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
  27-31.12.10, No. 352  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China-EU economic ties boosted in 2010, great potential ahead (Xinhua)
2010-12-27
As Europe continued its recovery from the global economic crisis, China-EU economic and trade relations were further boosted in 2010. Despite trade frictions and disputes, officials and businesses saw great potential in future ties. Latest data from EU statistical bureau Eurostat showed that from January to September, the EU's exports to China reached 82.3 billion euros (107.8 billion U.S. dollars), up by 39 percent compared with the same period in 2009. And the EU's imports from China grew by 30 percent, standing at 204.5 (267.8 billion dollars) billion euros. […] Besides the increase in trade, two-way investment also grew steadily in volume and expanded to various sectors. China's statistics showed that the EU invested 5.1 billion dollars in China in the first 10 months this year. EU businesses are widening their investment from the traditional manufacturing sector to such sectors as service and risk investments. China's direct investment in Europe grew by more than five times in the first three quarters of this year and more Chinese companies are looking to invest in Europe. Song Zhe, head of the Chinese mission to the EU, attributed the notable increase in bilateral trade and investment to the economic complementarity of the two sides. "Although the shadow of the international financial crisis has never left us and the world on the whole is still going through a slow recovery, the economic complementarity, mutual benefit, and win-win progress between China and Europe have constituted an important basis for the fast growth and achievements of our economic and trade cooperation," Song told the European Parliament in earlier December. He said close communication and strong policy coordination to maintain open markets also played an important part in the advancing of bilateral economic ties, citing the 13th China-EU Summit and the 6th China-EU Business Summit in October as an example. During the business summit held in Brussels, business leaders from both sides saw great potential in further advancing their economic ties. Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), said during the business summit that China and Europe had entered a new era of trade cooperation with great prospects for further expansion after decades of efforts. […] Song also said China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) would offer great opportunities for businesses in Europe and China. […] With the deepening of economic ties, China-EU trade ties have inevitably seen frictions and disputes. The EU launched a number of anti-dumping cases against Chinese products, which China's businesses regarded as unfair and a type of trade protectionism. […] To address the challenges, Song suggested the two sides strengthen strategic mutual trust and accommodate each other's concerns. Both China and the EU should guard against trade protectionism and keep their markets open, he said. […]. ^ top ^

Pope's Christmas message admonishes China (SCMP)
2010-12-27
Pope Benedict prayed for a rebirth of peace in the Middle East and encouraged Catholics in Iraq and communist China to resist persecution in his Christmas message read amid heightened security on Saturday. In the “Urbi et Orbi” [to the city and the world] message, he said the Christmas message of peace and hope was always new, surprising and daring and should spur everyone in the peaceful struggle for justice. […] Benedict also directly criticised China, where recently Catholics loyal to the pope were forced to attend a series of events by the state-backed Church which does not recognise his authority, bringing relations with the Vatican to a low point. He prayed that Christmas would “strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China” and decried “the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience...” […] Police were on heightened security in the Vatican and in Rome two days after parcel bombs exploded at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome. Anarchists claimed responsibility for the attacks, which injured one person at each embassy. […] In his message on Saturday, he also called for peace in Somalia, Darfur and Ivory Coast, reconciliation between the two Koreas and respect for human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan. […]. ^ top ^

US defense chief to visit China in Jan (China Daily)
2010-12-28
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit China from January 9 to 12 next year, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Monday. "Gates will make the visit as guest of Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Liang Guanglie," according to a statement from the Foreign Affairs Office of the ministry. Although Gates' visit has long been under discussion, it is the first time that China has confirmed the date of his visit. During his stay, Gates will meet with Chinese leaders, and thoroughly exchange views with his Chinese counterparts on the international and regional security situation, Sino-US bilateral and military ties, and issues of common concern, the statement said. China hopes the visit can help the two militaries improve understanding and trust, properly handle conflicts and divergence, expand common interests and cooperation, so as to push forward bilateral military ties in a healthy and sustainable way, according to the statement. China has always attached importance to Sino-US military ties, and views the military relationship as an important part of the bilateral relationship, said the statement. ^ top ^

Chinese FM to visit US to prepare for Hu's visit (Xinhua)
2010-12-29
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will visit the United States to make preparations for a scheduled trip there by President Hu Jintao, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday. Yang will make the visit from Jan 3 to 7 at the invitation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing. "The foreign minister is due in the US to prepare for President Hu's visit to the country in January, and he will exchange views with the US side on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concern," said Jiang. She said both sides are keeping in touch on details of Hu's US visit. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets with Kazakh Prime Minister (Xinhua)
2010-12-29
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov here on Tuesday, and the two sides agreed to deepen cooperation in energy, infrastructure and non-resource areas. Yang said the two economies are complementary and the two sides should strengthen cooperation in energy, transportation infrastructure as well as trade and finance sectors within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Kazakh Prime Minster Karim Masimov thanked China for help his country combat the financial crisis. He also praised the success of the Shanghai World Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games. Yang started his three-day official visit to Kazakhstan on Mondaya. ^ top ^

EU arms embargo may be lifted (SCMP)
2010-12-31
A European Union arms embargo clamped on China in 1989 after the Tiananmen incident may be lifted early next year, Brussels sources say. The lifting of the embargo on all lethal weapons "could happen very quickly", a source close to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in yesterday's edition of France's Le Figaro daily. […] Lifting the embargo would require unanimity across EU member states. Spain recently tried to persuade opponents to lift the embargo. The issue is expected to come up again in the middle of next month, when EU foreign ministers hold informal talks in Hungary. "We will look into this," the diplomat said. The issue re-emerged after talks with the EU in Beijing that focused on economic and trade co-operation. China indicated it would back heavily indebted euro zone economies struggling to raise finance on open markets at affordable interest rates. An EU official said there was "nothing of an exchange or negotiation whatsoever" involving the arms embargo, stressing there would be "nothing given in exchange for that support". ^ top ^

China worried about tension in Cote d'Ivoire (China Daily)
2010-12-31
China said Thursday it was worried about the current tension in Cote d'Ivoire. "We hope the involved parties can properly handle the differences through dialogue and negotiation to realize political reconciliation and safeguard peace and stability of Cote d'Ivoire," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing. Since the presidential run-off on November 28, Cote d'Ivoire has been in political gridlock with both Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara sworn in as president. […] China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suggested Chinese people should not visit Cote d'Ivoire for the time being and Chinese citizens in the African country should take precautions and stay alert, Jiang added. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier to visit five African nations (China Daily)
2010-12-31
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu will pay official visits to five African nations from Jan 6 to 19, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu Thursday. These five destinations include Mauritius, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Senegal, according to Jiang at a regular press briefing Thursday. ^ top ^

Indians to surpass Chinese (Global Times)
2010-12-31
India will overtake China as the world's most populous country in 2025, influencing the structure of Asian economies, according to US Census Bureau forecasts. The latest Census Bureau estimates released this week, which are in line with previous studies, predict that India will reach 1.4 billion people in 2025, surpassing China, whose population growth is more modest. […] The demographic shift could affect the Asian powers' economies, now among the fastest-growing in the world. China has enjoyed a stronger growth rate than India as young people flock to manufacturing hubs that pump out exports for the world. However, in coming years, China will likely face a shrinking labor force and a mass of pensioners, AFP said. […] Wan indicated that, rather than depending on labor-intensive industries, China's economy is now more driven by capital and technology. Including the automobile and petrochemical industries, "more than half of the nation's top 10 industries are in a lower demand of labor." "The so-called 'demographic dividend' won't disappear right away, and may last for another two decades," he said. Statistics from the China Population and Development Research Center estimate the country's active workforce will decline to 990 million in 2025. This will make it still higher that India's 940 million, as predicted by the US Census Bureau. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese mark 117th anniversary of Chairman Mao's birth (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-27
People across China marked the 117th anniversary of the birth of late leader Mao Zedong on Sunday with various activities in his hometown in central Hunan Province as well as in other parts of the nation. In Mao's birthplace, Shaoshan village, villagers and visitors arrived in the early morning to observe a local tradition in celebration of Mao's birthday -- eating a bowl of noodles. "Today is Chairman Mao's 117th anniversary and many tourists came from afar on this special day just to have a bowl of 'long-life noodles' to show their respect towards the chairman," said village official Mao Yushi. Noodles are a traditional Chinese food to celebrate birthdays, as people believe long noodles stand for longevity. […] Shaoshan, now designated a landmark in China's modern history, receives millions of people from home and overseas every year. On the same day, memorial activities were held in other cities around the nation. In Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province, tourists and citizens braved the early morning chill to travel to Juzizhou island in the middle of the Xiangjiang River to pay tribute to the late chairman. […] In Beijing, by mid-day more than 10,000 people had visited Mao's Mausoleum on Tian'anmen Square, including Mao's grandson Mao Xinyu, who presented a basket of flowers along with his family. Similar activities were also held in provinces of Hebei, Gansu, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan to commemorate the founder of the New China, who was born on Dec. 26, 1893 and died on Sept. 9, 1976. For those who were unable to come to Shaoshan or Beijing, they found alternative ways to express their respect of Mao. Nearly 1,000 Internet users left messages and presented "cyber flowers" at the online memorial page of ssxw.net, a portal website of Shaoshan. "You will always live in the heart of the people and we shall cherish the memory of you forever," one message reads. ^ top ^

Arrests, wineries shut in chemicals scandal (SCMP)
2010-12-28
Six people have been detained, dozens of wineries shut down and bottles pulled from shelves after authorities found wine containing several chemical additives, state media said yesterday. The incident in Changli county in the central province of Hebei - an area dubbed "China's Bordeaux" - is the latest food safety scare to rattle consumer confidence since the deadly 2008 tainted milk scandal. An investigative report broadcast by state television revealed that wineries were doctoring their beverages with sugar water, colouring agents and artificial flavourings, and then falsely using famous brand names, the Global Times said. The newspaper quoted a leading industry expert, Huang Weidong, as saying the additives could cause cardiac irregularities and headaches, and were possibly carcinogenic. […] Xinhua reported that provincial authorities had shut down nearly 30 wineries. Corporate accounts with funds totalling US$427,000 had been frozen, the Global Times said. More than 5,000 boxes of wine had been seized, the reports said, though it was not immediately clear how much of the adulterated wine was already on store shelves. […] In a scandal in 2008, at least six children died and about 300,000 fell sick after consuming powdered milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine, which was added to make products appear higher in protein. ^ top ^

Govt plans for output losses due to climate change (China Daily)
2010-12-28
China has been working to reduce the risk of decreasing grain harvests caused by global warming in coming decades. Estimates placed the losses suffered by 2030 at between 5 percent and 10 percent if climate change continues, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences Deputy Dean Tang Huajun said. The threats climate change generates include shrinkages of arable land, water shortages and extreme weather, Tang said. […] "But the output of the country's three main foods - rice, wheat and corn - may suffer a 37 percent decline in the second half of this century if the government fails to take effective measures to address climate change's impact," Tang said. He based his prediction on a study of climate change's impact on the country's grain production over the past 20 years. […] Yang Peng, a researcher with the academy, said rising temperatures have already caused the planting area for winter wheat, which is more vulnerable to extreme weather, to shift up to 200 kilometers northward. The rice planting area has significantly increased in the northeastern provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, he said. […] The government in February signed an agreement with the International Potato Center, a Peru-based research institute, to open a major research center in Beijing. "Part of the center's mission is to develop varieties that grow quickly and can adapt to regions throughout China," Xie Kaiyun, a leading potato scientist at the International Potato Center's Beijing office, said. […] Potatoes' advantages include low requirements for water and land quality, and attributes that suit a country facing severe water shortages and shrinking arable land. "The yield of improved varieties (of potato) in Yulin city, Shaanxi province, reached 75 tons a hectare," Xie said. "It is believed an average yield of 30 tons a hectare nationwide will not be difficult.". ^ top ^

China likely to set up rare earth trade body (China Daily)
2010-12-29
China is considering establishing an industry association and a government unit for the rare earths industry to gain more control over the precious metals, senior officials said Tuesday. The rare earths industry association is likely to be launched in May and will assist companies in exports and international cooperation, Wang Caifeng, a former official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), who is setting up the group, said at a forum. […] Chinese industry associations have served as agents through which companies negotiate with foreign suppliers and buyers, such as CISA representing Chinese steelmakers in talks with global miners on iron ore prices. China also plans to establish a government unit in 2011 to specifically manage the rare earth sector, said an industry insider who requested anonymity. There are six ministry-level bodies overseeing the sector, including MIIT, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Commerce. […] China has released guidelines to reform the industry by cracking down on illegal mining practices, encouraging more consolidation and reducing exports as oversupplies have depleted its own resources and seriously damaged the environment. Rare earths, composed of 17 elements, are used in a number of high-tech processes ranging from wind turbines and hybrid cars to missiles. China has about 30 percent of global rare earths reserves, but produces 97 percent of the world's total. […] On Tuesday, in the annual report on China's compliance with WTO rules, the Office of the US Trade Representative filed complaints to the WTO against China's trade policy for the alleged "excessive government intervention". The rare earths export policy was highlighted in the report. […] Since 2006, the country has imposed temporary taxes on rare earths exports and set limits on quotas. In 2010, China reduced export quotas to 60 percent, causing alarm among importing countries such as Japan. […]. ^ top ^

China needs 'more Internet security' (China Daily)
2010-12-29
China should invest more in its own Internet security, lest it become a victim, or even scapegoat, for international hacking activities, an industry expert said on Tuesday. "Our current protection input is not enough, and the scale and size is far less intensive compared to that of Europe and the United States," Su Hao, an expert on international security at the China Foreign Affairs University, told China Daily. Su was referring to a recent news source in Germany, which again singled out China for suspicion of cyber attacks. The report said Germany in 2010 detected a sharp rise in hacking activities - a large number of which it claimed may have been from China. […] The report indicated the increase was partially due to more government business being conducted through the Internet. […] "China was accused time and again for launching cyber attacks abroad but there was never any solid proof. Actually, China has become a victim of such repeated claims," Su said. The search engine Google relocated its server from the mainland to Hong Kong in March after it said it suffered attacks that originated from Chinese mainland, which led to the belief that the government was behind the plot. […] Actions to beef up cyber security are ongoing. Germany will set up a national cyber defense center in 2011, pooling resources and know-how to intensify its Internet security. To this end, the US activated its own cyber command as part of its armed forces this year, while the UK designated more than 600 million ($929 billion) for cyber defense - at a time when almost every part of the military is facing drastic cuts. "In comparison, our Internet security measures are still lagging behind," Su said, adding that China should develop a more systematic and organized body to oversee the matter. ^ top ^

China issues white paper on fighting corruption (China Daily)
2010-12-30
China expressed its resolve to strengthen the fight against corruption Wednesday as it released its first ever white paper on anti-graft efforts. The document, titled China's Efforts to Combat Corruption and Build a Clean Government, was issued by the Information Office of the State Council, or Cabinet. China's efforts to combat corruption and build a clean government, which is managed systematically and promoted comprehensively, has "achieved results," the report said. […] In 2009, some 7,036 officials were held responsible for acts like making serious mistakes in decision making, breaching of duty, and failing to manage and supervise subordinates, the report said. […] The document warned that the task of curbing corruption remains tough. China has undergone dramatic economic and social changes. The ideas and concepts of the people have evolved, leading to increased social conflicts, the report said. "Since the relevant mechanisms and systems are still incomplete, corruption persists, some cases even involving huge sums of money, " the report said. "Breaches of law and discipline tend to be more covert, intelligent and complicated." The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government understand the "long-haul, complicated and arduous" nature of anti-graft missions, the report said. […] The report introduces principles, working mechanisms and legal framework for China's anti-graft system. It also sets out the progress made in combating corruption and international anti-graft cooperation. ^ top ^

Chinese president stresses price stability, expansion of social security (Xinhua)
2010-12-30
Chinese President Hu Jintao has stressed the need to stabilize commodity prices, extend the coverage of the social security network and boost employment to ensure the country develops in a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable manner. Hu made the call Tuesday when presiding over lectures on economic development attended by members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. […] Efforts should be made to establish a long-term mechanism that increases consumptions, renovate and upgrade traditional industries, and cultivate and support strategic emerging industries, Hu noted. Hu, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, called for deepening of the country's reform and opening up, adding that improving people's livelihood and ensuring their well-being, promoting economic growth and maintaining social stability are the Party's top agenda. Hu said impetus should be given to the development of the service industry as well as to the coordination of regional development, and vigorous yet steady endeavors should be made to advance urbanization. Hu also called for efforts to embrace reform and innovation in the country's economic, political, cultural and social systems and urged local authorities to seek opinions and advice from the people in formulating regional development blueprints. Further, Hu asked CPC officials to cement their ties with the people and do practical things for the public. ^ top ^

No. of Chinese netizens reaches 450 million (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-31
As of the end of November 2010, Chinese netizens total 450 million and the Internet popularization rate has reached 33.9 percent, which exceeds the world average of 30 percent, said Wang Chen, head of China's State Council Information Office, at a press conference today. Wang said the Internet is an important indicator of advanced productivity. The Chinese government attaches great importance, and it actively promotes the development and use of the Internet. The government considers the development of the Internet an important means of promoting national information construction, achieving the scientific development of economic society, improving technological innovation and improving quality of life. Wang said that the Internet has grown in popularity since 1994, when China connected to the Internet, and China has the biggest online population in the world. By the end of November 2010, the total number of Chinese netizens had reached 450 million, with an annual growth rate of 20.3 percent. This data also shows that the environment of China's Internet development is good. ^ top ^

China's 2010 weather most extreme in past ten years: official (Xinhua)
2010-12-31
China experienced the most frequent and severe weather during 2010, compared to weather in other years of the past decade, a weather official said here Thursday. Chen Zhenlin, a spokesman with the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said the numbers of extremely high temperature days and extreme precipitation cases that China experienced in the year were rarely seen in history, as was the intensity and area effected by this weather. Extreme weather refers to rare weather phenomena that substantially differ from average conditions and which represent only five percent or less of total weather incidents. According to Chen, China experienced the longest hot spell this year since 1961, as the national average number of days of extremely hot weather climbed to 3.5 days more than the normal level, while the average extreme high temperature reached a historical high not seen since 1961 -- 2 degrees Celsius higher than normal conditions. Meanwhile, average daily precipitation at China's 97 meteorological stations was the highest ever, and the annual number of extreme precipitation cases was the largest since 1961, he said. Further, seven tropical cyclones made landfall in southern China this year. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier calls for close supervision of orphan allowance (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-31
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Linagyu Thursday urged efforts be made to supervise the distribution and use of the living allowance for orphans. Tighter supervision should be maintained to make sure that basic living allowances were paid to orphans in a timely and sufficient manner, said Hui in Beijing at a high-level conference discussing the work to support orphans.The central government has allocated over 2.5 billion yuan (around 379 million U.S. dollars) as dedicated funds for the allowance policy in 2010, according to a circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Minister of Finance in late November. […] A sound orphan support system that suits China's economic-social development level would be a "milestone" in the progress of the country's children welfare initiative, said Hui. He said family members and relatives of orphans, welfare institutions, governments and charity groups should make concerted efforts to guarantee orphans' rights to education, healthcare, employment and housing. Hui said more charity funds and volunteers should be encouraged to join the orphan support system. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing hopes to stub out smoking (China Daily)
2010-12-27
Beijing is working on making all public spaces - including work sites and transportation options - tobacco-free by the end of 2015, the Health Bureau revealed. The bureau is also aiming to reduce the smoking rate among men in the capital from 4.6 to 4 percent during the next five years. […] And the results of a survey were also made public last week indicating that more than 95 percent of 2,100 interviewees in the capital knew that smoking might cause lung cancer. The survey, which drew responses from people aged from 10 to 89, also showed that almost 60 percent of respondents knew that smoking could lead to apoplexy, a higher proportion than the 16 percent who knew nationwide. […] The health bureau conducted a pilot project called Three Minutes Stop Smoking in some residential areas between March and June through which it trained doctors in offering tobacco-free advice to patients. […] Zhang said one elderly smoker who had smoked about 20 cigarettes a day for 40 years gave up in five weeks. […] He added that the elderly man subsequently brought some of his friends along to try to help them quit as well. […] Today, nearly 80 percent of doctors in residential clinics are trained to offer tips to patients about quitting. While the tobacco-free campaign has had some notable successes, it has also hit some problems. The smoking rate has increased slightly since 2002. […] The survey found that 11.5 percent of teenagers aged under 18 smoked. That figure was higher than the 9.11 percent who were said to be smokers in a report released by the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention early in December. According to Du, the Health Bureau sent 25,000 posters and more than 20,000 handbooks to hospitals, residential clinics and medicine stores this year promoting smoke-free existence. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet reports two-digit GDP growth for 18 consecutive years (Global Times)
2010-12-27
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has reported two-digit GDP growth for 18 consecutive years, with this year's growth rate estimated at 12.2 percent year on year, the regional government chairman said. Tibet maintained steady economic growth this year, with the annual GDP estimated at 50.6 billion yuan ($7.6 billion), said Padma Choling at the annual economic work conference that opened in Nyingchi Prefecture Thursday. He attributed the growth to the booming secondary and tertiary industries, which reported 14.8 percent and 12.6 percent year-on-year growth respectively. Foreign trade and tourism continued to boost regional economic development, he said. […] As a result of the economic boom, the net per capita income of Tibetan farmers and herders was estimated to reach 3,990 yuan, up 13 percent year on year, said Padma Choling. Tibet's strong growth would continue next year, with the region likely to achieve at least 12 percent GDP growth and 13 percent per capita income growth for farmers and herders, said Zhang Qingli, secretary of the Communist Party of China Tibet Autonomous Region Committee. […] The three-day economic work conference was a follow-up to the central economic work conference in Beijing earlier this month. Attended by policymakers, scholars and specialists in agriculture, economics, education and energy sectors from across Tibet, the conference will work out plans for regional economic development for next year as well as the coming five years. The Chinese central government has vowed to achieve "leapfrog" development and lasting stability in Tibet. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Cut the criticism, Beijing tells HK (SCMP)
2010-12-30
The controversy over the sentencing of tainted-milk activist Zhao Lianhai took a political twist yesterday, as Beijing's new man overseeing Hong Kong affairs warned against interference with the mainland judiciary under the "one country, two systems" principle. The remarks by Wang Guangya came as three Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress confirmed Zhao had been freed on medical parole. The activist's conviction by the Beijing Daxing District People's Court and imprisonment for 2-1/2 years sparked outcry in Hong Kong and internationally, with local NPC members speaking out and 28 of them signing a letter to the Supreme People's Court calling for his release. Responding to the criticism in Beijing yesterday Wang, who assumed office in October as director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said most countries maintained judicial independence and China was no different. "Others should not interfere," he said. "Moreover, I understand that this incident has already been properly settled." Asked whether the joint letter from the Hong Kong NPC members to the court amounted to interference, the official said: "It depends on the way of expression. Under `one country, two systems', well water should not intrude into river water." […] A 38-year-old father of two, Zhao was jailed last month after he organised a parents' group, the Home for Kidney Stone Babies, to seek justice for children whose health had been affected by milk contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.

Denying having interfered with the mainland judiciary, the NPC deputies said it was their job as state lawmakers to monitor national affairs. They also said they did not see Wang's remarks as being aimed at them. […] Another signatory, Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, shared this view. "What we did was only write a mitigation letter," he said. Veteran deputy Priscilla Lau Pui-king said they had been exercising their duties as NPC members to be a "check and balance" in national affairs. "The judicial system is among the state organs we watch," she said. […] There has been no official verification of his release. But Law, Lau and another Hong Kong NPC member, Maria Tam Wai-chu, said they had confirmed the activist was released. "There is no need to worry; he is now on medical parole for sure," Tam said. At a press conference held by the State Council's Information Office, Xiong Xuanguo, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said "this case of Zhao Lianhai was judged by a Beijing court lawfully". ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan to expand 4.5% in 2011 (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-29
Taiwan's economy is projected to grow a strong 4.5 percent in 2011 as its improving relations with the Chinese mainland will likely continue to bring major economic benefits to the island. The prediction comes on the heel of 2010's remarkable 10-percent growth. Aside from a strong growth in exports, the launch of direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan and an increase in mainland tourists contributed to the rebound from the global financial crisis, Christina Liu, chairwoman of the island's economic planner, said yesterday. Citing separate forecasts released by the International Monetary Fund, Liu said Taiwan's economy will slightly outperform South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong - the three other fast-growing economies known as Asia's four little dragons - over the next five years, after lagging behind them during much of the last decade. The IMF predicted in October that Taiwan will achieve growth rates of 4.4, 4.7, 4.9, 4.9 and 5 percent between 2011 and 2015. Taiwan's economy grew at 3.8 percent on average between 2001 and 2008. "The peaceful development and relaxation of trade restrictions across the Taiwan Strait were the most important first step" in bringing about the economic growth, Liu said. Taiwan and Chinese mainland inked in June a wide-ranging trade deal - the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Confident Wen vows to bring inflation, housing under control (SCMP)
2010-12-27
The central government would bring inflation and home prices under control, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged yesterday following the central bank's decision on Christmas Day to raise the interest rate for the second time this year. Responding to a listener's lament on a China National Radio talk show about rising prices, Wen said: "Your words hurt my heart. Indeed, recently prices have risen across the nation and under these circumstances, the lives of middle- and low-income earners are evidently more difficult." Steps taken in the past month, including administrative controls to curb speculation and monetary tightening, had started to produce results, Wen said. […] He also pledged to focus more efforts on easing home prices. The central government intensified its property tightening measures in April and September in an attempt to put a brake on soaring property prices. But Wen acknowledged the measures taken had not been well implemented. "Until now, the measures have not been implemented well enough, and we will reinforce our efforts in two ways," he said. The government plans to build 10 million units of affordable housing next year, up from this year's target of 5.8 million. The government would also increase efforts to curb speculation in the real estate market, mainly through monetary policies and stricter use of land, Wen said, without giving details. Despite all the challenges, "I believe property prices will return to reasonable levels through our efforts. I have the confidence." […] Inflation jumped to 5.1 per cent in November, a 28-month high, despite a crackdown on speculation and repeated moves to curb a flood of money circulating in the economy from massive stimulus spending and bank lending. "The rate rise shows China is quickening its pace to normalise monetary policy," said Ba Shusong, a senior economist with the Development Research Centre under the State Council, the country's cabinet. […] It also showed China was inclined to match its monetary policy with the rest of emerging market economies. Right now, these countries had all increased their interest rates to shore up rising domestic prices. […] Few Chinese economists believed the PBOC was in a hurry to do away with the nation's negative interest rates. But some argued that combining a more "flexible" yuan valuation with a domestic interest rate increase could be a new weapon to fight inflation. Cao Yuanzheng, chief economist at BOC (SEHK: 3988) International, recently suggested at a forum that a combined interest rate and exchange rate strategy could help China weather inflationary pressure from the US' second round of quantitative easing. Liu Yuhui, a researcher with the Institute of Finance and Banking at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said increasing the interest rate would make it easier for the PBOC to control excess liquidity through issuing central bank bills. "We won't rule out the possibility that the PBOC may further increase the interest rate next year," Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications (SEHK: 3328), said. ^ top ^

Robust domestic market to support China' s growth in five years: official (Xinhua)
2010-12-27
A robust domestic market, an increasingly competitive technological edge, a vibrant economic structure and a stable society will continue to provide strong support for China's growth in the next five years, a senior official said on Saturday. In the next five years, China will proceed with the development of its industrialization, information, urbanization and market economy while the global environment will be generally favorable to China's peaceful development, said Zhu Zhixin, vice director of the National Development and Reform commission, or China's top economic planning body. However, China is still challenged by problems in pursuing a balanced, coordinated and sustainable development, he said at a lecture attended by members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), or the top legislature. The lecture, which was held in the Great Hall of the People, was presided over by Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee. ^ top ^

World stocks fall after China rate move, euro up (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-28
Chinese stocks fell sharply, European stocks dipped, US stock closed marginally lower, and the dollar lost ground to the euro in trade on Monday, partly impacted by China's Christmas Day interest rate hike. […] The 25 basic-point benchmark one-year rate increase by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, was the second in just over two months, and while the timing just before year-end may have been a surprise among investors, the move itself was not. China's leaders have pledged to make fighting inflation a top priority in 2011, although it could mean a relatively slower growth of its GDP. Global oil prices dipped to just a little above 90 dollars per barrel after briefly hitting a 26-month peak of nearly 93 dollars a barrel, as the Chinese rate hike raised fears of slowing demand. Gold prices ended down, too. The week between Christmas and New Year's is typically considered "the Santa Claus rally time" for stocks, and analysts estimate that investors are expected to come back to markets and buy shares this week. […] The euro rose after shaking off losses below its 200-day moving average. It was last up 0.36 percent at $1.3162. Against the yen, the dollar fell 0.08 at 82.79 yen. In commodities markets, oil prices pulled back from a 26-month high in response to China's action, which countered the influence of severe cold weather in the United States and Europe. ^ top ^

Environmental damage presents costly economic bill (China Daily)
2010-12-28
The annual cost of economic losses and environmental damage in China recently exceeded 1.2 trillion yuan ($180 billion), according to a new report. The Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning said direct economic losses caused by water, air and solid waste pollution and environmental incidents exceeded 894 billion yuan in 2008, or 2.7 percent of the country's total economic output. Taking into account the ecological destruction of forests, wetlands and grasslands, as well as degradation caused by mining activities, the loss added up to 1.27 trillion yuan in 2008, according to the report. […] "Despite the percentage (relative to economic output) remaining relatively stable, the absolute increase of the environmental cost is still quite striking, considering China's double-digit economic growth rates," Wang Jinnan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning, said on Monday. […] The think tanks suggested the two countries, home to 37 percent of the global population and using 20 percent of the world's energy consumption, would benefit by cooperation into researching a more sustainable developmental path. Such projects could include carbon capture technology, clean coal technology, energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. In India, the estimated economic costs of environmental damage range from 3.5 to 7.5 percent of the country's total economic output, based on domestic studies. But the results are not comparable to China's figures, because the scopes and methodologies are different, Wang noted. […] "Ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources during rapid socio-economic development poses a big challenge for both countries, and the implications confronted by us internally would be felt by the world at large," said Zhu Guangyao, secretary-general of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development. As both countries are coal dependent, and still in the process of rapid industrialization and urbanization, China and India have been facing mounting international pressure to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. "China and India are both facing the urgency to get rid of the poverty, you can't bring about the transition overnight," said Pachauri, "but green growth is important domestically because severe pollutions will affect livelihoods of our people.". ^ top ^

Yuan gained 24%, 14% against dollar, euro since 2005 reform (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-29
As of the end of November 2010, the value of the yuan, China's currency, has appreciated nearly 24 percent against the U.S. dollar and 14 percent against the euro incrementally since China launched the reform of its foreign exchange rate regime in 2005, according to a report by Hu Xiaolian, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, the central bank. Data from the Bank for International Settlements shows that as of the end of November 2010 the nominal effective exchange rate of the yuan has increased by 13.6 percent and the real effective exchange rate has risen by 21.2 percent since the 2005 reform. […] China announced on Saturday last week to raise its benchmark interest rates. The market began anticipating a strong yuan after that. Hu's article also hailed the breakthrough on making a more international yuan. The cross-border RMB-denominated trade settlement, which started in September 2009, has been going smoothly and expanding. By the end of November 2010, banks had completed 388 billion yuan of such business. In addition, the cross-border yuan-denominated investment and financing trial project had reached more than 55 billion yuan by the end of November 2010. However the dual surplus on China's capital account and current account has put great pressure on China's liquidity management. The central bank will use all the three of its tools - banks' deposit-reserve ratios, interest rates and foreign exchange rates - to bring the monetary policy back to normal, that is to say a prudent monetary policy in 2011. ^ top ^

China's economy to slow down in 2011: Bank (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-30
China's gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to grow by around 9.5 percent in 2011, 0.5 percentage points lower compared to the growth rate expected for this year, said a report issued Wednesday by the Bank of China (BOC). The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top think tank, said in its annual Blue Book of China's Economy report in early December set the the GDP growth rate reaching 10 percent in 2011. The report by the BOC, China's third largest lender, was based on the bank's projections of weak overseas demand, tighter monetary policy, and the government's planned economic restructuring for 2011, the first year of China's 12th five-year plan. The Chinese government announced in early December that it will switch its monetary policy stance from relatively loose to prudent next year to tackle rising inflation and keep economic growth at a sustainable pace. […] The report also forecast inflation to rise 4 percent in 2011, compared to the 3.3-percent rise expected for 2010. It said that in the second half of the year, the producer price index (PPI) for China's industrial products had kept rising along with the consumer price index (CPI), adding more inflationary pressure for the future. The Chinese government set a 3-percent target for inflation this year, but looks unachieveable after the index rose 3.2 percent during the first 11 months. Pushed up mainly by rising food prices, the index soared 5.1 percent in November to a 28-month high. […] As inflation triggers wider public concerns, expectations for more hikes in interest rates are strengthening. The report forecast the People's Bank of China, the central bank, would likely hike rates for up to three times next year, mostly during the first half of the year. The central bank on Sunday raised the benchmark one-year lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points for the second time in just over two months. It had also set higher commercial lenders' reserve requirement ratio six times this year in a move to tighten liquidity amid climbing inflation. ^ top ^

China's auto market to slow in 2011 (China Daily)
2010-12-31
China's automobile market is expected to end its skyrocketing growth next year. That's after the government decided to cease incentive measures and began to curb the booming auto market in big cities in a bid to ease congestion. "Don't be optimistic for China's automobile market next year," said Jia Xinguang, an independent auto analyst based in Beijing. "At the expiry of the stimulus measures, especially the tax policy, there will be a restructuring in the auto market in terms of engine capacity." […] China's total vehicle sales surged to 16.4 million in the 11 months through November, according to the China Automobile Industry Association. Whole-year sales are expected to hit 18 million units in 2010, making the nation the world's largest auto market for a second year. The market increased by almost 30 percent this year, but analysts have predicted that it will slow to 10 to 15 percent or even lower in 2011, after Beijing recently launched a strict policy to curb car consumption. The Ministry of Finance on Tuesday announced that China will stop the two-year consumption-tax cuts for smaller cars. […] The government launched stimulus policies for the auto industry in 2009, including tax cuts for buyers of cars with engines of 1.6 liters or smaller, subsidies for rural car-buyers and incentives for trade-in cars. That move helped China surpass the United States as the world's largest auto market that year. […] Beijing municipal government last Thursday unveiled a plan to limit the number of cars sold in the city next year, to ease the traffic chaos. ^ top ^

Chinese investment in US manufacturing rises (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-31
On a spotless factory floor, workers wearing hair nets snap together metal frames, cables, and photovoltaic cells to produce metallic-blue solar panels. This sort of work could be done just about anywhere, yet since October, China's Suntech Power Holdings Co has been making the panels in a 36,500-square-meter plant in the Arizona desert. […] For 20 years, US manufacturers have decamped to China in search of cheaper labor and parts. Now Chinese companies increasingly are setting up shop in the US to escape trade barriers, capitalize on the US government's alternative-energy push, and learn lessons that could help them in their home market. "It's a little unusual to see it coming the other way," said Wei Tai Kwok, Suntech's vice-president for marketing. Chinese companies through September2010 invested $2.81billion in US projects or acquisitions, up from $1.73billion in the whole of 2009, according to Rhodium Group, an economic research firm in New York. […] With domestic unemployment hovering near 10percent, US officials have put aside concerns over unfair Chinese competition. […] On Nov 30, Pacific Century Motors, formed by an affiliate of Beijing's municipal government, acquired General Motors Corp's Saginaw, Michigan-based Nexteer Automotive, which makes steering and driveline systems and employs more than 3,600 workers. […] The yuan's steady rise could be a further spur, making US assets more affordable for Chinese buyers. […] For Suntech, the world's largest producer of solar panels, with headquarters in Wuxi, China, about 135 kilometers west of Shanghai, a US assembly line means big savings on shipping costs and a foothold in a growing market. […] "All eyes are on the US market at this moment," said Shi. "We have very high expectations and we believe the US market will grow substantially.". ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

New ROK drills add to tension on peninsula (China Daily)
2010-12-27
The announcement by the Republic of Korea (ROK) of naval drills, starting on Monday, has again escalated tension on the Korean Peninsula. The ROK military plans to stage live-fire drills at 23 locations off its coast from Dec 27 to Dec 31, the ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday. The JoongAng Daily, in the ROK, reported last week that the US decided to send another nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, to East Asia. If true, this will be the third US aircraft carrier deployed in the area, in addition to the USS George Washington, which earlier took part in Washington's joint military drills with Seoul and Tokyo, and the USS Carl Vinson, which just arrived at Guam in the western Pacific. […] "Three aircraft carriers in the same region are going to be interpreted as a signal of preparing for war," Major General Luo Yuan, with the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told China Daily. Luo also said that the US deployment is a "demonstration to not only the DPRK, but also to the forces of peace", especially China and Russia that have been trying to promote dialogue. […] Pyongyang said Washington and Seoul are "inviting a nuclear war" by conducting military drills, as a Seoul-based think tank predicted that the DPRK may hold another atomic test next year. A commentary on the DPRK's official Rodong newspaper said on Saturday that the ROK's Dec 20 artillery drill on Yeonpyeong Island, near the disputed sea border, was an intentional provocation, and the DPRK is closely watching "the reckless behavior of the warmongers inviting a nuclear war". The comments followed Pyongyang's threat on Thursday that it was ready for a "sacred war" using its nuclear weapons, as Seoul held its second live-fire drill in a week. […] Pyongyang and Seoul have ramped up their verbal attacks as Seoul continues its hard-line stance, a stance analysts said was largely due to domestic pressure following the government's perceived earlier weakness to DPRK attacks. […] A report released on Thursday by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group warned that "any further provocation might turn into a wider conflict". While the DPRK would lose an all-out war against the ROK and the US, "Seoul is constrained in retaliating forcefully because it has so much to lose" economically and politically, the report said. Da Wei, a scholar with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the US deployment is not purely because of military needs, but more of a gesture to showcase its military muscle. An article in the Washington-based bimonthly foreign-policy journal, The National Interest, last week suggested that the US, instead of "simply raising the decibel level", establishes with China ways of diffusing the situation and works out how best to move ahead on denuclearization regardless of the difficulty that this may present. ^ top ^

DPRK's restraint over S. Korea's provocation 'limited': official press (Global Times)
2010-12-28
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has "limited" restraint over South Korea's "military provocation" and would mete out harsh punishment for further aggressive moves, an official daily said Monday. Peace on the Korean Peninsula is under serious threat as the United States and South Korea have been "colluding" to stage repeated anti-DPRK military provocations, Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary. The United States, said the official newspaper of the DPRK's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, is the very troublemaker that has instigated South Korea to carry out military provocations and escalate the tension on the divided peninsula. Washington is attempting to ensure its hegemony on the peninsula and profit from tension and confrontation, the commentary said, adding that it was the United States and Japan who benefited from the Nov. 23 exchange of artillery fire between the DPRK and South Korea near Yonphyong Island. […] The United States and South Korea, however, should not underestimate the DPRK's resolution to defend peace and must immediately stop their military provocation, it added. Since the Yonphyong shelling, which left four South Koreans dead, tension on the Korean Peninsula has tangibly mounted. South Korea has staged several military exercises, and is expected to hold its latest maritime firing drill from Monday through Friday. ^ top ^

China, Russia discuss situation of Korean Peninsula (People's Daily Online)
2010-12-29
Visiting Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin in Moscow on Tuesday, exchanging views on the current situation of the Korean Peninsula. The two sides reached consensus on the issue, saying both China and Russia urged the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to jointly mitigate tensions on the peninsula and to resume the direct dialogue at an early date. The escalating tensions on the peninsula may even trigger a war, which is absolutely not in line with the interests of the relevant sides including Russia, the United States and Japan, the two diplomats said in a joint statement. […] China and Russia will never allow any war on the peninsula, or the lingering tensions between the two countries. Thus, China and Russia will continue to further cooperation and coordination on the issue and to push forward the direct dialogue between the ROK and the DPRK, the diplomats said. The statement called for joint efforts from relevant sides to stabilize the situation on the peninsula, not to impair peace, safety or stability. The two sides also reiterated that the six-party talks were proved to be the most realistic and most effective solution to solve the problem. […] The two sides also exchange views on bilateral ties, including high-level exchanges, promotion of China-Russia strategic partnership, among others. ^ top ^

Gates to add quick stop in Seoul (Global Times)
2010-12-29
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has added Seoul as a quick stop during his upcoming trip to Asia in January, amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell explained the purpose of Gates' visit to Seoul, which will come after he visits Beijing and Tokyo, saying, "They will discuss North Korea's recent actions and consult on the way forward for the alliance to address the threats posed by North Korean provocations and its nuclear and missile programs," AFP reported. Lü Chao, a researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the stopover in South Korea will serve two purposes. One is that it will put "diplomatic pressure on the North, since the US is a military ally of South Korea." The other is that "the visit may have a positive effect on easing tensions between the two Koreas through the upcoming talks with China, which is pursuing a peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula." […] Mark Toner, director of press relations at the US State Department, said on the department's website that "We are going to continue to work with China to urge North Korea to live up to its commitments, to refrain from provocative actions and to act responsibly." Yang Bojiang, an expert on Northeast Asia issues at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Gates' Asia trip can be seen as a "symbol of restoring military ties" between China and the US. […] Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said at a regular press conference Tuesday that China and South Korea will work together to achieve peace and stability on the peninsula. ^ top ^

S. Korean President calls for dialogue with DPRK (Xinhua)
2010-12-29
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Wednesday called for dialogue with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), apparently softening his hard-line stance on the country.

"We should make efforts to achieve peace through inter-Korean dialogue while enhancing our defense posture at the same time," Lee said in a meeting with the unification ministry at his office Cheong Wa Dae. Reunification with the DPRK might not be a thing of a distant future, Lee said, calling on the unification ministry, which overseas inter-Korean affairs, to make efforts to help change the public's negative views about potential reunification. Lee had reversed engagement policies of his liberal predecessors and resorted to a hard-line approach in dealing with Pyongyang. ^ top ^

DPRK media criticizes South Korea's move of calling it an 'enemy' (Xinhua)
2010-12-31
Uriminzokkiri, the government-run website of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), on Thursday criticized South Korea's move of calling it an enemy. South Korea labeled the DPRK government and its military an "enemy" in its latest defense white paper released Thursday. The DPRK website said the move was an "intolerable challenge and serious provocation." According to Uriminzokkiri, South Korea means to eliminate the DPRK in this act, and the advocating of "fellowmen slaughter" and "war" will surely lead to the consequences of "intensifying confrontation, accelerating tension and even war." South Korean authorities have to be wholly responsible for the serious consequences, Uriminzokkiri said. In its defense white paper, South Korea attributed the hostile calling to the DPRK's development of conventional armaments and weapons of mass destruction, its attack on a South Korean warship in March, firing at Yeonpyeong Island, and "making constantly military provocation and seriously threatening the safety of South Korea.". ^ top ^

China backs Six-Party Talks (China Daily)
2010-12-31
Beijing on Thursday reiterated its support for talks between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) after Seoul signaled a desire to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. "Talks and negotiations are the only correct and effective approach to solve issues on the Korean Peninsula and realize its long-term peace and stability," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular news conference. […] On Wednesday, Lee said the ROK has "no choice but to resolve the problem of dismantling North Korea's (DPRK) nuclear program diplomatically through the Six-Party Talks", as he received a 2011 policy report from the ROK's foreign ministry. Beijing proposed an emergency meeting among the heads of the delegations to the Six-Party Talks shortly after the Nov 23 exchange of artillery fire. The talks involve the ROK, the DPRK, China, the United States, Russia and Japan. […] The ROK has reinstated its "enemy" designation for the DPRK after having dropped it in 2000, when the two countries held the first of only two summit meetings between their leaders that led to warmer ties and the start of commercial exchange. "In view of recent security conditions, we specified the North's (DPRK) regime and its military as our enemy," ROK Defence Ministry policy planning chief Chang Kwang-il said. […] Huang Youfu, director of the Institute of Korean Studies at the Minzu University of China, said China's continuous diplomatic efforts are the main reason the ROK has softened its voice. […] Huang said Lee's call for reviving the talks gives hope for a solution in the next year. Zhang Liangui, a professor with the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, however, interpreted Lee's remarks as nothing new or surprising but more of a gesture to please China. Lee's speech came one day after China and Russia said they would never allow any war on the Korean Peninsula, or lingering tensions between the ROK and the DPRK. Zhang said more mingled diplomatic conflicts and military confrontations on the Korean Peninsula over the next year - and that "the possibility of a war at certain scale between the ROK and DPRK cannot be ruled out". ^ top ^

South Korea calls the North 'enemy' (Global Times)
2010-12-31
South Korea's defense ministry released their biennial "Defense White Paper 2010" Thursday, labeling North Korea as an "enemy" for the first time since former president Roh Moo-hyun stopped using the term in 2004. In the paper, the phrase "the North Korean government's military is our enemy" is used repeatedly, according to the South Korea-based Hankyoreh newspaper. And a defense ministry official was quoted as saying the ministry means to send a strong message to Pyongyang by using the phrase. Lü Chao, the director of the North and South Korea Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that calling the North an enemy is a bold move for the South Korean government, given the fact that the defense white paper is an official document open to the public. […] Lü said the "enemy" title could irritate the North, though South Korean President Lee Myung-bak conceded Wednesday that the framework of the Six-Party Talks is the only way to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. […] And the North's frontline 170-millimeter self-propelled artillery and 240-millimeter multiple rocket launchers are reported to be capable of carrying out a "massive surprise bombardment" of Seoul and neighboring areas. The revealing of this information in the white paper, according to Lü, aims at uniting South Koreans, preparing them for raised tensions and making them realize that the development of military might is important. However, according to a BBC report, South Korea has concluded that an outright attack from the North was unlikely, considering the presence of about 28,000 US forces in the South. […] Lee's shift to a tougher North Korea policy "has prompted modest but growing concern" in the US administration, "where officials worry that an overly aggressive South Korea could become a liability in its own right," the Washington Post commented. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Economical Revival After Crisis Needs Large Investment (News.mn)
2010-12-28
Ch. Khashchuluun, Chairman of the National Development and Innovation Committee, has said the emphasis in their work plan for economic development in 2011 is on optimal use of financial resources by using local indices, the first time this will be done. Altogether 85 local development indicators have been identified, some of them in the provinces and sub-provinces of a quite complex nature. Ministries have been asked to coordinate the national plan with the regional development policy whenever and wherever necessary. This plan, Khashchuluun explained to media, is not something that is necessarily a part of the budget or restricted to it. Instead, it will use all national-level resources such as the budget, the private sector, and foreign aid. Approximately MNT3 trillion will be required for its implementation. He explained that economic revival after a deep crisis needs large investment, and the process will be aided in 2011 by increased investment in all electoral districts, which is normal practice in any pre-election year. This will, however, not be a permanent feature of the budget. Apart from increasing deficits, large government expenses also run the risk of marginalizing the private sector which in Mongolia is too small to compete with government domination, he said. ^ top ^

Coal Reverse Might Increase (Montsame)
2010-12-28
As of today, Mongolia is being ranked in first ten in the world by reserve of coal. The proved size of the coal reserve is 162.3 billion tons. The size might increase and will be detected by advanced research.Coal has become the biggest export of Mongolia. It used to be the main resource of energy before. According to statistics, 7.5 billion tons coal is used worldwide a year. Some 40 per cent of them is used for producing energy, 93 per cent of energy resource is produced from coal in Mongolia. Moreover, the export of coal has reached here 28 per cent in the mineral resources export. The coal export is followed by copper concentrate (27 per cent).Coal mines in Mongolia are extracting some 20 million tons a year today, but are able to extract 43 million tons. The Mongolian coal is exported to China. In future, Mongolia wants to export it to other countries through territories of the neighbors. ^ top ^

Livestock Number Down (UB Post)
2010-12-28
The total number of livestock in Mongolia this year is 31.8 million, down 27.7 percent from 2009, reports the National Statistics Office of Mongolia (NSOM) last Friday.

According to the annual livestock census report of NSOM, the country now has 1.8 million horses, 2.1 million heads of cattle, 265,000 camels, 14 million sheep and 13.5 million goats.

Last winter, 360,000 horses, 475,000 cattle, 11,700 camels, 5.2 million sheep and 6.1 million goats were killed by the “Dzud” disaster in Mongolia.

The “Dzud” is a weather occurrence characterized by extremely snowy winters where livestock are unable to find fodder through the snow cover, resulting in the death of large numbers of animals from starvation and the cold. ^ top ^

President Speaks Out Against Vodka (News.mn)
2010-12-30
Speaking at the Burte Chono-2010 awards ceremony, President Ts.Elbegdorj renewed his appeal to people, in both households and organizations, to dispense with vodka when celebrating the New Year. Calling alcohol abuse “the worst and most serious” problem facing Mongolian society, he said “it is frightening how even children use alcohol nowadays”.Vodka, he said, “is no part of Mongolian culture and its use is no cause for pride”. He himself would toast the arrival of the New Year with tea or milk in his cup, and not vodka, and urged everybody to follow suit “as alcohol destroys our self-respect, our morals and the nicer aspects of social interaction”. He wanted artistic celebrities and sports stars to give the lead in this movement and expected civil movements and NGOs to spread the message in the wider society. ^ top ^

 

Gregory Pillionnel
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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