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
  14-18.3.11, No. 362  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China 'not trying to surpass US' in Middle East: Envoy (China Daily)
2011-03-14
China is not seeking to compete with the United States in exerting influence in the Middle East but is confident about its ties to the region despite recent power transfers, Beijing's special envoy to the Middle East has said. "The US's values and interests clashed (in the regional chaos in the Middle East) this time, and it chose to protect its interests," Wu Sike, who has been the country's envoy to the Middle East since March 2009 and is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told China Daily on the sidelines of the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee. Washington's support for discarding Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president, a long-term strategic ally of the US, "hurt and disappointed" both Arab leaders and America's other allies in the region, said Wu, a former ambassador to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Despite these setbacks for the US, Beijing is not trying to surpass Washington in exerting influence in the Middle East. […] Beijing has long got along well with Arab countries, avoided intervening in their domestic affairs and respected their peoples' choices. With the current strengthening of the business ties that have already benefited both sides, Wu said the relationship has a "solid and deep" basis. […] The veteran diplomat suggested regional riots are likely to continue for a time and may result in further political reform in some countries, but will possibly not lead to a "fourth oil crisis" for the region, as some media have predicted. "This is essentially still about the domestic problems of some countries," he said, adding that circumstances are unique for every Arab country. Wu said he plans to visit the Middle East after the CPPCC National Committee session to help encourage communication between Palestine and Israel and to prevent their current negotiations from losing momentum. ^ top ^

China delivers humanitarian assistance to Japan (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-15
Workers load relief materials to a plane at Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, east China, March 14, 2011. China will provide 30 million RMB yuan (about 4.57 million U.S. dollars) worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to Japan to support the disaster relief there. The first batch of relief materials, including blankets, tents and emergency lights, was transported to Japan from Shanghai Monday afternoon. (Xinhua/Fan Jun) A chartered plane carrying the first batch of relief goods China committed to Japan's earthquake rescue operations took off from Shanghai late Monday afternoon. The first relief package sent to Japan is composed of 2,000 blankets, 900 cotton tents and 200 emergency lights, and valued at 7.2 million yuan (1.1 million U.S. dollars), said Yang Hongbin, a Shanghai-based official with China's Ministry of Commerce. Yang said the China Eastern Airlines aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, was scheduled to touch down at Tokyo Haneda International Airport at about 8 p.m. Monday. The ministry announced Monday that China will provide 30 million yuan worth of emergency humanitarian assistance to Japan following the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that have left thousands dead or missing. China's military was responsible for collecting this first batch of aid, as required by related emergency response mechanism and several government agencies, the Defense Ministry said in a separate statement, adding that the mission was accompolished in the shortest period of time. China sent a 15-member international rescue team to Japan on Sunday, while local governments and China's chapter of the Red Cross have announced separate donations to aid the quake relief actions. The rescue team started search and rescue operations Monday morning in Ofunato city of Japan's northeastern Iwate Prefecture, according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo. ^ top ^

China first to evacuate citizens from Japan (SCMP)
2011-03-16
China became the first country to evacuate its citizens from Japan's worst affected areas as fears mount that experts will be unable to contain the growing nuclear crisis. Explosions and a fire at Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant unleashed dangerous levels of radiation yesterday, sparking a stock market collapse and panic buying in supermarkets. Four of the six reactors at the Fukushima No1 plant, 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, have overheated, taking the four-day-old nuclear crisis to a new level - threatening to overshadow even the massive damage spawned by Friday's devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Experts were last night planning to pour water through two holes in the wall of the building housing the No4 reactor at the plant. A blast yesterday punctured two holes of 8 metres square in the wall of the reactor's outer building, exposing the spent fuel pool to the outside air. Winds dispersed radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean, away from the country, but radiation in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, was recorded at 10 times the normal level. City officials, however, said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital. Scared Tokyo residents filled outbound trains and rushed to shops to stock up on face masks and emergency supplies amid heightening fears of radiation heading their way. [...] Beijing had not issued any official travel alert since Friday's earthquake. However, the Chinese embassy in Tokyo said in an urgent notice yesterday that it was sending buses to four prefectures: Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate to evacuate nationals. It said citizens would be taken to Narita Airport near Tokyo or Niigata Airport on the northwest coast to board flights to China. It did not indicate how many people were expected to be evacuated, though about 33,000 Chinese nationals live in the disaster-hit Japanese prefectures, according to the official China News Service. [...] Gao Hong, vice-director of Japanese studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing made "an unusual, but completely wise decision under extraordinary circumstances" by evacuating its nationals out of the disaster zones. "The Chinese government was just taking the initiative by launching the evacuation... I believe other countries will follow suit sooner or later," he said. [...] Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Beijing was "very concerned" about thousands of its citizens in quake-hit Japanese areas, while stressing no abnormal levels of radiation had so far been detected in China. Taiwan said it stepped up a review of its nuclear power plants. China's Meteorological Administration said on its website that radioactive particles from the damaged Japanese nuclear plant would not affect the country over at least the next three days. [...] The nuclear disaster in Japan also prompted Russia and Germany to order immediate reviews of their atomic energy sectors, with Berlin saying it would provisionally shut down seven reactors for three months pending a safety assessment. [...] Tokyo stocks, which were punished on Monday in a frantic sell-off that sent indexes around the world sliding, plummeted 14 per cent yesterday before ending 10.55 per cent down. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slumped 2.86 per cent and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.41 per cent as Nikkei's plunge led to a regional market slump. ^ top ^

EU official hails China's 12th Five-Year Plan (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-16
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, on Tuesday welcomed China's climate pledges in its 12th Five-Year Plan. "China's five-year development plan adopted today is an evident signal of the economic potential of climate action," said Hedegaard. "By placing energy efficiency and clean energies for the first time at the heart of their economic development, the plan bets heavily on strengthening China's competitive advantage in fields like electric vehicles, renewable energy, smart grids and other low-carbon technologies," she added. She said that it was very encouraging that China has decided to gradually implement a carbon-market mechanism as one key tool for reducing industrial emissions cost-effectively. "We will engage with our Chinese counterparts in order to further explore their intentions," she said. The commissioner urged Europe to invest in clean technologies, better energy infrastructure and research and innovation in order to keep the leading position in the green growth race. "This will reduce our energy bill and improve our competitiveness. And as investments will be made in Europe, jobs will be preserved and created in Europe," she said. Hedegaard said that the 2050 Roadmap recently presented by the European Commission has set the right course: a clear and predictable pathway to a clean, competitive and climate-friendly Europe. ^ top ^

Leaders: China needs to maintain momentum of international cooperation (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-17
China must maintain the momentum of international cooperation in order to maintain its current development momentum, NPC deputies and CPPCC members said when discussing the 12th Five-Year Plan and potential of China's future during the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The momentum of cooperation between the New China and the outside world is the result of long-term development. The Western world was skeptical about China's modernization in the initial period. At that time, China's foreign capital was relatively limited and most of the capital came from overseas Chinese. China strengthened its resolve to focus on economic construction and development. The entire nation worked hard and gradually gained strong momentum in collaborating with the outside world, and the cumulative foreign investments in China reached 1 trillion U.S. dollars. Foreign investments in China brought capital as well as advanced technologies, advanced management and research and development. About 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have established research and development centers in China, and the momentum of cooperation between China and the outside world is very valuable. In an increasingly globalized world, isolation will only ruin a country. In order to achieve better development, it must open up and draw on the great achievements of human civilization. China's rapid and remarkable progress since the reform and opening-up is largely attributed to its open attitude. While the Chinese people are proud of its long history and splendid culture, they are also aware that only by drawing on the great achievements of the whole of human civilization, will China grow by leaps and bounds. Maintaining the momentum of development and cooperation with the outside world will continue to be China's core policy in the coming decades. Anything that China does should be in line with this policy. To maintain the momentum of stable international cooperation, China will need a peaceful environment. There will be no development without peace. China has always adhered to the road of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening-up. As its 2011 government work report noted, the Chinese government and people are willing to work with the international community to respond to risks and challenges, share development opportunities and make new contributions to the lofty cause of peace and development for all of humanity. Maintaining the momentum of development and international cooperation will not only satisfy China's needs but also serve the common interests of all mankind. ^ top ^

Beijing presses for crisis updates (SCMP)
2011-03-18
China yesterday urged Japan to provide timely and precise details about its nuclear crisis after the US said all the water had gone from one of the spent fuel pools at the stricken nuclear plant, raising the possibility of widespread contamination. Japan tried high-pressure water cannons, fire trucks and even helicopters that dropped batches of seawater in increasingly frantic attempts yesterday to cool the overheated nuclear complex. The problems at the plant were set in motion after last week's earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and destroyed back-up generators needed for the reactors' cooling systems. A senior Japanese nuclear safety official warned that unreliable data from the overheating Fukushima power plant was hampering last-ditch cooling efforts. [...] He said they were urgently trying to figure out which machines could be relied upon. Nishiyama was unable to confirm whether any water was still protecting unstable spent fuel rods in the shattered No 4 reactor building. The chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, told the US Congress there was no water left in the pool, sparking radiation levels so high front-line workers were now at risk. Nishiyama said he believed water remained in a tank holding rods in the troubled No 3 reactor, citing the presence of steam rising from the building. Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, insisted there was water in both tanks. Beijing urged Japan to release "timely and precise" information on its unfolding nuclear crisis. [...] Jiang said China had donated 20,000 tonnes of fuel and US$4.5 million in other aid to its neighbour. More than 15,000 people are officially listed as dead or missing, but officials believe the toll will climb even higher. The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo said one Chinese national died in the quake, while the China International Contractors Association said 126 trainees were missing. Around 80 workers - rotated from a slightly larger pool - are still trying to prevent a catastrophe at the stricken plant and are the focus of international and domestic concern that they are effectively "dead men walking". Levels were so high on Wednesday that they were forced to retreat before being sent back in. When asked whether Japan was effectively sacrificing the band of front-line workers, Nishiyama insisted workers were being carefully rotated to keep exposure of any individual to within regulations. [...] The interim power line would be a temporary but reliable way to cool the reactors and storage pools, said Teruaki Kobayashi, a facilities management official at Tepco. "This is a first step toward recovery," he said. A Japanese government spokesman, Noriyuki Shikata, meanwhile, defended the decision to evacuate residents within 20 kilometres after the US Embassy warned Americans within 80 kilometres to leave and China's moved to withdraw its citizens. He said he understood why Japanese and foreigners were fleeing Tokyo, more than 200 kilometres away. "We have implemented our evacuation within WHO guidance," Shikata said. "We don't think there is a good reason for people elsewhere to take their own actions.". ^ top ^

'China has serious difficulty with part of the resolution,' envoy says (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-18
China supports the UN "Security Council's adoption of appropriate and necessary action to stabilize as soon as possible the situation in Libya and to halt acts of violence against civilians," but "China has serious difficulty with part of the resolution," Li Baodong, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, said here Thursday. Li made the statement at the UN Security Council after he abstained from voting on a draft resolution which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and called for "all necessary measures," excluding troops on the ground, to protect civilians under threat of attack in the North African country. Apart from China, Russia, a permanent Council member with veto power, and Brazil, Germany and India, the three non-permanent Council members, also abstained from the voting on the draft resolution. "The continuing worsening of the situation in Libya has the great concern of China. We support the Security Council's adoption of appropriate and necessary action to stabilize as soon as possible the situation in Libya and to halt acts of violence against civilians," Li said. "China has always emphasized that in its relevant actions, the Security Council should follow the UN Charter and norms governing international law and respect the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya and resolve through peaceful means the current crisis in Libya," he said. ^ top ^

Analysis shows China has no immediate threat from radioactive leaks in Japan (Xinhua)
2011-03-18
The air and seawater in China is not under immediate threat from radioactive leaks following the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, according to latest analysis on Thursday. The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said in a statement that in the next three days, the radioactive fallout would mainly affect the waters off Fukushima. China is located to the west of Japan. The contaminants, which previously reached the waters off the northeast coast of Tokyo, had moved east to the Pacific Ocean with the currents, according to the statement. The forecast from an emergency response center in Beijing, which is affiliated with the World Meteorological Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, also indicated that the air current would bring the contaminants east into the Ocean. China would remain unaffected over the next three days, the center said. As of 5 pm on Thursday, the air monitoring results from 41 cities across the country also remained normal, according to China's national nuclear emergency coordination committee. ^ top ^

Packed agenda of meetings lies ahead for China, EU (China Daily)
2011-03-18
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy will visit China in the middle of this year to further strengthen the partnership between Beijing and Brussels. In addition to Rompuy's visit, European External Action Service Managing Director for Asia Viorel Isticioaia-Budura said China and EU are scheduled to hold their annual summit in China at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to attend the G20 summit in November in France where discussions will focus on trade, the global financial system and climate change. Song Zhe, Chinese ambassador to the European Union, told a seminar organized by the European Parliament that "a number of high-level meetings in the first half of this year" will continue the sound momentum of the bilateral relationship. Given that China has made public its new Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and the EU has started to implement its development strategy toward 2020, both Chinese and European officials said Brussels and Beijing should grasp the opportunities to deepen their economic and political relationship. [...] He said China will transform its economic development pattern and further facilitate global trade, which will offer tremendous opportunities for EU member states and companies. [...] Song urged the EU to further relax its export controls on high-tech products and technologies to China and promised that Beijing will further improve its measures to protect intellectual property rights. [...] Song said the relaxing of export controls by the EU would also be helpful in achieving more balanced bilateral trade. "We don't seek a trade surplus. We are seeking balanced trade. We need joint efforts to solve trade problems," Song said. He also expected both sides to encourage tourism to enhance people-to-people exchange. Statistics indicated that last year about 1.5 million European tourists visited China, and 1 million Chinese people traveled to Europe. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy / Annual sessions of NPC and CPPCC

Busy session ends on happy note (Global Times)
2011-03-14
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference closed its annual session in Beijing yesterday after endorsing the 12th five-year plan. The nation's top advisory body holds its annual session every year alongside that of the national legislature, the National People's Congress, whose session closes tomorrow. This year marks the first time the concept of "the people's happiness" has been so prominent in the nation's top official documents. A CPPCC motion adopted yesterday urges the government to provide citizens with a greater "feeling of happiness" by making innovations in social management, stepping up the battle against corruption and by promoting social justice. A total of 5,762 motions were proposed by CPPCC members this year, up 6 per cent on last year's session, according to a statement on the CPPCC website. Most of the motions focused on areas related to the people's well-being, "particularly income distribution, the housing market and social security", according to Liu Xiaobing, a senior staff member responsible for collecting motions. Some 2,400 proposals dealt with the development of the economy and the economic growth pattern Beijing has planned for 2011-15. Most comments left by mainland internet users on the official China Network Television Web window showing the CPPCC closing session also dwelt on economic issues. Some comments were pointedly political, such as demands for a timetable for the introduction of a requirement and mechanism for officials to report their personal assets to the public. Of the top advisory body's 2011 agenda, chairman Jia Qinglin said the CPPCC would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai revolution, led by Dr Sun Yat-sen, which founded China's republican government in 1911. On foreign relations, Jia said the CPPCC would seek to play an active part in public diplomacy, networking with semi-official and non-official contacts abroad. While no official comment was made on the earthquake in Japan, some CPPCC members expressed personal reactions. Gao Shu, dean of geography and oceanic sciences at Nanjing University, said China should learn from Japanese citizens' example in preparedness for the disaster. Chinese nationals were more likely to be affected by rumours and panic. ^ top ^

Senior CPC official stresses effective law-enforcement (Global Times)
2011-03-14
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Zhou Yongkang on Saturday urged law-enforcement authorities to ensure effective implementation of the Constitution and laws. Since the socialist system of laws with Chinese characteristics has been established on schedule and there are laws to govern basically every sector of life, law-enforcement authorities must fulfill their duties to ensure that laws are observed and strictly enforced and law-breakers are prosecuted, he said. Zhou, secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, was speaking to deputies from northwest China's Shannxi Province to the National People's Congress (NPC), which will conclude its annual session on Monday. Law-enforcement officials must strengthen study to grasp the essence of the Constitution and laws, and stringently enforce them to safeguard social fairness and justice, he said In enforcing laws, the judicial authorities should proceed with mediation first, and combine it with trials when necessary, Zhou said. He joined the NPC deputies to deliberate the work reports of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, which were delivered at an NPC meeting on Friday. ^ top ^

Political reform is needed, Wen insists (SCMP)
2011-03-15
Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated his support for political reform yesterday, but rejected comparisons between China and the unrest-torn nations in the Middle East and North Africa, where revolts have toppled authoritarian regimes. […] Wen is the most senior mainland official to comment on events in the Middle East, which have prompted anonymous internet calls for peaceful rallies in major mainland cities in the past four weeks. Although no protests were reported under smothering security in the capital, Shanghai and other cities, the repeated calls for greater democracy have apparently hit a nerve in Beijing. Wen went on to admit that his government faced "extremely daunting tasks" in addressing widespread grievances over inflation, corruption, environmental degradation and a yawning wealth gap. […] Despite dazzling economic success, Wen rejected the notion of a China "model", saying the country had simply found a development path suited to its own conditions. Unlike many senior party cadres who carefully toe the Communist Party line, Wen did not highlight the party's role in his analysis of the country's economic rise. Instead, the populist premier listed putting people's interest first, and safeguarding social equity and justice as major factors behind China's success, apart from the reform and opening-up policies. In an apparent bid to ease discontent over long-stalled political reforms, Wen reiterated his support for greater democracy and public supervision, saying economic development alone could not solve the problems of the mainland's development. He said corruption - a key factor in the Middle East uprisings and a main source of domestic dissatisfaction - was the "biggest danger". […] Analysts noted Wen's remarks on political reform, which fell short of providing any new measures, largely repeated what he said in August during a trip to Shenzhen before the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China's first special economic zone. "Political reform offers a guarantee for economic reform. Without political reform, economic reform cannot succeed, and the achievements we have made may be lost," he said yesterday. "It is only with reform that the party and the country will enjoy continuous vigour and vitality." […] Although Wen also stressed the leadership of the party in such political reform, analysts noted his views were apparently different from conservatives such as Wu. Similar remarks Wen made last year were welcomed by liberals and intellectuals, but analysts noted Wen's moderate views on political reform did not represent the mainstream views within the party. Analysts said it was hard to decode the message behind the discrepancy, given the lack of transparency in Beijing's political culture. Professor Wang Jianxun, from the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, said: "It can be interpreted as political struggle between different factions within the leadership, but it also makes sense if Wen's pledges are read as political rhetoric because whatever he says has seldom, if ever, been translated into concrete action." Both analysts noted Wen had emphasised the importance of maintaining stability before taking gradual steps towards direct, competitive elections. "We must pursue a step-by-step approach," Wen said. "It is by no means easy to pursue political restructuring in such a big country with 1.3 billion people.". ^ top ^

China adopts 5-year blueprint, aiming for fairer, greener growth (Xinhua)
2011-03-15
Chinese lawmakers overwhelmingly adopted a national plan to steer the world's second largest economy into a path of fairer and greener growth in the next five years. The 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development was approved by the legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), with 2,778 out of a total of 2875 deputies voting for it. The world is expected to gain from a China where rising living standards will boost domestic consumption, and harsher targets on energy use will contribute more to the world's battle against global warming, according to the five-year plan. Building a fairer society has been a core goal of the government which has worked to spread the wealth more evenly among its around 1.34 billion population, but income increases have lagged behind economic growth. Adopting the plan is one thing, and how to implement it is another. In a press conference after the conclusion of the parliamentary session, Premier Wen Jiabao pointed to outdated mindset and the GDP-oriented criteria for evaluating the performance of government officials as obstacles that might keep the five-year plan from being fully carried out. The central government would adopt new performance evaluation criteria for local governments and give more weight to the efficiency of economic growth, environment protection and living standards, said Wen. […] The blueprint said that China will commit to boosting spending on education, healthcare and public housing, initiatives intended to narrow the wealth gap between the rich and poor. China aims to create 45 million urban jobs over the next five years, "reduce the number of people living in poverty," increase incomes, raise minimum wages and basic pensions and hike the individual income tax threshold, according to the plan. […] While pledging to make China a fairer society which would provide new and stronger sources for future growth, the five-year program also shows China plans to follow a more sustainable and low-carbon development path. China used a series of punishing "administrative" measures to try to meet a target to reduce 2005 levels of energy intensity by 20 percent by the end of last year, forcing thousands of energy-guzzling enterprises across the country to shut down after cutting off their power supplies. The five-year plan said China will boost the proportion of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 11.4 percent, and energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP should be reduced by 16 percent and 17 percent respectively during the five years. Experts lauded the tougher determination which would reinforce the world's efforts to meet the challenges posed by global warming. ^ top ^

Local governments urged to set housing price targets (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-15
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development is now urging local governments to formulate housing price control targets and standards, and it has required local governments to release the target by the end of the first quarter, Jiang Weixin, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said on March 10. Many cities such as Beijing have already made it clear that they would release their targets by the end of March for this year's price controls for newly-built housing. In the latest efforts announced at the end of January aimed at curbing soaring housing prices, the State Council for the first time required local governments to reasonably set their annual new housing price control target in accordance with local economic development goals, per capita disposable income growth and residents' housing affordability, and release the target to the public in the first quarter. However, as the deadline is approaching, only a few cities, such as Yinchuan in the country's northwest, have released the housing price control target. Jiang said that the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has required various cities to formulate the housing price control target in 2011 and urged local governments to release the target by the end of the first quarter. ^ top ^

Happiness listed as health criterion in Beijing (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-16
Happiness was listed as one of the criteria for health in the "Health Guide for Beijing Residents (Draft)" jointly released by the Beijing Health Promotion Working Committee and the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau on March 13. Beijing residents are welcome to visit the bureau's official website at www.bjhb.gov.cn and leave their comments and suggestions. The draft of the health guide was drawn up based on the actual state of health of Beijing residents as well as domestic and international documents, such as the World Health Organization's 10 health criteria and "66 Health Literacy Articles," as well as the Ministry of Health's "Guidelines for Prevention and Control of Overweight and Obesity Among Chinese Adults." The health guide is made up of three parts, namely "having a healthy lifestyle," "maintaining mental health and good social adjustment" and "achieving basic physical health goals." The guide employs 34 indices and applies to people between 18 and 60 years old, said Zhao Chunhui, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau. One of the 34 indices is the Happiness Index. One criterion for being a healthy Beijing resident is "knowing oneself and feeling confident and happy." The "having a healthy lifestyle" part contains 19 indices covering sports, food hygiene and safety, sleeping and other aspects. The "Health Guide for Beijing Residents (Draft)" has been published on www.bjhb.gov.cn and will be open to advice and suggestions until March 25. Beijing residents can take this opportunity to help the bureau set realistic health goals. The bureau said it will announce the final version of the health guide within the first half of 2011, print a large number of copies of the health guide in the form of booklet and then distribute them to the public for free. ^ top ^

Beijing suspends nuclear plant approvals (SCMP)
2011-03-17
China suspended approvals for new nuclear power plants yesterday and ordered comprehensive checks of existing facilities to close safety loopholes amid growing concern stoked by Japan's unfolding crisis. In a surprise move, the State Council also announced that it would review and adjust its ambitious plan to expand the nuclear power sector by 2020, which Beijing hopes will help reduce the country's reliance on coal and cut emissions of greenhouse gases. For the past few days, as Japan's nuclear crisis worsened in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami, senior mainland energy officials had insisted that Beijing would stick to its nuclear expansion plan. Interestingly, yesterday's State Council statement did not mention Beijing's ambition to boost its nuclear power sector in the next five years, with at least 34 new plants planned and approved by the central government and 25 being built. Beijing plans to build nuclear plants with a total installed capacity of 40,000 megawatts by 2015 as part of its plan to significantly increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix. Any slowdown in China's rapid nuclear expansion would be a radical departure from longstanding policy, but even a temporary suspension shows the authorities are sensitive to public fears about the threat of nuclear accidents. Analysts hailed the decisions made at a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday as "timely" and "necessary" after a string of Western countries also announced plans to review or even freeze their nuclear development due to growing public fears over nuclear safety. […] The government also announced that it would conduct safety assessments of the mainland's 13 operating nuclear reactors to ensure their "absolute safety". The statement said the government had detected no abnormal levels of radiation in China from Japan, amid widespread rumours that coastal cities may have been affected by radiation unleashed from Japan's quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant. The environment ministry released a regulation on the building of nuclear power plants recently, saying all of them must be located far away from cities and populated areas. According to the new rule, nuclear power facilities would not be allowed within five kilometres of any township of 10,000 people or within 10 kilometres of towns of 100,000 people, nor would they be allowed to be built in quake-prone areas, the Legal Daily reported yesterday. Despite growing public concerns over the safety of nuclear development, senior environment and energy officials - including National Development and Reform Commission vice-chairman Xie Zhenhua and deputy environment minister Zhang Lijun - have sought to play down the impact of Japan's nuclear crisis, saying there was no need to review the nuclear policy. Zhang said at the weekend that China's 12th five-year plan and its "determination for developing nuclear power will not change". ^ top ^

Rumours trigger panic buying of salt across mainland, HK (SCMP)
2011-03-18
Fears over Japan's continuing nuclear crisis fuelled a salt-buying frenzy across China as shoppers raced to stock up on the basis of wild rumours and speculation. The craze began over the erroneous belief that salt and the iodine in it is a defence against the radiation emanating from the Japanese power station. Shelves were emptied in supermarkets and corner shops from the capital to Guangzhou in a mad scramble for uncontaminated condiments. And when salt sold out, some crazed consumers started grabbing bottles of soy sauce by the armful. […] The mania even spread to Hong Kong - usually less prone to panic buying - where the spike in demand led to retailers charging as much as 10 times the normal price. The National Development and Reform Commission called on market supervisory authorities nationwide yesterday afternoon to step up vigilance on salt vendors to prevent price manipulators or speculators taking advantage of the situation.Officials in Hong Kong and in main mainland cities issued public statements trying to refute concerns about radiation poisoning and the need to stockpile salt. But the official reassurances appeared to do little to put shoppers' minds at ease. […] The China National Salt Industry Corporation posted a statement on its website saying it was releasing national and provincial level salt reserves in response to the panic buying, and emergency supplies would be distributed within 24 hours. In Hong Kong, shoppers also descended into a state of hysteria for salt, with people snapping up salt from Sheung Shui to North Point, and from Tuen Mun to Kwun Tong. Hundreds of people, mostly elderly, lined up outside condiment shops and in supermarkets from early morning, even though salt was being sold at between two and 10 times its usual price. […] Some people also started auctioning salt online. A 450g packet of table salt, normally priced at HK$2, was being offered at HK$30. Salt sold in China normally contains small amounts of iodine compounds, which triggered rumours that ingesting salt could help ward off the effects of radiation. Emergency workers near the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan have been taking potassium iodide tablets to lessen the impact of radiation poisoning. […] It was "scientifically and medically unfounded" that the iodine in salt could protect people from radiation. Undersecretary for Food and Health Professor Gabriel Leung said a person would need to eat 5kg of salt to absorb the amount of iodine contained in an iodine tablet. Iodine tablets were not intended for the public, he said; they were only useful if people took them four to five hours before entering nuclear facilities with high levels of radiation. […] Notices with newspaper cuttings were posted around the supermarket warning customers not to fall for scammers selling fake salt. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

MPs in exile oppose Dalai Lama's retirement (SCMP)
2011-03-16
The Dalai Lama faced stiff resistance yesterday from Tibet's parliament in exile over his plans to retire as political head of the movement. The 75-year-old spiritual leader announced last week he wanted to shed his role as political chief of the government in exile and hand responsibilities to the next prime minister, who will be elected on Sunday. In an emotional debate on the issue, 11 out of the first 14 lawmakers who spoke in the 43-member assembly said they were against a constitutional amendment to allow the move. "The opinion of the people does not agree with His Holiness' decision. I will resign if there is any proposal for change," said one member, Ugen Topgyal. Three speakers suggested a referendum among the 200,000-strong exiled community, while others recommended a middle path wherein the Dalai Lama remained political leader but the assembly assumed more responsibilities. [...] A vote on a required constitutional amendment could be held later this week ahead of the election. On Monday, the Dalai Lama told lawmakers that the Tibetan movement was now mature enough for a directly elected political leader. "If we have to remain in exile for several more decades, a time will inevitably come when I will no longer be able to provide leadership," he said in a letter read out. The Dalai Lama's political title is largely symbolic and he will retain the more significant role of Tibet's spiritual leader. But the change would be a significant step for the Tibetan movement in exile, which is divided between those who want autonomy and those who seek full independence for Tibet from China. The current exiled prime minister, Professor Lobsang Tenzin, better known by his title Samdhong Rinpoche, told lawmakers at the session yesterday that the parliament "stands with the change His Holiness is proposing, with a heavy heart". It is not the first time the Dalai Lama has asked to be released from his ceremonial political responsibilities, and the parliament has rejected similar requests in the past, arguing that there is no replacement of equal stature. [...] The problem is whether the future leaders of the Tibetan movement - the Dalai Lama's eventual successor and any new political leader - will have the contacts, profile and influence to keep the Tibet issue alive. The community in exile is braced for a huge struggle with Beijing about the choice of the next Dalai Lama. The central government has already stated it intends to have the final say in the selection process. The Dalai Lama has suggested several ways in which he might be replaced, either with a vote for a new spiritual leader or via the traditional method in which a child is chosen by senior monks. He has also said the title might be scrapped, ending a 600-year tradition. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Five-year plan no threat to HK autonomy: Wen (SCMP)
2011-03-15
The first inclusion of Hong Kong in the national five-year plan is consistent with the "one country, two systems" principle, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday. At a press conference to conclude the annual parliamentary session, Wen took the initiative to argue that the plan did not infringe upon the city's autonomy. […] He said the plan for Hong Kong not only respected "one country, two systems", but also recognised the city's autonomy and was in accord with the Basic Law. […] In one of the amendments, the construction of the proposed Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Express Line, a railway connecting the Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports via Qianhai, was changed from "being planned" to "being studied". The premier's comments came amid criticism in Hong Kong that mainland authorities were taking an increasingly influential role in the city's development plans. […] The blueprint for the first time devotes a full chapter to Hong Kong and Macau, following the Hong Kong government's presentation of survey findings that some 70 per cent of the public want the city to participate in the national plan. Carson Wen Ka-shuen, a local deputy to the NPC, said central government officials had repeatedly assured deputies in the plenary session that national planning did not mean any attempt to undermine the city's autonomy. […] Controversy over the city's autonomy intensified with the release of the "Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary" by authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Zhongshan. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan DPP chair throws in hat for election bid (Global Times)
2011-03-14
Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Taiwan's main opposition party, announced Friday that she would run during the 2012 Taiwan leader election. Tsai said in a statement titled "I Heard the Voice of Taiwan" that Taiwan needs new strategies regarding economics, society, and politics. She called on the new generation to take up the responsibilities of the future, according to a report by the Central News Agency (CAN), a Taiwan-based media group. Tsai, 54, was the second DPP heavyweight to throw her hat into the ring as a DPP flag carrier for the presidential election, scheduled for March 2012, after Lu Hsiu-lien, the former vice president of Taiwan and a member of the DPP, announced last month her candidacy for the 2012 election. The two "councilors" from Taipei, Hsu Chia-ching and Juan Chao-hsiung, will serve as the spokesmen for Tsai's upcoming election, and the team might start operations in the coming week. ^ top ^

Senior official urges more efforts to promote China's peaceful reunification (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-17
A senior official on Tuesday called on the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification to continue pushing forward the country's peaceful reunification. The council's executive deputy director, Du Qinglin, told a standing councilors' meeting that the council should increase its promoting of the central government's policies concerning Taiwan affairs, so as to boost consensus on safeguarding the country's core interests. The council should also deepen and expand exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, said Du, who is also head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. In addition, it should strengthen the force that opposes "independence" and promote reunification. Also, it should deepen its theoretical study on the subject, Du said. ^ top ^

Critics doubt luxury tax will help to narrow wealth gap in Taiwan (SCMP)
2011-03-18
With the year-end legislative election and a presidential election next March, the Taiwanese government is pushing a controversial bill that would tax housing transactions and the purchase of private jets and other luxury items. A so-called luxury tax bill aims to contain skyrocketing property prices and reduce a widening income gap. Under the bill, already approved by the cabinet and expected to be rubber-stamped by the Kuomintang-dominated legislature before it would take effect on July 1, those who sell homes not used personally or investment properties owned for less than two years would be subject to a tax of up to 15 per cent of sale price. Also, a 10 per cent special tax would apply to sales of cars, personal jets and yachts priced at over NT$3 million (HK$791,000), as well as furniture, furs, coral, ivory, tortoise shell and other products of protected species worth more than NT$500,000. If the products are manufactured by Taiwanese companies, the tax will be imposed on the companies, and if the products are imported, the importer will have to pay. The 10 per cent tax would also apply to sellers of club memberships priced at more than NT$500,000, including golf club memberships. "We hope the introduction of such a tax can help cool the overheated market and narrow the widening wealth gap," Premier Wu Den-yih said at a cabinet meeting last week to review the bill. Wu stressed the tax was consistent with the ability-to-pay principle and would not affect ordinary citizens. Political pundits said the new tax was aimed at helping the Kuomintang government and President Ma Ying-jeou regain support from the public, who are increasingly disappointed at Ma's failure to take care of the poor. [...] Government statistics show that the wealthiest 20 per cent of people in Taiwan reported an average disposable income of NT$1.79 million in 2009, more than six times that of the poorest - the largest gap since 2001. [...] The announcement of the plan did curb housing prices to some degree. Reports show many speculators lowered their asking price by at least 10 per cent to sell properties before the tax takes effect. But real estate agents said it was only a short-term trend and when speculators found ways to avoid the tax, prices would go up again. Norman Yin, professor of finance and banking at National Chengchi University, said: "For items like personal jets, yachts and cars worth over NT$3 million, avoidance of the tax can be done through registering them not only as products used abroad, but also as products owned by companies, as many rich business groups have been doing." The government must find ways to address these problems if it wanted to implement the tax, he said. "Otherwise, it will make the government a laughing stock worldwide.". ^ top ^

 

Economy

Inflation control moves to top of the agenda (SCMP)
2011-03-14
A revision by the National Development and Reform Commission to its annual planning report to the National People's Congress has promoted the fight against inflation to the top of the agenda. The changes, which require the government to put inflation above all other economic goals, are the result of pressure from lawmakers and political advisers for stronger action on the politically sensitive issue. They stand out from the largely technical or language-polishing alterations made to documents delivered to the annual session of the national legislature, including Premier Wen Jiabao's government work report, the draft of the 12th five-year plan and the budget. In a statement yesterday, the commission said it rewrote the wording in the planning document from "to put stabilising the overall price levels in a more prominent position", to "to put stabilising the overall price levels as the primary task of macro adjustment and control". The NDRC also moved curbing inflation to No1 on the charter setting out this year's main tasks, relegating the item on "economic growth" to the No2 slot, the original placing for curbing inflation, according to the release. […] Ma Jiantang, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics, said that under existing conditions, domestic price stability could be maintained, but authorities still needed to take action to keep inflation to its 4 per cent annual target. […] The prices of industrial goods were relatively stable compared to food prices, and national grain reserves, standing at more than 40 per cent of annual production, were at a relatively high level, Ma explained. Surging prices for food and housing have fuelled public frustration in recent months in a country where high levels of inflation historically have been associated with unrest. The topic also led to debate among lawmakers, delegates to the NPC, and political advisers, at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, during this year's sessions. The CPPCC closed yesterday and the NPC will close today. In his annual policy speech on March 5 to open the sessions, Wen pledged to make taming inflation a core strategy for the government this year. "We must therefore make it our top priority in macroeconomic control to keep overall price levels stable," Wen said. The government wants to contain inflation to 4 per cent this year - one percentage point higher than the 3 per cent target of recent years. […] To curb inflation, the central bank has increased benchmark interest rates three times since October and the reserve requirement ratio eight times since the beginning of last year. Also on Friday, People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan indicated more interest rate rises were on the horizon if prices remained untamed. Ma said the nation still faced inflationary pressures, with global prices for energy and commodities surging recently and liquidity in the domestic market remaining relatively high. The government needed to make a big effort to meet the inflation target, including adjusting monetary conditions, he said. ^ top ^

Progress expected on yuan convertibility (SCMP)
2011-03-14
People's Bank of China vice-governor Hu Xiaolian says she expects "major progress" on yuan convertibility over the next five years, even though no timetable has been set for achieving the goal of making the currency fully convertible. Speaking on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, Hu said Beijing was committed to the goal and that its realisation depended on progress in the next few years. […] She said the pilot programme of allowing the yuan to be used in settling cross-border trade would promote its convertibility. Demand for yuan was on the rise because the currency was getting more popular in cross-border transactions, Hu said. Beijing agreed to allow Hong Kong to pilot a programme to develop a yuan offshore market. Though Beijing ultimately controls the amount of yuan available outside the mainland, Hong Kong banks and companies are optimistic about the offshore market. Yuan deposits in Hong Kong are now over 300 billion yuan (HK$355 billion), or 6 per cent of total deposits, up from 89.7 billion yuan last June. Reflecting the small yuan deposit base in Hong Kong, interbank spot, bond and forwards markets for the yuan are just beginning to develop. But Hu pledged that Beijing would relax its restrictions on yuan business in Hong Kong. Hu would not say when the central bank would allow Hong Kong residents to exchange more than the current maximum of 20,000 yuan a day. In his government work report last Saturday, Premier Wen Jiabao said China would continue to increase the use of yuan in cross-border trade and investment this year. The central bank said earlier this month that it would expand the yuan settlement trial programme to the entire country this year from the current 20 provinces and regions due to growing demand for the business. When asked whether Beijing would support Hong Kong and Macau shifting their currency pegs from the US dollar to the yuan, another PBOC vice-governor, Yi Gang, said there would not be any change to the current Hong Kong dollar and pataca exchange rate system. But Yi said the three central banks were working to co-ordinate monetary policies to help promote the stability of the Hong Kong and Macau currencies and financial markets. Yi, director of State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said the country's foreign-exchange reserves have been diversified across assets and currencies. ^ top ^

Premier Wen: 7 percent growth still shows determination, confidence (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-17
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that China would lower its annual economic growth goal to 7 percent at the press conference after the annual session of the National People's Congress concluded on March 14. The 7 percent growth target is widely regarded as showing China's determination and confidence. It is a major step taken by the Chinese government in transforming the country's economic growth pattern during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and years to come. Then why does China set 7 percent economic growth rate as its target? First, the seven-percentage annual growth is conducive to cool down China's "overheated" economy. China has set an annual economic growth target of 8 percent for seven straight years. However, the annual actual growth has always surpassed that figure. Growth peaked at 11.4 percent in 2007 and hit 9 percent in 2008. The lowering of the target not only demonstrates Chinese government's determination but also indicates a rational mentality of transforming the country's economic pattern from quantity growth to quality development. Second, the lowering of economic growth is helpful to China's economic restructuring. The extensive economy and China's main economic growth pattern for the time being requires heavy consumption of resources, land, environment and massive amounts of cheap labor. The pressure on resources and the environment is the price China paid for the growth at the moment. Strengthening policies and measures calls for a health and sound mechanism, which cannot be done at one go. Lowering the growth rate without changing the growth pattern can give more time and space to structural adjustment and lay a solid foundation for further economic development. Third, it can also improve people's livelihoods. The government has lowered the growth target to 7 percent from the previous 7.5 percent and raised the income expectation for both urban and rural residents to above 7 percent from five percent during the Twelfth Five-Year period when compared with those set for the previous five years. Meanwhile, the government also set the target that the increase of personal incomes should be higher than the GDP growth rate. Such a move is widely regarded as a measure to improve people's livelihoods, and it shows the country's resolution to fully implement the project of raising people's living standards for all ethnic groups. China will not only bypass the "middle income trap", but also achieve the goal of making the country strong and people rich if all of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan can be fully implemented. Fourthly, lowering of economic growth can greatly ease inflationary pressure. As we all know, inflation is a by-product of rapid economic development. The price situation China is facing and going to face, namely the price increase of raw materials and resources due to changing environment and shortage of energy, rising labor cost as well as imported inflation, is still hurting China's economy. It will be the country's long-term and top task to contain the inflation so as to bring China's economy back on track. ^ top ^

Wen: Chinese and US economies 'complementary' (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-18
China's commitment to stimulating domestic consumption and encouraging technological innovation will provide "more business opportunities" for US businesses as the economies of the two countries are "complementary", said Premier Wen Jiabao. He made the remark during a meeting with US representatives participating the first US-China CEO and Former Senior Officials' Dialogue which started on Thursday. "China will adhere to an 'opening-up' policy that will create benefits for both countries, continually improving the rules and regulations relating to foreign businesses in the country," said Wen. China and the United States are each other's second-largest trading partners. During the past year, the two have been embroiled in a series of disagreements over a number of issues, including currency revaluation and the investment environment. However, the disputes will not ruin the possibility and necessity of bilateral economic cooperation. "The financial crisis does not change the fact that the economies of China and the US are complementary China is willing to strengthen cooperation and coordination with the US to cope with any divergence," said Wen. "We should discover effective means of cooperation on the issues of finance, economics and trade." [...] The two-day forum, which is being held in Beijing, is concerned with current hot topics including economic trends in China and the US, improving the investment environment, promoting technological innovation, and the development of financial industry. As part of President Hu Jintao's official US visit earlier this year, China purchased goods worth $45 billion in the fields of agriculture, telecommunications and high-technology. The country is expected to send two more large trade delegations to the US this year, which will mainly focus on the acquisition of energy-saving products. China is running a huge trade surplus with the US, with the figure accounting for the majority of China's annual trade surplus. The US trade deficit has been a source of tension between the countries, and has also provided ammunition for demands that the yuan should be allowed to rise. In 2010, the trade surplus with the US was $181.27 billion, up 26 percent from a year earlier. China initiated a strategy of promoting imports late last year to balance trade. From January to February, China's trade surplus with the US was $21.5 billion, compared with $20.9 billion a year earlier. ^ top ^

Malaysian exports under China-ASEAN FTA rise (Xinhua)
2011-03-18
Malaysian exports under the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which came into full implementation on Jan. 1, 2010, have been on the rise over the past few years. Tay Lee Looi, senior director of the FTA Policy and Negotiations Coordination Department of Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Ministry, made the remarks in Kuala Lumpur during an interview with Xinhua on Thursday.According to Tay, Malaysia's free on board (FOB) exports totaled 5.6 billion ringgit (1.84 billion U.S. dollars) under the FTA in 2007, but the amount increased to 14.25 billion ringgit (4. 67 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010. The FOB exports in 2008 and 2009 amounted to 6.33 billion ringgit (2.08 billion U.S. dollars) and 8.38 billion ringgit (2.75 billion U.S. dollars) respectively. In January 2011, the FOB exports hit 1.39 billion ringgit (455. 73 million U.S. dollars), a surge of 39 percent from one billion ringgit (327.87 million U.S. dollars) from a year ago. Tay said that the Malaysian government had made thorough considerations before accepting a free trade arrangement with China through CAFTA, adding that the agreement would do more good for the nation and the business community. The CAFTA was signed in November 2004 and entered into force in July 2005. Prior to the CAFTA, an early Harvest Program was implemented from 2004 for agricultural and selected manufactured products. Import duties for the products in the program were eliminated on Jan. 2006. The CAFTA was realized in 2010 for China and ASEAN-6 (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand) and 2015 for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The Malaysian government has been committed to implementing the open trade policy, while acknowledging the fact that tariff barriers no longer provide protection as market opening has been an ongoing process. To date, Malaysia has concluded and is implementing nine bilateral and regional FTAs. They are the ASEAN FTA, ASEAN FTAs with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. While Malaysia's bilateral FTAs with Japan, Pakistan and New Zealand have been implemented, the ones with Chile and India will follow soon.To facilitate businesses, Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed announced on Thursday the abolishment of import and export licensing requirements on 335 products (covering 57 import products and 278 export products). "Among the products are slags, dross, scalings and similar waste, of iron, steel and zinc, roofing tiles, activated clay and activating bleaching earth," said the minister. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

North Korea willing to discuss its uranium-enrichment program (Global Times)
2011-03-16
North Korea said Tuesday that it is ready to rejoin the Six-Party Talks to discuss its uranium-enrichment program. Pyongyang would return to the Six-Party Talks without preconditions, and is open to discussing its nuclear program, the official Korea Central News Agency quoted an unidentified North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson as saying. The comments followed a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Brodavkin and North Korean officials during Brodavkin's four-day visit to Pyongyang, which ended Monday. Yang Bojiang, a Northeast Asia expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that the statement would not advance the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, since Seoul is the powerbroker in the matter. "South Korea's consistent stance over the issue is to ask for apologies for the two deadly attacks from Pyongyang, as a precondition to restarting talks," Yang said. During his visit, Brodavkin urged North Korea to take several constructive steps, such as a moratorium on nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, allow access for international experts to uranium-enrichment facilities and to be willing to discuss its uranium-enrichment program, AFP reported. Yang said North Korea's remarks may simply be aimed at responding to Russia's pressure, as the country seeks more help from Russia to ease regional economic tension. Meanwhile, North Korea yesterday agreed to the repatriation of 27 of 31 of its nationals who drifted on a boat into South Korea last month, officials in Seoul announced. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

More Miat Flights To Evacuate Mongolians From Japan (UBPost)
2011-03-15
The Cabinet of Ministers held an emergency meeting on March 12 to discuss government actions in connection with the ongoing natural calamity in Japan. The Government made a decision to evacuate its citizens living in four Japanese prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate, which were hit by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami last Friday. The Government sent two separate airplanes, one of which loaded with relief supplies, to Japan and so far more than 230 Mongolians have been evacuated from Japan last two days. There were 138 passengers aboard the second airplane, including eleven young children and eleven infants. The Foreign Ministry of Mongolia together with the Mongolian Embassy in Japan has been collecting data on the Mongolian citizens who were feared trapped in the affected areas. It was also opening hotlines for the Mongolian community to contact their relatives in Japan. According to Foreign Ministry data, 4,700 Mongolians legally live in Japan, 1332 of which managed to contact with relatives to report they are safe and where they are. The Government also decided to donate US$1 million in aid and 2,500 blankets to Japan to help with disaster relief. In addition to government relief efforts, enormous relief campaign is ongoing nationwide. Organizations, companies and individuals are donating one -day salary and collecting money to help Japanese earthquake victims. ^ top ^

Rescue Team To be Sent To Japan (Montsame)
2011-03-15
In accordance with a decision of Mongolia's government, a rescue team comprising 12 servicemen from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will take part in rescuing operations and in eliminating aftermath of the natural disasters in Japan. The team is a part of the special unit of rescuing and fighting against forest and steppe fires named after Colonel-General S.Ravdan. A head of the special unit Second Lieutenant Ts.Erdenebileg is making a preparation for the mission and will chair the team. And a decision of the government, one-day salaries have donated to Japan officials of the Ministries, agencies and state administrative organizations. On Tuesday, the Deputy Premier M.Enkhbold passed these money--803 million 845 thousand togrog--to Foreign Minister G.Zandanshatar collected by agencies under Prime Minister, First Deputy Premier and Deputy Premier, by Cabinet Secretariat, officers of 11 Ministries, the city's administrative bodies and administration of all aimags. ^ top ^

New Mineral Deposit Discovered (Montsame)
2011-03-15
The Ivanhoe Mines LLC has reported that the Ivanhoe and BHP Billiton Ltd discovered a new zone of shallow copper-molybdenum-gold mineralization approximately 10 kilometers north of the Ivanhoe Mines Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mining complex currently under construction in southern Mongolia. As of today, the "Oyu tolgoi" mineral deposits are considered as the richest in gold and copper resources in the world. The "Oyu tolgoi" mineral deposits are shared by the Ivanhoe Mines LLC (66 per cent) and the government of Mongolia (34 per cent). The exploration license of the new deposit, located in a place Ulaankhad, is co-owned by the Ivanhoe and BHP Billiton Ltd. The latter has made an investment of USD 8 million to the deposit in Ulaankhand and owns 50 per cent of the shares in accordance with a cooperation contract with the Ivanhoe Mines LLC. The most of the shares of Ivanhoe MInes are owned by the Rio Tinto Group (Great Britain and Australia). According to Robert Friedland, executive director of the Ivanhoe Mines LLC, the discovered deposit covers 23 km long. Its resources are similar to those of the Oyu tolgoi, he said. In accordance with a preliminary established contract between the Ivanhoe Mines LLC and the BHP Billiton Ltd, three years are to spent for preparing for the exploiting and continuing research works. ^ top ^

British Ambassador Presents Credentials (News.mn)
2011-03-16
The new British Ambassador, Ms. Thorhilda Mary Vivia Abbott-Watt yesterday presented her credentials to President Ts.Elbegdorj. The President said relations between Mongolia and the UK were entering a new stage of pragmatic priorities, with foreign companies showing interest in investing in Mongolia's mineral resources. He hoped economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will grow further and hoped more Mongolian students will study in the UK in the future. The London Stock Exchange has agreed to help restructure the Mongolian Stock Exchange. ^ top ^

Parliament Speaker in France (Montsame)
2011-03-16
Paying a visit to France, the Parliament Speaker D.Demberel has met with Pierre Lellouche, the secretary of state for the Foreign Trade under the Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry. Mr. Lellouche has expressed a satisfaction with the visit of Mongolian Speaker. Mentioning that the bilateral relations are not widening in all possible opportunities despite the good ties, Mr. Lellouche has hoped that this visit will give impetus to development of the relations. He has asked about an opportunity to boost a collaboration apart of the cooperation between the “Mon-Atom” company and “Areva” Group. The Speaker has expressed a willingness to study experiences of France in exploiting mineral resources and in agricultural sector and to cooperate in these sectors. He has said Mongolia will be able to export agricultural eco-products when the standards of the EU are introduced, and hoped that France will give a special attention to establishing EU's representative in Ulaanbaatar. Mr. Lellouche has backed it. After the meeting, D.Demberel met with Mr. Bernard Accoyer, the president of the National Assembly of France. They have agreed to contribute to forwarding the Mongolia-France relations with a support of the parliaments. Mr. Accoyer has expressed a satisfaction with France's being one of the “Third Neighbors” of Mongolia. The Speaker has mentioned that a historical importance of book on Great Mongolian State written by William of Rubruck is still existing. He has underlined that the parliamentary friendship groups directly influence the bilateral relations, adding the two countries have an opportunity to widen the cooperation in industry of agricultural sector apart of the mining sector. ^ 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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