hospitals three weeks ago, the city's food and drug administration has ruled. A criminal investigation was launched after laboratory tests found that the medicines used did not match their labelling, the authority said in a brief statement posted online yesterday. The 61 patients who needed to be readmitted to Shanghai First People's Hospital were among 116 who underwent similar procedures on September 6 and 8. The patients thought they were receiving injections of Avastin, a US-made cancer drug that is widely used to treat eye conditions. However, mainland authorities have not approved the use of Avastin for that purpose. The hospital was forced to re-examine the patients after several developed eye infections of varying degrees. Seventeen patients needed emergency pinhole surgery to treat the inflammation. The Shanghai FDA said although the drugs were labelled "Avastin" and bore the manufacturer's logo and batch number "B6001B60", an analysis found them to be fake. […] Roche, the parent firm of drug manufacturer Genentech, had earlier distanced itself from the incident, saying it did not supply Avastin to any mainland medical institutions. Albert Chao, the company's Shanghai-based Asia representative, said yesterday that he welcomed the findings. […] The company was not willing to comment further as the case had been passed to the prosecutors' office, he said. "We are very appreciative of the Shanghai government's actions to find out the truth of the case," Chao said. Avastin has been approved by mainland authorities for only one use - treating colon cancer. At the time of the incidents, it had not been officially launched on the mainland. Chao said then that there was "no official supply of Avastin in any hospital or pharmacist in China". ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Death toll from Typhoon Fanapi rises to 55 in south China (Xinhua)
2010-09-24
Floods, landslides and heavy downpours brought by typhoon Fanapi had claimed 55 lives in south China's Guangdong Province, while another 42 were still missing, local authorities said Thursday. Meanwhile, more than 1.26 million people were affected and 98,000 in low-lying areas were forced to be evacuated, a spokesman with the provincial civil affairs department said. Rainstorms and and geological disasters had destroyed more than 4,200 homes and inundated more than 48,700 hectares of cropland, the spokesman said. Direct economic losses were estimated at more than 2 billion yuan (300 million U.S. dollars), he said. Tonnes of relief supplies, such as tents, clothes, quilts, bottled water and rice, have been dispatched to the disaster-hit areas. Helicopters were used Thursday to airdrop relief materials to victims. Typhoon Fanapi, the 11th and strongest typhoon that hit China this year, landed in Fujian Province at 7 a.m. Monday, but wreaked most havoc in Guangdong, which neighbors Fujian on the south. No casualties have been reported in Fujian. ^ top ^

HK factory owners stifle labour reforms (SCMP)
2010-09-21
Hong Kong manufacturers successfully lobbied Beijing to shelve plans for migrant workers in Guangdong to negotiate wages and benefits with bosses and take part in the running of businesses. The plans, unveiled last month, were removed from the agenda of the provincial congress meeting due later this month in Guangzhou, say two people connected to the provincial government. Ru Yingjie, deputy director general of the department of labour relations at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, declined to comment on the delay but said "the proposals remain at the feasibility stage in various provinces". He said the plans aimed to reduce strikes by providing a mechanism for employers and employees to negotiate pay, bonuses, work hours, paid leave, insurance and work safety standards. The plans, foreshadowed in 2007 to promote equal distribution of wages, were resurrected after labour unrest swept across the mainland this year, troubling foreign manufacturers from Japanese-owned carmaker Honda to Taiwanese-owned contract-electronics manufacturer Foxconn. […] Eddie Leung Wai-ho, honorary president of Hong Kong Young Industrialists Council, told Ru yesterday that the council rejected key parts of the proposals. They include making one in three company directors labour representatives and giving them power to decide on pay rises and employee welfare. […] The council, composed of about 130 industrialists who between them employ a million migrant workers in Guangdong, agrees that working conditions and welfare should be improved, but sees the plans as ill-timed and unfeasible. […] The central government plans to lift the nationwide minimum wage by 20 per cent every year in the next five years to boost domestic consumption and reduce the rich-poor divide on the mainland, the top political advisory body says. "If the government plans to raise the minimum wage by 20 per cent every year, what is the point of having employers and workers negotiating wages every year?" Leung said. Pauline Ngan Po-ling, deputy chairman of one of China's largest cap makers, Mainland Headwear Holdings, feared commercial secrets and share- price-sensitive information would be leaked if workers were on its board. She also doubted worker representatives would be willing to share "downsides" of the company. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau's buildings safe, but culture collapsing (SCMP)
2010-09-20
The European-style mansions scattered throughout Macau reflect its 400 years of Portuguese heritage, but in a sad reminder of the city's changing face the families who lived in them are mostly long gone. Macanese - those born through mixed marriages between Portuguese and local Chinese - numbered more than 100,000 in the 1960s. Now only about 20,000 call Macau home as Hong Kong and places further afield attract a growing diaspora of the city's colourful minority.Unlike Hong Kong, Macau has successfully preserved many of the buildings of its past. Keeping the people - and the cultural heritage that goes with it - is proving tougher. […] The UN's cultural organisation Unesco has classified the Macanese language - Patua - as a critically "endangered language". Grant Thornton partner Patrick Rozario's family is a typical example of the city's loss of identity over the past few decades. Rozario's earliest Portuguese ancestor, Janaurio de Almeida, arrived in Macau in 1776 and founded a maritime insurance company for traders. Rozario now has no immediate family living in Macau and Hong Kong. His father emigrated to Toronto after retiring from his job. "What I feel is that Macau is very good at preserving the old buildings, which we appreciate, but they could not preserve the Macanese and Portuguese lifestyle," he said. "In Hong Kong, in contrast, they did not preserve the old buildings but they kept the Hong Kong people's can-do spirit and business sense.". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Missiles will go one day, Taiwan told (SCMP)
2010-09-24
Premier Wen Jiabao told Taiwan yesterday that Beijing would remove missiles targeting the self-ruled island one day. He is the first mainland leader to respond to requests by the island's 23 million people for Beijing to withdraw the more than 1,000 missiles targeting it. "The cross-strait relationship has entered the best period in the past two years, with both sides signing and implementing the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement," Wen told New York-based Chinese media yesterday. "[…] I believe we'll be able to remove the missiles targeting Taiwan eventually and one day we'll be able to realise peaceful reunification." Wen's comment follows speculation in the Hong Kong and Taiwanese media this year that Beijing is considering dismantling some of the 1,600-plus missiles military analysts believe are targeting Taiwan. On July 31, the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, Senior Colonel Geng Yansheng, a spokesman for the defence ministry in Beijing, told Taiwanese reporters for the first time that the removal of the missiles could be considered if the "one-China" principle was upheld. The "one-China" principle, agreed to at a cross-strait meeting in Hong Kong in 1992, is an understanding that there is only "one China", but that each side has its own interpretation of what that constitutes. ^ top ^

Sign of the times as Taiwan agrees to the loan of art treasures (SCMP)
2010-09-24
Taiwan plans to loan for the first time a treasured painting to the mainland in yet another sign of warming ties between the former bitter rivals. Previously, mainland requests to borrow nationally important cultural relics have been rejected as Taiwan feared the works might be confiscated. But the National Taiwan Museum plans to loan a 17-century portrait and other art treasures to the Hubei Provincial Museum in central China and another museum in Fujian province for exhibitions next year. "We support the government's existing policy to promote cultural exchanges with the mainland," said Li Tzu-ning, an official at the National Taiwan Museum. The portrait is of Koxinga, a general in China's late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In return, the museum in Hubei will loan more than 100 cultural relics to the National Taiwan Museum, in Taipei, for an exhibition slated for November, Li said. But the National Palace Museum, Taiwan's top museum, has maintained it is unlikely to loan items to the mainland in the absence of guarantees that they would not be retained. It holds more than 655,000 artefacts spanning 7,000 years from the Neolithic period to the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911. They were removed from a Beijing museum in the 1930s to prevent them falling into the hands of invading Japanese troops and were then taken to Taiwan by the Nationalists as they fled communist forces on the mainland. "We have no such concerns as the painting we plan to loan to the mainland is not from there," Li said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Yuan rises to record high against dollar (People's Daily Online)
2010-09-21
China's currency has kept a seven-day gaining streak, as the monetary authorities in Beijing Tuesday set its exchange rate at a new record high against the US dollar. The People's Bank of China set the central-parity rate at 6.6997 yuan per dollar. In aggregate, the yuan has gained nearly 2 percent since China's central bank chucked off a peg with the greenback since June 19. […] President Obama will meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when the two attend the UN General Assembly in New York this week, and it is likely that the two leaders will discuss a spate of issues, possibly including the value of their currencies. In New York, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed currency issues at length during a meeting on the sidelines of the annual gathering of the UN General Assembly. "It was a significant part of the discussion," State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley told reporters. Despite rising calls at the Capitol Hill for the Obama administration to ante up pressure on China to urge for quicker pace of the yuan's appreciation, many in the broader American business community are concerned that Beijing could retaliate, if Congress passes a bill to punish China with punitive duties on its exports. "Yes, China's exchange rate needs to reflect market influences and its needs to do so sooner than later," the group of eight former officials in the Clinton and Bush administrations said in a letter to congressional leaders. "But congressional currency mandates are not the answer, and may exacerbate challenges our nation already faces in our trade relations with China, and in creating economic growth and jobs here at home," the group said. They include Susan Schwab and Carlos Gutierrez, who were US trade representative and Commerce Secretary under President George W Bush, and Charlene Barshefky and Mickey Kantor, who held the trade and Commerce Department slots under President Clinton. At an event in Baltimore, current US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said it was "not a clear call" whether the Congressional bills now moving on China were consistent with WTO rules. ^ top ^

Clean energy to garner foreign investment, technology (Global Times)
2010-09-21
The Ministry of Commerce will continue to support clean-energy development by attracting more overseas investments and importing (key) technology, the Security Times said Monday.

[…] The Chinese clean energy industry has grown as much as 22 percent per year over the past five years, especially in the solar, wind and nuclear sectors. Earlier this month, Beijing announced a 5 trillion yuan ($743.49 billion) investment plan in clean energy over the next decade, aiming to lift the non-fossil fuel component of its supply to 15 percent of its total energy demand by 2020, from under 8 percent last year. According to new data from the International Energy Agency, China consumed 2.25 billion tons of energy equivalents last year - nearly 4 percent more than the US. As the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, China has pledged to cut carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020. China has also become a major producer and consumer of alternative energy such as wind and solar power. China has recoverable wind energy sources of 160 million kilowatts, geothermal sources of 3.5 million kilowatts and tidal energy sources of more than 20 million kilowatts, according to the China Energy Research Society. President Hu Jintao called for more innovation and increased use of clean energy early this month, saying it is "an important way for China to optimize the country's energy structure and cut green-house gas emissions." "Clean energy is an area the Chinese government will focus on over the coming decades," said Wu Changhua, Greater China director of the London-based Climate Group. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea tells UN summit it is making social progress (SCMP)
2010-09-22
North Korea, despite being stricken by economic stagnation and widespread shortages, on Wednesday vaunted the social progress it has made to the UN summit aiming to cut poverty. […] An envoy for North Korea […] said it was on target to be “a great, prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012 when it will mark the centenary of the birth of its founder leader Kim Il-Sung. Vice-Foreign Minister Pak Kil-Yon said that “major MDGs have already been achieved, as illustrated by the introduction of free medical care and compulsory education and effectuation of gender equality rights. “Now we are devoting ourselves to their consolidation and quality improvements.” […] The minister said under Kim Jong-Il's policies the North was “preserving peace and concentrating our efforts on building an economic power in spite of the destabilized situation on the Korean peninsula.” […] Pak said there could be no sustained developmet without a “peaceful environment.” “Louder voices for poverty eradication are coming from one side of the globe but there are more rampant moves coming from the other side of it, such as armed invasions, military threats, sanctions and blockades targeted at sovereign states. “One can still feel the smoke of the gunpowder coming from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” he declared in a lightly veiled attack on the United States. South Korea said this year that the North's economy would shrink this year because of trade sanctions which could force the country into crisis. It estimates that the North has only posted economic growth in one year of the past five. The North suffered famine in the 1990s which killed hundreds of thousands of people and it still grapples with severe shortages of food and basic commodities. ^ top ^

North Korea to hold key party convention next week (SCMP)
2010-09-21
North Korea will hold its biggest political meeting in 30 years next week, state media said on Tuesday, as observers watch for signs that the secretive regime's ageing leader will appoint his son to succeed him. Now 68, and reportedly in poor health two years after suffering a stroke, Kim Jong Il is believed to be setting in motion a plan to tap a son to take the Kim dynasty into a third generation by appointing his heir to top party posts at the Workers' Party convention. Delegates will meet September 28 to elect new party leaders, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch from Pyongyang. […] Delegates across the country were appointed “against the background of a high-pitched drive for effecting a new great revolutionary surge now under way on all fronts for building a thriving nation with the historic conference,” the KCNA report said. […] Kim Jong Un, said to be in his late 20s and schooled in Switzerland, has never been mentioned in state media, and there are no confirmed photos of him as an adult. South Korean intelligence officers believe Pyongyang has launched a propaganda campaign promoting the son, including songs and poems praising the junior Kim. North Korean soldiers and workers reportedly pledged allegiance to the son on his birthday in January. North Korea's state propaganda machine has also been churning out commentaries calling for loyalty to the Kim family, an apparent effort to set to the stage for a smooth power transition. Delegates are expected to elect new party leaders to fill spots left vacant for years. It's not known what party position Kim Jong Un might be granted in what would be his first official job. Keen attention is also focused on Kim Jong Il's only sister, Kim Kyong Hui, who in the past two years has been a frequent companion to the leader on field trips to army bases and factories. She currently serves as the political party's department chief for light industry. Her husband, Jang Song Thaek, has also been rising in stature. Jang was promoted in June to a vice chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission, making him the No. 2 official to Kim Jong Il on the regime's top state organ. The conference is being held amid preparations for the milestone 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party on October 10, improving relations with Seoul, and attempts by diplomats from neighbouring nations to revive dormant six-nation disarmament negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme. […]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia scores higher in Global Competitiveness Report (News.mn)
2010-09-20
Mongolia has been ranked 99th among 139 countries in the just released Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 published by the World Economic Forum. This is a significant improvement on its last year's performance when it was put 117th among 134 countries, and is an acknowledgement of the Government's efforts to improve several aspects of the business environment and to reduce macroeconomic imbalances. Mongolia's macro economic stability score has risen to 4.9 from 3.9, mainly because of a lower budget deficit, reduced inflation, and higher foreign currency reserves. However, the score on financial market has fallen from 3.4 to 3.1, mainly because of lower access to credit, instability in the banking sector, and an underdeveloped capital market. ^ top ^

Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak in Baganuur (UB Post)
2010-09-21
Strict quarantine regime was partly enforced in Baganuur, a satellite district town located some 130 km away from Ulaanbaatar, after laboratory test confirmed foot and mouth disease outbreak. The highly contagious acute viral disease killed a number of cattle in a local herder family's herd, according to local veterinary and emergency authorities who declared the regime on September 17. Infected animals have been destroyed, and disinfection and vaccination measures are taking place in the outbreak area. More than 1,000 domestic animals and five herder families are believed to be in the quarantine zone, under strict surveillance. Vehicle checkpoint sites on the main road that connect the capital city and eastern provinces have been re-enforced with disinfectant officers closely screening and checking luggage trunks of all vehicles to avoid the disease brought to Ulaanbaatar. All vehicles are being disinfected at the sites. As of Monday, more than 4,000 domestic animals have been infected with the disease, 2,000 of them have been destroyed since its initial outbreak in two eastern provinces of Sukhbaatar and Dornod. ^ top ^

Mongolia to cooperate with USA in using nuclear energy for peace (Montsame)
2010-09-22
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia G.Zandanshatar met Wednesday Mr. Daniel
B.Poneman, the U.S Deputy Secretary of Energy. After the meeting they have signed a Mongolia-USA inter-governmental memorandum on cooperation in exploitation of nuclear energy for peace.At the news conference held after the signing ceremony, Mr. Poneman underlined that the above inter-governmental memorandum has three sets of importance that nuclear energy has a very important role to play in building a low-carbon future, to strengthen the bilateral relations it would provide opportunities on developing infrastructure should Mongolia choose to go down that path. The Foreign Minister pointed out that Mongolia has established same memorandums with Russia, China, India and Japan pursuant to a document approved by the government, and added the effective exploitation of nuclear energy for peace is a main goal in the development because Mongolia has big resources of uranium. "We have shared certain views on the cooperation in energy sector in frames of the memorandum, especially in realizing projects to construct solar and wind power plants in Gobi region," G.Zandanshatar said. ^ top ^

PM has a busy time in New York, addresses UN summit on MDGs (News.mn)
2010-09-22
Prime Minister S.Batbold's schedule in New York has been very busy. He has addressed the summit meeting of the UN General Assembly which is considering implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has held talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and international leaders like Prime Minister of Bhutan Jigme Yoser Thinley, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Prime Minister told the meeting on realization of MDGs that a national review of progress in the last five years had concluded that the work had gone well and was 66 percent on course. Accepting that poverty has not been significantly reduced, Batbold said the Government was focused on generating employment, and was expanding vocational training facilities so that enough Mongolians can find a job as its mining sector takes off. He also talked of measures such as allocation of cash benefits, developing open governance, passing a law on budgetary stability and increased investments in health and education. At their meeting on Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon applauded Mongolia's success in the MDGs program, and appreciated the service of Mongolian troops in UN peacekeeping operations. Batbold gave the Secretary-General a report on the cabinet meeting in the Gobi desert. "We did it to attract the world community"s attention to the consequences of climate change, including desertification," he said. ^ top ^

Japanese and Chinese Giants to Cooperate for Tavan Tolgoi (UB Post)
2010-09-17
Mitsui & Co of Japan and the world's largest coal producer, Shenhua Group Corp of China, has inked a broad pact, which includes the joint development of coal mines in Mongolia.
The two are expected to bid for development rights to Mongolia's Tavan Tolgoi Coal Deposit, the world's largest untapped coking coal resource, with estimated reserves of 6.0-6.5 billion tons. It is located about 400 km from the nearest railway line and lacks infrastructure and power, which has held up development and allowed only very limited production. Tavan Tolgoi's hard coking coal is in great demand in China, the world's biggest steel sector, which needs imported coke to keep its blast furnaces busy. Last year, the vast majority of China's imported coking coal came by ship from Australia, but Mongolian imports are fast displacing Australian coal. The World Bank has said Tavan Tolgoi's output would be sufficient to justify building a railway into China. The cheapest route would be to carry the coal to the Chinese port of Huanghua via Baotou for about $56.50/tonne, while exporting via the Russian port of Vostochnoy would cost about $125/tonne, including construction expenses. However, while China will be the mine's principal market, Mongolia decided earlier this year to build a rail route east to a prospective processing plant near Sainshand, allowing the coal to be delivered through Russia to the Pacific coast. It is owned by Mongolia's government, which had planned to sell a 49 percent stake. The prospect of getting equity in such a huge new project attracted numerous bidders, who were expected to pay about $2 billion for the stake. The shortlist included heavyweights BHP Billiton, India's Jindal, Brazil's Vale, U.S. coal miner Peabody, and China's Shenhua, as well as consortia from Russia, Japan and South Korea. But in February this year Mongolia's Prime Minister S. Batbold said the government would scrap the plan to sell equity and would keep 100 percent of the project in the first phase. Mining Minister D. Zorigt told Reuters last week that Mongolia would consider opening the project to foreign investors in the second phase. But the plan needs to be backed by parliament. ^ 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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