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
  27-30.9.10, No. 339  
Startseite / Homepage   Archiv / Archives
Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

^ top ^

 

Foreign Policy

US, China to resume military talks (SCMP)
2010-09-30
The United States and China are to resume military contacts cut off early this year with initial meetings planned for next month in Hawaii, a Pentagon official said yesterday. Both sides had agreed in talks in Beijing that military maritime talks would be held from October 14 to 15, with defence talks in Washington later in the year, spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said. "Both sides agreed that dialogue is essential to build mutual trust and reduce the chances of misunderstanding and miscalculation," he said in a statement. The announcement came after two days of talks in Beijing by Michael Schiffer, US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, with Chinese military officials. The two sides agreed that military-to-military relations were "essential to developing a broad, resilient bilateral relationship that is positive in tone, co-operative in nature and comprehensive in scope", Lapan said. They also agreed to "invigorate discussion on a broad range of topics including ways to improve operational safety for sailors and airmen on both sides, and to expand the scope and deepen the co-operation" of military ties. […] Lapan added the US had suggested the two sides seek to break the "on-again/off-again" cycle that has characterised their military ties. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has criticised China for suspending ties over the US approach to Taiwan, saying a permanent dialogue was too important to be "held hostage" to Washington's weapons sales to Taiwan. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing needs to resolve detention of Japanese to repair ties, Tokyo says (SCMP)
2010-09-30
China needs to resolve the case of four Japanese citizens it is holding as the first step towards repairing ties that have been strained over a territorial dispute, Japan's foreign minister said yesterday. Japanese trading company officials, meanwhile, said China appeared to have lifted a de facto ban on Japanese-bound exports of rare earth metals, crucial for advanced manufacturing, but that shipments had not yet arrived in Japan because of tighter customs inspections at Chinese ports. Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said the four citizens, held for questioning by the Chinese authorities since last week on suspicion of illegally filming military facilities, were to be visited by consular officials for a second time yesterday. "We want this to be quickly and peacefully resolved," Maehara said in an interview. "That would be a first step" towards mending relations with China. Both Tokyo and Beijing have said it is up to the other side to take steps to repair ties that have plunged to their lowest level in years. […] According to reports in the Chinese state media, the four are being held in a hotel in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. Maehara, who in the past has called China a "threat", took tones that were alternately critical and conciliatory towards Beijing during the interview. Recent events showed "part of China's true nature, not just to the Japanese people, but to the people of the world", he said. "It's important that we calmly create a strategic, win-win relationship," he said. While some lawmakers have been discussing the possibility of sending Japanese troops closer to the disputed islands, the government has not made any such decision, according to government spokesman Noriyuki Shikata. […] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is set to attend an Asia-Europe summit in Brussels on October 4 and 5 but it is unclear whether he will meet Premier Wen Jiabao - who snubbed him at the United Nations last week - on the sidelines. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top US diplomat for East Asia, lent his support to Kan and praised Kan's handling of the dispute. ^ top ^

Senior diplomats: Premier Wen's Europe visit to deepen China-EU ties (Xinhua)
2010-09-29
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said Tuesday Premier Wen Jiabao's Europe trip aims to promote the two sides' comprehensive strategic relationship. […] Wen will pay an official visit to Greece, Belgium, Italy and Turkey from Oct. 2 to 9 at the invitations of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Wen will attend the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the 13th China-European Union (EU) summit from Oct. 4 to 6 as guest of European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. […] China-EU relations have enjoyed smooth development in recent times with frequent exchanges. Last year, Premier Wen paid two visits to Europe, which "strengthened the confidence of both sides to jointly cope with the financial crisis," Fu said. This year, a string of senior EU leaders also visited China, including Barroso, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton. China-EU trade has witnessed remarkable growth this year. Bilateral trade volume for the first eight months exceeded 300 billion U.S. dollars, up 36.2 percent compared with the same period last year. […] Fu said Wen's visit will promote the political relationship between China and the European Union, as well as relations between China and the four European countries. Fu stressed "there is no change in China's support for the EU making strong policy to overcome its sovereign debt crisis." "The EU and the whole of Europe are important partners for China, so it is important for China that they maintain a stable economic recovery. We will continue to do what we can to support the EU and European countries and provide assistance," she said. The vice foreign minister also reiterated that China will not reduce its euro holdings, adding that it will take effective measures to maintain the stability of international financial markets. ^ top ^

Tokyo says it's open to high-level talks to defuse row with Beijing (SCMP)
2010-09-29
Japan stuck to its guns yesterday in a row with China over a disputed island chain but also said it was open to high-level talks to defuse the worst spat in years between the Asian powers. Prime Minister Naoto Kan now plans to attend an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels next week, officials said, making clear that he would be open to talks with Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines. […] Although the tone remained tense on both sides yesterday, Beijing also signalled an interest in mending the badly frayed ties. "China highly values China-Japan relations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "But safeguarding bilateral relations requires the two sides to meet halfway and requires Japan to take candid and practical actions." But Jiang also called for Japan to stop interfering with Chinese fisheries' law enforcement vessels. "China sending fisheries ships to enforce the law is based on the relevant laws, and they carry out fishery administration activities to protect the fisheries' ecology and protect the safety of Chinese fishermen's lives and property." The boats have been watching each other in recent days near the disputed islands. […] When asked about the prospects of a meeting between their premiers in Brussels, Jiang replied: "I have no information on that." […] "If the conditions are right, the foreign ministry and others will try to set it up," said Kan's right-hand man, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku. ASEM groups the 27-nation European Union, the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. ^ top ^

Talks clear way to resume ties with US military (SCMP)
2010-09-29
Chinese and American officials held talks yesterday to pave the way for the formal resumption of military ties, but analysts warned that tensions still exist. Xinhua said both parties agreed to conduct dialogue and exchanges at an unspecified time in the future, including an annual meeting on a maritime military safety and consultation system. It said Qian Lihua, the director of the National Defence Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, held talks with Michael Schiffer, the United States' deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia. Qian highlighted the importance of military ties to the bilateral relationship, adding that they had the opportunity to develop but also faced problems, Xinhua reported. […] "The problems need to be solved urgently," Qian was quoted as saying. "Safeguarding the stability of China-US military relations should be a weighty responsibility to be shouldered by both sides." He said both sides should further maintain exchanges and dialogue to jointly promote the health and stable development of military relations. Xinhua said Schiffer had agreed that military ties should be further promoted as a part of the positive, co-operative and comprehensive relationship between the two nations. "The US military hopes to work with the Chinese side to establish a stable and reliable framework for bilateral relations," it quoted Schiffer as saying, adding that uninterrupted dialogue and exchange helped avoid misunderstanding. In his two-day trip to Beijing which began on Monday, Schiffer and his entourage also met officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the China Foundation for International Strategic Studies. […] Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said he was not optimistic about the development of Sino-US military ties because the US was wary of China's growing military clout. "Actually, both China and the US have never changed stands on the disputed South China Sea," Shi said. "So far, the two countries' strategic wrangles have calmed down, but there are still many potential conflicts, including the South China Sea disputes.". ^ top ^

China's science prowess questioned (SCMP)
2010-09-29
Emerging powers China and India are quickly closing the technology gap with the United States, a US congressional briefing has been told. Updating a report, the American National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine were glowing in their description of the strides taken by China in the past five years, contrasting it with the economic turmoil and educational stagnation that has eroded the leadership of the US in science and technology. However, mainland academics said China's gains could be somewhat illusory due to corruption and a focus on research-paper quantity rather than quality. China was now second in the world in its publication of biomedical research articles, the report said. It was also second only to the US in the number of people engaged in scientific and engineering research and development. The spending gap between the two also was disappearing, with Beijing increasing its research and development (R&D) investment as a proportion of gross domestic product by an average of 5.7 per cent a year between 2001 and 2007, when US investment fell by 0.5 per cent a year. It noted that Tsinghua and Peking universities were the two largest sources of doctoral students in the US. And with emerging economies enjoying increasing prosperity and greater freedom, fewer foreign students were staying in the US after completing their studies. "Although no nation has escaped the recent financial crisis unscathed, some have fared better than others and have focused additional sums on competitiveness," the report said. The committee said its overall conclusion was "that in spite of the efforts of both those in government and the private sector, the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years". […] Some mainland academics said the report painted an overly rosy picture of science and technology development in China and that it still lagged far behind the US. Dr Fang Shimin, a biochemist and veteran science critic based in Beijing, said a lot of the mainland's investment in science and technology was lost to corruption. "The input and output ratio of China's R&D investment is considerably lower than the US," Fang said. "A substantial amount of the scientific research funds are being spent on meetings, trips or buying expensive equipment that is rarely used. They may have been pouring money into some sectors, but [the investment] is uncompetitive." He said many mainland universities and research institutes were churning out papers of little real value, because the system evaluated a scientist's work by the number of papers published. "Some even resort to stealing others' work or simply make up the data to get a paper published," he said. "Most of these junk papers can only be published in domestic journals and are not cited even once." Fang said that while China had replaced the US as the world's top technology exporter, most of its exports were invented and designed by US firms. "China really has to thank companies like Apple for this," he said. "Every iPhone or iPad shipped to the world has been counted as a Chinese export, but no sensible mind would think they were Chinese technology. […] Fang said the central government ignored the importance of basic research and without that sound foundation, China would continue to be decades behind the US and other Western countries. Professor Guan Zhongcheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Policy and Management, agreed with Fang. He said China was more than two decades behind the US but had caught up in a few areas, such as materials science, chemistry and mathematics. […]. ^ top ^

Accords to meet China's energy needs highlight Medvedev visit (SCMP)
2010-09-28
China and Russia signed agreements yesterday to boost energy co-operation, while Moscow said it was ready to supply its energy-hungry neighbour with all its natural gas needs. No dollar value was given for the agreements signed during a state visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but they include documents on co-operation in coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and renewable energy. Russia is in talks with Chinese partners on plans to launch natural gas supplies to China starting in 2015, the state Itar-Tass news agency cited Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin as saying. "Russia is ready to meet China's full demand in gas," Sechin was quoted as saying in the report. Medvedev and President Hu Jintao yesterday attended a launch ceremony for the long-awaited pipeline linking the world's biggest oil producer with the largest energy consumer. The deal reached last year - which will see China receive oil for 20 years in exchange for US$25 billion in loans - is the centrepiece of a new era of energy co-operation between the two neighbours. "Through this visit, we will definitely be able to deepen strategic communication, promote co-operation between the two sides and promote the further development of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership," Hu said. […] Energy supplies account for the bulk of Sino-Russian trade but Moscow also wants to secure Beijing's help in modernising the Russian economy and is seeking broader Chinese investments and know-how in various sectors. "Today, Russia and China are largely solving similar tasks as they move along the path of comprehensive modernisation," Medvedev told the People's Daily. "Never before have our ties been characterised by such a high level of mutual trust," he said, adding that his government welcomed Chinese investments in hi-tech industries including aircraft construction. Trade between Russia and China totalled US$25.5 billion in the first six months, according to official data. Although Europe remains Russia's largest export market for gas and oil, both Beijing and Moscow have been seeking to diversify their energy sources and markets, despite a long history of mutual suspicion and tensions. Sechin said that if talks with China on gas supplies went well, Russia could sign commercial contracts by the middle of next year, Itar-Tass said. Russian news agency Interfax cited Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko as saying that "in my opinion, the main terms of [gas] supplies, apart from the price, have been agreed upon". Late last month, Russia opened its section of a 1,000-kilometre crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to China, which will connect Russian oilfields with Daqing, a major oil production base in the northeast. […] Both countries view themselves as counterweights to US global dominance, but Moscow has viewed China's rapid economic rise with some unease. ^ top ^

Japan insists it owns disputed islands (SCMP)
2010-09-28
Japan reiterated its stance on Tuesday that it owns a disputed island chain at the centre of a bitter row with China, insisting "no territorial issue exists". Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, speaking in parliament, also said that the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain that sparked the dispute was appropriate, Kyodo News and other media reported. […] Tokyo has also called on Beijing to pull back two fisheries patrol boats that were sailing near the disputed islands. The latest comments show that tensions remain high despite Japan's release last week of the captain and his return to a hero's welcome in China, where the case has stoked patriotic fervour and anti-Japanese sentiment. […] The population giant, which is now Japan's biggest trading partner, has taken a number of other punitive steps, according to reports. It has toughened customs clearance procedures at air and sea ports to delay shipments to and from Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun has reported. The newspaper also reported that China's tourism bureau had instructed dozens of travel agencies in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere to pull advertisements for tours to Japan and to stop reservations. The row has also stoked anger in Japan, where criticism has been directed against the centre-left government for giving in to Chinese pressure and releasing the captain, a decision officially made by prosecutors. The assembly of Japan's far-southern island of Okinawa unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday to protest China's “intrusion” into Japan's territorial waters near the islands, local officials said. As the dispute has escalated, the United States, which openly worries about China's growing military muscle, has reaffirmed its commitment to a half-century-old security alliance with Japan. Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, Monday praised Prime Minister Naoto Kan along with Maehara. […] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called on China and Japan to “seek compromises” in the dispute. ^ top ^

China warns Norway against peace Nobel for dissident (SCMP)
2010-09-28
The head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute said on Monday that a senior Beijing official told him that awarding the peace prize to a mainland dissident would affect relations between Oslo and Beijing. Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad's comments came after Czech dissident Vaclav Havel called on the Nobel Peace Committee to award the prize to jailed Chinese human rights campaigner Liu Xiaobo. Lundestad, who organises the meetings of the secretive five-member Nobel Peace Prize Committee, said China's Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying met him during a visit to Oslo this summer to deliver the message. “[Such a decision] would pull the wrong strings in relations between Norway and China, it would be seen as an unfriendly act,” Lundestad told Norwegian news agency NTB, repeating Fu's comments during their meeting at the Chinese embassy in Oslo. Lundestad added that “China has come with warnings before, but they have no influence on the committee's work.” China's embassy in Oslo was not available for comment. “We ask the Nobel committee to honour Liu Xiaobo's more than two decades of unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform,” said a letter co-authored by Havel, which was published by the International Herald Tribune last week. […] China and Norway are now engaged in talks over a bilateral trade deal – which some say could serve as a blueprint for a agreement between the Asian superpower and the European Union. Energy-rich Norway is also keen to export its offshore exploration knowhow to China, with Norway's national oil and gas champion Statoil announcing last month that it aimed to look for shale gas in China. Norway's Nobel committee is set to announce the winner of this year's peace prize in Oslo on October 8, capping a week of prizes given in Stockholm in the name of 19th century Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel. ^ top ^

US, Asean call for freedom of navigation (SCMP)
2010-09-27
Southeast Asian leaders and US President Barack Obama formally demanded freedom of navigation in the South China Sea - which China claims as its territory - but did not issue a planned statement expressing direct opposition to the use of force in the disputed waters. Beijing's expressions of anger at US interference may have forced Obama and Asean to tone down the formal communique issued after the leaders' summit, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday. It was the first Asean-US summit held in America and only the second of its kind. In the joint communique, the leaders stated the "importance of regional peace and stability, maritime security, unimpeded commerce, and freedom of navigation... and the peaceful settlement of disputes". This was a reference to the South China Sea, according to US and Philippine accounts of the summit. The language was more moderate than that of an earlier draft of the joint statement which opposed the "use or threat of force by any claimant attempting to enforce disputed claims in the South China Sea". Hours after the meeting, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in Beijing: "China has and always will work for the peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes." She said China hoped the states concerned would deal with the disputes in the same spirit as China and promoted good-neighbourly relations and mutual trust in the region to ensure its peace and stability. Chinese envoys had lobbied Asean members ahead of the summit, several diplomats said. Asean operates on consensus decision-making - meaning smaller, less powerful members are often considered vulnerable to outside pressure to change an outcome. […] Chinese envoys have told international oil giants - including ExxonMobil and BP - to pull out of deals with Vietnam to prospect for oil in the South China Sea with Vietnam or face commercial punishment. This posturing has worried China's neighbours - notably Vietnam, whose fishermen China frequently detains near the disputed areas. The regional bloc's leaders welcomed American involvement in the issue, said Amitav Acharya, who chairs the Asean studies programme at the American University in Washington. "Asean sees the US as a kind of countervailing force at a time when China seems to be more assertive in the South China Sea," Acharya said. The US has signalled that it is happy to take on that role, seeing it as an opportunity to keep promises to re-engage the region meaningfully. […] Threats that China's growing naval strength could add teeth to its stated claims have created urgency for its regional neighbours as well as the US. […] The tussle over the South China Sea - and the US role in it - is likely to continue. Jeff Bader, the senior director for Asian affairs in the US National Security council, said on Thursday that Premier Wen Jiabao and Obama discussed the issue briefly when they met in New York, with Obama reiterating Clinton's earlier remarks. Obama and the Asean leaders emphasised the importance of trade and investment between the US and Southeast Asia. They also discussed climate change, security issues and human rights violations in Myanmar, according to a US statement. "As president, I've... made it clear that the United States intends to play a leadership role in Asia," said Obama before the meeting. "So we've strengthened old alliances; we've deepened new partnerships, as we are doing with China; and we've re-engaged with regional organisations, including Asean.". ^ top ^

Kan rejects call for apology over captain (SCMP)
2010-09-27
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan yesterday rejected China's repeated demand that Tokyo apologise and offer compensation for the arrest of a Chinese ship captain whose detention caused relations between the countries to sink to their lowest level in years. The diplomatic back-and-forth over the weekend demonstrated that nationalistic sentiments stirred up by the incident show few signs of dissipating. Tensions have already affected business ties between the nations' intertwined economies - the world's second- and third-largest. "I have no intention of accepting [the demand] at all. Senkaku is a Japanese territory. From that point of view, apology or compensation is unthinkable," Kan said, using the Japanese term for the Diaoyus. "Both sides should first become calm and [then] deepen mutually beneficial strategic ties. What is necessary is for both to calm down and act based on a broad perspective." Kan made the remarks after China reiterated its demand for an apology late on Saturday, hours after Japanese authorities released the captain, Zhan Qixiong. […] Several major mainland newspapers carried front-page reports yesterday about Chinese calls for an apology and compensation, some with photos of the returned boat captain being greeted by his wife and son. However, they refrained from trumpeting the homecoming as a major diplomatic victory for Beijing. Liu Jiangyong, professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, said Beijing would not let Tokyo off the hook so easily. "As Tokyo still insists what it did was legal and valid, it will create an impression in front of the world audience that China bullied Japan into caving in. Beijing demands Tokyo make it clear that the detention was illegal and invalid, and it will stick to its demand," said Liu, whose research areas are Japan affairs and Sino-Japanese ties. In Japan, opposition legislators lambasted the decision to release the captain as a sign that the government was caving in to outside pressure. "This is tone-deaf diplomacy," said Nobuteru Ishihara, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, the largest opposition party. Speaking on a nationally televised news talk show yesterday, he said he was determined to pursue the move in parliament, including summoning officials for testimonies. But Katsuya Okada, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, defended the government's handling of the crisis and denied there had been any pressure put on prosecutors to release the captain. […]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Cyber worm hits mainland industry (SCMP)
2010-09-30
A highly sophisticated computer virus that security experts described as the world's "first cyber super-weapon" has hit China, affecting almost all the key industrial sectors on the mainland. The cyber worm, known as Stuxnet, seeks and attacks control systems created by German multinational Siemens - one of China's biggest overseas suppliers of industrial computers. It has infected 6 million computers and "nearly a thousand" industrial plants and facilities in China over the past few days, Xinhua reported yesterday. The source of the attack was computer servers based in the US, Xinhua said. […] Mainland experts said the potential threat of the virus to China's national security was "unprecedented", as the spyware not only steals and transmits sensitive data of the infected hosts to the hacker but also leaves a back door open for remote control and manipulation. "Alarm bells have been sounded in almost every key industrial sector - steel, energy, transport... This has never happened before," said Wang Zhantao, a network security engineer with antivirus service provider Beijing Rising International Software. Beijing said it would closely monitor the situation and may order a nationwide assessment of Siemens systems. "If it is serious, we may re-examine the issuing of licences for Siemens products," an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said. Siemens' headquarters in Munich refused to comment on the impact of the virus on its Chinese clients but said it was working to fix the problem. Neither Beijing nor Siemens would provide a full list of the industrial facilities affected by the virus. Siemens' system is widely used by airports, railways, including the Shanghai maglev, nuclear power plants and the Three Gorges Dam. Professor Sun Jianping, a hydropower expert, said he was worried. Sun led a study on the reliability and stability of the generators at the Three Gorges Dam, which are controlled and monitored by a Siemens system vulnerable to the virus. "If someone hacks into the system and takes over, we will be blinded and disabled," he said. "It could cause more destruction than a bomb." The Stuxnet virus attacking China is the same type found at Iran's first nuclear plant, Bushehr, this month. The plant suffered only slight damage from the internet-based attacks but the virus alarmed security experts worldwide. The plant will begin supplying energy early next year after a delay of several months. Stuxnet is a highly complex malware - malicious software - that has never been seen before. It is so advanced that experts believed that a state may have been involved in creating it. […] A spokesman for Langner Communication, a German security research firm that analysed the Stuxnet malware, said it was "a direct attack against sensitive industrial control systems". "With the forensics we now have, it is clear that this is a direct sabotage attack involving heavy insider knowledge," he said. According to Siemens company records, it first detected the virus on July 15 based on information from a customer. […] Within a couple of days Siemens managed to isolate and analyse the newly detected cyber worm. "This is a really complex virus," said company spokesman Alexander Machowetz. A Siemens spokeswoman in Hong Kong yesterday said the company had provided its customers with "a tool for downloading [anti-virus software] which detects and removes the virus without interrupting plant operation" since July 22. […] Security experts worry that the sophisticated nature of the virus could fuel a worldwide "cyber arms race". "The Stuxnet worm is a wake-up call to governments around the world," said Derek Reveron, professor of national security and a cyber expert at the US Naval War School in Rhode Island. "It is the first known worm to target industrial control systems and grants hackers vital control of vital public infrastructures like power plants, dams and chemical facilities.". ^ top ^

Energy, emissions cuts not met, but 5-year plan to set new targets (SCMP)
2010-09-30
[…] Despite setbacks in the mainland's efforts to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product, a measure of energy intensity, by 20 per cent in the five years from 2006, Xie said he was still confident that targets would be met this year. He criticised local authorities who ordered power cuts for steel and cement mills and homes and hospitals in a desperate bid to meet the energy intensity goals. Xie also pledged Beijing would double its efforts to cut both energy intensity and carbon intensity in its 12th five-year economic plan, to be launched next year. He did not say directly whether he saw much hope of China embracing a tougher greenhouse gas emissions goal before 2020. But his description of the difficulties facing the intensity goal might not encourage other governments and experts who want China to do more, and quickly, to curb its emissions. […] Despite widespread pessimism hovering over climate talks after the disappointing failure in Copenhagen last year, Xie said China was still committed to the international climate negotiations under the UN framework. Next week's international climate talks, largely stalled since the Copenhagen summit, will be the first hosted by China. Little progress has been achieved so far to reach agreement on a binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012 and aims at reducing the greenhouse gases from human activity that cause global warming. […] Environment ministers and envoys from the bloc of four developing nations known by the acronym BASIC - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - will meet in Tianjin on October 10, ahead of the next UN ministerial negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10. Xie said the Tianjin meeting and the Cancun talks looked set to be stepping stones in settling the legally binding pact, possibly by late next year. China has been blamed by many countries during and after the Copenhagen talks for obstructing a tougher deal and its refusal to submit to outside scrutiny of its plans to put a brake on greenhouse gas emissions. But China maintains it and other poorer countries must be given more space to grow their economies and, inevitably, their total emissions. […] China would need to wait a long time before taking on quantitative caps on emissions, meaning that any carbon trading market in the country would remain limited for now, Xie said. "As climate change accelerates, the range of policy measures taken by China will become increasingly strict, and emissions goals may become increasingly quantified," he said. ^ top ^

All eyes on Xi at plenary session (SCMP)
2010-09-29
Communist Party leaders will meet in the middle of next month for their most important annual gathering, with all eyes on presidential heir apparent Xi Jinping. But top of the official agenda will be a strategic development blueprint for the next five years. The Politburo has decided the plenary session will be convened from October 15 to 18, Xinhua reported yesterday. […] The plenum is scheduled to approve a draft of the nation's 12th Five-Year Programme - the only item on the agenda, according to the official announcement. The drafting of China's Five-Year Programme for National Economic and Social Development, as it is now formally known, usually begins more than two years ahead of its delivery. The current five-year plan ends this year and a draft of the next one - which will map out the mainland's economic and social development from 2011 to 2015 - will be considered by the Central Committee members. Members at the Politburo meeting discussed proposals for the plan and agreed to submit it to the plenum for final approval, Xinhua said. In a separate report, Xinhua said the new five-year plan would focus on "speeding up the shift of development model". It said that "reform and innovation" will be highlighted. The plenum will also confirm the long-anticipated promotion of Vice-President Xi to become a vice-chairman of the party's Central Military Commission. If confirmed, Xi will also automatically assume the same position in the government's CMC at the National People's Congress plenary session in March. Both are organs that oversee the People's Liberation Army. Analysts said the confirmation will pave the way for Xi to succeed Hu as chief of the ruling party in autumn 2012 and as president in the spring of 2013. Holding a military post is not a prerequisite for becoming head of the party and the state, but the promotion would help clarify uncertainty over leadership succession, analysts said. ^ top ^

Farmers in Chongqing say 'no thanks' to hukou (Global Times)
2010-09-29
[…] The Chongqing government announced a major policy change in July that would turn 10 million farmers into urban residents by 2020. People with rural registration, or hukou, do not presently enjoy healthcare, education and social insurance benefits that urban residents receive in many cities. Just 44,700 rural residents in Chongqing had changed their hukou to urban residents as of August 31, the Chongqing Daily reported earlier. Beijing News reported Tuesday that some villagers contend that the social welfare benefits in rural areas are actually better than those in urban areas, making many rural residents reluctant to change their household registration status. Zhao Yuankun, a member of the standing committee of the Communist Party of China's Kaixian county committee, was quoted as saying that many rural residents have been eager to change their hukou for decades. However, over the years, the government has increased agricultural subsidies and cancelled the agricultural tax to make life better for the rural residents. The report said rural residents in Chongqing are entitled to 21 social welfare benefits such as cash rewards for complying with the family planning policy and subsidies for electrical appliances. However, urban residents are only entitled to about 10 social welfare benefits, the report said. […] Xiong Kaisheng, a rural resident in Wenquan township, Kaixian county, told the Global Times Tuesday that he is not interested in applying for an urban hukou. "I am familiar with the rural way of life and I could raise my family by working on my farm," Xiong said. […] Xiong said education and medical treatment cost more in the city and that also made him scared of becoming "an urban man." Chen Yue, deputy head of the Village Institute at the Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Beijing News that compared with rural people, urban residents face more pressure in terms of finding jobs, buying apartments, educational fees, and medical expenses, all sources of frustration for most rural people. […]. ^ top ^

1,600 get fake rabies vaccine (SCMP)
2010-09-28
More than 1,600 people in Guangxi have been injected with fake rabies vaccine and at least one - a five-year-old boy - has died as a result. The scandal was only made public last week after media reports. The boy died of breathing failure induced by rabies in Laibin in December, 51 days after having the first of six shots of rabies vaccine. In recent years, government agencies have withheld information or started investigations only after media reports, deepening the public's mistrust and concern over the regulation of product safety. In March, government-designated vaccines for encephalitis, hepatitis B and other diseases were linked to the deaths of four children and dozens of serious illnesses in one province. The Ministry of Health said an investigation showed the vaccines had been stored improperly but said the subsequent illnesses were unrelated. Many remain unconvinced. […] Laibin drug inspection authorities found the vaccine was fake after the company identified by the label as the producer denied making it or distributing products in Guangxi. The investigation found the drug had no rabies vaccine ingredients, according to a report by Guangxi-based newspaper Nanguo Zaobao. Laibin's health chief, Deng Haiming, said five township hospitals had used such fake drugs and six other hospitals and 23 clinics had bought drugs via illegal channels. A total of 1,656 people had had vaccine shots at those clinics and hospitals, with several having died from "other reasons". From June to September, 1,649 people given fake vaccines have been given remedial shots of government-authorised vaccine purchased by Laibin authorities. Eight people, one from Guangdong and seven from Guangxi, have been arrested for making the fakes. Guangxi police confiscated some unfinished drugs, fake chops and a machine that could seal drugs at the home of the Guangdong suspect. The suspect mixed the unfinished vaccine with boiled water and sold it for several yuan per dose to a Guangxi suspect, who subsequently sold it to the next level. It changed hands six times before it reached an executive of a pharmaceutical company, who sold it to clinics and hospitals. The price rose from several yuan to 150 yuan in the process. ^ top ^

Lunar probe to launch October 1 (Global Times)
2010-09-28
China's second lunar probe, the Chang'e-2 satellite, is in its final phase of pre-launch preparations and is expected to be sent into space on October 1, China Central Television reported Monday. […] Ouyang Ziyuan, the chief scientist of China's lunar exploration team, told the Global Times that the countdown for the launch of the Chang'e-2 satellite has begun, and he will set out for Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.Xichang, in one or two days. […] To ensure the safety of local residents, officials at the Xichang Center held a meeting with the local government Monday to discuss evacuation and dispersal plans. Experts from the center said that residents within a 2.5-kilometer radius of the launch site should be evacuated, and residents within a 6-kilometer radius should be dispersed. If successfully launched, the Chang'e-2 will take five days to reach its pre-set orbit, almost eight days faster than its predecessor, the Chang'e-1, and 100 kilometers closer to the Moon. The Chang'e-2 carries a laser altimeter and a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera that can produce high-resolution 3-D images. The two devices will help find a suitable landing site for China's first lunar lander and rover, the Chang'e-3, which is expected to launch before 2013. […]. ^ top ^

Wen returns to hot topic of political reform (SCMP)
2010-09-27
It was perhaps the most interesting talk Premier Wen Jiabao gave in his 48-hour whirlwind trip to New York for the UN General Assembly last week. The low-key meeting with overseas Chinese media bosses gave him the chance to revisit the highly sensitive topic of political reform. Wen got to elaborate on his bold call last month - made in an eyebrow-raising speech in Shenzhen - for his country's political system to be liberalised and more rights granted to its people. […] "I've previously said economic reform without the protection of political reform will not achieve complete success, and might even lose what's been gained," Wen said in response to a question from the China Press, a New York-based Chinese newspaper. "What is the main purpose of political reform? I believe it is to safeguard the freedoms and rights as provided under the constitution and the law... to have a relaxed political environment, so people can better express their independent spirit and creativity, and to allow them to enjoy free and all-round development - I believe these should make up what we mean by democracy and freedom." He went on to expound on what the rule of law means in a one-party monopoly, where the party will tends to trump the law. "Of course, we are trying to build a China with democracy and rule of law. The most important element of rule of law is when a political party rules, it should act according to the constitution and the law, and the party's will and ideas must also be exercised only after they've been converted into law through legal procedures. […] "I believe, in order to achieve this, we still need a certain amount of time. But this is necessitated by modern civilisation and modern politics; we must work in this direction." Wen spent more than an hour answering seven questions from media bosses, encouraging them to be free in what they asked. […] It is not unusual for top Chinese leaders to speak more candidly than usual on sensitive topics on overseas trips, which initially receive little attention before eventually trickling back to domestic audiences. Hong Kong-based political analyst Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Wen may have used the occasion to let a world audience know there are some liberal voices in Beijing. "However, no actual steps have been taken or uttered yet... Beijing feels growing pressure for political reform and this may just be a step to reduce those external pressures," Lau said. […]. ^ top ^

China's political advisors to meet for discussion of next five-year plan (People's Daily Online)
2010-09-26
China's senior political advisors will meet next month to give advice on the country's 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015), said a statement issued Sunday. The Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will hold its 11th session in October, said a statement issued after a meeting of chairman and vice chairpersons of the CPPCC National Committee. The major agenda of the October session will be collecting proposals from political advisors about the country's next five-year development program, which is being drafted, the statement said. At the meeting, Jia Qinglin, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, urged political advisors to contribute their wisdom and help the country work out a comprehensive development plan. Made up of high ranking members of the country's eight democratic parties, all walks of society and ethnic groups, the CPPCC should work together to provide quality proposals, Jia said. The program will be discussed at the fifth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), scheduled to be held in Beijing in October. The coming five years will be a key period to build a moderate prosperous society in all respects and a period to tackle thorny problems in deepening reform and opening-up and accelerate the economic transformation, said a CPC Central Committee statement in July. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Police raid popular gay hangout (Global Times)
2010-09-28
Hundreds of gay men have been rounded up and taken away in an ongoing police operation at Mudanyuan in Haidian district, Beijing. About 20 police vehicles carrying four officers each including SWAT teams invaded the outdoor gay hangout Sunday night. Police hit the area again late last night. "You can't imagine how deeply over 200 of us were wounded by this experience," one of the arrested gay men told the Global Times Monday on condition of anonymity. He refused to discuss details of his treatment by the police. They were taken to the Huayuanlu police station, revealed an online post on a website popular with Mudanyuan visitors. "They were required to show their identity cards, take a blood test, have their photo taken and leave their fingerprints." The campaign was just part of the typical annual citywide public security inspection ahead of the National Day holiday, said Beijing Public Security Bureau spokesman Zi Xiangdong. He did not elaborate what regulations had been violated by the seized men. A similar raid by gun-wielding SWAT police took place two or three months ago at the same place as part of what authorities dubbed a "prostitution crackdown," said Guo Ziyang from the Working Group of Gay's Movement of Beijing, an organization for gay rights. The area remained busy Monday: on a hill with dense thickets, men were flirting with each other, chatting or standing alone. Used condoms and paper towels were visible. "I have to say it's a place in disarray," said a 35-year-old gay man who used to be a frequent visitor. ^ top ^

Security firm chiefs held over petitioners (SCMP)
2010-09-27
Two managers of a Beijing security firm that won awards for its contribution to the 2008 Olympics have been detained for allegedly jailing petitioners illegally under deals struck with local governments through their liaison offices in the capital city. The Southern Metropolis Daily said Beijing Anyuanding Security chairman Zhang Jun and general manager Zhang Jie were detained by the Beijing Public Security Bureau and the company was being investigated for "illegal jailing and illegal business operations". This followed a report by the daily on Thursday that found Anyuanding had kept hundreds of petitioners in "undercover prisons" in the capital, beating up those who challenged its actions. Petitioners arriving in Beijing were escorted back home at the order of local governments' liaison offices in the capital, the paper said. These liaison offices in Beijing were reported to have paid Anyuanding 200 (HK$230) to 300 yuan a day per head for each detention, and in some cases tens of thousands of yuan for returning petitioners by car. An Anyuanding employee refused to comment yesterday. One petitioner, Zhang Yaochun, a former policewoman in Hepu county, Guangxi, said she was detained and sent home by Anyuanding twice, in December last year and in May. She had gone to Beijing to complain about her dismissal in 2000 by the local public security bureau after she raised the alarm about chaotic gun management. Zhang said that in December she received a call from an official at the Guangxi government's Beijing liaison office to meet there. But she was caught and put in a minivan bearing the characters "Anyuanding Escort". Zhang was taken to a warehouse in a southern suburb of Beijing where more than 200 people were squeezed into a dirty, unheated two-storey building. She said all her belongings were seized. When she asked a security guard where she was, he hit her on the head and kicked her. Zhang said she saw officials from the petition department of her hometown hand cash to security guards, who sent her and another petitioner back home. On the two-day car journey the two petitioners were denied water. Another petitioner, Dai Yuequan from Chongqing, was detained three times from 2007 to 2009, 16 days in total, by the security company. He was beaten up twice and all his petition materials and legal documents were confiscated. Founded in 2004, Anyuanding's revenue increased from 8.6 million yuan in 2007 to 21 million in 2008, when the company established a department to help local governments house and dispatch petitioners. Zhu Weijiu, from the China University of Political Science and Law, said it was common to see petitioners in Beijing rounded up by local governments. Previously local governments ordered the local police to catch petitioners, while some hired security companies. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Veterans hold protest seeking better pensions (SCMP)
2010-09-29
About 300 veteran military officers protested outside the Guangdong provincial government office yesterday, petitioning for recognition of their military service and better pension payments. With the Asian Games only 45 days away, surveillance of petitioners and rights activists has been stepped up in Guangzhou. The veterans, ranging in age from their 60s to their 80s, started gathering outside the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district yesterday morning. Calling for the sacrifices they made during the Korean war to be remembered and urging the authorities to implement a fairer pension policy, they wore red ribbons on their chests and raised a four-metre-long white banner. It was the first large protest by military veterans outside the provincial government office in almost two years. In December 2008, about 100 retired military engineers also petitioned for improved pensions. More than two dozen uniformed and plain-clothes police watched as they marched across the road to the provincial government office. The protesters said their military service had not been sufficiently recognised. Their pensions were similar to or worse than those of ordinary laid-off workers in Guangzhou. […] Police failed in an attempt to stop the protesters raising their banner during the peaceful demonstration. "We're so old that we all have heart problems and high blood pressure so don't you dare intimidate us," one elderly woman protester said when an officer touched the banner she was holding. Five representatives were allowed into the government office to lodge their petition. A scuffle occurred when several veterans tried to grab one of the cameras held by three plain-clothes security officers posing as civilians. No one was injured. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Extension work begins on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, will take 4 years (Global Times)
2010-09-27
An extension to the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest rail link, began Sunday and will lead to Xigaze, the second largest city in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region. It will be completed in four years. The 253-kilometer extension from Tibet's capital Lhasa will pass through five counties and over the 90-kilometer long Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, said Wang Zhongyu, commander of the project. It is the first extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway that opened in July 2006, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The extension, with a budget of 13.3 billion yuan ($1.95 billion), has a transport capacity of 8.3 million tons annually, and the average speed is 120 kilometers per hour. Environmental issues will pose a big challenge for the extension because of the fragile ecology in Tibet. Related departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Railways, said the route extension was designed to bypass most natural reserves, use the least land resources and create the least pollution, China News Service reported. Liu Zhijun, Minister of Railways, said the extension is a major project for the nation's railway network expansion and will speed up Tibet's development. It will play a vital role in boosting tourism and promoting the rational use of resources along the line, Li said. […]

 

Xinjiang

Senior Chinese leader urges breakthroughs in Xinjiang's development (Global Times)
2010-09-27
Senior Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang has called for breakthroughs in the development of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region during his five-day inspection tour. Breakthroughs should be achieved in efforts to resettle herdsmen, promote bilingual and vocational education, utilize natural resources, and develop industrial parks, said Zhou, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Zhou told local officials to thoroughly carry out policies set by the central government to develop Xinjiang and strive for the improvement of well-being for the locals. Zhou traveled across the sprawling Xinjiang, about one sixth of China's territory, from Sept. 19 to 24. He visited rural households, schools, farms, a crude oil pipeline station at China-Kazakstan border, industrial zones, and army camps. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Revised Chinese Bible's launch marks end of three-decade quest (SCMP)
2010-09-28
The revised Chinese Bible was launched yesterday after 27 years of strenuous work by an international team of scholars and experts. This brings the 90-year-old version up to date. The Chinese Union Version (CUV) Bible has been hailed as the most-read Chinese Bible since its publication in 1919. At present, 90 per cent of about 70 million Chinese Christians around the world are believed to use it. "The CUV appeared in 1919 and has been read for over 90 years, becoming the preferred Bible for many Chinese Christians," Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said. "Revising the CUV has been a huge task, taking almost 30 years to complete. I believe the revised CUV will enable us to have a better understanding of God's word." […] Speaking at the launch, Ma Yuhong, from the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said the administration hoped the revision would gain broad support. […] Ma also said that if a simplified Chinese version was published in the future, it would not be an official mainland launch. "I think an official launch in China would not be likely." But an edition of the revised CUV's New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs in simplified Chinese will be published on the mainland by the end of this year, with an initial print run of 5,000 copies, according to the Reverend Xu Xiaohong, general secretary of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China. "I think many mainland Christians will stick to the old version for sentimental reasons. That's why we will print the revised New Testament alongside the original version for them to compare," the 46-year old said. Xu, who survived the Cultural Revolution and was secretly baptised soon after the arrest of the Gang of Four, said the revised edition had come at the right time - as people faced mounting pressures and needed spiritual consolation more than ever. "The post-1980 and post-1990 generations, especially those born as the only child in the family, can't take the pressures of life like the older generations," Xu said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macau refuse station riles critics (SCMP)
2010-09-27
A granite refuse station decorated by two rectangular-shaped fountains is being built next to a world heritage site designated by Unesco that is the first Catholic church on Chinese soil. Hoardings for the refuse station are already in place outside the external wall of the 500-year-old San Lourenco Church in Macau. The station is expected to be completed in November, according to the hotline the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau set up to answer public inquiries on the project. The Macau government also plans to build a refuse station outside the Mandarin House, another world heritage site designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. It is consulting public opinion on this project. But the government has been accused of a lack of transparency and disrespect for world heritage buildings, shortly after Macau media revealed the project, which had not been announced. Un Wai-meng, head of the San Lourenco Church, says it shows the government's lack of respect for world heritage sites. He also believes the move will undermine the integrity of the site. "It is not just about the building alone. It is also about the environment," he added. About 300 people have signed a petition to protest against the administration's decision. "They are residents living in the neighbourhood. We oppose the plan because it undermines one of the most important [pieces of] architecture in our city," Un said. Macau has been locked in debate over its world heritage sites since a collection of its historic buildings were named as such sites in 2005. […] The bureau, however, stresses the refuse station, accompanied by two fountains, will be well assimilated into the environment. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan's former premier revels in cultural role (SCMP)
2010-09-30
Former Taiwanese premier Liu Chao-shiuan is back in the spotlight as head of a non-governmental organisation promoting cross-strait cultural exchanges. It is a high-level post and Liu is the first chairman of the Taipei-based National Cultural Association, set up by Chiang Kai-shek in 1976, who is not also the island's president. Liu says the new position has given him more freedom to come up with innovative ideas for cross-strait development, and the title will make it easier for him to promote Taiwan's cultural values on the mainland, something Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is keen for him to do. "I should clarify that I am not President Ma's replacement, but I think we need such a high-level platform to promote Taiwan's local," Liu said this week. […] At a cultural forum in Hong Kong yesterday, Liu admitted that Ma's cross-strait cultural policy hinted at political aims. "President Ma suggested the cross-strait political difference should be solved by wisdom of our common culture," he said, adding that Taiwan had a rich heritage of Chinese culture because it had not gone through the painful experience of the 10-year Cultural Revolution on the mainland. […] Nan Fang-shuo, a Taipei-based political commentator, says Liu plays a more important role than just a cultural envoy. "Current key Taiwan envoys are all Kuomintang senators like Lien Chen and Wu Poh-hsiung, but none of them are Ma's men," he said. "Liu is Ma Ying-jeou's most trusted aide. So I believe Ma wants him to play a role in replacing Lien and Wu." However, unlike Lien and Wu, who have received high-level receptions in Beijing, meeting President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other key party leaders, Liu had yet to meet top mainland leaders, Nan said. […] In his talk in Hong Kong yesterday, Liu praised the mainland's outstanding achievements over the past 30 years, saying Beijing and Taiwan should join together to do something for the new century. "In the 19th century, the British conquered the world not only through their powerful weapons, but also the spirits of democracy and rule of law. In the past century, the Americans' impact did not only reflect the power of Hollywood movies and Wall Street, but also its inclusive culture to allow all talents from every corner in the world to seek their dreams in the US," Liu said. "If the 21st century belongs to the Chinese people, what will we leave to history?" He said Taiwan and Hong Kong's inclusive cultural experiences might be able to give some hints. "Both Taiwan and Hong Kong have an inclusive cultural spirit because we have experienced Western and Eastern cultural integration and come out with such a special wisdom," Liu said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

WTO rules China win over US imports dispute (China Daily)
2010-09-30
The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a report of the panel on Wednesday, supporting China over its complaint against measures taken by the United States which have affected imports of poultry from China. The panel ruled that Section 727, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, applied by the US had effectively prohibited the lifting of the ban on poultry imports from China, and inconsistent with the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). The panel concluded that the United States trade regime has not acting in accord with the specified provisions of the SPS Agreement and the GATT 1994, and has "nullified or impaired benefits accruing to China under those agreements." In 2004, China and the United States stopped importing poultry products from each other for fear of the bird flu. China had called off the ban on poultry import from the United States when the situation was relieved. Access of Chinese poultry to the US market is still blocked, because of the application of Section 727 passed by the US congress, which restricted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its agency, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) from using funds allocated by the US Congress to create a rule to lift the poultry ban on China. At the request of China, a panel was established by the WTO on 23 September 2009 to investigate the case. ^ top ^

U.S. House of Representatives passes Chinese currency bill (Xinhua)
2010-09-30
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to press China to let its currency rise faster, amid accusations that China suppressed the value of its currency and placed a drag on U.S. job creation. The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee backed the proposed Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act last Friday, clearing the way for the full House to take up the measure this week. With November's midterm elections approaching and pressure from recession-weary voters, U.S. lawmakers were weighing bills that would slap sanctions on Chinese goods. China Tuesday urged U.S. lawmakers to recognize the importance of Sino-U.S. trade and economic ties and to avoid protectionist measures against China. Safeguarding healthy and stable development of the Sino-U.S. trade and economic ties was in the common interest of both countries, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. ^ top ^

Hu advocates inclusive growth (Global Times)
2010-09-29
"Inclusive growth," a term coined by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2007, is beginning to draw the public's attention in China after President Hu Jintao outlined the concept in a recent speech, China Economic Weekly reported. At the opening ceremony of the Fifth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Human Resources Development Ministerial Meeting held in Beijing on September 16, Hu made a speech titled "Deepen Exchanges and Cooperation for Inclusive Growth." Hu said that the ultimate purpose of "inclusive growth" is to spread the benefits of economic growth among all people and to realize balanced economic and social progress. He put forward four proposals: giving priority to human resources development, implementing a strategy of full employment, improving the quality and competence of workers and building a social security system that ensures sustainable development. Experts say that by using the term at an international meeting, Hu was sending a message that China's current GDP growth-oriented economic structure needs to be changed. China has achieved great progress in the past three decades under a slogan raised by former leader Deng Xiaoping, architect of the country's reform and opening-up: "Let some people and some regions get rich first." However, under the pursuit of efficiency and speed, resources and investment have all gone to certain industries, cities and coastal areas, causing bigger income disparities and deteriorating social justice, Professor Li Shi from Beijing Normal University, who was part of a study into "inclusive growth" undertaken by the ADB, told the Global Times. The income disparity between the top and bottom 10 percent of earners has increased from 7.3 times in 1988 to 23 times in 2007, Li said. China has already strengthened its efforts to tackle the problem this year. Since February, a total of 27 provinces and municipalities have raised minimum wage levels, and 20 increasing them by 20 percent. […] Deng Yuwen, a senior editor with the Study Times affiliated with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, predicted that the term would be written into the 12th Five- Year Plan (2011-15) and will become accepted by more and more people. Deng argued that the key to realizing the new growth pattern is to change the current system of assessing government performance, where GDP growth figures are used as the main index of success. Some local governments have implemented a number of new practices to this end. Southwest China's Sichuan Province will stop requiring local governments to meet certain GDP targets and instead place a greater emphasis on other indicators, such as work safety and social stability. ^ top ^

Banquet grills Chinese rich (Global Times)
2010-09-29
US billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates will host a banquet tonight in Beijing as part of their three-day visit that has generated debate about how China's wealthy should be mobilized to perform philanthropy. The planned event has been described by local media as the "Hongmen Banquet," a feast set up as a trap for the guests, as earlier reports claimed that the two US billionaires would lobby the wealthy Chinese guests to give up their wealth. […] Buffett and Gates have successfully convinced 40 US billionaires to donate half of their wealth, said to total $125 billion, in a campaign called the Giving Pledge. Since Gates' and Buffett's trip to China was announced, reports have claimed that the two are on a mission to persuade wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs to make similar donation pledges, which allegedly scared away some potential attendees. Despite Gates and Buffett having earlier said in an open letter that they do not intend to force anyone to give up their wealth, but want to share their thoughts on philanthropy with China's wealthiest, half of those invited declined the invitation, the Beijing Morning Post reported. Some wealthy Chinese maintain a low profile, reluctant to discuss their wealth in public for fear of exposing their fortunes and inviting unwanted jealousy from have-nots. […] According to the 2009 Hurun Philanthropy List, China's top 50 philanthropists donated nearly 3.9 billion yuan ($582.9 million) last year, quadrupling the figure from six years ago. "The Chinese have been very generous for a long period of time," Rupert Hoogewerf, who publishes the Hurun Report - China's rich list - told The New York Times. "The difference has been that they do it between families and don't publicize it. What we're seeing now is a new era of transparency." Ruey Liang, a US-based consultant for charities, told the Global Times Tuesday that China's philanthropy does not have to follow the Western model due to China's different culture and values. "Chinese people seem to put more emphasis on family values. A charity system that takes Chinese culture into account is more likely to win the trust there and could therefore promote social welfare," he said. […] "Chinese entrepreneurs are in an awkward position regarding charity," said Huo Jihe, chief editor of China Entrepreneur magazine. "On the one hand, the public hopes they donate to benefit society, but on the other hand, no watchdog or regulation can supervise the use of donations." A nationwide charity law to regulate donation and the operation of charity organizations has not come into force, although the first draft was made in 2005, the Legal Daily reported Monday. […] "A key question for the charity law is to define charity organization and clarify their responsibilities and a supervision mechanism," Zheng said. "Some local charity regulations will help complete the national charity law through legal practices.". ^ top ^

Govt moves again as house prices rebound (Global Times)
2010-09-28
China said Monday that it will ban developers who have failed to develop land more than a year after acquiring it from bidding for more land in auctions, in the latest move to rein in the country's soaring property prices. However, the effects of the new round of efforts remain in doubt, as property prices rose in recent months despite a slew of government measures to curb them. In a joint online statement Monday, the Ministry of Land and Resources and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said cities that failed to allocate 70 percent of land acquired in auctions to subsidized apartments and small and medium-sized homes will be banned from developing large and high-end housing. The ministries will also increase the amount of land available for smaller and affordable housing in cities with high property prices, the statement said. Meanwhile, the housing authorities and China's banking regulator last week launched an inspection into loans to multiple-home buyers. […] However, property prices rose dramatically in 19 cities last week, with Guangzhou posting a 29.05 percent hike and Beijing 18.48 percent, according to the China Index Research Institute. The National Bureau of Statistics' August data showed that property prices in 70 Chinese cities rose 9.3 percent over a year earlier. […] Meanwhile, the demand for property persists. In 28 cities, the number of apartments sold also increased dramatically last week, with Sanya in Hainan Province reporting a 231 percent increase, followed by Harbin, with 168 percent, and Shenzhen with a 120 percent increase in sales, according to the China Index Research Institute. […] "Though secondhand-property prices rose by about 5 percent in the last two months, our sales doubled. The policies only regulate developers but do not curb the demand of potential buyers, who are desperate for their first apartment," Zhao Gaoguan, a Beijing-based housing broker, said. As a result, property agencies stepped up their offensive to acquire secondhand properties to meet the ever-increasing demand. […] Wu Jianxiong, a real estate analyst at Central China Securities, told the Investor Journal that the first series of property-regulating measures failed to achieve its goal because prices have almost never reduced in the last few months despite fluctuations in sales. […] Hui Jianqiang, a senior researcher at the E-house China R&D Institute in Shanghai, told the Global Times that controlling land reserves could also lead to insufficient supply, which would push up prices eventually. "The government should take measures to urge developers to build houses on unused land," he said. An investigation during the March-July period found 826 cases of land misuse involving 79.8 million square feet, and 2,815 cases of land being left idle, covering 339 million square feet, the land and resources ministry said. ^ top ^

Banks OK'd to sell each other loans (Global Times)
2010-09-26
China has started allowing banks to sell loans to each other, an important step towards giving market forces bigger sway in the country's finan­cial system, the central bank said Saturday. Interbank loan transfers will help lenders keep a handle on risks and will also promote the liberalization of interest rates, which are tightly controlled by the government at present, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said. At its launch Saturday, 21 banks joined the transfer system, the People's Bank of China said on its website. The first loan transfer deals were also an­nounced between Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of Communications. In­stitutional investors will eventually be allowed to participate, serving as an "effective link between the capital and credit markets", Zhou said. He said that it would enhance the effective­ness of monetary and financial policies, improve credit structure at banks and also play a role in controlling financial risks. ^ top ^

China imposes anti-dumping duties on US chicken products (Xinhua)
2010-09-26
China will levy anti-dumping duties of between 50.3 percent and 105.4 percent on imports of US chicken products from today, the Ministry of Commerce announced Sunday. The US chicken industry has dumped broiler products into the Chinese market and caused substantial damage to the domestic industry, the ministry said in an online statement, citing the results of an investigation initiated one year ago. "The ruling is that there is a causal relationship between the US dumping of broiler products and the losses suffered by domestic businesses," the statement said. […] The anti-dumping measures will be applied to the products for five years, according to the statement. The move comes after China imposed anti-subsidy duties ranging from 4 percent to 30.3 percent on US chicken products in late August for five years, after it concluded that US poultry producers had received improper government subsidies and hurt the domestic industry. In 2008, US exports of chicken products to China rose 12.34 percent year-on-year to 584,300 tons. About 305,600 tons of US chicken products landed in China in the first half of 2009, up 6.54 percent year on year, representing 89.24 percent of China's total chicken-product imports. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

A prince, two regents for hermit kingdom (SCMP)
2010-09-30
With a little-heralded predawn announcement yesterday, North Korea confirmed what the world already suspected - that Kim Jong-il has a new deputy and heir-apparent in the form of third son, Kim Jong-un. What Korea watchers didn't see coming was the breadth of the Kim dynasty's grip on power. For, rising alongside the twenty-something Jong-un, were Kim Jong-il's sister and her husband - creating a powerful triumvirate ready to take over the reins of the nuclear-armed hermit state. Comparisons with historical regal hierarchies were obvious and unavoidable. "It is another step towards a new power structure which will consist of Kim Jong-un, a young and inexperienced dictator, and two people - his aunt and her husband - who will be making all real political decisions while mentoring the young leader," Andrei Lankov, a North Korea expert at Kookmin University, said. "A figurehead and a couple of powerful regents, if you like." […] The official KCNA mouthpiece waited until after 3am before releasing the real news: that Jong-un had been appointed his father's vice-chairman on the party's Central Military Commission, the most powerful institution in North Korea. He was also named a member of the party's Central Committee. […] Although Kim Jong-un is foreign-educated and is said to have some Western cultural tastes, experts are sceptical of any new dawn in the recalcitrant state's foreign relations. […] Would such a young leader, especially one with knowledge of a prosperous and free world beyond North Korea's borders, be more apt to press for changes to bring his country into the 21st century? Or would such a young and untested newcomer to the North's leadership be most anxious to prove his toughness to the country's military hierarchy? "At first glance this can seem like a good thing - that with new people in power, maybe a younger generation will be more open to modernising the country and opening up to the West," said Jim Walsh, a North Korea expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But in the near term any transition is likely to be bad news," he said. The "natural inclination" of any new leader - and especially a young and untried one - would be "to be more assertive... in a period of vulnerability". Noting that any transition in leadership could deteriorate into a fight for power, Walsh said: "We will have to get through what could be a very dangerous period." Others agreed about the potential for infighting over the rise of the Kim's unproven son. "Succession of power may lead to factional fighting and incur tremendous economic cost that will make the Korean peninsula a powder keg," said Shotaro Yachi, a special envoy for Japan and former vice-minister for foreign affairs. ^ top ^

Koreas plan to hold military talks today (SCMP)
2010-09-30
North and South Korea were scheduled to hold their first military talks in two years today in the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula, Seoul's Defence Ministry said yesterday. The two last held such talks in October 2008. Pyongyang proposed the meeting to discuss the western maritime border and anti-North Korean leaflets spread by South Korean activists. In response, Seoul said the talks should focus on Pyongyang's role in the sinking of a South Korean warship this year and the easing of tensions at the sea border. The apparent thaw comes as the North struggles to deal with the impact of months of flooding on its already weak economy. This month the South sent rice to the North for the first time in three years, and the two states agreed to restart the reunions of families that were split by the 1950-53 Korean war. South Korea once sent up to 500,000 tonnes of rice and 300,000 tonnes of fertiliser a year to North Korea, but the aid was halted after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took power in 2008. ^ top ^

Hu sends congratulatory message to Kim Jong Il (Xinhua)
2010-09-29
General Secretary Hu Jintao of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Tuesday sent a message to Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), to warmly congratulate him on his reelection as general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). "On behalf of the CPC Central Committee and in my own name, I hereby extend my warm congratulation on the successful holding of the conference of the WPK, on your reelection as general secretary of the WPK, and on the reelection and formation of a new highest leading body of the WPK," Hu said in the message. For many years, the WPK headed by Kim Jong Il has led the entire Korean people to be self-reliant, to struggle arduously and to make great achievements in the cause of building Korean-style socialism. Over recent years, the Korean people have made a series of delightful achievements in building the DPRK into a strong and prosperous nation, in developing the national economy, in improving the people's livelihood, etc, according to the message. China and the DPRK have profound traditional friendship, close geographic relations and extensive common interests. To strengthen and develop China-DPRK friendly and cooperative ties is an unswerving policy of the CPC and the Chinese government. Despite the ups and downs of the international situation, we will always handle, maintain and boost China-DPRK relations from a strategic height and a long-term perspective, according to the message. "We are willing to make joint efforts with the DPRK to continuously promote China-DPRK relations to a higher level, in order to better benefit the two peoples and make greater contributions to realizing lasting peace and common prosperity in the region," Hu said in the message. "I sincerely wish General Secretary Kim and the WPK to keep making new and greater achievements in the cause of leading the DPRK people building a strong and prosperous country," he said. ^ top ^

North Korean leader's son unveiled (SCMP)
2010-09-28
North Korea's ailing leader Kim Jong-il gave his youngest son his first public title on Tuesday, naming him a general in a move analysts said marked the first stage of dynastic succession in the secretive state. State media mentioned Kim Jong-un for the first time by name, but without identifying him as the son of the iron ruler, hours before the start of a rare ruling party meeting to elect its supreme leadership. […] “As expected, the dynastic transition is becoming public. So far, they are following the pattern we saw in the 1970s when Kim Jong-il himself was moving to become the new Dear Leader,” said Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University. “The difference is that this time they seem to be in a great hurry.” Regional powers are watching the party conference, the biggest meeting of its kind for 30 years, for any sign of change in the destitute state's policies. Financial markets see the preferred outcome of the meeting as a continuation of the current system and relative stability, even though the economy is in near ruin and the internationally ostracised government is trying to build a nuclear arsenal. The biggest fear is that the country could collapse, triggering a flood of refugees or even fighting on the divided peninsula. That could hit hard the economies of neighbouring South Korea, China and Japan which together account for about 20 per cent of global economic output. Experts warn of potential infighting over the rise of the unproven young Kim. “Succession of power may lead to factional fighting and incur tremendous economic cost that will make the Korean peninsula a powder keg,” said Shotaro Yachi, a special envoy for the Japanese government and former vice minister for foreign affairs. State news agency KCNA said Kim had issued a directive bestowing military rank on six people, including promoting Jong-un and the leader's sister Kyong-hui to general in one of the world's largest armies. […] “It's striking that the big announcement coming out of a party conference is not a party position but a military position,” said Marcus Noland, a North Korea expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “This attests to the centrality of the military in governing North Korea today,” he said. By signalling the young Kim's rise, experts say North Korea is readying for a collective father-and-son leadership. If Kim Jong-il died suddenly, his son, by then identified as figurehead leader, would be surrounded by close family confidants who have been appointed to senior positions in the Workers' Party and military in recent months. Kim's appointment of his sister to a military role underlined his resolve to ensure a smooth transition, Noland said. […] His uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, was named to a powerful military post earlier this year, and analysts say he is most likely to act as principal regent until his charge has his own power base. […]. ^ top ^

US and South Korea stage anti-submarine drill in Yellow Sea as North prepares for party meeting (SCMP)
2010-09-28
The United States and South Korea launched a joint anti-submarine exercise yesterday in a show of strength against the communist North, which is preparing for a key meeting of its ruling party. […] "About 1,700 South Korean and US navy forces are involved in submarine detection training and high-level combat training," said a spokesman for the South Korean joint chiefs of staff. […] The latest exercise includes two guided-missile destroyers and a fast attack submarine from the US Navy and two South Korean destroyers. But it does not feature a US aircraft carrier, which was relocated from the Yellow Sea to the east coast of the peninsula in response to China's expressions of concern. The drill was postponed earlier this month due to an approaching typhoon. Pyongyang criticised the exercise, calling it "premeditated war manoeuvres" and threatening to "mercilessly wipe them out". ^ top ^

North Korea's 'bridge' to the outside world (SCMP)
2010-09-27
A meeting with a North Korean delegation when he was a teenager in Spain set Alejandro Cao de Benos on the path to become a spokesman for the reclusive communist regime. Among his tasks as a special delegate for North Korea's Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries is explaining Pyongyang's position on issues ranging from its nuclear activities to its suspected human rights violations to global media outlets such as CNN and Al Jazeera. He also co-ordinates visits by foreign journalists to North Korea, and puts firms wishing to do business with the country in contact with the right government department. "I act as a bridge between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the rest of the world," Cao de Benos said at a hotel cafe in his hometown of Tarragona in northeastern Spain. "I am really, really proud of being given this position, not for the post itself but because of the trust which the government has placed in me." Gaining that trust was a long process, said the 36-year-old, who previously served two years in the Spanish army before becoming an information-technology consultant. His first contact with officials from the North Korean regime came in 1990 when, at the age of 16, he approached the country's delegation to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, whose headquarters are in Madrid, at a conference in the Spanish capital. A descendant of Spanish aristocrats who had lost their fortune two generations ago, he already identified himself as a communist and was intrigued by North Korea, in part he says because so little was known about the country. "My first impressions were very, very positive. Even though I was just a kid, they treated me like anyone else. Being used to class differences as they exist in the West, the way the North Koreans behaved really made an impact on me," he said, speaking in English. Members of the delegation remained in contact and gave him books on North Korea and two years later he was invited to the country on a 10-day trip. "It was a dream," he said. "I saw that they are trying to build a different model of the world and I wanted to be a part of this project." His co-operation with North Korea deepened in 2000 when he set up the country's official webpage as well as the Korea Friendship Association, a club for foreign supporters of the country that now counts 9,000 members in 120 countries. He believes the success of these projects led Kim Jong-il to appoint Cao de Benos as a special delegate two years later on the North Korean leader's 60th birthday. Cao de Benos, who wears a pin on his shirt bearing the image of Kim's father, Kim Il-sung, the founding president of the North Korean regime who died in 1994, said he is the first and so far only foreigner to work for the country's government. He has a North Korean passport and divides his time between North Korea and Spain. But he stressed that Pyongyang has never paid him a salary and all the trips he makes as part of his job are paid for out of his own pocket. "I have never received a single cent. My position is absolutely honorary. I believe in the cause and would give my life for my ideals," he said. Five years ago he quit his information technology-related jobs to focus on his role as a special delegate and supports himself with an import-export business he runs. He acknowledges that North Korea went through a difficult period in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its key trading partner, when a famine killed hundreds of thousands of people, but he said "there is not a single person starving in the country in 2010". "Nowadays all shops have food even if it is still limited in variety," he said. The picture he paints of life inside North Korea is at odds with that provided by international aid agencies. […] Cao de Benos dismisses these sorts of reports as propaganda against the country. "North Korea cannot fight against CNN, the BBC. Our voice is very small," he said. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia teeters on the brink of a mining boom (SCMP)
2010-09-27
[…] The young democracy has vast coal, copper and gold deposits, yet its people are mostly poor by anybody's measure. Some Mongolia watchers say the country is on the cusp of a natural resources boom, thanks to China's appetite for commodities. But there is a big if - it all hinges on whether Mongolia's mercurial government manages to put the right partnerships and policies in place. "The country is sitting on so much coal. For example, it could mine continuously for 10,000 years before it ran out," Graeme Hancock, the World Bank's senior mining specialist in Mongolia, said. According to research by Russian stockbroker Renaissance Capital, Mongolia has the 11th biggest coal reserves in the world. It also has the planet's second-largest copper reserves after Chile; the world's second-largest uranium reserves behind Australia as well as significant deposits of gold, lead and zinc. The problem is money, or the lack of it. The government does not have the cash to pay for capital-intensive mining, and is wary of selling the country's assets too cheaply to foreigners, or of turning the nation into China's quarry. Meanwhile, some Mongolia watchers fear the spoils of any resources revolution will not trickle down to the public. By some estimates, Oyu Tolgoi will eventually create 80,000 jobs. But locals do not have the necessary skills, so foreign miners are likely to import expatriate workers. While Mongolia's mineral wealth is enormous, "its poverty rate is even more impressive", World Vision's Juergen Wellner says. […] Oyu Tolgoi is a landmark project backed by foreign investors that is set to kick-start Mongolia's economy and by becoming a key resources supplier to China. The deposit, which according to its developer Toronto and New York-listed Ivanhoe Mines, is one of the world's largest untapped copper mines, spans 240 sq km in the south of the Gobi Desert. […] Eurasia Capital forecasts that this project alone will increase Mongolia's economic output by up to 35 per cent a year after the mine begins operating in 2013. […] "In a world in which China continues to grow at eight per cent a year, you are going to get a monster boom in Mongolia," Christopher Wood, chief economic strategist at stockbroker CLSA in Hong Kong, said. "With GDP growing 30 per cent a year because of the big mining projects, it's the most interesting story in Asia at the moment." Others argue that such optimism is premature. […] Some people warn that a lack of government investment in education also risks simply turning Mongolia's herders and blue-collar workforce into "metal-bashers", which might not increase their quality of life. […] The Mongolian government has scrapped university tuition fees, making higher education free from September 1, the start of the country's academic year. Still, building an expert Mongolian workforce will take a generation. […]. ^ 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.
 
Page created and hosted by SinOptic Back to the top of the page To SinOptic - Services and Studies on the Chinese World's Homepage