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
  28.2-4.3.11, No. 360  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China continues efforts to evacuate nationals from Libya (Global Times)
2011-02-28
An Air China flight carrying 326 Chinese who had been caught in the unrest in Libya arrived in Beijing Sunday, as China continued to evacuate thousands of nationals from the region.The evacuees arrived on a chartered flight from Crete, Greece, which landed at 8:20 am at Beijing Capital International Airport. It was the third chartered flight by the national flag carrier carrying evacuees from Libya via Crete. A flight chartered from China Southern Airlines, the nation's biggest carrier by fleet size, is returning with 350 Chinese from the island of Djerba, Tunisia, and is expected to arrive in Beijing at 5 pm Sunday, a spokesman for the carrier said. The airline planned four flights between west China's Urumqi and the island of Djerba every day from Feb. 28 to March 10 for evacuees. It aimed to carry more than 10,000 Chinese by making 46 flights over the period. China Eastern Airlines Sunday sent another two aircraft from Shanghai to pick up Chinese nationals evacuated to Malta A China Eastern Airlines MU 268 left Shanghai for Malta earlier Saturday. It left Malta at around 3:27 a.m. Sunday, carrying 272 Chinese nationals, including a baby, evacuated from Libya, and arrived in Shanghai at around 2:16 pm Sunday. Chinese aviation authorities Saturday decided to prepare 15 aircraft each day for the next two weeks to carry home nationals from the north African country. As of Saturday, almost 16,000 Chinese had been evacuated from Libya, according to the Foreign Ministry. ^ top ^

China, Turkmenistan vow to expand energy cooperation (Xinhua)
2011-03-02
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and his Turkmenian counterpart Baymyrat Hojamuhammedov on Tuesday pledged to further all-round cooperation, especially in energy sector. They inked an inter-governmental agreement on Chinese loan to the Turkmenian gas giant, Turkmengazi State Concern, after their meeting in Beijing. Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Hojamuhammedov, who is visiting China as special envoy of Turkmenian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, at the Great Hall of the People after the agreement was signed. The details of the agreement was not available at the signing ceremony but China has been a major buyer of the Central Asian state's gas and oil. […] He urged the two sides to further gas cooperation, expand cooperation in transportation, telecommunication and infrastructure construction fields. Hojamuhammedov said his country attaches great importance to the friendly cooperation with China and will take measures to bolster such cooperation. Wang and Hojamuhammedov are co-chairmen of a China-Turkmenistan cooperation committee. ^ top ^

China supports African Union's efforts to mediate Cote d'Ivoire crisis: spokeswoman (Xinhua)
2011-03-02
China said Tuesday it supports the mediation efforts by the African Union to resolve the Cote d'Ivoire crisis. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a written statement that China was worried about tensions in Cote d'Ivoire. Jiang said China has always advocated resolving the crisis peacefully and called for calm and restraint 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 in Cote d'Ivoire," Jiang said. China supports current mediation efforts by the African Union's high-level panel to end the Cote d'Ivoire crisis, said the statement. ^ top ^

Chinese official proposes immediate start of East Asia FTA talks (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-02
East Asia should wait no longer for the opening of dialogues over the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) that will help facilitate the global economic recovery, a Chinese commerce official said here on Tuesday. Yu Jianhua, assistant commerce minister, said that the conditions for the set-up of an FTA in East Asia had been fairly good, as the mutual cooperation and dependence in trade among the Association of the South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) had been increasingly integrated. More than half of the total trade of East Asia had been carried out within the region, he said at an international seminar opened here in east China's Anhui Province. Trade and economic experts from other East Asian states joined Yu in echoing support for the East Asia FTA talks, but admitted that huge challenges lie ahead. Naomi Chakwin, an official with Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), said overlapping of the existing FTAs, disparity in customs rules and the definition of sensitive products, and other complicated issues, are the main obstacles to inking a sweeping region-wide FTA. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea have each signed a free trade agreement with the ASEAN so far. Last year, a study on the China-Japan-ROK FTA was kicked off and expected to be completed by 2012. […] After the conclusion of the joint studies over the China-ROK FTA in 2010, four ASEAN work teams had already begun research over the East Asia FTA and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia. […] Citing the estimates jointly made by experts from the ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK, Yu said that the East Asia FTA would raise the overall annual gross domestic product of the ASEAN by 3.6 percent from 2010 to 2020, while China, Japan and ROK would see their annual GDP jump by 0.9 percent, on average, during the same period. To start such dialogues, however, participants to the four-day International Seminar on Trade Facilitation for ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK said that the first step should be to streamline existing trade agreements within the region to avoid overlapping and to meet pressing needs. The ASEAN Trade Negotiating Committee will open a three-day meeting on Wednesday. ^ top ^

China hopes Libya can peacefully restore stability (Xinhua)
2011-03-04
China hopes all sectors of Libya can work together to solve the current crisis and restore order in a peaceful way as soon as possible, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu here Thursday. Jiang made the remarks at a regular press briefing while commenting on the current situation in Libya and Bahrain. She said there are three principles that should be respected in settling Libya's problems: the first is to respect Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity; the second is to seek peaceful solutions for the ongoing crisis; the third is for the UN Security Council to take the opinions of Arabian and African nations fully into account. Concerning Bahrain, Jiang said China welcomed its leaders' efforts to ease tension through dialogue and believed they had the ability and wisdom to calm the situation down. "All Middle Eastern nations are China's friends... China has always developed its friendly and cooperative ties with these nations based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit," she added. ^ top ^

China appreciates EU decision to end investigation of China-made modems: ministry (Xinhua)
2011-03-04
China's Ministry of Commerce said Thursday it appreciated the European Union ending an investigation into Chinese wireless wide area networking (WWAN) modems. The decision, which was announced by the European Commission Thursday, sent positive signals and will boost the stable development of China-EU trade relations, said a statement on the ministry's website, citing a spokesman with its Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports and Exports. The EU launched an anti-subsidy probe into the WWAN modems from China in September last year following an anti-dumping investigation and a safeguard measure probe into the modems last June. The EU ended the safeguard measure probe in January 25 this year. The investigation was the largest trade remedy investigation case against China, involving a total of 4.1 billion U.S. dollars in exports. The complaint from EU modem makers was withdrawn in October last year after the sides signed a cooperation agreement. The ministry called on China and EU trade remedy investigators to further work together and promote industrial cooperation. ^ top ^

China vows to boost strategic partnership with Brazil (Xinhua)
2011-03-04
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota in Beijing on Thursday, vowing joint efforts with Brazil' s new leadership to promote their strategic partnership.Calling Brazil a sincere friend and strategic partner of China, Wen said the country hopes to enhance contacts with Brazil's new government, deepen political trust, and facilitate bilateral exchanges and cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, technology and culture. Premier Wen praised the comprehensive and rapid growth of China-Brazil cooperation in recent years. He called on both sides to take full advantage of bilateral cooperation mechanisms, strengthen solidarity and collaboration among emerging economies, safeguard the common interests of developing countries, and promote the reform of global economic and financial systems in a fair and rational way. Patriota is visiting China as the first senior official from Brazil's new government, which took office on Jan. 1 this year. He told Wen that the new Brazilian government highly values its ties with China and considers it an important strategic partner. Brazil is ready to make joint efforts with China to boost cooperation in various areas, enhance contact on major international and regional issues, and further cement their bilateral strategic partnership, he added. Also on Thursday, Patriota met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Beijing. Yang said China welcomes Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's upcoming state visit to China, as well as her attending the third BRIC Summit to be held in China. He believed that President Rousseff's visit would positively promote the China-Brazil strategic partnership and be conducive to enhancing cooperation among emerging economies. President Rousseff thanked Chinese President Hu Jintao for his warm invitation and is anticipating her visit to China, said Patriota, adding he believed that President Rousseff 's visit would yield substantial results and improve bilateral relations. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Overwhelming response stifles 'jasmine' rallies (SCMP)
2011-02-28
Jittery authorities put on an overwhelming show of force yesterday in major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to quell possible "jasmine" rallies prompted by a mysterious online call for peaceful protests for a second Sunday in a row. Although more than a dozen people, mostly foreign correspondents, were briefly detained by the police and a busy shopping street in the centre of the capital was briefly cordoned off, no organised demonstrations were reported in city centres rumoured to be the gathering spots for pro-democracy rallies meant to emulate the popular revolts sweeping across the Arab world known as "jasmine revolutions". Hundreds of police and plain-clothes officers lined Wangfujing, one of the busiest shopping areas in the capital, from early yesterday afternoon, along with dozens of police vans and dogs. At least seven street cleaning trucks drove repeatedly up and down the street, spraying water and keeping crowds pressed to the edges.

Uniformed police, security guards and sanitation workers with armbands that said "Public Security Volunteer" urged pedestrians to move along. Despite the heavy police presence, large crowds turned up near a McDonald's restaurant on the street at about 2pm, as the anonymous posting that appeared on US-based Boxun.com urged. But it was virtually impossible to distinguish those who had shown up for the rally from the shoppers, tourists and passers-by in the street, as no one picked up flowers, unfurled banners or chanted slogans like some demonstrators had done a week ago. The street was temporarily blocked for about 30 minutes from about 2.30pm when the crowds continued to increase. People at dozens of shops along the street were barred from walking out. Some shop assistants urged shoppers to avoid the street because "it was off-limits due to security reasons". People who wanted to use the pedestrian street were asked to show their identification. Almost all connecting streets were also condoned off and some reported their mobile phone signals were cut off when they were in the area. […] At least 10 foreign correspondents, including those from the BBC, Voice of America and the German broadcasters ARD and ZDF, were detained by police on the ambiguous complaint that they were violating Beijing's reporting regulations, witnesses said. Two Hong Kong TV reporters were also briefly detained. Several foreign media outlets were warned to stay away from the planned rallies or blocked from entering the street after Beijing issued a stern warning on Friday urging foreign journalists to abide by Chinese laws. Beijing has also markedly stepped up internet censorship and cracked down on dissidents over the past week in a response to the on-line calls for rallies. Street sweepers were seen involved in manhandling foreign journalists who tried to take photos after the street was cordoned off. […] In Shanghai, there were also scuffles and tense scenes as police clashed with several hundred probable protesters loitering at the entrance to the Peace Cinema in the Raffles City mall, one of the city's most popular shopping venues. […] In Guangzhou, uniform and plain-clothes police flocked to the People's Park and the Tianhe Sports Stadium. The stadium's front entrance, nominated as this week's meeting spot, was blocked by police barriers. Officers were seen guarding key spots and patrolling the area. A man who identified himself as a tourist was questioned outside the stadium for photographing police. Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of Baptist University's political science department, said that even though there were few protesters, the authorities deployed a lot of police because they knew exactly the level of discontent. "In an authoritarian regime, the (state) security knows better than anyone else the mood of society and how the mood is changing.". ^ top ^

China eyes 7-pct annual growth, focusing on living standards (Xinhua)
2011-02-28
China's government will set its annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for the 2011-2015 period at 7 percent, and make the improvement of living standards a fundamental aim. Premier Wen Jiabao, in an on-line chat with the public Sunday, said the GDP target for the 12th Five-Year Program period (2011-2015) was lower than the 7.5 percent target for the 11th Five-Year Program period (2006-2010), when China's economy grew at an actual annual rate of about 10 percent. "We'll never seek a high economic growth rate and size at the price of the environment, as that would result in unsustainable growth with industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption," Wen said. […] The central government would adopt new performance evaluation criteria for local governments and give more weight to efficiency, environment protection and living standards, said Wen. […] Netizens raised about 400,000 questions for Wen. He answered about 20 during the two-hour session, during which he said the government would strive to continue to raise pensions, make medical services accessible to every citizen, build more high-quality rural schools, and ensure fair income distribution. He vowed that "every citizen should share the fruits of the reform and opening up drive." Wen also revealed the aim to reduce China's energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 to 17 percent by 2015 from the current level. Analysts said Wen's comments highlighted the government's resolution to implement the "Scientific Outlook on Development" in the 12th Five-Year Program period. […] Improving living standards was extremely important, as it related to social stability and would help boost domestic demand and help transform the economic development pattern, Zheng said. […]. ^ top ^

Population now stands at 1.341 billion, growth slows (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-01
China's population reached 1.34 billion people last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, a modest jump for a massive population which has led experts to suggest the country may relax its generation-old one-child policy. The figure of 1.3410 billion, which is preliminary and based on a sample survey, shows that China added about 6.3 million people last year, up from 1.3347 billion at the end of 2009. China is due to release the final count next month, after the government tallies the results of its 2010 census, the first in 10 years, the statistics bureau said. The number indicates a slower rate of growth nationwide than the previous year and experts said the decline in growth could help convince policy makers to relax the government's strict family planning policy. [...] It could embolden policy makers to experiment with loosening the family planning policy to allow couples in a handful of provinces to have two children if they wanted, he said. China's population growth has been contracting since 1987 and the United States Census Bureau has projected it will peak at slightly less than 1.4 billion in 2026, with India overtaking China as the world's most populous nation in 2025. Experts attribute the slowing growth rate to the strict family planning limits and to the country's urbanization and growing prosperity. The government says its family planning rules have prevented more than 400 million births since it was implemented three decades ago. Cai said allowing more births now would help the country cope with looking after its large and growing elderly population. [...] China's National Population and Family Planning Commission has said that keeping the country's birth rate low will remain a priority for the next five years, and that its policies should remain basically stable. Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy in Beijing, said the 2010 population figure reflected a growth rate of 4.7 people per thousand, compared with 5.5 per thousand in 2009. "This just continues a declining trend for the growth rate," said Wang. "It's getting lower every year.". ^ top ^

Cultural reform not commercialization (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-01
China's reform of the cultural system does not mean the commercialization of culture, a senior official said on Monday. "I believe this is a total misunderstanding," Sun Zhijun, deputy chief of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at a news conference. "None of the documents and speeches by State leaders have mentioned that the reform of the cultural sector is cultural commercialization," he said in response to a question on whether the reforms will commercialize the industry. The general principle followed in carrying out cultural reform during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) was to draw a line between for-profit cultural industries and non-profit cultural services, Sun added. The non-profit undertakings aim at providing basic cultural services to the general public and ensure their cultural rights. [...] The for-profit cultural industries, on the other hand, are meeting diversified, multi-field cultural needs of the people, Sun said. China has been promoting reform of the cultural sector in the past five years, aiming to restructure the old system of art troupes, offer more public cultural services to rural and urban areas, enhance the international influence of Chinese culture and set up a modern cultural market system. With a prospect of deepening these efforts in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, Sun spoke of the emergence of low-brow, tasteless content and reinforcing efforts to resist it. First of all, the government will support selected cultural products that are thought-provoking, well-presented and of high quality, while resisting the pursuit of economic benefits through mindless content. The government will also evaluate the current cultural awards to make sure they are authoritative and fair. In addition, the government will strengthen its fight against pornography and illegal publications while intensifying its efforts to protect intellectual property rights. ^ top ^

Tourist sites in Beijing, Shanghai off-limits to foreign journalists (SCMP)
2011-03-02
Authorities appear to be rolling back some press freedoms, barring foreign journalists from working near a popular Shanghai park and along a major Beijing shopping street after online calls for weekly protests at the sites. The restrictions put the popular leisure spots on par with Tibet as out-of-bounds areas where foreign reporters need special permission to work, and came after journalists were attacked over the weekend. […] The violence and tighter restrictions follow anonymous online calls for peaceful protests in 35 mainland cities, inspired by the demonstrations sweeping the Middle East. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday journalists should report any alleged assaults to local police, who would investigate the matter according to law. At a regular briefing, Jiang urged foreign reporters to follow China's rules and regulations but did not directly address questions on whether the regulations had changed. Foreign journalists who tried to take photos or shoot video on Beijing's Wangfujing shopping street on Sunday were told they needed special permission to work there. A photographer was told yesterday the area near People's Square in Shanghai was also off-limits. Security in the capital is always very tight during the annual two-week legislative session in March, with dissidents routinely put under house arrest or held for questioning. […] The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said journalists from 15 organisations trying to report near the shopping street "experienced serious interference". Journalists from five organisations allegedly had their equipment confiscated or reporting material destroyed, it said on Monday. Bloomberg said one of its journalists was assaulted by five plain-clothes security officers and had a video camera confiscated. A BBC journalist wrote that he and a colleague were roughed up and thrown into a van by men in plain clothes. ^ top ^

Chinese illiteracy a subject of world's concern (China Daily)
2011-03-02
International concern has grown over the illiteracy and education inequality found in China, said a senior official of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday. "Although China has maintained strong progress toward universal adult literacy, its illiterate population is still one of the biggest in the world," Tang Qian, assistant director-general for the education sector under the UNESCO, told China Daily during a forum in Beijing on Tuesday. […] China, when gauged according to the numbers of its citizens who are illiterate adults, ranks as the eighth worst among ten sample countries selected from around the world, according to a report released by UNESCO on Tuesday. […] "China has made rapid advances in cutting down the numbers of school drop-outs in recent years," according to Yuan Guiren, minister of education. For example, about 80 percent of Chinese were illiterate in 1949, while the figure fell to less than 3.5 percent in 2010, he said. "The country also has topped the world in its number of people who have received higher education, which has increased about 265 times during the past 60 years," he said. Tang said at Tuesday's forum that "wider education inequalities between rural and urban regions are restricting opportunities in China", although this obstacle is not only present in China. Chinese experts warned that the low quality of the schooling offered in many rural areas is making it difficult for students from such places to be admitted to universities. Only about one in five students at China's leading universities come from rural areas, according to the 21st Century Education Research Institute. But the country has no official statistics showing how many rural students study in China's universities, a senior official of Ministry of Education said on Tuesday. "The rapid urbanization makes it hard to count the total number of rural students studying in universities," said Li Yanli, a statistics official with the ministry. ^ top ^

New tax threshold could rise to 3,000 yuan (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-03
The State Council has proposed to raise the personal income tax threshold and revise tax rates and categories to help low-wage workers combat rising living cost, and also aid domestic expenditure expansion. The council said yesterday that the proposal will be reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress during the upcoming annual session of the legislature which opens Saturday. There has been debate over the need to increase the amount of salary exempt from tax, and widespread speculation of a new threshold of 3,000 yuan (US$455) from the current 2,000 yuan. [...] Bu said a tax cut would also help boost consumption as families on lower incomes would have more to spend on necessities. China has long reiterated the need to cut reliance on exports and investments for economic growth and to boost domestic demand as a driver for expansion. At present, China levies income tax in nine bands with rates ranging from 5 to 45 percent. China's tax revenue picked up growth in 2010 on rapid economic growth, rising prices, recovery of exports and stricter tax collection. It collected 7.3 trillion yuan in tax in 2010, up 23 percent from the year before. The economy grew 10.3 percent in 2010.Last year, personal income tax grew 22.5 percent to 483.7 billion yuan, up 16.4 percentage points than a year ago. Personal income tax accounted for about 6 percent of China's fiscal revenue last year. ^ top ^

CPPCC head: Resolve people's needs (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-04
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) members are asked to go to the masses, soliciting opinions on resolving their problems and grievances. They are also urged to help the ruling Communist Party of China and the central government do a better job in governance. Jia Qinglin, chairman of CPPCC, China's top political advisory body, told a packed conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday that the members should always explore new routes of communicating with ordinary people, the low-end, particularly, trying to understand their needs, and "what really is on their minds". Jia, who also sits at the ruling Communist Party of China's Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee, urged CPPCC members to help building up a stable and harmonious society in the country. He made the remarks in his report to the opening of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, one of the two important meetings in the domestic political calendar. The other major meeting is the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), which starts Saturday. [...] More than 2,000 CPPCC members will discuss major issues concerning the nation's development during the session, which lasts until March 13. Jia said in his report that China must focus on making macro-economic controls more "scientific and foresighted". The government must properly balance maintaining steady and rapid economic development with restructuring the economy and managing inflation, Jia said. Meanwhile, an editorial on the People's Daily on Thursday said that the CPPCC should fully carry out its functions of political consultation, democratic supervision and participation in the discussion and management of China's state affairs. "The year of 2011 is to commence the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), and China has entered a crucial phase of building an affluent country. Facing profound, in-depth changes in both global issues and China's domestic affairs and facing a rare historical opportunity and a host of risks and challenges, China must grasp all the more the hard-won chance to develop itself",the editorial said. Founded in 1949, the CPPCC consists of elite members of society who are willing to serve as a think tank for the government as well as legislative and judicial organs. ^ top ^

Beijing will give people better life, top official vows (SCMP)
2011-03-04
A top Communist Party leader pledged yesterday that Beijing would improve people's livelihoods in order to promote social stability and harmony. In the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which he chairs, Jia Qinglin, the No4 leader in the ruling hierarchy, also stressed the need to push economic restructuring and rebalance the world's No2 economy. [...] The CPPCC is a largely ceremonial advisory body that meets once a year in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, which opens tomorrow. Analysts said that the stress on the political significance of the livelihood issue suggested the government would spare no effort in investing more resources in that area. This year's meetings are attracting domestic and foreign attention because they are expected to launch the economic plan for the next five years. The annual sessions also come at a politically sensitive time, with the Communist Party leadership occupied by fears about possible fallout from the "jasmine revolutions" sweeping the Arab world. [...] Livelihood issues are expected to dominate the airwaves during the 11-day NPC session. Pan Qinglin, a CPPCC delegate, said livelihood issues topped his concerns and those of his colleagues and would become the focus of discussion and debate. [...] The US investment bank said the leadership's major concerns included inflation, income growth and redistribution, property prices, corruption, affordable healthcare, food safety standards, pollution and traffic jams. On Sunday, Premier Wen Jiabao said that fighting inflation was a priority for China and the government must ward off threats to social stability stemming from rapid price increases. ^ top ^

Social payments tweaked for rising prices (China Daily)
2011-03-04
China plans to change its system of distributing social aid to make needy people in both urban and rural areas better able to cope with a continuous rise in consumer prices seen since July. Provincial governments have been asked to set up a mechanism linking relief payments with rises in local consumer price indexes (CPIs) by the end of the year, according to a recent announcement by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, and other four ministries. Each government was required to identify a set of conditions that would cause it to put such mechanisms into effect. According to the announcement, the mechanisms should be triggered when residents' basic living costs or the local CPIs rise above specified levels. When the mechanism goes into effect, supplementary subsidies will be granted to those already receiving local "minimum living-security" programs or unemployment insurance. Governments will stop distributing the supplementary aid if the CPI falls below the trigger level and remains there for a time. But if the supplements last longer than expected, the amounts of minimum-living security payments should be increased, the announcement said. The new mechanism aims at ensuring that social aid and related social-security programs keep pace with China's economic growth and the income increases enjoyed by the general populace, authorities said. [...] Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, will raise them by as much as 25 percent for both urban and rural residents starting in April, Yangcheng Evening News reported. Lu Quan, an expert with China's Social Security Research Center at Renmin University of China suggested that more of the central government's budget be allocated to support the development of a minimum living-security system in rural areas, especially those in central and western regions. The central government now pays for 70 percent of the security system in urban areas, while local governments pick up the remainder. In rural areas, the central budget pays for a smaller portion of the program, Lu said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to track all mobile phone users' movements (SCMP)
2011-03-03
Talk about Big Brother! Every Beijing mobile phone user will be tracked through the use of the latest global positioning technology, the municipal government announced on Tuesday.

The project, called the Information Platform of Real-time Citizen Movement, aims to watch over more than 20 million people in Beijing 24 hours a day, local media said yesterday. Wherever you are - whether in the bathroom, on the subway or in Tiananmen Square - the government will know. Wireless communication experts said the system would be particularly useful not only for following the whereabouts of individuals but also in detecting any unusual gathering of a large number of people. It is unknown whether the government launched the project to prevent a "jasmine revolution" or other social unrest, but with the help of supercomputers, officials will know where the next gathering spot is before protesters get there. [...] Using data provided by mobile service providers, the government would know the population distribution and movement of the city with unprecedented accuracy, Li said. [...] Citizens could get the information but would have to pay, he said. Li said sensitive information, such as who was where and in which direction they were heading, would be kept within the government. How many people were in the Wangfujing shopping district, heading to the front door of the McDonald's restaurant there and staying for a couple of hours - information related to calls for a Chinese "jasmine revolution" on the past two Sundays - would not be available to the public, even for a fee, but government agencies such as the Public Security Bureau would know. China National Radio said the municipal government hoped to start the project in the densely populated Tiantongyuan and Huilongguan areas in the first half of this year. Chen Derong, professor of wireless communications at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommications, said mobile positioning technology was based on a simple theory of radio communication. A mobile phone constantly beams out signals to radio receivers built by service providers, mostly antennae on steel towers. Each radio wave arrives with different timing, and by calculating these differences, the service provider can pin down the location of an active phone. "Beijing's plan is to integrate the three different mobile service providers into one platform so that everyone with a power-on cell phone can be tracked," Chen said. "Certainly the use of the platform will not be limited to gathering traffic information. Officials in other areas, such as anti-terrorism and stability maintenance, will also find it useful.". ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China raises subsidy for rural school children in Tibet (Xinhua)
2011-03-01
The government of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region plans to raise the educational subsidy and expand its coverage to include more than 500,000 school-aged children, mostly from herding families, in rural areas of Tibet, a regional education official said. Dorje Tsering, a spokesman with the Bureau of Education of Tibet, told reporters Monday that the regional government has doubled the budget earmarked for the rural educational subsidy scheme this year to 1.01 billion yuan (152 million U.S. dollars). Children in rural Tibet from kindergartens to senior high schools will receive 2,000 yuan per person to cover annual expenses on food, clothing, school supplies while they stay in boarding schools. Those who live in remote areas will receive extra subsidies, Dorje Tsering said. China provides free education for school-aged children in Tibet and has been providing subsidies to children of the herding families since 1985. Previous subsidy scheme did not include kindergarten children. The government also plans to provide scholarships amounting to more than 10 million yuan for students from low-income families who study in kindergartens, primary, and middle schools in Tibet. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Premier Wen says he hopes to see reunification of China (Global Times)
2011-02-28
Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday he hopes to see a reunited China through the joint efforts of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Wen made the remarks while answering a question concerning a legendary Chinese painting "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" during an online chat with Internet users. The painting was burned into two in a fire in 1650. The right part, 51.4-cm long, is kept in the mainland's Zhejiang Museum, while the left part, 636.9-cm long, is held in Taipei's Palace Museum. The two parts will be displayed together in a four-month exhibition beginning June in Taiwan. The scroll painting of unusual length was created by famed painter Huang Gongwang (1269-1354) in 1350. It vividly depicts an early autumn scene on the banks of the Fuchun River in Hangzhou. It is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of traditional Chinese landscape painting technique. "I hope that, through the joint efforts of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, we will see an integrated and reunited China, and that a complete painting will be placed together forever," Wen said. ^ top ^

Annette Lu throws hat in ring for 2012 Taiwan poll (SCMP)
2011-03-01
Former Taiwanese vice-president Annette Lu Hsiu-lien announced her bid to run in next year's presidential election, calling it her final war in striving to become the island's first female leader. Speaking in a rally in Taipei yesterday, Lu said she was joining the presidential campaign because she could not bear to see the "five crises" that President Ma Ying-jeou's policies had caused. [...] Lu, 66, becomes the first bigwig from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to announce her run for the presidency. Asked about her chances of winning the party's nomination and whether she would quit the DPP if she failed to win it, Lu said: "Never assume I will lose [the nomination], and don't ever look down on me." She said she was the most qualified person from the opposition to run for the office, given that she was vice-president from 2000 to 2008 and had rich experience running Taiwan. [...] Asked about trailing in public opinion polls behind DPP chairwoman Dr Tsai Ing-wen and former premier Su Tseng-chang - seen as her strongest opponents for the nomination, Lu said outcomes could never be taken for granted. [...] Lu lost the DPP's four-person presidential primary in 2007. Former premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting won the primary, and Lu finished last behind Su and former premier Yu Shyi-kun, with just 6.16 per cent of the vote. Chen, who served two terms, was legally barred from running again. Tsai, Su and Hsieh - who all said they expected to announce their presidential bids eventually - said they respected Lu's decision. Lu has been critical of the process the DPP is using this year to determine its presidential candidate. It will choose its candidate on May 4 based on the results of five national public opinion polls, which could include people who are not DPP members. Previously it was a combination of a DPP primary election and a poll. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Trade imbalance is root of inflation (Global Times)
2011-02-28
The nation's lingering inflation problem is rooted in its imbalanced trade and the inflexible exchange rate regime, the vice governor of the central bank said Saturday. Netizens aired their complaints over rising prices during an online forum with Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday, who lent an ear to public concerns over the agenda of the upcoming parliamentary sessions in early March. Wen said that the government would try to rein in inflation by controlling currency liquidity, boosting agricultural production, managing food distribution and taking administrative measures to fight against market manipulation. The consumer price index, the major gauge of inflation, has been running above 3 percent — the preset inflation target, since July 2010 and hiked to as much as 5.1 percent in November and slightly backed to 4.9 percent in January 2011. […] The country's trade surplus exerts great pressure on the yuan's appreciation against the US dollar. But to keep the yuan's exchange rate stable, the central bank is forced to supply additional money to balance the increased foreign reserve, and oversupply of money pushed up prices, Yi said. By end of 2010, China had foreign reserves of $2.85 trillion, and the central bank increased about 20 trillion yuan ($3 trillion) to balance the foreign reserves, said Yi, also the director of State Administration of Foreign Reserves. To tackle this problem, China should take a series of measure including expanding domestic demand, reducing reliance on exports and making its exchange rate regime more flexible. […] Increases in migrant worker wages have also helped push up prices especially for labor-intensive industries such as processed foods and vegetables, Lu said. The nation's minimum monthly salary increased by 24 percent year-on-year in 2010, according to Chinese Social Sciences Today, a newspaper under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. As an emerging economy, China is unlikely to have 2 percent annual inflation like developed economies such as those of the US and Europe. Lu added that 4 to 5 percent annual inflation is compatible with its economic growth. ^ top ^

China's US debt holdings now hit $1.16 trillion (China Daily)
2011-03-01
China's holdings of long-term US Treasury securities totaled $1.16 trillion at the end of December 2010, according to an annual revision report released by the US Treasury Department on Monday. The figure was an increase of 30 percent from an estimate the government reported on February 15. The US Treasury made the change to its monthly report based on more accurate information it obtains in an annual survey. Foreign holdings of US long-term securities reflect demand for US Treasury obligations and other assets including stocks and government agency debt, a key to funding the massive US balance of payments deficit with the rest of the world. The report showed that China, the largest holder of US Treasury securities, reduced its holdings by 4 billion dollars in December from 1.164 trillion dollars in November. In the monthly report released two weeks ago, it said that China trimmed its holdings from $895.6 billion in November to $891.6 billion in December. [...] The debt figures are closely watched at a time when more and more Americans believe that the US soaring debt is unsustainable. The federal debt has surpassed 14 trillion at the end of 2010 and the federal government is at the edge of bankruptcy if the Congress does not increase the debt ceiling which is 14.3 trillion dollars before the deadline of March 4. US federal budget deficit reached 1.29 trillion dollars in the fiscal year 2010 ended September 30. It recorded a historic high of 1.42 trillion dollars in fiscal year 2009 when the economy was hit hard by the financial crisis. According to President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget which was sent to Congress earlier this month, the US federal deficit in 2011 is expected to hit a new record of 1.65 trillion dollars. ^ top ^

CPI fluctuation temporary as price pressure continues (Global Times)
2011-03-02
The growth of the nation's consumer price index (CPI) is expected to further slow down in February, officials and economists said Tuesday while cautioning consumer prices are likely to rebound, which may force the central bank to stick to its course of monetary tightening. CPI, a major gauge of inflation, is likely to dip lower than that in January, Zhang Ping, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said Tuesday, without offering a specific figure. […] He attributed the possibly softening of inflation in February to a rapid post-Chinese New Year decline in vegetable prices and the upcoming National People's Congress meeting, which could bring some new hope. But he cautioned against risks of higher inflation bolstered by surging oil prices. "There might be a rebound to above 5.0 percent again in March, but we believe CPI inflation will likely peak at a level no higher than 5.5 percent," he said in the note. […] The National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic planner, said earlier that the country had set a target of a 4 percent CPI rise for this year, but was unable to keep inflation down. ^ top ^

China considers tariff reduction to boost imports (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-03
Import tariffs will be reduced on a range of products and red tape involved in import application procedures will be further cut, to "maintain balanced trade", a senior official told China Daily. "We will launch a series of measures to stimulate imports this year, including adjusting tariffs on some categories of goods and further simplifying the administrative process," Zhong Shan, vice-minister of commerce, told China Daily on the sidelines of the East China Fair, which opened in Shanghai on Tuesday. Zhong declined to elaborate on the exact measures that will be introduced. Chen Deming, minister of commerce, said in December at the annual commerce work conference that an important task for the ministry this year is to boost imports. A forum dedicated to issues concerning imports is scheduled to take place in late March. [...] The ministry said at the December conference that China will issue guidelines to promote imports of mechanical and electrical products, especially those related to new energy, energy saving, high-end manufacturing, low-carbon technology, aerospace, shipbuilding and railways. China's trade surplus narrowed 53.5 percent to $6.46 billion in January, the lowest level in nine months, amid government efforts to boost imports and domestic consumption. Imports surged by 51 percent to $144.3 billion while exports rose by 37.7 percent to $150.7 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs. Zhong said an "excessive trade surplus is not what China's policy is oriented toward", and "one of our goals is to maintain balanced trade". [...] Although demand in developed economies is recovering steadily, Chinese exporters are still under great pressure with the rising cost of labor and raw materials and the yuan's continued appreciation. "China needs to improve the quality of its exports so that domestic exporters can reap larger profit margins," Zhong said. The four-day East China Fair, a major trade barometer together with the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, has attracted more than 3,300 domestic exporters as well as 170 exhibitors from Japan, South Korea, India, the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan. ^ top ^

China's 12th Five-Year Plan seen to boost domestic consumption (Xinhua)
2011-03-04
The 12th Five-Year Plan to be approved by China's National People's Congress session starting Saturday is a watershed for what has recently emerged as the world 's second largest economy. It's widely expected that the plan is likely to contain measures to boost domestic consumption - a sign that China's leadership is gradually steering its economy away from export and investment-led growth. [...] Lommen said the Chinese government aims to restructure and rebalance the economy and reduce inequality. It's also important, she notes, to promote equal income distribution that the recent gains from the economic boom will benefit the majority of China's population. Lommen is especially keen on the fiscal policy that will be in place from 2011 to 2015. [...]The strengthening of social safey nets is crucial in raising consumption, which now accounts for only a third of China's GDP. This is among the lowest in the world a fact that most economists attribute to fear-based precautionary savings. [...] There are strong signs that China's government is going in that direction. The State Council, China's Cabinet, on Wednesday approved in principle a proposal to raise the personal income tax threshold. Premier Wen Jiabao also announced that the government plans to build 36 million "affordable homes" by 2015. The details will be finalized during the National People's Congress, but proposals are expected to benefit low income households and boost their purchasing power. Aside from its pro-consumption policy, the 12th Five-Year Plan also includes measures that adapts to the challenges of the 21st century climate change and overpopulation. It also focuses on the developing of strategic emerging industries such as alternative energy, new materials and information technology. Lommen noted that this won't be achieved overnight. The development of new industries, for instance, will entail huge investment on research and development and education. ^ top ^

Govt to boost renminbi's role (Global Times)
2011-03-04
The government will expand a pilot project allowing importers and exporters across the country to settle trade transactions in renminbi this year, the central bank said Wednesday, a move aimed at boosting the currency's role in global financial markets. The plan underlines Beijing's effort to internationalize its currency, but major hurdles such as the difficulty still exist.Economists said Thursday overseas investors must be convinced of the benefits of using renminbi and the ineffective channels through which renminbi flows back to China need to be cleared up before the plan materializes. "Cross-market renminbi business will develop further as the market's demand for cross-border use of renminbi rises,"the People's Bank of China said in a statement published on its website Wednesday. To relax its hold over yuan in cross-border trade transactions, China will allow more Chinese and foreign companies to settle trade deals in reminbi, the People's Bank of China statement said. The central bank will also respond actively to any demands from foreign central banks to use the yuan as a reserve currency, experiment with a program for overseas investment using renminbi and research the possibility of allowing foreign direct investment in China using renminbi. China expanded a pilot scheme in June to allow importers and exporters in 20 provinces to settle international trade deals in renminbi, covering more than 67,000 mainland exporters, up from just 365 exporters previously. [...] China approved five foreign banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered to trade in the Chinese bond market within a quota of 29.2 billion yuan ($4.44 billion). China will also seek bilateral currency swap deals to encourage the use of the yuan in bilateral trade and investment, the central bank said. It has inked eight bilateral currency deals, worth a total of 803.5 billion yuan ($122.24 billion), since the end of 2009. Zhong Wei, director of the Financial Research Center at Beijing Normal University, said there are challenges that might mar China's ambition to internationalize its currency. "The role of the US dollar as an international currency can still hardly be challenged and it is hard to convince foreign companies of the benefit to use renminbi in international trade," he said. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

N.Korea vows all-out attack against new drill (Global Times)
2011-02-28
North Korea Sunday threatened "unprecedented all-out counteraction" in response to today's joint military drill between South Korean and US troops. "The army and people of North Korea will return bolstered nuclear deterrent of our own style for the continued nuclear threat... and our own missile strike for their vicious attempt to eliminate our missiles," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The North will turn the South's capital, Seoul, into a "sea of flames" if South Korea holds the military exercise, KCNA said Sunday in the statement. A two-day military talk between Pyongyang and Seoul aimed at easing months of high tensions on the Korean Peninsula collapsed earlier this month. About 200,000 South Korean and 12,800 US troops will take part in the Key Resolve drills, which will last until March 10, according to AFP. Foal Eagle, a joint air, ground and naval training exercise, will continue through April 30. AFP also said the US had planned to deploy its 97,000-ton USRonald Reagan aircraft carrier for the drills. The joint military drill is aimed at the potential finding and destroying of North Korean weapons of mass destruction, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency. […] From the South's side, he added, they should also learn that irritating only makes the situation worse. However, Jeung Young-tae, director of the North Korean Studies Center at the Korea Institute for National Unification, told the Global Times that Key Resolve is just a regular annual exercise that was scheduled before the latest talks between the two Koreas collapsed. "We will definitely carry on the joint drill in order to curb a sudden attack from Pyongyang," Jeung said. North Korea Sunday also threatened to fire at South Korean facilities involved in "psychological warfare," unless the South suspends its propaganda campaign. The South Korean military has been sending propaganda leaflets containing details about recent anti-government movements in the Middle East in balloons to North Korea, mixing them with aid, Yonhap reported. ^ top ^

US, South Korea kick off annual war games (Global Times)
2011-03-01
The US and South Korea began annual joint military drills Monday on the Korean Peninsula, defying warnings from the North that such exercises could lead to an "all-out war" between Pyongyang and Seoul. The annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint drills come after North Korea and the South failed to reach any major agreements in their military talks last month, amid heightening tensions on the peninsula resulting from an exchange of artillery fire in November. Key Resolve will mainly involve live-fire exercises and computer simulations of wars, while Foal Eagle will include field training. Seoul and Washington have been arguing that the drills are merely annual military operations and are "defensive in nature," but Pyongyang sees the US-South Korean joint exercises as "very dangerous military moves" and a "serious challenge." Pyongyang had warned that it would respond to the war games with "resolute military measures" and go on "an all-out offensive" to put an end to "the US military occupation" of South Korea. [...] Additionally, the South has drawn the ire of the North by flying balloons into the North carrying news of recent Middle East and North Africa uprisings, along with basic household goods that are in short supply in North Korea, a lawmaker said last week. [...]The official's comments came after media reports that Gary Samore, US President Barack Obama's top nuclear adviser, said the US would agree to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons if South Korea made an official request. ^ top ^

Koreas stand ready for dialogue, war (Global Times)
2011-03-02
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called Tuesday for "open-minded" dialogue at any time with North Korea to ease protracted tensions, which have swirled as joint South Korean-US military exercises started Monday. "We are ready to engage in dialogue with the North at any time with an open mind," Lee said in an address commemorating the anniversary of Korea's 1919 uprising against Japan's colonial rule. Lee's call came after South Korea and the US began an 11-day military drill, which has infuriated the North. In Pyongyang, the official KCNA News Agency quoted a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying Tuesday that the North had prepared for both dialogue and war. China's foreign ministry expressed concern Tuesday about the drills. "The Yellow Sea is a very sensitive region," spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We hope the US takes the situation into consideration and contributes more to maintaining regional peace and stability." […] Although Seoul reiterated its commitment to dialogue, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin instructed his troops Tuesday not to hesitate to respond at once if attacked by the North, saying "during an operation, don't ask whether to shoot or not. Report after taking action first." Kim's comments came after long-running criticism that Seoul was sluggish in responding to Pyongyang's provocations, according to Yonhap. North Korea also threatened a military response Tuesday to the ongoing military drills, saying "a physical counteraction … for self-defense" was likely. "The relationship between the two Koreas is at the worst point of the cycle, since both sides are not giving any ground," said Yang Bojiang, an expert on Northeast Asia issues at the Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International relations. "Different declarations from South Korea's political and military commanders show South Korea is seeking a balance to manage the North, Kim's statement was in order to stabilize the morale of the troops," Yang added. Also Tuesday, Japan's Sankei newspaper reported that Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was likely to make his first official visit to China to ask for economic aid this month. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Statue of D.Sukhbaatar back in Place (New.mn)
2011-03-01
The renovated statue of Commander D.Sukhbaatar, one of the founders of the MPP, was formally unveiled today at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister and MPP Chairman S.Batbold, MPP Secretary-General U.Khurelsukh and many members and supporters of the party. In his speech, Batbold expressed his happiness that the statue is back in the square named after Sukhbaatar, and recalled his stirring words after People's Soldiers had driven Chinese soldiers away from the capital, then known as Ikh Khuree. State Honored sculptor S.Choimbol led the team that made the original statue which was installed in the square in 1946, at the time of the 25th anniversary celebration of the People's Revolution. It has now been recast in bronze and will continue to stand as a symbol of Mongolia's independence. ^ top ^

Mongolia's Mining Corporation Awards EBA Prize (UBPost)
2011-03-01
Erdenet Mining Corporation of Mongolia (EMC) has been selected the 2010 Best Enterprise, a prestigious international prize presented by the Europe Business Assembly (EBA). The EBA international prize is granted to enterprises for their professional achievements in commercial activities. Also the Director General of nominated company is presented with ‘Best Manager of the Year' Award. The award ceremony is scheduled to take place on March 02, 2011 in London, the United Kingdom, on the sidelines of Ministerial Energy Conference “Power Summit 2011” organized by the EBA. EMC delegates left for London to pick up their prize. Power Summit 2011 will be global with participation from Ministers of Power and Energy from the Commonwealth and beyond together with delegations from across the world each bringing a regional as well as national dimension to the conference. The programme will include presentations from Ministers of Energy, country specific presentations, technology focused sessions and expert panels on issues such as carbon credits, project finance and disaster management. ^ top ^

Economic Forum of Mongolia Starts (Monstame)
2011-03-02
The Economic Forum of Mongolia (EFM) opened Wednesday in the Government House. The Prime Minister and head of the EFM's Leading Council S.Batbold has delivered a speech at the opening. The Premier has said that any state considers matters of its present and future policy, and added that decisions to be made by this forum must be acted as advice for the cabinet's decision-making process. "...This forum's decision also must be guideline for a plan of the strategic market of Mongolia," Batbold has said. This year's forum has been focused on the biggest four matters, for example, the governance, including a company governance. In addition, the forum aims to consider a further policy on combining developmental models of foreign countries with Mongolian national traditions and custom. In frames of the forum, sub-meetings have been held under several themes with a participation of parliamentarians, authorities of state organizations and private sector representatives. The forum is continuing. ^ top ^

Limit Set Up in Hunting Wild Animals (Montsame)
2011-03-02
According to the cabinet meeting's decision on Wednesday, foreigners are allowed to hunt up to 120 male rocky mountain goats, five heads of deer, 150 white gazelles, 80 grey wolves and roe-deer, 20 boars, and up to 400 birds of forest and steppe regions. For scientific purposes, the cabinet has made permission to hunt for two brown bears and up to four snow-leopards. In order to regulate the pasture structure, two heads of wild ass will be hunted. In the last five years, the state and local budgets have earned MNT 7.2 billion from the revenue of special payment from foreign hunters. ^ top ^

GER Districts Removing Starts (Montsame)
2011-03-03
The Citizens representative Khural of the UB city has supported a setting up of a project unit that will be tasked with moving ger districts' families, freeing lands and erecting apartments. The works are to start from 7th khoroo of Sukhbaatar district. As planned, an apartments complex for 10 950 families will be erected on 21o hectares lands freed from this and other khoroos. Necessary surroundings will appear as well with garden, school, hospital, department store, trade-and-business centre. A mayor of the Ulaanbaatar city G.Monkhbayar says that only this action will help get rid of air pollution. "I expect many difficulties to arise, but there are no other ways," he says. The project team is to spend some 20 billion togrog for these works. When the lands are freed, the families will be given two choices--give it either for apartment or for cash. ^ 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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