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
  7-11.3.11, No. 361  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China opposes foreign intervention in Middle East unrest: spokesman (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-07
China opposes the intervention by foreign forces in the unrest in the Middle East and relevant missions should be led by the United Nations, a Chinese spokesman said Saturday. A similar unrest in China is "preposterous and unrealistic", said Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for China's top advisory body which is convening its annual session in Beijing. There would not be such a situation in China, added Zhao, former head of the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet. He made the remarks at a press conference for the Fourth Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He had told a group of foreign journalists last month that many of China's problems, such as income and regional gaps, surfaced in the process of rapid economic development. However, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government were trying to resolve them. ^ top ^

China's export limits on rare earth conform with WTO rules: former WTO representative (Xinhua)
2011-03-07
China's export limits on rare earth conform with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said China's former WTO representative Sunday. China had imposed regulating measures on the mining, manufacturing, processing and exporting of rare earth, limiting both exports and supply to domestic companies, Sun told Xinhua. "According to WTO rules, a country's regulation on a certain product to avoid resource exhaustion and environment pollution should be applied to both exporters and domestic users, and supply to both foreign and domestic markets should be cut," said Sun. As the world's largest rare earth producer and exporter, China provides more than 90 percent of global rare earth demand, though its reserves account for only one-third of the world's total. Sun called for the diversification of the supply of rare earth and expressed hopes that rare earth importers seek the resource from other countries. He said China was willing to conduct technological cooperation with other rare earth producing countries. ^ top ^

No change on Africa strategy, minister says (SCMP)
2011-03-08
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi vows to increase co-operation with Africa despite the wave of uprisings in the north of the continent and criticism of China's investment strategy. At a press conference in Beijing yesterday during the annual session of the National People's Congress, Yang said that despite "uncertainties and instabilities", Africa was generally peaceful and stable. Yang said China had very good co-operation with African countries and the African Union (AU). He said work on the China-funded 51,887-square-metre AU conference centre and office complex in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, would be completed this year. It is the second-largest Chinese assistance project in Africa, after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway. Beijing's increasing influence in Africa has drawn criticism from the West in recent years. Risk management and investment analysts say the continuing Libyan turmoil would force Beijing to take a harder look at the dark side of its "no strings attached" African investment strategy. Commerce Minister Chen Deming said yesterday on a separate occasion that his ministry would soon send a work group to investigate the situation in Libya, where the political uprising prompted China to evacuate more than 35,000 nationals. […] Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US and China were competing for global influence, highlighting the resource-rich Pacific as another region where Washington and Beijing were jockeying for influence. Yang, in a vague reference to Clinton's remarks, said China might be a competitor with some countries in the economic and other arenas, but all countries should co-operate to a certain degree and co-operation was still the theme. Yang said China would continue to help developing countries to increase their competitiveness and that one example of that was China's investment in infrastructure in Africa. […] Yang described the current atmosphere in Sino-US relations as good, while reiterating Beijing's opposition to any US arms sales to Taiwan. However, he sidestepped the question when asked how Beijing might react if Washington approved further arms sales. […] On moves to restart the long-stalled six-party talks on North Korean denuclearisation, Yang said China supported bilateral discussions among members of the forum. "China has been supportive of bilateral dialogue, contacts, meetings between concerned parties. We think such contacts and the six-party talks could promote each other," Yang said. He urged all parties to seize present opportunities and redouble their efforts to resume the talks. He also defended China's procurement of the debts of some European countries, saying China was very concerned about the sovereign debt crises in Europe and that its actions should not be treated with suspicion. "If we help our friends or not, we get criticism," Yang said. ^ top ^

Obama's new Beijing envoy 'may boost ties' (SCMP)
2011-03-09
The expected nomination today of Chinese-American Gary Locke as the new US ambassador to China could ease tensions that dogged relations between Washington and Beijing last year, analysts say. US President Barack Obama would nominate Locke, commerce secretary in his administration, for the post as early as today (Hong Kong time), administration officials said. Locke, a former governor of Washington state, has dealt with China in various capacities for decades and was a key player in forging trade links with Beijing before becoming commerce secretary. Analysts say the decision reflects the importance the Obama administration attaches to often troubled China-US trade ties. Locke would be the first Chinese-American to serve as Washington's envoy to China. He would succeed another high-profile politician appointed by the Obama administration to what is an increasingly important and tricky post. Locke would replace Jon Huntsman, a Republican who has resigned with a view to running for his party's presidential nomination next year. […] Locke's appointment could help promote US-China trade, which may be one of the main reasons for Obama's decision, Tong told the official China News Service yesterday. Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell hailed the nomination of her long-term friend as good news for US trade. "Gary Locke is uniquely qualified to be ambassador to China. As a former governor from a state with strong economic ties to China, Locke has had a long understanding of issues in Asia. […] "This is good news for Washington state, because it will further enhance the relations between our state and China. And this is good news for the United States because Locke's credentials give him the opportunity for even more frank dialogue between America and China." Chinese experts on the bilateral relationship said the nomination reflected Obama's concern over trade with China and the administration's top priority to boost exports to create much-needed jobs. The nomination suggested the significance of China-US trade relations and its main theme of co-operation at the time of financial crisis, said Jin Canrong, associated dean of Renmin University's School of International Relations. It also underscored Obama's initiative to double exports in five years as a strategy to revive the US economy and to create jobs, which would be a politically sensitive accomplishment for his re-election, Jin said. […] Locke has forged a reputation for nurturing ties with his ancestral homeland, meeting former president Jiang Zemin and current leader Hu Jintao on a long string of trade missions. […] The world's two biggest economies have sought to steady relations after tensions throughout last year over human rights, Taiwan, Tibet and the value of the yuan. While none of the disputes that dogged ties last year has gone away, Hu's state visit to the US in January helped nurture trust, a summit that both sides called a great success. Obama is under pressure to achieve results for US companies that have grown increasingly frustrated with business conditions in China. In his current job, Locke has also at times taken up the cudgel on behalf of US businesses. In February he criticised China for not honouring promises to open its market. ^ top ^

FM denies tensions at home (Global Times)
2011-03-09
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi focused on the future of Beijing's relationships with Tokyo and Washington at a press briefing Monday, and flatly denied that the country was experiencing internal tension. When asked whether China's domestic situation had been affected by revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, Yang said he had not noticed any warning signs. "What I have seen is that the Chinese people had a joyful Spring Festival. Now we are busy working, focusing our attention on pursuing domestic development," the foreign minister said on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC). He dismissed reports of Chinese police officers harassing foreign journalists, saying China is a country under the rule of law, and that the authorities regulate journalists' behavior in line with this. Some foreign reports have noted that an Internet campaign in February called for a "Jasmine Revolution" to take place in a number of Chinese cities, but that the move gained little traction. […] They stated that certain ill-intentioned groups, exaggerating social problems that had emerged with China's fast development, wanted to cause chaos through street-level political movements. "Those who want to create something similar to what is happening in the Middle East will not succeed," the Beijing Daily said in an editorial Sunday. Regarding Sino-US relations, Yang called upon Washington to respect existing agreements and to stop arms sales to Taiwan, but added that any frictions and disagreements would not deter progress toward more cooperation. ^ top ^

China hopes IAEA continues objective, impartial position on Iran (Xinhua)
2011-03-10
China expressed hope Wednesday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would continue to take an objective and impartial position on the Iranian nuclear issue. "China hopes that the agency and its director-general continue to adopt an objective and impartial stance on the nuclear issue in Iran, and play a constructive role in monitoring the issue as well as helping to promote a proper solution," said Li Song, deputy head of the Department of Arms Control of China's Foreign Ministry. In his latest report on the Iranian nuclear issue, IAEA head Yukiya Amano said the agency could continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. At the same time, Amano said, the agency was unable to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran was for peaceful purposes. Li told the IAEA board meeting that China hopes Amano could provide further information regarding certain aspects of the report, for example, the sources of information cited. He pointed out that as a signatory party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran enjoys the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while at the same time it should fulfill its international obligations."It is our hope that Iran will fully implement the relevant resolutions of the IAEA Board and the U.N. Security Council, and strengthen its cooperation with the agency with a view to enhancing the confidence of the international community in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, " Li said. ^ top ^

China willing to help Egypt overcome difficulties: FM (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-11
China is willing to offer assistance within its capacity to help Egypt overcome its current difficulties, said Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu in Beijing Thursday. The recent establishment of the new government of Egypt is an important step to restore social order and maintain economic development, Jiang said at a regular press briefing. According to her, Vice Chinese Foreign Minister Zhai Jun is now visiting Egypt as part of his four-nation tour in the region, which also includes Algeria, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. While commenting on the situation in Libya, Jiang said the constant turbulence in the country was not in the common interests of the region or that of the international community. China hopes the international community can work together to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East, she said. Jiang added that China also hopes all related sides in Libya can seek solutions through peaceful means including dialogue to prevent further casualties. ^ top ^

Foreign ministers of China, Japan, ROK to meet next weekend (Xinhua)
2011-03-11
Chinese Foreign minister Yang Jiechi is to join his counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in a ministerial meeting next weekend to discuss major regional and international issues of common concern, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said here Thursday. During the meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Kyoto, Japan, from March 19-20, the foreign ministers will exchange views on future cooperation between the three northeast Asian countries, Jiang said at a regular press conference held in Beijing. She said the meeting would also lay the ground for the fourth summit of the leaders of the three countries. […] She said the forthcoming foreign ministers' meeting would also help consolidate and expand friendly relations among the three countries. The fourth leaders' meeting of China, ROK and Japan is to be held in Japan in May. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is to attend the meeting. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official calls for Guangxi's efforts to promote China-ASEAN trade (Xinhua)
2011-03-11
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday called on Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to promote trade facilitation of the China-ASEAN free trade area.He Guoqiang, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said Guangxi should accelerate the transformation of economic development pattern in the course of developing Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone. More efforts should be made for new progress on trade under the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA), and Guangxi should work to enhance coordinated development of urban and rural areas, he said. He made the remarks in a panel discussion with a delegation from Guangxi to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, which is convening its annual session in Beijing. The Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone is regarded as the most convenient gateway to the sea for southwest China, a crucial bridge and base for enhancing cooperation between China and ASEAN. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. The FTA started operation since Jan. 1, 2010. Trade volume between China and ASEAN countries reached 292.8 billion U.S dollars, an increase of 37.5 percent year on year last year. ^ top ^

China on track in Mid-East but US losing its way, envoy says (SCMP)
2011-03-11
Beijing's top envoy to the Middle East says he is confident China will be able to maintain friendly relations with all countries in the troubled region, whereas US policies were losing the hearts of people in the region. Wu Sike, special envoy on Middle East affairs since March 2009, also described Beijing's vote for a United Nations resolution to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council as "an exception". Wu, a former ambassador to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, said many people in the region felt let down by the United States' policies and actions towards the Arab world in recent years. Washington's wavering reaction to protests in Egypt had also lost it much credit. "[Former Egyptian leader Hosni] Mubarak was a longtime ally of the United States, but when it looked like he was losing power, the US turned to support the army," Wu said on the sidelines of a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference meeting yesterday. "This shows that when interests and values come into conflict, the United States will fundamentally choose to safeguard their own interest... this has disappointed many allies in the Arab world." […] Meanwhile, time had proved China's Middle East policy was well-received and effective. "China's basic principle is to maintain a good relationship with countries of different background and political consciousness, and promote mutually beneficial co-operation with them," Wu said, pointing out that China was not only on good terms with the Arab world, but also with Iran, Turkey and Israel. […] The energy-rich Middle East carries unrivalled strategic importance for both the US and China, and is also a culturally and politically complicated region. While China vows non- interference, recent chaos has also sparked calls for it to rethink its policy of engaging unstable governments. […] China's support for a UN resolution to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council was a decision made against an "exceptional" background. "It was made out of concern for the safety of the people in Libya," Wu said. "China's position is also in line with the wishes of the Arab and African countries, as well as the international community." He said it did not indicate a drifting away from the non-interference policy because China still recognised the sovereignty of Libya. "China has repeatedly called for respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya," Wu said. "The UN Human Rights Council is just a subsidiary body of the United Nations. Libya is still a member of the UN." Wu said China was liaising with Libyan authorities through their embassy in Beijing and China's in Tripoli, where about 20 diplomats and staff were still working. China is urging for calm and the use of negotiations to resolve the current crisis. Wu said that in interactions with Muslim countries, China should be more confident in its ethnic and religious policies, and not be afraid of opening up and engaging in more exchanges. For example, Turkey was upset at China after the Urumqi riots of July 2009, but after a delegation from the country visited Xinjiang last year - and after Turkey's foreign minister was allowed to pray among the public in Kashgar - the negative impression was changed, Wu said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy / Annual sessions of NPC and CPPCC

Police out in force again to stop 'jasmine' rallies flowering (SCMP)
2011-03-07
Major mainland cities were under heightened security yesterday, as authorities were put on high alert by online calls for "jasmine" rallies for a third Sunday in a row. But again, no apparent protests or mass gatherings were spotted in crowded city centres or busy shopping districts in Beijing, Shanghai and dozens of other cities listed as designated protest cities by the anonymous organisers. Apart from tens of thousands of police, plain-clothes officers and security guards, a vast number of people wearing red armbands of "public security volunteers" were also mobilised. Helicopters were used in the capital to help patrol areas deemed sensitive, such as university districts. Foreign journalists fell victim to sweeping pre-emptive security measures for a second consecutive Sunday, with more than a dozen overseas reporters detained in Shanghai and Beijing. Highlighting the government's hypersensitivity, Communist Party mouthpieces - the Beijing Daily, the Jiefang Daily in Shanghai and its affiliate the Shanghai Morning Post - issued stern warnings on the front pages against mass gatherings.[...] A commentary appeared on the front page for the second consecutive day, urging people to reject online calls for pro-democracy rallies, which it said had destabilised the Middle East and North Africa. [...] Spanish, French and German correspondents and a South China Morning Post (SEHK: 0583, announcements, news) reporter were also detained. [...] While there were fewer uniformed police than last week, plain-clothes officers and security guards were everywhere. Adjacent roads leading to the areas were blocked by dozens of police vans. Foreigners entering the areas were asked to show their passports. [...] Although Beijing's massive show of force and the clampdown on activists and internet dissents have smothered protest calls so far, the situation appeared to be tense. Even NPC delegates from Hong Kong staying in the Beijing Hotel near Wangfujing complained about the heightened security. Peng Qinghua, director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, had to go through a security check into the hotel yesterday morning, unlike on previous days. [...] In Shenzhen, thousands of policemen, plain-clothes officers and security guards stood outside two McDonald's outlets in Huaqiangbei, the busiest shopping district, while hundreds of anti-riot policemen waited in cars and buses nearby. In Guangzhou, the police presence outside People's Park and Tianhe Sports Stadium appeared to be much smaller than the previous two weeks. But it was more tense outside the Starbucks at Gongyuanqian subway station near People's Park, where uniformed officers filmed passers-by from every busy corner. In Hong Kong, about 10 activists from the League of Social Democrats rallied outside the Beijing authorities' representative office. ^ top ^

China to "basically eradicate poverty" in 10 years, Wen says (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-07
China aims to "basically eradicate poverty" by 2020 while greatly raise its poverty line, in order to help more people in need, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here Sunday. The State Council is drafting a new ten-year poverty-reduction plan (2011-2020), in which the current poverty line of 1,196 yuan per year (about 0.5 U.S. dollars a day) will be greatly raised, Wen told a panel meeting of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC). The nation will intensify its poverty alleviation efforts through aids and development, focusing on large areas of destitute population, he said to a group of NPC deputies from Gansu, one of the poorest regions in China. According to the United Nations' standard of one dollar per person each day, China still has 150 million people under the poverty line. Wen said lack of water was the bottleneck for Gansu's social-economic development, urging the province to expand the use of water conservancy technology. Wen also urged the province to coordinate economic development with environmental protection, and reverse environmental degradation in Dunhuang, a historical city with world cultural heritage threatened by decertification. ^ top ^

NPC focuses on equality (Global Times)
2011-03-08
The government is determined that China should adopt a more balanced and sustainable path of growth in order to improve public livelihoods and the distribution of wealth over the next five years, a development blueprint has revealed. Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday unveiled the draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan, which also focuses on tackling problems linked to rapid economic growth, such as rising inflation, environmental costs and the yawning income gap. The document will be submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, which also began its full annual session Saturday. The country's top economic planning body elaborated the draft document Sunday, stressing the urgent need to raise living standards and for the public to better enjoy the successes of economic development. […] Policymakers are prioritizing serving the public, as they called for the new plan to establish a "basic public service mechanism," the first such move in a government guiding document. […] A major focus for the government will be to slow growth to 7 percent annually over the next five years, as central authorities try to temper the pursuit of wealth with the balanced development provided by wealth equality and care for the environment. The national average income will also have a targeted rise of 7 percent annually during the same period, a boost from the 5 percent rate stipulated for the 2006-10 period. The new "mechanism" consists of nine major aspects, according to Xu Xianping, vice minister of the NDRC at Sunday's conference, which include public education, employment service, social security, health, population planning, culture, infrastructure, housing and environmental protection. In line with this shift, Premier Wen announced Saturday, in his annual government work report that containing volatile inflation is a priority for this year. […] As resources dry up, this means of development will lose its effectiveness, Shan said. China's GDP for 2009 accounted for 8 percent of the world's total, but the country also consumed 18 percent of the world's energy, 44 percent of its steel and 53 percent of its cement, according to NDRC data. […] Shan said evaluations of officials' performances also needed to be adjusted, adding that the green economic achievements and income growth deserve larger consideration, instead of a simple focus on economic figures. ^ top ^

Education reform aimed at benefiting migrants (China Daily)
2011-03-08
The children of migrant families will no longer have to go back home to take the national exams needed to give them entrance to a university if a proposed policy for Beijing and Shanghai comes into force, according to the Ministry of Education. "We are researching the possibility of adopting such a policy, and we might gradually promote reforms in these two cities, which have large numbers in their migrant populations," Beijing News quoted the Minister of Education Yuan Guiren on Monday. Because the proposed reform would affect many people, it would not be easy to carry out, Yuan said. Nor would it be adopted throughout the country, since the characteristics of migrant populations vary from region to region, he said. The Ministry of Education has heard complaints from an increasing number of migrant families that have moved to big cities, where better schools can be found, during China's recent spate of urbanization. The proposed policy marks the first time the Ministry of Education has officially responded to a campaign in which 10 Chinese parents made a call last year for reforms in Beijing. […] Still, he can understand the Ministry of Education's position. "The quality of education and exams vary among different provinces," he said. "The current situation is unfair to the children of migrant families, who now have no right to choose where they will take their university entrance exams." The Ministry of Education's proposal is not being embraced by people who have a Beijing residence permit. "It'll encourage more of the people who come to Beijing and Shanghai to compete for limited educational resources," Yu Danning, a 27-year-old Beijing native, told China Daily. "And population pressures will influence housing prices, traffic and the quality of life in the city.". ^ top ^

Cooperation gives rise to quiescence of China's peaceful development (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-09
Premier Wen Jiabao cited the word "cooperation" for many times when elaborating China's foreign policy in his government work report delivered on March 5 at the ongoing 4th Plenum of the 11th National People's Congress. Why did he seek to underscore cooperation so often? It is because the word "cooperation" represents China's inevitable pursuance in adhering to the peaceful development and also a key issue for a big developing nation like China to attain its global recognition […] All this has been obtained under the mechanisms of increasing bilateral, multilateral and international cooperation. So, cooperation is helpful or accountable for China's own development, for the development of other countries and also for the development of the entire world. So, cooperation is the objective and it also likewise represents the foundation. In its over 30 years of reform and opening up, China has been expanding its cooperation with other countries to open to the outside world unceasingly. The cooperation has enabled the world to benefit and also many foreign invested enterprises and consumers to profit. China is both a beneficiary of its cooperation and exchanges with the outside world and it is fully aware of the significance of cooperation; China is likewise the vindicator and promoter of cooperation. As far as China is concerned, the content of cooperation has kept enriching and expanding in the practice and the forms of cooperation have turned diversified. Formerly, we mainly introduced foreign capital into China and capitalized on development opportunities. From now on, Chinese funds will flow overseas enormously to help create joint development opportunities. […] China has become the world's second largest economy and a major driver of global growth as well. China will still retain a rapid economic growth rate in the years ahead, and it will definitely play a more crucial role globally. But this would only be based on the mutual cooperation and win-win progress for China and other countries around the world. […] To resolve these problems and disparities, the most important way is to deepen cooperation and attain mutual benefit and win-win outcome. China's peaceful development is not a slogan but a sole concrete practice. In the course of applying the in-depth cooperation, China will definitely win more approvals or recognition, and reduce conflicts and frictions more efficiently and effectively. Cooperation is not meant to discard China's core interests and on the contrary, cooperation is exactly the best way to safeguard its core interests. This is because only through cooperation, countries can come to understand and recognize fully the core interests of the opposite side and, then it is possible to reduce the misjudgments or misconceptions, and to find out the right solution to problems. […] After all, cooperation is a general trend for the peaceful development of the world. Cooperation and win-win progress constitute a strong common anticipation of the world for China and also the mission the Chinese nation is committed to the global peaceful development. ^ top ^

China to build 10 million low-cost homes (SCMP)
2011-03-10
China will invest around 1.3 trillion yuan this year in affordable housing, a senior official said on Wednesday, as Beijing struggles to address mounting public concern over runaway property prices. The country will spend more than US$200 billion to build or renovate 10 million apartments for low-income households this year, Qi Ji, a vice minister of housing and urban-rural development, told reporters. Governments at all levels will provide more than 500 billion yuan of the total investment, with the remaining funds to be raised from companies and families who will benefit from the programme, he said at a news conference. Authorities will introduce favourable policies such as loans, subsidies and tax incentives to support the construction of the flats, he said. […] State media however have reported that the government fell short of last year's target of building 5.8 million affordable dwellings. China's soaring property prices, combined with stubbornly high consumer prices in recent months, have become a source of anxiety for the public and top leaders, who are fearful of inflation's potential to spark social unrest. Premier Wen Jiabao, in a ''state of the nation'' speech to open the country's annual parliamentary session on Saturday, vowed his government would work harder to address public concerns over a string of problems including growing income disparity and surging house prices. Wen repeated government promises to curb property speculation, which is blamed for stoking prices, and ensure an adequate supply of low-income housing. Local officials who fail to stabilise property prices and promote the construction of low-income housing, and ''thereby affect social development and stability'', will be held accountable, he said. Qi said Wednesday that the government was focused on making sure those most in need had access to housing. […] He said the government was closely monitoring the introduction of a property tax in Shanghai and Chongqing in the southwest, adding authorities would move forward based on experiences gathered from the trials in those cities. ^ top ^

Country ramps up healthcare spending (China Daily)
2011-03-10
With the nation's medical insurance systems now covering 1.27 billion people out of the country's 1.34 billion inhabitants, key officials vowed on Wednesday to iron out wrinkles encountered by those seeking medical help. Under ongoing medical reforms that largely started in 2009, the government has established a basic medical insurance system for non-working urban residents and a new rural cooperative medical care system. The systems benefit 432 million urban dwellers and 835 million rural residents who were not covered by medical insurance in the past. […] Sun Zhigang, director of the State Council Office of Medical Reform, said the extra spending will have a dramatic effect. […] Vice-Minister of Health Huang Jiefu, however, cautioned that the government is not yet in a position to cover 100 percent of people's medical bills. […] Given that government subsidies amount to 120 yuan per person, he said people covered by insurance policies are still going to have to cover the lion's share of their medical bills. He explained that the public should be properly informed about what the authorities currently can and cannot do. […] But he conceded that efficiency will need to be boosted first and there will have to be enhanced supervision of money used because the government-supported fund remains quite limited compared to the public's demand for medical services. […] That expansion will bring the total number of urban residents with health insurance to 440 million, which is 90 percent of urban residents. The number covered in 2010 was 432 million, according to a document released during the press conference. Meanwhile, the government-supported fund will be increased to 200 yuan per person this year, according to the government work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao on March 5. Regarding the rural cooperative health insurance system that was launched in 2003, Chen said the reimbursement cap for farmers will be raised from 30,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan this year, which is almost 10 times farmers' annual average net income per capita. In addition, China will expand the pilot project that provides extra financial assistance to people suffering from severe diseases nationwide. The current pilot project covers children with congenital heart disease and leukemia. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing warns of chaos if path is wrong (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-11
The country's top legislator on Thursday warned of a possible "abyss of internal disorder" if China strays from the "correct political orientation". China will never adopt a multiparty revolving-door system or other Western-style political models, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said while delivering a work report.

The establishment of a socialist law system, with Chinese characteristics, institutionally and legally ensures the country stays on the right path, he told about 3,000 NPC deputies. "On the basis of China's conditions, we've made a solemn declaration that we'll not employ a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation," he said. He ruled out the possibility of separating executive, legislative and judicial powers, adopting a bicameral or federal system, and said privatization was not under consideration. "Following our own path and building socialism with Chinese characteristics is... the only correct road to development and progress for our country," Wu said. "If we waver (from the correct political orientation and major issues of principle, such as the fundamental system of the State), the achievements gained thus far in development will be lost and it is possible the country could sink into the abyss of internal disorder," he said. So far, China has enacted 239 laws, over 690 administrative regulations and more than 8,600 local statutes, covering every area of economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development. Wu said the formation of such a system has generally solved the problem of having laws for people to follow, and more efforts will be made to revise and improve existing laws, enact rules of implementation, and ensure better enforcement. Wu also made it clear that while China wants to improve its legal system, it will "never blindly follow or imitate others". "Different countries have different systems of laws, and we do not copy the systems of laws of certain Western countries," he said. NPC deputies spoke highly of Wu's remarks. […]. ^ top ^

Beijing slams door on political reform (SCMP)
2011-03-11
Beijing warns of chaos if path is wrong. The mainland's top legislator has ruled out political reform and warned of the dire consequences of Western-style political pluralism as rising calls for democracy unnerve Beijing in the wake of upheavals in the Arab world. In the most severe warning issued by the leadership since uprisings in north Africa and the Middle East, the chairman of the National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo, said relaxing the Communist Party's grip on power could undermine stability and risk domestic strife. "We must maintain the correct political orientation and never waver on key issues of principle such as the fundamental system of the state," […] His warning followed repeated anonymous online calls for pro-democracy rallies in big mainland cities over the past three weeks. Although no protests or mass gatherings were reported, jittery authorities have been on high alert, with tens of thousands of uniformed and plain-clothes police deployed in shopping districts and thoroughfares in Beijing, Shanghai and a dozen other cities on the past three Sundays. Wu also categorically rejected the notion of separation of powers or any moves to copy Western-style democracy, dashing hopes for political reform following renewed discussion in recent months. Intriguingly, in a departure from past practice, Wu criticised not just calls for ideological pluralism, but also further privatisation, which he added to the list of threats to one-party rule. […] Analysts said the warnings on pluralism and privatisation were aimed at consolidating the party's iron grip on power in a bid to guard against different opinions, especially the rise of calls for liberal democracy that have emerged after the unrest in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. […] The possible convergence of growing appeals for greater democracy and widespread grievances over rising food and housing prices, corruption and pollution has apparently hit Beijing's most sensitive nerve. The message from Wu and other mainland officials who have spoken out about the issue is simple: Communist Party rule is essential to stability and to prevent the country from descending into the chaos that has swept across the Arab world. […] But Lau and Zhang both said it was confusing to say that Beijing would not support privatisation after more than 30 years of reform and opening up. Private ownership has increased strongly since the early 1990s as many small and medium-sized state-owned enterprises, mostly in less efficient heavy industrial sectors at local levels, have been privatised. But privatisation has long been opposed by party conservatives who are concerned about the loss of state assets and millions of laid-off workers. State media have reported that the number of registered private enterprises on the mainland topped 8.4 million last year, accounting for 74 per cent of the country's total. […] Although Wen's liberal, populist remarks were largely a repetition of appeals by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping before the bloody June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, analysts said they were quite unusual given the party's mainstream conservative views towards Western-style democracy. "Wen's views can be best viewed as his personal opinions, aimed at setting up a populist image, but clearly what Wu said represents a broader consensus within the central government," Lau said. ^ top ^

China to enact mental health law in 2011 (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-11
China plans to enact a mental health law in 2011, a senior lawmaker said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliamentary session on Thursday. The law will highlight the government's responsibility to care for not only citizens' material well-being, but also their mental health, said Xin Chunying, vice director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), at a press conference. Statistics released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009 showed that over 100 million people affected by mental illness, with 16 million listed as severely ill, in China. Other laws the NPC Standing Committee plan to enact this year include Law on Administrative Coercion, and Law on Entry and Exit Administration. Xin said these laws all reflect the latest social developments and, to improve its legal system, China would continue to enact new laws and regulations to address emerging social problems. Xin said other principles to observe in improving the legal system include revising existing laws and regulations, and making them easier to be implemented by enacting supporting laws and regulations. Laws to be revised this year include the Budget Law, Law Concerning the Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases, Criminal Procedure Law, Civil Procedure Law, among others, according to Xin. ^ top ^

Chinese vice president requests all-out efforts on quake relief (Xinhua)
2011-03-11
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for all-out measures to save the casualties of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake in southwestern Yunnan Province. Xi extended comfort to the people in the quake-hit area, and demanded adequate food, clean water and clothes for the affected people. At least 22 people were killed and hundreds others injured in earthquake that jolted Yingjiang County in Yunnan Province around Thursday noon. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to invest 76.6 bln yuan on southern city construction in 2011 (Xinhua)
2011-03-10
Beijing municipal government is planning to invest 76.6 billion yuan (11.6 billion U.S. dollars) this year on 109 projects that includes the construction of an airport, a forest garden and affordable housing in the southern area of the city. The funding will increase 38 percent from last year's 55.5 billion yuan that went to 103 projects, according to a statement released by the municipal government at a meeting on Wednesday. Construction of some key projects will be started in April and October, including a forest garden along the axis of Beijing and a 51-km expressway that joins in the road network in surrounding Hebei Province. Thirty-four of the projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, according to the statement. The southern area of Beijing is composed of five districts that cover an area of 3,367 square kilometers. It had a population of 4.6 million by the end of 2008, which accounts for 27.2 percent of Beijing's total residents. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong / Macao

Guangdong, Macao sign cooperative pact (Xinhua)
2011-03-07
China's Guangdong Province and Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) signed a framework agreement on cooperation Sunday in Beijing. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, also member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau attended the signing ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People. Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua and Macao SAR Chief Executive Chui Sai On, signed the document on behalf of their respective governments. The agreement, consisting of eight chapters and 38 clauses, sets the orientations, principles and targets regarding a wide range of issues in economic, social, welfare and cultural fields. Under the framework, the two areas will work together to develop the Hengqin Island and the Guangdong-Macao Cooperative Industrial Garden. The two sides will also cooperate in developing local industries, building infrastructural facilities, providing public services and regional development planning. In their addresses at the signing ceremony, both Huang and Chui hailed the signing of the historical agreement and pledged to fully implement the document. Also present at the signing ceremony were State Councilor Liu Yandong, Guangdong Party Chief Wang Yang, and vice chairpersons of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Liao Hui and Edmund Ho Hau Wah. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Hu calls for maintaining stability and carrying out reform in Tibet (Xinhua)
2011-03-07
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday said the Tibet Autonomous Region must maintain social stability and push forward reform to achieve sound development. "Meticulous efforts must be paid to the tasks of reform, development, and stability to boost leapfrog development and maintain perennial stability in Tibet," Hu told the Tibetan delegation to the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, which is convening its annual session in Beijing. Hu stressed the fostering of the region's peculiar and competitive industries, development of modern agriculture and animal husbandry,improving infrastructure, and environmental protection in achieving leapfrog development. He also called for greater government funding for public service programs and for remote, agricultural, and pastoral regions in Tibet. The president was with the Tibetan delegation to deliberate a government work report and the country's new five-year blueprint delivered at the Fourth Session of the 11th NPC. ^ top ^

Foreign tourists to be barred from Tibet (SCMP)
2011-03-08
Foreign tourists will be banned from Tibet this month, the region's top Communist Party leader has confirmed, saying it is for their safety. "The winter chill and icy weather, tourists' safety, the insufficient accommodation and the crowds drawn by a string of festivities are reasons behind the restriction in March," regional party secretary Zhang Qingli said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress in Beijing. Zhang said the region would be crowded with Tibetans either celebrating their New Year or praying in numerous religious activities this month, aside from the huge throng of people who would visit for ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of Tibet's liberation in 1951. […] A Beijing travel agent said yesterday that people from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, would not be allowed to enter Tibet unless they already had the required regional entry permit. He said he had no idea when the ban would be lifted. Hong Kong residents previously did not need to obtain a special permit to Tibet, although this is necessary for foreign tourists. Air China (SEHK: 0753, announcements, news) said non-mainlanders would not be allowed to book air tickets from March 5, unless they had a permit. The measure sparked speculation that it is really aimed at avoiding an influx of foreigners, particularly journalists, on the third anniversary of the riots in the heart of Lhasa on March 14, 2008, in which Tibetans attacked and killed at least 13 Han Chinese. Regarded as a hardliner, Zhang, who has ruled the region for five years, accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, of conspiring and planning the bloody violence. […] Zhang played down that explosive rhetoric yesterday. "I'm by no means the first person to address him [the Dalai Lama] in that way. In fact, it is premier Zhou [Enlai] who used such a description weeks after he defected and fled the country in early 1959." Former Tibetan chairman Qiangba Puncog yesterday said even when the Dalai Lama dies, it would only trigger small shockwaves in Tibet but would not result in serious instability. ^ top ^

Dalai Lama to quit as Tibetan political chief (SCMP)
2011-03-11
The Dalai Lama announced yesterday that he would step down as political head of Tibet's exiled government, but continue to push the Tibetan cause in his key role as its spiritual figurehead. In a speech on the anniversary of a 1959 failed uprising against Chinese rule, the Dalai Lama said he would seek an amendment allowing him to resign his office when the exiled Tibetan parliament met next week. […] Beijing, which brands the 75-year-old Nobel peace laureate a "splittist" bent on achieving Tibetan independence, responded by accusing him of trying to deceive the world community. "He has often talked about retirement in the past few years. "I think these are his tricks to deceive the international community," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "The government-in-exile is an illegal political organisation and no country in the world recognises it." […] The Dalai Lama said yesterday he would propose amendments to the exile constitution during the parliament's next session. The session begins later this month in this Indian hill town where the exiles are based. Beijing-based Tibetan activist Tserang Woeser said the announcement was to prepare for the Dalai Lama to officially pass the baton to the new prime minister-in-exile, who would be elected this month. The Dalai Lama stressed his decision would "benefit Tibetans in the long run. It is not because I feel disheartened". In the past, the parliament-in-exile has officially asked him not to give up any of his powers. […] The Dalai Lama was just 15 when he was appointed "head of state" in 1950 after Chinese troops moved into Tibet. He fled his homeland in 1959 after the unsuccessful uprising. His temporal duties are largely ceremonial and he had already pronounced himself "semi-retired" following the first direct election in 2001 of a prime minister as the formal head of the exiled government. His speech made it clear that he would not be withdrawing from public life and remained "committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet". […] Security appeared to have been increased on Wednesday in Lhasa, with hotel employees saying police were doing more street patrols. The anniversary of the uprising is a sensitive time in Tibet. In 2008, unrest erupted in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas when monks tried to commemorate the 1959 revolt. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang Party chief still wary of 'three forces' (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-09
The Party chief of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, who was appointed in April last year, said on Tuesday that administering the region was a difficult task for him because the regional government had to not only concentrate on economic development and people's livelihoods but also face grave challenges in maintaining social stability. "It is not easy being the Party chief of the region because the economic and social development gap between the south and the north is still very wide and we always have to watch out for the activities of the 'three forces' - terrorists, separatists and extremists," said Zhang Chunxian, Party chief of Xinjiang. […] Zhang said the overall social situation of the region was stable and under the government's control, but he admitted that Xinjiang was still facing severe challenges in maintaining social stability on rare occasions as its social management foundation was still weak. "It still takes time to restore good feelings between the ethnic groups since the July 5 riot. We will try to speed up the healing process by improving the livelihoods of people from all ethnic groups," he added. "To keep Xinjiang stable in the future we have to prevent the occurrences of mass incidents as well as violent terrorist attacks," Zhang said. "Striking hard on the 'three forces' is still our top priority to safeguard social stability." Zhang said he had great confidence in and no worries about stability in Xinjiang, but the lessons from the Middle East should be learnt on a technical level. […] He said the regional government will closely monitor factors affecting stability, including unemployment, and will fight corruption. Zhang promised to help all university graduates in Xinjiang find jobs in the next two years. Internet access in Xinjiang had been cut off for 10 months in the wake of the July 5 riot because it had been allegedly used by instigators to foment violence. […] Zhang said he had read all 5,300 replies to his personal micro blog as of Monday night. He posted his first message two days before the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) started on March 5 and said he enjoyed the modern platform of communication very much. […] But Zhang, the highest-ranking Chinese micro-blogger so far, said he might not be able to carry on micro-blogging after the NPC session ends because he won't have time. Zhang has always been friendly with the media. He patiently answered almost all of the questions from more than 100 reporters from all over the world - from what kind of food he likes to measures to fight the "three forces" - after an open discussion session of Xinjiang NPC deputies on Tuesday. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

High praise for HK successes (SCMP)
2011-03-07
Vice-President Xi Jinping, in a meeting yesterday with Hong Kong delegates to the National People's Congress, praised the city's achievements in economic development. Xi, the heir apparent to President Hu Jintao, also urged Hongkongers to grasp development opportunities offered by the 12th national five-year plan, which for the first time includes a full chapter on Hong Kong and Macau, they said. Xi cited the construction of major infrastructure, the issue of renminbi bonds and enhanced co-operation with other cities as some of the Hong Kong government's achievements. [...] The Hong Kong government had repeatedly put forward to the central government proposals on the 12th national five-plan, and the central government had given these full consideration, Xi said. The plan, unveiled on Saturday, confirmed Beijing's support for Hong Kong to take a leading role in the financial market of the Pearl River Delta's financial market and to boost its status as an international financial, trade and shipping hub. On politics, Xi mentioned the passage of the constitutional reform proposal last year, saying it was "the results of everyone's efforts". Wong Kwok-kin, another Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, quoted Xi as appealing to Hongkongers to "consider the holistic situation" of society. Wong, who is also a Legislative Councillor and a vice-president of the Federation of Trade Unions, said Xi's call was in response to recent tensions between the Hong Kong's administration and legislature. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a Hong Kong representative on the NPC standing committee, told Xi Hong Kong should develop more renminbi financial products, and consider building a third runway at its airport. Another Hong Kong delegate, Peter Wong Man-kong, suggested the central government study the possibility of introducing a political system with two institutes to assess and monitor the conduct of legislators and government officials. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Delegations to US, EU will correct trade imbalance (China Daily)
2011-03-07
China will send two large trade delegations to the United States and two to European Union nations this year to help stimulate its imports, said the head of China's trade promotion organization. Wan Jifei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, told China Daily at the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, that China will send many more trade delegations to developed nations in 2011 than in previous years. The delegations will buy goods, especially energy-saving and environmentally friendly products, with the aim of balancing trade between China and those regions. "During the first half (of the year), we will have one team each for the US and the EU - including Britain, Germany and France - and in the second half, one more each for both regions," said Wan, also a member of the CPPCC National Committee. And a few days after the two sessions of CPPCC and National People's Congress, the China-Japan Green Economy Forum will be held in China. During the forum, China will buy large amounts of high-tech, energy-saving and environmentally friendly products, the first time it will have ordered such a large volume of those types of goods from Japan, Wan said. Since the second half of 2010, China has vowed to take measures to stimulate imports. At the annual commerce work conference in December, Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said a major task of the nation in 2011 is to balance trade by driving up imports and stabilizing exports. Mechanical and electrical products, especially those related to new energy, new material and energy-saving, will be given priority when it comes to imports, as demand is growing and more such imports could help to boost the world economy, said the ministry. [...] China runs huge trade surpluses with the US and the EU. In 2010, the surplus with the US was $181.3 billion, and that with the EU was $142.8 billion, while China's total surplus last year was $183.1 billion. [...] But "the impact (of the trade delegations) on promoting imports may be limited", he conceded. Zhong Shan, vice-minister of commerce, said recently that China will reduce import tariffs on selected categories of goods to increase imports, but he did not give details. ^ top ^

China sets same growth targets for GDP and resident income to rebalance development (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-07
The Chinese government set a lower target for economic growth and aimed for a faster rate of increase in the income of residents for the 2011-2015 period, underscoring its goal of rebalancing economic and social development. [...] Premier Wen Jiabao said in a government work report at the opening meeting of the session Saturday that the annual growth target of China's gross domestic product (GDP) for the coming five years was set at seven percent, in comparison with the goal of 7.5 percent set in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010). Setting a lower GDP target is an indication of a shift in the government's focus from purely pursuing GDP growth to raising the quality of the economy, said Chang, the president of Qingdao Port Group Co., Ltd. in east China's Shandong Province. [...] The lower GDP target was in contrast with the higher goal of raising the income of all the people, including urban and rural residents. The government aimed to raise the per capita disposable income of urban residents and the net income of the rural population by seven percent each year, which is higher than the five percent from the previous five-year period, said Wen in his report. It is the first time that the income growth rate is set at the same level as the GDP growth rate in the nation's Five-Year Plan. Despite economic growth, Premier Wen acknowledged that a lot must be done to solve issues such as income inequality, high property prices and inadequate medical and education services. He vowed to boost spending on education, health care and public housing, and initiatives that are meant to narrow the wealth gap between the rich and poor. [...] China will strive to guarantee that the income of residents keeps pace with economic growth, so that people share the benefits of the reforms, Wen said."We will adjust income distribution in a reasonable manner. This is both a long-term task and an urgent issue that we need to address now," Wen said. ^ top ^

Price stability to be given higher priority (SCMP)
2011-03-08
Finance Minister Xie Xuren says the government will maintain a proactive fiscal policy this year while making price stability a "more prominent" priority. Speaking at a news briefing during the annual session of the National People's Congress, Xie said Beijing would continue to boost domestic consumption this year as part of efforts to shift the economy away from its heavy reliance on exports and government-led investment. A proactive fiscal policy means a high rate of government spending. But unlike in previous years, when it spent heavily on infrastructure projects, Xie said Beijing would spend two-thirds of this year's central government budget on improving people's livelihoods. The funds would be used to boost education, health care, social security and job creation. Money would also be used to improve agriculture, water conservation, transport and environmental protection. Xie said his ministry would also put more effort into supporting production and supply of people's daily necessities to curb inflation. According to the ministry's budget plan, presented to the NPC on Saturday, the country's total revenue this year will be 9.122 trillion yuan (HK$10.8 trillion) and expenditure will total 10.022 trillion yuan, resulting in a deficit of 900 billion yuan. […] Xie said the State Council reached an in-principle agreement on income tax reform proposals but details would only be disclosed later. The council said last week that it planned to raise the minimum threshold for personal income tax and adjust income tax brackets aimed at lowering the burden on lower- and middle-income earners and boosting private consumption. CICC chief economist Dr Peng Wensheng said: "Overall, a higher threshold for income tax payments will increase the spending power of low-income groups more than high-income groups, as the former are significantly larger." Xie said the global economic recovery remained fragile and faced uncertainties. He also said tax rebates would help the export sector. The government will also gradually expand a trial resources tax of 5 per cent in the western areas to other regions. Xie said economic conditions would be considered when promoting the wider use of the resources tax because the latter can affect consumer prices. ^ top ^

China, US stocks plunge on bad data, oil prices (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-11
Stock markets in China and the Untied States both plunged Thursday on continuing political volatility in the oil-rich Middle East, and a pair of worrying economic news that shakes investors' confidence. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 228 percent, or 1.9 percent to close at 11,984.61 points, and China's Shanghai stock composite index dropped 45 points, or 1.5 percent, and closed at 2957.14 points. In China, investors were unnerved by a stubbornly strong inflation, which most analysts have estimated hovering as high as 4.8 percent in February. The government's National Bureau of Statistics will disclose the official data on Friday. If the estimation proves to be correct, the People's Bank of China, the central bank is expected to raise the banks' reserve requirement ratios once again this month, to mop up more liquidity from the market. Some said that bank could even raise interest rates soon. […] In the United States, claims for unemployment insurance rose unexpectedly yesterday. A credit rating agency lowered Spain's credit grade, amplifying worries that Europe's debt crisis will worsen. And, China's economy showed a surprising sign of weakness — as the country's customs administration reported yesterday a $7.3 billion trade deficit in February brought on in part by surging oil prices, economists believe. And just when markets started bouncing back, Saudi police opened fire on protesters in the eastern city of Qatif, raising concerns about the stability of the oil-rich Middle East kingdom. Crude oil prices have jumped $20 a barrel since protests spread through North Africa and the Middle East, raising concerns that the flow of crude oil will be disrupted. US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned last week that consistently high oil prices could undermine economic recovery. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

N. Korea demands defectors' return (Global Times)
2011-03-07
Pyongyang has repeated its demands Thursday that Seoul return every one of 31 North Koreans it arrested when their boat crossed into South Korean waters last month, rejecting assertions that four of them do not want to return. South Korea said Thursday that the four would be allowed to stay in the South while the 27 others would be repatriated Friday through a border village. The 20 men and 11 women were in a fishing boat that crossed the tense Yellow Sea border in thick fog on February 5. The North, in a statement late Thursday on its official news agency, accused the South of "despicable unethical acts" and said the 31 had been held hostage to fuel cross-border confrontations. It said their boat had drifted due to heavy fog and demanded all those on board be repatriated. Pyongyang added that Seoul had pressured them to remain in the South "by appeasement, deception and threat," it said.

"This cannot be interpreted otherwise than a grave provocation to the DPRK (North Korea)," said a statement attributed to a spokesman for the North's Red Cross. The incident comes amid high cross-border tensions as US and South Korean troops stage major military exercises. The North sees the drills as rehearsals for invasion and has threatened to turn Seoul into a "sea of flames," should it feel provoked. The South normally returns North Koreans who drift across the border by accident and who express a wish to go home. Reasons for keeping this group in custody so long are unclear. [...] The crews of two boats which drifted into Northern waters in 2009 and 2010 were returned 30 days after their capture. ^ top ^

NK families seek return of defectors (Global Times)
2011-03-10
North Korea Wednesday released rare video footage online of interviews with the families of four defectors, appealing for them to come home. "Father, I miss you. Please come back now!" wailed a teenage girl in a filmed interview posted on the North's official website, uriminzokkiri.com. The girl was identified as a daughter of Hong Yong-hak, a 44-year-old man who is among the four people who chose to stay in the South after their fishing boat drifted across the border in thick fog February 5. The South has been trying in vain to hand over 27 others who crossed the tense Yellow Sea border on the same boat, but the North has insisted that all 31 be returned. North Korea refuses to accept that two men and two women want to defect, and says the South has put pressure on group members to stay, fueling cross-border tensions. The North said the four people in question had no reason whatever to defect, "in light of their socio-political circumstances and family backgrounds."

A woman who said she was the mother of Pak Myong-ok, a 22-year-old statistician and would-be defector, said in her interview that her daughter had been brainwashed and forced to stay in the South. "They now make a ridiculous claim that she's defecting. Please send my daughter back to my arms," she said. The North wants Seoul to bring the four to a meeting with their families at the border village of Panmunjom so they can confirm in person that they want to stay in the South. Seoul said it has no intention of producing the defectors, saying their free choice to stay has been "confirmed by objective and fair measures.". ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

EU Working on Opening Mission in Ulaanbaatar (News.mn)
2011-03-04
The head of the Central Asia and Mongolia Section of the European Parliament, Paolo Bartalocci, has written to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade G.Zandanshatar that the EU, the European Commission, the European Foreign Relations Office and the European Parliament all favor opening a EU mission in Ulaanbaatar and are working on it. The Minister had earlier written to the Vice President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Office to consider opening such a mission. ^ top ^

Mongolian Economic Forum Ends With Investment Forum (UBPost)
2011-03-06
The Mongolian Economic Forum ended last Friday with the Investment Forum.
Mining and privatization was the main topics of the Investment forum and representatives of the private enterprises actively took part in the forum and asked related questions. The other large topic was the establishment of the Development bank. Most experts and economist were arguing that the idea of the Development bank is not very useful because it puts the Government and the Bank in risk. The Premier S.Batbold concludes that the forum has been successful. “Most important matter of this forum was seeking the ways of tackling urgent problems by the state, private sector, civil society, scholars, researchers and foreign representatives”. S.Batbold has said, adding that solutions, made by the forum, will become the decisions of the cabinet. The forum discussed the matters such as civil participation, skills of professional unions, governance, corporate governance, the state-private sector partnership, state service reform. Other issues have been considered as good environment of business, development and competitiveness of the city and localities, innovation, financial market, employment, job places, quality of specialized education, reform in social welfare, budget and plans. The Prime Minister has emphasized that the forum aimed to improve development of Mongolians, ensure the human development, and to create a wealthy and middle-income level. Additionally, the PM has criticized an insufficient participation of local organizations' representatives in the forum, and obliged them to introduce to the cabinet a plan of works in a scope of the forum's decisions. He has highlighted demands to operate a team for making research into implementing the plan, and to keep transparency of information. ^ top ^

New Stage of Economic Growth Has Begun, Foreign Partners Told (News.Mn)
2011-03-07
The Government of Mongolia invited all its foreign partners in the last 20 years for a meeting on March 4, which was attended by Ministers, Ambassadors to Mongolia, Permanent Representatives of international organizations, and some 100 representatives of foreign organizations working for Mongolia's development. The meeting was intended to mark the end of the transition period and the beginning of a new stage of development. Mongolia has asked for and received grants and soft loans from donor countries and organization since 1992 but now it would need less of both, with its economy set to grow stronger. However, foreign partners were told that their advice and suggestions on proper use of natural resources would be welcome. The meeting had three main themes: new financial opportunities, defining mid-term priorities of development that can be financed with revenue from resources, and ensuring good governance. As far as the first is concerned, 15 billion shares of the Tavantolgoi deposit will be issued to citizens and economic entities; four foreign banks have been selected to arrange for raising capital in the international market for Erdenes Tavantolgoi: and foreign partners will soon be selected for developing the deposit after considering who will be most suitable for transit transportation, port utilization, and advance payment. The Government has initiated large programs and projects that would benefit the domestic market in the long term, such as construction of 100,000 household apartments new auto roads, new railway, and an industry complex in Sainshand. Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat Ch.Khurelbaatar spoke on efforts being made to streamline work in Government offices. Among Ambassadors who spoke were Wang Shyaolun of China and Asi Arar of Turkey. ^ top ^

Mongolia Invests 11 Million of Euro (News.Mn)
2011-03-10
At a regular meeting of the Government, Minister for Finance S.Bayartsogt yesterday told about unification project of the International Bank for Economic Cooperation and the International Investment Bank. He said that Mongolia takes part as a shareholder in the International Bank for Economic Cooperation and the International Investment Bank in frame of economic cooperating countries. Equity fund of these banks is a billion and 700 million of euro and Mongolia invested 11 million of euro to equity fund and owns 0.67% of total sum. Shareholders are concluding an agreement of unification of the two banks in recent period of a time and Parliament of Mongolia would pass a new project of the agreement. Working group would be set up and President of the Mongol Bank L.Purevdorj will work as a Head of the working group. He will explain Mongolia's position to the banks that borrowed to economic entities of Mongolia. Besides, an employee from Mongolia works in the bank and countries have a seat, not depending on its share amount. But investor countries will vote seats depending on its share amount at present and some countries invest as shareholders like Mongolia. Minister S.Bayartsogt added to inform about conclusion of the agreement. ^ top ^

Mongolia to import Chinese workers to meet domestic needs (Xinhua)
2011-03-11
The Mongolian government has approved a draft agreement on importing Chinese laborers, local media reported Thursday. Under the agreement, Mongolia will employ licensed specialized workers based on needs and orders of the employment organizations, but permission from a concerned state organization is also needed. The ministries of Mineral Resources and Energy, Social Welfare and Labor and Road, Transportation and Urban Development have been asked to make open information regarding the number of jobs created by entities, economic entities' requirements on domestic and foreign workers. The government has ordered Minister of Social Welfare and Labor T. Gandi to submit the draft agreement to the National Security Council. The Mongolian government earlier announced that 2011 will be a year of employment support to raise household income and to increase national production. ^ 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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