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
  4-7.1.11, No. 353  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

New era calls for stronger China-EU partnership (Xinhua)
2011-01-04
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang is slated to visit Spain, Germany and Britain from Jan. 4 through Jan. 12. At a moment when the world economy gradually rides out the aftershocks of the latest international financial crisis but the recovery remains fragile, Li's three-EU-nation trip will not only deepen the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and promote their cooperation in various fields, but cast a positive influence upon global economic recovery and development. Since China and the European Union (EU) forged diplomatic ties 35 years ago, their relations have stridden from a "constructive partnership" to a "comprehensive partnership" and to the current "comprehensive strategic partnership." […] Meanwhile, the two sides should further boost their cooperation. As an important ingredient of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, China-EU economic cooperation and trade have brought tangible benefits to both sides. The EU has for years been China's largest trading partner and largest destination of exports, and China the EU's second largest trading partner and largest source of imports. In the throes of the international financial crisis, China maintained a steady and relatively rapid growth, absorbing an increasing volume of exports from the EU and extending a helping hand to pull the bruised regional bloc back on track. Looking into the future, China and the EU see their economies strongly complementary and boast great potential for cooperation in innovative technologies, renewable resources, energy conservation and environmental protection. Additionally, as two heavy-weight players on the world stage, China and the EU should cooperate to amend the international economic and financial systems, improve global economic governance and guarantee sustainable development and prosperity of the world economy. […] As German ambassador to China Michael Schaefer told Xinhua in a recent interview, Germany and China can learn from each other and pursue common development. This is also true between China and other EU countries. With the EU being the world's largest developed economy by GDP and China the world's largest developing country, it is of great significance for them to strengthen their political mutual trust and deepen their cooperation, and they face a great prospect for such efforts. ^ top ^

Beijing to buy Spanish debt as jitters grow over bailout risk (SCMP)
2011-01-04
China is confident Spain will recover from its economic crisis and Beijing will buy Spanish public debt despite market fears of an Irish-style bailout, a top Chinese official said yesterday.

The comments by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang (pictured) were made in an op-ed article in Spain's daily El Pais one day ahead of his arrival in Madrid for a three-day official visit, the start of a European tour that will include Britain and Germany. "Since China is a responsible investor country in the long-term on the European financial markets, and in particular in Spain, we have confidence in the Spanish financial market, which has been translated into the acquisition of its public debt, something we will continue to do," he said. "China supports the measures adopted by Spain for its economic and financial readjustment, with the firm conviction that it will achieve a general economic recovery", said Li, who is widely tipped to become China's next premier. […] Chinese state media yesterday also quoted Beijing's ambassador to Madrid as saying China was willing to make positive efforts to help Spain with its economic recovery. Li's meetings this week with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Finance Minister Elena Salgado would play a key role in financial stabilisation, Xinhua quoted the ambassador, Zhu Bangzao, as saying. Their talks would focus on expanding trade and economic co-operation. The Spanish economy, the EU's fifth largest, slumped into recession during the second half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of the once-booming property market. It emerged with growth of just 0.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2010 and 0.2 per cent in the second, then stalled with zero per cent growth in the third. ^ top ^

Chinese FM meets U.S. counterpart on Hu's upcoming visit (Xinhua)
2011-01-06
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met here Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make preparations for Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit and to exchange views on bilateral relations. Yang spoke positively of the development of China-U.S. relations, including frequent contacts between the heads of state, the establishment of Strategic and Economic Dialogue as well as high-level consultation mechanism for talent exchanges. Yang said the two countries have pushed forward their relationship through making new progress in the exchanges and cooperation in important fields and maintaining effective communication and coordination on regional hotspot issues and global issues as well. President Hu's state visit is of great significance, Yang said, adding that he believed, with joint efforts from both sides, the visit will set new directions for the development of bilateral ties and elevate practical cooperation between the two sides to a new level. Hu's visit will also provide strong impetus to people-to-people communication and make important contributions to regional and global peace, stability and development, Yang said. […] Yang and Clinton also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern, including the Korean Peninsula situation and the Iranian nuclear issue. Also on Wednesday, Yang attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, and exchanged views with U.S. experts and scholars on China-U.S. relations. ^ top ^

China, Spain ink $7.5b in contracts (Global Times)
2011-01-06
China and Spain signed a series of governmental agreements and economic contracts Wednesday during Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang's three-day visit to Spain aimed at strengthening financial support to the country, media outlets reported. According to Britain's Guardian newspaper, Spain is facing a serious financial crisis with 4 million people unemployed and with borrowing costs near eurozone highs. China is purchasing $7.5 billion worth of products by signing the agreements and contracts with Spain. The products include meat, olive oil, wine and ham, the Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday. […] Showing his confidence in the battered economy, Li vowed Wednesday to purchase more Spanish debt. He told Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado on Tuesday that "We believe Spain, with its government and people working together, will surely overcome current economic and fiscal difficulties." […] "With consideration of economic benefits, China is taking the chance to buy debt from European countries under the current financial situation," Hu said. She also mentioned that China makes pragmatic cooperation with Spain, aiming to enhance the developments of diplomacy and politics by financially supporting European countries. Beat Lenherr, chief global strategist at LGT Capital Management, told CNBC Television that the move by China is important for Europe, not just for Spain. China has also moved to help other European nations facing the financial crunch. Chinese President Hu Jintao said China is willing to "take concrete measures" to help Portugal deal with its financial crisis, after his meeting with Prime Minister Jose Socrates in November, Reuters reported. Also, China offered to buy Greek government bonds during Premier Wen Jiabao's two-day visit to Greece in October. ^ top ^

China to cultivate more open, fair and ordered market: vice premier (Xinhua)
2011-01-07
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang said here on Thursday that China will implement a more active strategy of opening up, making the Chinese market more open, fair and better regulated. Li made the remarks at a dinner with German and Chinese business representatives, after meeting with German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle earlier in the day. "Our general idea is, in the new era China will take a more open attitude to the outside world," Li said. Against the backdrop of globalization, China will pursue a more active strategy of opening up, continuously attracting and using foreign technology, management expertise, high-quality personnel and investment, Li said. He also said that the Chinese government will continue to promote free trade and investment and welcome more German companies to invest or establish new businesses in China, especially in areas like energy efficiency, environmental protection, high technology, modern agriculture and service industry, as well as new industries with strategic significance. China will give equal treatment to both domestic and foreign enterprises and establish a more fair market, he added. Li pledged that the Chinese market will be better regulated, as the country will further improve economic laws, regulations and policies concerning foreign businesses, and protect intellectual property rights more strictly. […] The Chinese leader arrived in Berlin earlier in the day, kicking off a four-day official visit to Germany. He is due to hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and meet President Christian Wulff, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday. Before arriving in Germany, Li visited Spain. He will also visit Britain in his three-nation European tour. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier arrives in Germany for visit (Xinhua)
2011-01-07
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Thursday on the second stop of his three-nation Europe tour to promote China's relations with European Union nations. In a written speech released at the airport, Li said China-Germany ties would enjoy important development opportunities in the new era. Li said he expected further deepening of cooperation between China and Germany in various fields, and that he would exchange views with German leaders on issues of common concern during his four-day stay in Germany, so as to boost the continued development of the China-Germany strategic partnership. Li said China's relations with Germany had moved ever closer as the two countries jointly fought against the international financial crisis. Both sides had boosted their strategic partnership in a comprehensive way, with frequent high-level exchanges and robust growth in trade and economic cooperation, Li said. He also hailed the remarkable achievements in bilateral exchanges and cooperation in science and technology, education, culture and law, and among youth, as well as the coountries' close coordination and collaboration in international affairs. During his stay in Germany, Li will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and meet German President Christian Wulff, and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. He is also scheduled to address a gathering of German and Chinese business representatives. Both sides are expected to sign cooperation documents in such areas as trade and the economy, and finance. […] Chinese ambassador to Germany Wu Hongbo told Xinhua he believed Li's visit to Germany would lay solid ground for developing the two countries' relations for the year, and charter the course for and add fresh momentum to the relationship. Before arriving in Germany, Li visited Spain. He will later visit Britain. ^ top ^

China urges settlement of Cote d'Ivoire crisis through dialogue (Xinhua)
2011-01-07
China Thursday called on parties involved in the Cote d'Ivoire crisis to solve disputes and differences through dialogue. "We appreciate the positive efforts of the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote a peaceful settlement of the Cote d'Ivoire crisis," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular press briefing. Cote d'Ivoire has been in political crisis after both incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara claimed victory in the presidential run-off of Nov. 28. The AU and the ECOWAS have sent a joint five-member high-level delegation to the Cote d'Ivoire to seek a peaceful resolution to the country's political crisis. Hong said peacefully settling the crisis is in the common interests of west African countries. He urged the parties involved in the crisis "to settle differences, achieve political reconciliation, and maintain national peace and stability through consultation.". ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Drama off the air as 'red' TV takes over (SCMP)
2011-01-04
The latest political manoeuvring by maverick Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai has seen prime-time dramas taken off the air on one of the municipality's television networks and replaced by "red culture" programmes celebrating the Communist Party's revolutionary legacy. As of yesterday, Chongqing Cable TV will no longer broadcast drama series between 7pm and 11pm - prime time for mainland TV - and will instead be beaming red culture programmes into millions of homes. The Chongqing Morning Post said the revamp would make Chongqing the only big city on the mainland where prime-time television on a major local network did not feature any entertainment programming. Bo's latest attempt to promote red culture - a campaign he launched in mid-2008 - is widely seen as part of an intensified push for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee at next year's party congress. Previously, Bo organised tens of thousands of people to join him in singing "red culture" songs, telling revolutionary stories and circulating Maoist mottos. […] To the surprise of observers at home and abroad, Vice-President Xi Jinping praised Bo for his red culture campaign and a clampdown on triad bosses and their friends in government in a high-profile, three-day visit to Chongqing early last month. Xi and Bo are considered dominant members of the "princelings", a group of descendants of high-ranking party officials. Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University, said yesterday that Bo's actions reflected his ambitions for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's most powerful grouping, when it is restructured next year. "There are two types of top leaders jockeying for places on the committee," Cheng said. "One type, such as Xi Jinping and [Vice-Premier] Li Keqiang, are, for the time being, assured of playing a role in the ultimate decision-making body. "Therefore, they will adopt a relatively low profile and avoid controversy to ensure their advancement in the political struggle. But the other type of leaders, who have less chance of promotion at the moment, will certainly engage in more political posturing and fight very hard for a place on the committee. "Bo is an outstanding example of the second type of leader." Cheng said Bo had spotted an ideological vacuum before rolling out the red culture campaigns. "By doing so, Bo can, at least to a certain degree, please a considerable number of veterans in the party," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese Premier stresses herders' livelihoods amid efforts to protect grassland areas (Xinhua)
2011-01-04
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has stressed that herdsmens' living standards should not be lowered as the nation strives to conserve the grasslands. Wen made the remarks during a two-day tour to Xilingol, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, that ended Sunday. From the beginning of this year, China is giving financial assistance to herders for their efforts to conserve grasslands and to compensate them for their losses. China's pastoral regions are vast and have great development potential. […] He called on authorities to devise policies for the sound and fast development of pastoral regions, on the basis of the new reward-compensation mechanism. He urged local governments to make more efforts to improve grass seeds, livestock and irrigation systems, to provide vocational training for herders and to facilitate the modernization of stock breeding and pasture areas. In 25 degrees Celsius below zero temperatures, Wen visited the heart of the Xilingol pasture to greet herders in their homes. He also inspected commodity supplies and prices at a local supermarket before visiting seniors and orphans at local welfare houses. Wen conveyed New Year greetings to local residents. Wen made the trip less than two months after the Chinese government announced financial assistance for herders in eight provincial-level regions including Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet. The government will give 90 yuan (about 13 U.S. dollars) per year per hectare to herders living in severely damaged grassland areas where herding has been banned. Outside of these herding-banned regions, residents will receive 22.5 yuan per hectare per year if they keep a herd of sustainable size. The government will also give 150 yuan per hectare to farmers to grow grass of better quality. It will also give 500 yuan per year as general assistance to each of 2 million herder households. More money will also be spent on the education and training of herders. The central government will allocate 13.4 billion yuan every year for the measures. […] The policy is designed to conserve the natural environment and improve locals' livelihoods. ^ top ^

Confucius, TCM best represent Chinese culture (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-05
What are your first thoughts about symbols of Chinese culture? The Great Wall, the Bird's Nest or Peking opera? A survey among 2,000 college students shows that Confucius, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and former chairman Mao Zedong broke into the top 10 Chinese cultural icons among the 270 candidates. The survey is a result of research on the development strategy of the soft power of Chinese culture, which is a major project of the national social science foundation. Other items on the top 10 list are Chinese characters, calligraphy, the Great Wall, the five-star national flag, the Imperial Palace, statesman Deng Xiaoping and the Terracotta Warriors. The investigation found that icons of contemporary culture lag behind those of traditional culture. For example, representative contemporary figures like Jay Chou, a 32-year-old pop singer, and Han Han, a best-selling author rank behind 200 on the list. Other low-ranking icons are literary characters, such as Sun Wukong, also known as Monkey King in the classical novel Journey to the West and Lin Daiyu, principal character of the romantic novel Dream of the Red Chamber. The top 50 icons mainly contain historical celebrities like Confucius and Mencius, modern politicians like Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong, and influential writers like Lu Xun. The result of the survey showed the influence of modern and contemporary culture needs great promotion, said Wang Yichuan, professor at School of Art and Communication of Beijing Normal University and leader of the research. Cultural symbols in the fields of science and technology, economic brands and media should also be enhanced, he said. The purpose of the investigation is to find out the perception of college students and current situation of the soft power of Chinese culture, said professor Dong Xiaoping, co-leader of the research at Beijing Normal University. The research covered 24 universities nationwide. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official stresses cultural sector development, reform (Global Times)
2011-01-05
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Tuesday stressed the acceleration of the nation's cultural sector development to create a favorable environment for its economic and social progress. Li Changchun, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, China's top leadership, made the remarks while addressing a meeting of CPC publicity officials. Noting that the year 2011 marks the 90th anniversary of CPC's founding, the official urged related authorities to accelerate the reform of the nation's cultural system. He also urged the establishment of a system to ensure universal access to cultural services, and enhanced guidance of literary and artistic creation. Greater efforts must be made to ensure the prosperity of socialist culture in China, to provide moral support to its economic and social development over the upcoming five years, Li said. Furthermore, he demanded increased efforts to promote advanced socialist culture to increase the international influence of Chinese culture. ^ top ^

Property a local government money bin (SCMP)
2011-01-06
The mainland's red-hot property market is being propelled by the very visible hand of local governments acting in their own interests. And that is something that Premier Wen Jiabao is struggling to rein in. On Boxing Day, Wen used a radio broadcast to attempt to soothe public anxiety over the soaring cost of owning a home. He said the government had failed to address the problem successfully because "until now, the measures have not been implemented well". But local governments - the ones supposed to be doing the implementing - make most of their money by selling land. Wen has talked about the need to keep a lid on overheated property prices for years, but his public show of frustration over the failure of policy was rare, if not unprecedented, for a top leader. In his seven years as premier, Wen has reiterated his determination to curb property prices on at least a dozen high-profile occasions, ranging from State Council meetings to his press conferences at the end of the National People's Conference. But all that talk has come to little. Housing prices in Shanghai and Beijing doubled in less than four years before the global financial crisis and climbed steeply again last year, even though Wen prescribed bitter medicine to try to quell the buying fever. Indeed, housing prices regularly increase even faster after the central government orders a new clampdown on the market. […] "The housing issue is not only an economic problem, but also an issue of people's livelihood that affects social stability," Wen said. A stable property market is an important goal for policymakers, who are trying to ensure that the bursting of a real estate bubble won't derail the country's recovery, having seen the effect of the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States. Numerous opinion polls suggest surging house prices are at the top of the list when it comes to public dissatisfaction. The central government has moved to increase supply and suppress speculative demand but those moves have been undermined by local governments which have used them to provide public officials with sweetheart property deals. […] The revenue from land sales gives local governments an incentive to sell land to commercial housing developers and to shy away from imposing any restraints on housing prices. Higher housing prices boost land prices, which create robust economic output figures and contribute much-needed revenue to local governments. Local government coffers have been emptying since 1994, when reforms began to tilt the tax distribution system towards the central government, according to a report by the Ministry of Finance's Research Institute for Fiscal Science. Under the current tax system, the central government takes 75 per cent of total value-added, sales and consumption taxes, which make up more than half of all government revenue. The provincial governments take the biggest chunk of the remaining 25 per cent. That leaves county and city governments, which are overburdened with social programmes and infrastructure projects, financially overstretched, the report states. […] Hu said Wen had lost the bureaucratic battle because any property project involved officials from dozens of local departments - and even more than 100 in extreme cases - with everyone involved pursuing their own vested interests. "Neither Wen nor any other top central leader could monitor so many departments and officials to ensure his policy is executed," Hu said, citing a research report that suggests that corruption accounts for at least 20 per cent of the cost of mainland housing. "And the root problem comes from a political system where local officials wield discretionary powers without checks and balances from an independent legislature, judiciary and press.". ^ top ^

China pledges more efforts to upgrade rural power networks (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-06
China vowed Wednesday that it would continue efforts to expand and upgrade its rural power grid networks in the next five years to meet the increasing demand. Safe, environmentally-friendly, and technologically-advanced rural power networks are expected to cover most of the nation's rural areas to ensure better electricity use for rural residents during the country's 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), according to a statement issued after a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. Full-fledged power networks are still beyond reach for some rural residents in China's central and western rural regions, despite government moves to expand rural networks beginning in 1998, the statement said. Relevant departments should step up efforts to improve power generation facilities for irrigation and farm produce processing to ensure power consumption of agriculture production, the statement said. Further, participants at the meeting also pledged to slash rural power prices. ^ top ^

China vows to promote image through better publicity (Xinhua)
2011-01-07
A senior Chinese publicity official has urged building a better image of the country on the world stage this year and strengthening friendly relationships with foreign countries. Wang Chen, director of the Information Office of the State Council and International Communication Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks at a national meeting on overseas publicity that runs from Tuesday to Wednesday. According to a statement released after the meeting, the country will improve its news publishing system and make more efforts in promoting mutual trust with foreign countries, while erasing doubts. In addition, the country also plans to push forward the development and management of the Internet and other new media in a bid to promote its international communications capacity. ^ top ^

Woman's death during protest 'an accident' (SCMP)
2011-01-07
Henan authorities say the death of a 38-year-old mother of two who was crushed by a digger while protesting against a construction project was "a simple accident". Li Li's death on Monday morning sparked national outrage after footage, shot by a witness on his mobile phone showing how she was hit by the digger, was circulated widely on the internet. Although protesters and witnesses immediately shouted for help, the footage shows two other diggers continuing to work on the controversial canal project, which nearby residents says poses a potential safety risk to their children. One witness said they believed Li, a laid-off worker with two young children, was deliberately killed by the authorities. […] Angry residents accuse authorities of secretly changing the project's blueprint and illegally taking land from their community. Protesters said the canal project, only five metres from their homes, would be a safety risk for children playing in the area. Xinhua said Zhengyang county authorities deployed some 300 officials and security guards at the scene to protect the canal project from protests. The county authorities said in a press release that Li slipped under the digger's wheel and was killed. They said her family had agreed that her death was an accident and compensation was being discussed. Witnesses said a construction manager at the scene who was in charge of the project said "killing one isn't enough, we should kill two or three", but he denied those comments in an interview with Xinhua. A Zhejiang village chief who fought against illegal land requisitions was hit and killed by a heavy truck late last month, with many internet users saying they believed he was killed deliberately because of his petitioning. ^ top ^

No nuclear policy shift (Global Times)
2011-01-07
China said Thursday it would always honor its promise not to launch a nuclear first-strike. "The Chinese government made a solemn promise since the very first day it possessed nuclear weapons not to be the first to use them at any time and under any circumstances," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

2011 car license plate applications hits 100,000 in Beijing (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-06
The website where Beijing residents can apply to purchase a car had received more than 100,000 online submissions as of Jan. 4, according to the capital's transport authorities. Related authorities said the number exceeded expectations. The city has adopted measures restricting car license plate issuances to ease traffic. Applicants are competing for the first 20,000 plates to be issued through a lottery system in January. Beijing had decided this year to issue only 240,000 new license plates to ease gridlock. That is one-third of 2010's total. Individual automobile buyers will receive a monthly average of 88 percent, or 17,600, of the plates. The new measures stipulate a driver may only register one car […] Upon submitting their applications, candidates receive a code, and their qualifications will be examined. Qualification results will be released on Jan. 25, the day before the lottery. Individuals can also apply at transport departments' application offices starting on Jan. 4. Residents can apply anytime before midnight on Jan. 8. Beijing authorities announced on Dec. 23 that any car sold after that date would not be granted a license plate until Jan. 1, which is when car buyers could apply for registration. Individuals can apply once a month. Those who do not win the lottery will automatically be included in the following month's draw, according to the measures. As for the remaining 12 percent of the quota, 2 percent will be available for commercial use, while 10 percent will go to companies and government institutions. Enterprises can apply once every two months, according to the rules. Lottery winners may not transfer their registration rights to others. At the same time, Beijing is preparing to build an information platform. From now on, purchasing cars from the online application will be aided by a mass text messaging service to the applicants, who can also check the related information from information platform. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Mainland, Taiwan jointly reduce import tariffs to implement landmark trade pact (Global Times)
2011-01-04
The Chinese mainland and Taiwan Saturday moved the first step in furthering their economic ties by implementing the "early harvest program" of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). Under the program, the Chinese mainland reduces tariffs on 539 Taiwanese goods while Taiwan drops the duties on 267 mainland goods. Within two years, the duties on those products will be eventually reduced to zero, a move to put Taiwan in a favorable position when competing with imports from Japan or the Republic of Korea in the mainland market, experts say. Chinese mainland customs in Xiamen City of eastern Fujian Province gave the green light on Saturday to the first group of commodities imported from Taiwan under the cross-Strait tariff-reduction trade pact. […] Customs in Taiwan's Kaohsiung has accepted export applications to the mainland for Taiwan-raised live rockfish, which will be shipped to Fujian on Sunday. […] Their tariff in Taiwan was reduced from five percent to 2.5 percent, as called for in the ECFA. To speed up the procedures, Xiamen Customs opened special ECFA counters to give priority to commodities listed in the cross-Strait trade pact. Also, the General Administration of Customs has ordered local customs to provide ease of movement to products listed in the ECFA agreement, including agricultural and mechanical products, chemicals, electronics, auto parts, textiles, medicine and other sorts of products. Meanwhile, the Chinese mainland allows Taiwan companies to enter 11 service sectors such as accounting, hospital, banking and securities, while Taiwan opens nine of its services sectors to mainland firms. The ECFA, signed in June 2010 and becoming effective in September, has been hailed as a milestone for realizing the normalization, institutionalization and liberalization of cross-Strait economic relations. […]. As a result of ECFA, cross-Strait investment will be broadened from the manufacturing industry to others, from low value-added industries to high value-added industries, he added. The Chinese mainland opened five of its service sectors -- accounting, computer services, conference-providing services, research and development and its film industry -- in October 2010. Another six mainland service sectors -- design, hospitals, maintenance of civil aviation planes, banking, securities and insurance -- were opened Saturday. […]. It is estimated that about 260,000 new jobs will be created in the island by the ECFA's early harvest program, which will benefit about 23,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in the island. According to statistics released by both sides, the mainland has been Taiwan's largest trading partner and export market since 2007. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland, Taiwan establish economic cooperation committee (Xinhua)
2011-01-06
Chinese mainland and Taiwan on Thursday jointly established an economic cooperation committee under the framework of the cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). The mainland and Taiwan agreed in their landmark economic pact reached last year that the two sides would set up such a committee to handle issues related to the ECFA. Through negotiations between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), the ARATS Executive Vice Chairman Zheng Lizhong and the SEF Vice Chairman Kao Kong-lian were designated the committee's conveners, said a statement issued by the ARATS on Thursday.

The mainland's chief representative to the committee is Jiang Zengwei, who is ARATS' special advisor and Vice Minister of Commerce, other delegates include the ARATS's council members and experts from the Commerce Ministry, State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, National Development and Reform Commission and Industry and Information Technology Ministry, Finance Ministry, General Administration of Customs, General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Taiwan's chief representative to the committee is Francis Kuo-Hsin Liang, an official from Taiwan's economic affairs authority, according to the statement. The two sides agreed that more delegates could be added to the committee if necessary in the future, it said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Curbing inflation high on China's economic agenda in 2011 (Xinhua)
2011-01-04
Chinese President Hu Jintao, in a recent speech made while celebrating the New Year with political advisors, reiterated China's stepped-up efforts to stabilize prices in 2011. A week earlier, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in a live chat over radio with listeners on Dec. 26, was seeking public confidence in his government's ability to contain inflation in the world's second largest economy. China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose to a 28-month high of 5.1 percent year on year in November. Over the past two months, China has repeatedly stressed its resolution and introduced a series of measures to stem inflation. The price-stabilizing bid, which carries significance not only in economic terms but also in safeguarding social stability in China, has begun to bear fruit and will continue to weigh high on government's agenda for 2011, analysts and officials said. ^ top ^

New rules tackle price-fixing monopolies (SCMP)
2011-01-05
The nation's top economic planning agency announced new regulations yesterday targeting price-fixing by monopolies in a further bid to curb soaring prices and promote fair competition.

The new rules define a price monopoly and set out administrative procedures for dealing with them. They are meant to supplement the country's first anti-monopoly law, launched two years ago. They come at a time when inflation is rising, with the central government vowing to take measures to crack down on price manipulation. […] The new regulations ban rival companies from setting a fixed price or colluding to change prices. They also bar sellers from setting a minimum price. Market participants are also prohibited from selling products at prices lower than their own cost to squeeze out other competitors. The rules also prohibit leading market players from abusing their dominant positions by price gouging and demanding that buyers pay extra surcharges. Analysts say the rules, to take effect on February 1, are part of the mainland's long-term effort to build a legal system for business but will also be important in the short term, helping to stabilize the worst price rises in more than two years. […] That's one major flaw in the existing anti-monopoly law and the new regulations - they are not designed to tackle the country's largest and most tenacious monopolies. The existing anti-monopoly law has seldom, if ever, been used against the de facto monopolies in the supply of natural gas, water, electricity, petroleum products and airline services, academics said. […] The nation's anti-monopoly law was passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee in August 2007 and came into effect in August 2008. The NDRC is one of the three anti-monopoly agencies on the mainland, responsible for price-related cases. ^ top ^

China's central bank reaffirms to tame inflation (Xinhua)
2011-01-07
The People's Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank, reiterated Thursday that it would give higher priority to stabilizing prices this year. The central bank plans to make its micro-control policies more targeted and effectively manage liquidity to bring the monetary conditions for price hikes under control, said the PBOC in a statement posted on its website. It also stressed that it would employ multiple financial tools, including interest rates, the required reserve ratio, and open market operations, to maintain liquidity within the nation's banking system at a proper level, according to the statement. Further, the central bank vowed to implement a prudent monetary policy and steer credit growth back to normal. China faces mounting inflation pressures with the November consumer price index (CPI) renewing a 28-month high of 5.1 percent, while new loans reached 7.45 trillion yuan in the first 11 months of this year, compared to the government's full-year target of 7.5 trillion yuan. Also, the central bank announced, for the second time in 2010, a hike in interest rates late December. It had also increased the bank reserve required ratio six times last year to 18.5 percent and 19 percent for some large commercial banks, to battle surging prices. ^ top ^

Rural modernization to boost farmers' income (Global Times)
2011-01-07
2011 marks the start of China's 12th Five Year Program. The program places special focus on agriculture, one of the country's key industries that provides half of the income for China's rural residents. So how will the plan benefit China's farmers? […] Fang Ren, Magistrate of Helan County, Ningxia said "Increasing the income of farmers is the top task for us during the 12th five year plan period. Our goal is to double their income, from 6000 yuan to 12,000 yuan." In China's 12th Five Year Program, more efforts will be made to improve rural modernization, and maintain coordinated development between rural and urban regions. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

US envoy in Seoul to ease peninsula tensions (Global Times)
2011-01-04
US Special Envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth arrives in Seoul Tuesday for an Asian tour that will also bring him to Beijing and Tokyo - a trip that may serve as a turning point for the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. "In all three cities, he will meet with senior government officials to discuss the next steps on the peninsula," the US State Department said in a statement on its website. Sung Kim, the US envoy for Six- Party Talks, will accompany Bosworth to Seoul and Beijing, it added. Detailed schedules of their Beijing stop were not immediately available. This is Bosworth's second trip to the region in less than two months. It comes two days after North Korea announced that it was willing to denuclearize. Bosworth visited the three countries starting in late November after Siegfried Hecker, a US scientist, said he had toured North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex and had seen "more than 1,000 centrifuges" for enriching uranium. […] According to the Xinhua News Agency, three leading North Korean newspapers issued a joint New Year's editorial Saturday, stressing the country's will to denuclearize the peninsula. The Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Monday that Pyongyang had made several overtures to Seoul since the start of the Lee administration, but the South Korean public had learned from many incidents that such overtures do not guarantee changes. The biggest task of the South Korean government this year is to prevent military provocations by North Korea and apply pressure to its weak points so Pyongyang will have to go into talks with Seoul sincerely rather than just to wheedle concessions out of South Korea, the report said. Meanwhile, Bosworth's trip to Beijing is one of a series of diplomatic exchanges between China and the US in the first month of 2011. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi left Beijing Monday for Washington in a trip seen as a preparation for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the US later this month. Pentagon Chief Robert Gates will travel to China on Sunday. He will also visit Japan on January 13 and 14. Scott Snyder at the Asia Foundation also told Reuters that Seoul's call for dialogue may be linked to Hu's visit to Washington. However, Shen Dingli, director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times that those Sino- US diplomatic exchanges this month are just coincidences, not designed for or targeted at any specific issue. ^ top ^

Work begins on new bridge to North Korea (Global Times)
2011-01-04
China has decided to take "an economic approach" to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and push North Korea to forsake its nuclear plan, according to Chinese observers.

The observers spoke shortly after construction work began on a new bridge between China and North Korea, a move that raised a new round of speculation. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Friday, Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported. The six kilometers long bridge across the Yalu River will link the new zone of Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, with southern Sinuiju in North Korea, and is expected to take three years. China will pay the 1.7-billion-yuan ($258 million) price tag, the report said. Currently, there is just a one-way bridge over the Yalu River that was built in 1937 and not suitable for trucks that weigh more than 20 tons. It doesn't meet growing bilateral trade needs, which stood at 4.22 billion yuan ($640 million) in 2009. Statistics show more than 70 percent of trade between the two countries was based in Dandong. […] According to Shi, the new bridge will be linked to the Dongbiandao Railway, which will be connected to the Trans- Siberian Railway, which means it will be part of a railway network connecting many countries in Northeast Asia and benefit countries near China and North Korea. ^ top ^

DPRK media greet New Year with calls to denuclearize Korean Peninsula (Global Times)
2011-01-05
Three leading newspapers of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) issued a joint New Year editorial Saturday, stressing the country's will to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK is "consistent in its stand and will to achieve peace in Northeast Asia and the denuclearization of the whole of the Korean peninsula," said the editorial jointly issued by the newspapers Rodong Sinmun, Joson Inmingun and Chongnyon Jonwi. The editorial said the confrontation between the North and South should be defused as early as possible and the DPRK would launch a more determined campaign to improve inter-Korean relations and reunify the country under the slogan "Let all Koreans in the North, South and abroad join efforts and bring a new phase of independent reunification." It urged South Korean authorities to scrap the policy of confrontation and respect the June 15 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4 Declaration. It also called for "active efforts" to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between the North and South by placing their common interests above anything else. As for domestic issues, the editorial said the DPRK would concentrate on developing the light industry to "bring about a decisive turn in the improvement of the people's standard of living and the building of a great, prosperous and powerful country." The country would decisively solve the food problem by developing agriculture with increased investment, the editorial said. It would also further strengthen the military might of the Korean People's Army. Every year the three newspapers jointly issue a New Year editorial on Jan. 1 to outline the country's guideline for the whole year. ^ top ^

DPRK proposes unconditional dialogue with South Korea (Global Times)
2011-01-05
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has proposed unconditional dialogue with South Korea as soon as possible, according to official news agency KCNA. According to the KCNA, the government, party and social institutions issued a combined statement on Wednesday proposing dialogue with South Korean authorities on the way to demolish misunderstanding and distrust as well as achieve peace and prosperity. Confrontation could not solve the problem between north and south but would lead to military conflict and war. Only dialogue and negotiation could break the predicament. Thus the DPRK hopes to actively enter dialogue and negotiation with South Korean authorities, parties and social institutions, the report said. […] The statement also proposed and end to slandering each other and provocative acts that deepened misunderstanding and distrust and incited confrontation and hostility in order to create an atmosphere for improving inter-Korean relations, the report added. The KCNA said the statement underscored that improving inter-Korean relations, promote national reconciliation and unity and open a landmark phase of peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations was the consistent stand of the DPRK. It expected South Korea to "positively respond to their sincere proposal and appeal for weathering the crisis on the peninsula and between the north and the south". The statement called on all the Koreans at home and abroad, all governments, political parties and organizations in the world, international organizations and progressive people that loved justice, truth and peace to extend warm support and solidarity to them. ^ top ^

Bosworth in Beijing for Peninsula solutions (China Daily)
2011-01-06
The US envoy for policy on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) arrived in Beijing on Wednesday as part of a flurry of diplomatic activity to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Stephen Bosworth met Republic of Korea (ROK) officials in Seoul before heading to China. He is expected to meet with China's top nuclear negotiator Wu Dawei on Thursday and wrap up his Asian tour with a visit to Tokyo the same day. While in Seoul, he expressed hopes that serious negotiations on the DPRK will start soon, AP reported. He didn't elaborate and it wasn't clear if he was referring to the stalled Six-Party Talks on nuclear disarmament or something else. He said he would continue to coordinate closely with China. […] In Washington, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula with US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in a White House meeting on Tuesday. "They talked about ways to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program... and avoid destabilizing behavior," Reuters reported, quoting a White House statement. Yang also met US President Barack Obama to discuss bilateral relations and an upcoming state visit to the United States by President Hu Jintao later this month. Obama said he "looked forward to the visit of President Hu and to the US and China working together effectively to address global challenges", the White House statement said. Yang also met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. […] In Seoul, Bosworth met the ROK foreign minister. Bosworth does not appear to be in the region to unveil a US proposal to get the DPRK back to negotiations, but said he is collecting views from all sides. Speaking after his meeting with Bosworth, Kim Sung-hwan, the ROK foreign minister, sounded a cautious note about whether the Six-Party Talks could restart, calling them a "useful negotiating tool". Earlier, Kim said that the ROK, the US and Japan had already agreed on what the DPRK needs to do for the multilateral talks to resume. […] Pyongyang has expressed its keenness to return to the negotiating table. The DPRK called on Wednesday for "unconditional and early" talks with the ROK to put an end to months of tensions. […] In recent days, all sides have suggested they are willing to restart the Six-Party Talks, which collapsed more than two years ago. Scott Snyder, a US expert on Korean affairs with the Asia Foundation, said Bosworth is consulting with other parties in the context of the Sino-US discussions that will occur in the run-up to Hu's visit to Washington. […] "Bosworth's visit focuses on tension reduction and denuclearization through negotiations and upon the efforts of the relevant parties. I think there is little obstacle to restart the Six-Party Talks," he said. ^ top ^

N.Korea arranges low-key birthday for leader's heir (Global Times)
2011-01-07
North Korea has arranged a series of low-profile weekend events to mark the birthday of its future leader, a South Korean official said Thursday. The South's unification ministry did not rule out that some exuberant celebrations might be held for leader Kim Jong-il's youngest son, Kim Jong-un, whose birthday is Saturday. However, Pyongyang appears to be keeping the celebrations low-key with the involvement of top military brass and Workers' Party officials, a ministry official said at a briefing Thursday on condition of anonymity. "This year the North's party and military are expected to hold internal events," he said, adding that Pyongyang had marked Kim Jong-un's previous birthday with athletic meetings and musical recitals. ^ top ^

China supports peninsular dialogue (Global Times)
2011-01-07
China said Thursday that it supports and welcomes any dialogue concerning ending tensions on the Korean Peninsula, one day after Pyongyang called for the resumption of unconditional inter-Korean talks. "Dialogue is the only effective way of solving problems concerning the peninsula. China supports and welcomes all sides actively engaging with each other and taking the situation in a favorable direction," Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said at a news briefing in Beijing. China's statement came as Stephen Bosworth, the US special envoy for North Korea policy, wrapped up his trip to Beijing to discuss with Chinese officials attempts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. […] The US embassy in Beijing said in a statement faxed to the Global Times that Bosworth "had useful consultations on how to coordinate moving forward in dealing with North Korea," during his meeting with Chinese nuclear envoy Wu Dawei, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and other officials. North Korea on Wednesday proposed that the two Koreas unconditionally resume their direct dialogue as soon as possible. "We are ready to meet anyone anytime and anywhere, letting bygones be bygones," the official Korean Central News Agency said in a statement. However, both Washington and Seoul have cast doubts upon Pyongyang's conciliatory gesture. […] "Neither one of us wants to see the emergence of a North Korea that is a nuclear state," Crowley said, adding that North Korea will be high on the agenda at the upcoming summit between the Chinese and US presidents. ^ top ^

 

Gabrielle Tschopp
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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