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
  21-25.3.11, No. 363  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China expresses regret for military strike against Libya (Xinhua)
2011-03-21
China's Foreign Ministry on Sunday expressed regret over the multinational military strike against Libya, saying that it did not agree with resorting to force in international relations. "China has noticed the latest development in Libya and regrets the military strike against Libya," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. China, as it always, does not agree with the use of force in international relations, Jiang said, when asked to comment on the strike carried out by multinational forces early Sunday. China believes that the tenet and principles of the United Nations Charter and relevant international laws should be adhered to, and Libya's sovereignty, independence, unification and territory integrity should be respected, she said. "We hope stability could be restored in Libya as soon as possible so as to avoid more civilian casualties caused by the escalation of military conflicts," she said. ^ top ^

5th Japan-China-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Kyoto (Global Times)
2011-03-21
The foreign ministers of Japan, China and South Korea Saturday discussed, among others, the disaster management, in the meeting in a bid to boost their cooperation in responding to disasters in the region. Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan agreed to enhance the trilateral cooperation to better respond to major disasters and ensure the safety of atomic power. Disaster management and the safety of nuclear power generation, among others, were on the top agenda in the meeting after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last week and damaged a nuclear power station in Fukushima Prefecture, where radioactive materials have leaked. Prior to the meeting, officials from three countries stood in silent tribute to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Chinese and South Korean foreign ministers offered condolences to Japan, saying that they are willing to extend maximum support to cooperate with Japan in the relief operations and reconstruction work. Matsumoto expressed gratitude for the dispatch of relief teams and supplies by China and South Korea following the massive earthquake. The foreign ministers also exchanged views on issues of promoting cooperation among China, Japan, and the ROK, preparations for the Fourth China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, East Asia cooperation, Northeast Asia situation and other regional and international affairs. Yang said that the China-Japan-ROK cooperation is an important part of East Asian cooperation and promoting the friendly relationship among the three is in line with the common interest of the three countries. China, Japan and ROK should continue to build strategic mutual trust, good neighborly and friendly relations, promote cooperation in disaster management and other in-depth mutual beneficial cooperation, expand social and cultural exchanges, and build efficient cooperation mechanism, said Yang. China will join hands with Japan and ROK and make good preparations to ensure the fruitfulness of the Fourth China-Japan- ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting, Yang added. Matsumoto and Kim said that the cooperation among China, Japan and ROK will help achieve stability and prosperity in East Asia and the rest of the world. The three foreign ministers also discussed the cooperation in politics, economy, society, culture and other international affairs and said they will work together to promote the fruitful cooperation and open up new fields and new ways in cooperation. The foreign ministers decided to hold the 6th Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Meeting in China next year. ^ top ^

China says IAEA should play bigger role in emergency response to nuclear crisis (Xinhua)
2011-03-22
China on Monday said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should play a bigger role in emergency response to nuclear crisis. The international community has high expectations that IAEA will play a positive role in helping Japan overcome the nuclear crisis as soon as possible, said Huang Wei, China's deputy envoy to the agency. […] Huang told a special meeting of the IAEA board of governors that the nuclear accident at Fukushima No.1 plant is a matter of grave concern and worry to the international community. He noted the Chinese government has been following developments very closely and hopes to be informed in a timely and accurate fashion of developments relating to rescue and relief operations. Huang pointed out that in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami, China swiftly sent out a rescue team to Japan and provided large quantities of humanitarian relief material. "China is prepared to work alongside other member states, actively participate in relevant work led by the agency," he added. ^ top ^

China calls for immediate ceasefire in Libya (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-23
China Tuesday warned of an impending "humanitarian disaster" in Libya and called for an immediate ceasefire in the oil-rich North African state where the US and European powers have launched a four-day air assault. All parties must "immediately cease fire and resolve issues through peaceful means," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing. "The original intent of the UN Security Council resolution was to protect the safety of all Libyan people. We oppose the indiscriminate use of armed force there, causing even more civilian casualties and more humanitarian disasters now," the spokeswoman said. "The future of Libya should be decided by the Libyan people themselves," Jiang said. Meanwhile, Heavy anti-aircraft fire and loud explosions sounded in Tripoli after nightfall Tuesday, and US military warned Tuesday it was "considering all options" in response to dire conditions in Libya. U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Washington is "days away "from turning over command of the air strikes on Libya to its European allies. However, how that will be accomplished remains unclear. Obama spoke Tuesday with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in hopes of quickly resolving the squabble over the transition of the war command power. "When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone. It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo. That's precisely what the other nations are going to do," Obama said at a news conference in El Salvador as he neared the end of a Latin American trip overshadowed by events in Libya. Gadhafi, meanwhile, made his first public appearance in a week, promising enthusiastic supporters at his residential compound in Tripoli, "In the short term, we'll beat them, in the long term, we'll beat them." […] Obama said he has "absolutely no doubt" that a non-U.S. command entity could run the military operation, codenamed "Odyssey Dawn", although the most obvious candidate - the NATO alliance - has yet to sort out a political agreement. Obama said NATO was meeting to "work out some of the mechanisms.". ^ top ^

Chinese, Russian top diplomats call on West to restrain in air strikes against Libya (Xinhua)
2011-03-25
China is deeply concerned about the situation in Libya and urged the Western forces to prevent more civilian deaths in the North African country, the visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov here Thursday.China has always emphasized the priority to protect the civilians in Libya, and China opposes any military actions that would cause more civilian casualties or humanitarian disaster there, said Zhang.The Western coalition forces must comply with international law while conducting military operation against Libya, the Chinese diplomat stressed. He also said China supports the policy to solve Libya crisis through dialogues. Lavrov agreed that Western forces' military operation in Libya shouldn't overstep the framework of UN Security Council resolution, and Russia also called on the West to keep restraint and to protect the civilians. The two also exchanged opinions on development of Sino-Russian relationships, pledging to enhance cooperation and push forward the bilateral ties. The Chinese vice foreign minister also met with Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of Russian State Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, on Thursday. They exchanged views on bilateral ties and world situations. ^ top ^

China willing to deepen strategic partnership with Portugal: FM (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-25
China is willing to make joint efforts with Portugal to advance and deepen the China-Portugal comprehensive strategic partnership, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday.

"In recent years, China and Portugal have maintained good cooperative relations," Jiang said at a regular press briefing. "We appreciate the importance Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates has attached to developing Portugal-China relations and the efforts he has made to enhance the communication and cooperation between the two countries," Jiang said, when asked to comment on Socrates' resignation. Socrates announced Wednesday that he was stepping down from his post and that the country would hold new parliamentary elections. The decision was made after the parliament rejected the fourth Stability and Growth Pact measures. ^ top ^

Second phase of EU-China Trade Project kicks off in Beijing (Xinhua)
2011-03-25
China and the European Union (EU) launched the second phase of the EU-China Trade Project (EUCTP) in Beijing on Thursday, promising deeper trade cooperation between the two sides. According to the second phase of the EUCTP, China and the EU would strengthen trade-related cooperation in the service sector, technological trade barrier, agriculture and food safety, and supervision of the Customs. China's commerce minister Chen Deming said at the launch ceremony that the successful implementation of the first phase of the EUCTP had helped raise China's capabilities in dealing with trade-related affairs and deepened China-EU trade relations. EU-China trade has increased dramatically in recent years. China is now the EU's second-largest trading partner and the second largest export market, and the EU is China's largest trading partner and export market. The EU-China Trade Project (EUCTP) is the third major EU-China trade related technical assistance project since 2000. The EUCTP was first launched in 2004 by the European Commission and the Chinese government. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China displays a bold face to world (SCMP)
2011-03-21
In the past few weeks, the world has witnessed a more confident and decisive China, evidenced by its large-scale operations to protect its citizens abroad, from the evacuation of 35,860 workers from strife-torn Libya three weeks ago, to the withdrawal of thousands of Chinese nationals from the worst-hit disaster zones in Japan last week […] Days earlier, senior industry officials had insisted that China's ambitious nuclear power programme would not change despite mounting public concerns. These moves, sometimes completed way ahead of those by most other nations, would surely help improve China's international image at a time when many foreigners were concerned about its economic rise and ambitions, analysts said. The prompt evacuation also aims to rally popular support for China's political system, which also faces widespread discontent over corruption and widening income gaps. Chartered airliners have been busy carrying more Chinese nationals home from Japan after being gathered by embassy staff working virtually round the clock. […] One Western observer said the prompt, orderly evacuation of nearly 40,000 Chinese from Libya was "a masterful demonstration that China had entered the big leagues as far as global logistics are concerned". […] With its rising economic strength, the government can be expected to play a more active part in international affairs, other analysts said. They said that because of its thirst for energy and raw materials to fuel economic growth, Beijing was investing billions of US dollars each year, often in troubled foreign countries. As a result, the mainland is forced to become more proactive in protecting its interests and investments. […] The glare of the traditional media and internet users has forced mainland leaders to try to be responsive in order to enhance their legitimacy and credibility. But Beijing learned this lesson the hard way. In 2003, as President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were coming to power, the country was caught by severe acute respiratory syndrome. To ease international and domestic concerns, they sacked two ministerial-level officials for withholding vital information and reacting poorly. Since then, the leadership has started to build up its crisis management system. China has been hit by all kinds of disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and food scares. The leaders have learned to be more responsive and open, said Tom Melcher, a China-based entrepreneur. But Wang of Peking University said it still remained an open question whether such impressive crisis management would become standard or just reflected the priorities of the government under Hu and Wen, who will leave office in two years. ^ top ^

China to improve 'economic designing' for reform (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-21
Beijing has vowed to do a better job in choreographing reform plans at the central level to strengthen China's manufacturing power and international competitiveness. Li Keqiang, China's first deputy prime minister, and Zhang Ping, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission, told China's Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday that the Central Government in Beijing will do more in designing a detailed and practicable scenario for economic restructuring that fits the country's conditions and upgrades its technological level of the enterprises. Analysts have predicted that China has pinned hope on working on a carefully charted reform roadmap to shorten the distance of China's manufacturing and research and development of its firms with their world peers, and bring China's manufacturing to a higher ladder to compete with the advanced countries. For an example, the country will spend more on nurturing high-tech industries including new energies, like wind turbines, and jumbo planes, new-generation telecommunication equipments and new medicines and chemicals. For that purpose, the government has planned to spend 15 percent more on education. It will also increase investment on social security and building budget homes this year to improve the daily lives of its people, Finance Minister Xie Xuren said. The country will continue its proactive fiscal policy and push tax reform to ease the financial burden of low-income earners, Xie said during the China Development Forum 2011 held in Beijing yesterday. The central government's budget for education, health care, social security, employment, budget homes and culture will total 1.05 trillion yuan (US$160 billion) this year, an annual rise of 18.1 percent, according to Xie. […] The central government's budget totaled 5.436 trillion yuan this year, a rise of 12.5 percent from last year's. China will continue with its proactive fiscal and sound monetary policy and also encourage tax reform, Xie said. The State Council, or Cabinet, may raise the minimum income threshold for personal income tax and adjust tax rates, although it didn't reveal an official timetable for the changes or details. Recent media reports said the minimum threshold may be raised to 3,000 yuan or even more from 2,000 yuan. "It's a long-term national strategy to lift domestic consumption," Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission said at the forum. ^ top ^

Wen vows to fight 'cancer' of official corruption (SCMP)
2011-03-22
Premier Wen Jiabao, speaking to a group of foreign executives in Beijing yesterday, pledged to fight official corruption, saying it "poses the biggest threat" to the country and comparing it to "cancer cells" […] Wen said political reform was necessary to combat graft, echoing his remarks last week after the closing of the National People's Congress' annual plenum. During the plenum, NPC chairman Wu Bangguo ruled out political reform and said Western-style democracy would undermine stability. Foreign business executives, including HSBC Holdings chief executive officer Stuart Gulliver, are in Beijing for an annual meeting with central government leaders called the China Development Forum. Wen said urgent steps were needed to narrow the nation's trade imbalance with the United States. The world's second-biggest economy posted a trade surplus of US$183 billion last year, dropping for the second straight year, according to government data. Almost all of China's trade surplus came from bilateral trade with the US, Wen said. Wen said the US should foster Chinese investment in its economy and relax restrictions on American exports to China as part of efforts to address the trade imbalance. The premier said he made the same suggestions to US President Barack Obama in September 2009. "But that has not happened," Wen said. "We hope the US will further ease its restrictions on market access." Wen also expressed shock at rising oil prices and blamed loose monetary policies by "some countries" as well as political unrest in the Middle East for the increases. […] Chinese leaders have cited a loose US monetary policy for the rise in global commodity prices, saying it has fuelled inflation in China and led to a 4.9 per cent rise in the nation's consumer price index in February. World oil prices rallied yesterday after Western air strikes were launched on Libya at the weekend. Wen said he felt optimistic about the economy of the US, Europe and the whole world. It would not take long for the US to "get back on the track of a strong recovery", he said. Domestically, Wen said he paid most attention to inflation. The government needed to strike a balance between a sufficient pace of economic growth that generated jobs and also managing consumer price increases. Wen also said China's banks now faced new challenges, including the risk of new non-performing loans after the country successfully reduced bad debts in the banking sector over the past decade. ^ top ^

Google accuses Beijing of secret Gmail blockade (SCMP)
2011-03-22
Google has accused Beijing of using a sophisticated ploy to interfere with its e-mail service, after several weeks of complaints by mainland internet users about difficulties accessing their Gmail accounts. […] Google and mainland technical experts said that instead of completely blocking the Gmail service, which would lead to an outcry both at home and abroad, Beijing had partially blocked access, leaving users with the impression that Google services were unreliable. The strategy had fooled almost everybody, from hackers to Google engineers, said Google. And many mainland Google users had little choice but to drop Gmail as their primary e-mail service. The secret blockade was allegedly set up early this month, coinciding with mysterious online calls for so-called "jasmine rallies" in mainland cities each Sunday afternoon. The campaign, inspired by uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, has led to an intensified crackdown on internet content and tight security at designated protest sites. On March 11, Google said in its official blog that the company had "noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target." Although Google did not reveal technical details of the alleged blocking method, a leading information technology expert on the mainland believes he has managed to work out how the service has been disrupted. As user complaints about access problems trickled in, the first thing Google engineers did was to see whether it was Google's own problem. Some users could gain access occasionally and, from a technical point of view, it seemed like a traffic overload or bandwidth squeeze, something that happens when signals travels through thousands of kilometres of cable. […] An enormous turnout of police and secret service agents ensured the rallied never happened. This is not the first time that Google has complained of interference from the central government. In January last year, the US web giant said it suffered cyber-attacks from mainland-based parties apparently intent on hacking into the Gmail accounts of Chinese rights activists. The resulting row caused tensions to rise between Beijing and Washington and ended with Google reducing its presence in the mainland market. ^ top ^

Retirement age will be pushed back: minister (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-22
China's top labor official said the country is planning to push back the age at which workers can retire. Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, did not put a timetable on the move when he spoke about it during a forum at the weekend. […] He noted that hikes in the retirement age have been brought in by many countries and can be a good way to deal with an aging population and ensure the healthy and stable development of social security. The life expectancy of Chinese people is now 73 years and is expected to rise to 74 during the next five years, he said. Nearly three out of 10 Chinese people will be older than 60 by 2040, according to a United Nations forecast. The retirement age in China currently is 60 for men and 55 for female civil servants and 50 for female workers. The idea of delaying the retirement age is being widely supported by government officials. Despite the fact that government officials have good access to social security benefits and pensions, many favor continuing to work because of their comparatively light workloads and good rates of pay compared to private sector workers. Many laborers and non-government employees were less enthusiastic about the prospect of working for longer. Currently, they have to pay into their pension plans for at least 15 years before they can retire. […] University graduates also fear that any rise in the retirement age could limit their employment opportunities. […] For example, an employee could negotiate with his or her company about whether to retire or continue working after he or she reaches retirement age, she said. Government officials could have their retirement age lifted across the board while male and female officials could be asked to retire at the same age, Yang suggested. ^ top ^

China improves openness to nuclear data to defuse public fears (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-23
To monitor whether there is radiation from Japan, Zheng Wentong has stayed for a week in Laoheishan Town, a remote town in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province near the China-Russia border. The town, located in Dongning County, is the nearest spot in the province to quake-hit Japan. After the nuclear leak at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima, Zheng reported the radiation status every three hours to the provincial capital Harbin, based upon the data received from a high-pressure ionization chamber placed outdoors […] By Tuesday, eleven days after the catastrophe in Japan, China' s environmental protection ministry had released radiation monitoring information at least 15 times to demonstrate that there is no immediate threat from radioactive leaks. The intensive information was disclosed after radiation concerns caused fears and public panic. People flooded into groceries, stores and supermarkets to buy salt, assuming that the iodine contained in the salt would help shield them from radioactivity. The situation eased after the government ordered the securing of salt supplies and as experts confirmed that salt was almost useless to counter radiation. […] Agricultural and sideline products, such as rice and edible oil, was in high demand in some regions. Rumors like "radiation-contained rain" are also spreading through the Internet. In fact, according to the State Oceanic Administration, the samples from the Yellow Sea coast show no abnormal radiation so far. Xia Yihua, a researcher with the China Institute of Atomic Energy, said that the public had little access to nuclear knowledge and people are eager to acquire authentic information through authoritative channels. […] Environmental protection authorities required monitoring stations to keep a closer watch on radiation data and report every three hours, instead of twice a day. On Monday, the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau released environmental protection data on the city from March 12 to 20 and announced that it would continue to disclose the data in the future. […] Chai Guohan, a researcher with the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Center operated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said that the preciseness and openness of nuclear information was helpful to dispel public panic. […]. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese leader calls for promoting cultural development through improved technology (Xinhua)
2011-03-23
Senior Chinese leader Li Changchun on Wednesday called for promoting the Chinese cultural development through advanced technologies such as digital media and the Internet. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks during his visit to the China Content Broadcasting Network (CCBN), which debuted on Wednesday at the China International Exhibition Center. Reviewing some new technological achievements in the TV and broadcasting sectors, Li urged companies to strengthen independent technological innovations to further adapt China's radio and TV communications technology to the digital and Internet age. Li also called for more efforts to boost the integration of telecommunications networks, cable TV networks and the Internet, in a bid to help promote the competitiveness of Chinese culture. Enterprises in the cultural sector should promote the technical element in their products through improved equipment and proprietary intellectual property rights of key technologies, Li said. The CCBN exhibition is sponsored by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Nearly 1,000 exhibitors from over 30 countries and regions attended the exhibition. ^ top ^

Chinese inspectors to intensify inspections against unlawful land expropriation (Xinhua)
2011-03-25
China's inspection and supervision authorities will step up checking unlawful and forced land expropriations and house demolitions, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The commission has ordered greater efforts to target house demolitions cases in which the supply of water, heating, gas, power and road links are cut to force homeowners to move, said the commission in a statement to Xinhua on Thursday. Local inspection and supervision organs were also asked to strengthen the fight against forced land expropriation that involves practices of violence and threats, the statement added. The commission said that inspection efforts should be put in place to ensure that house demolitions and expropriations are processed legally and that compensation is distributed fairly to homeowners, especially those in rural areas. It further said the country's house expropriation regulations, which were unveiled in January this year, should be fully implemented. Local government agencies should be urged to handle legitimate petitions from the public in a serious way. The departments should also process land expropriations only after gaining support from local residents. If illegal police participation is discovered in house demolitions, or violent or unexpected incidents occurred because of dereliction of duty of authorities, officials involved will be held to account, according to the statement. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibetans worldwide vote for new leader to continue the resistance (SCMP)
2011-03-21
Tibetans across the world began voting yesterday for a new leader to take up the resistance against Chinese rule over their Himalayan homeland, as the Tibetan parliament-in-exile debated how to handle the Dalai Lama's resignation from politics. Hundreds of monks joined Tibetan students, housewives, businesspeople and the elderly in lining up in the courtyard of the Tsuglakhang Temple in India's northern city of Dharamsala, where the exiled government is based, to cast their votes in a cheerful and festive atmosphere. Despite pleas from the Tibetan community in exile that the Dalai Lama stay on as head of government, the Buddhist spiritual leader is adamant that an elected prime minister should take over. The shift in power marks a major change for the Tibetan community, which for decades has looked to the Dalai Lama for both spiritual and political guidance against the heavy-handed rule of communist authorities in Tibet. The parliament-in-exile was discussing constitutional changes to enact the change and free the 76-year-old Nobel Peace laureate to focus on spiritual matters. […] The Dalai Lama - vilified by China as a political schemer - has never fully explained his decision to resign, which he announced on the March 10 anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule over Tibet that sent him into exile. But he has suggested negotiations with Beijing might be less complicated under another Tibetan figurehead, and that the idea that leaders should be elected and representative is correct. Successive rounds of talks between Chinese officials and representatives of the Buddhist leader have made no apparent progress toward bringing the sides together, as Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China, despite his claims to be working only for a high degree of autonomy under Chinese rule. Yesterday, some 85,000 registered Tibetans in exile - 11,000 of them in Dharamsala - were choosing a new prime minister among three candidates, as well as some new parliament members. Election results are likely to be announced on April 27. […] Earlier yesterday, when Sengey walked up to the temple to cast his ballot, the crowd cheered and children jostled to shake his hand and take his photograph. If he won, he said, he and his family would move to Dharamsala from their US home outside Boston, Massachusetts. Regardless, he would still consider the Dalai Lama his leader. […] The Dalai Lama will maintain his position as spiritual leader until his death, when a new Dalai Lama would be found. Beijing insists the reincarnation must be found in China's Tibetan areas, and has made it clear that it intends to have the final say. ^ top ^

Tibet to spend 490 mln yuan on rural bilingual preschool education (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-22
In 2011, Tibet Autonomous Region will earmark altogether 490 million yuan for the bilingual preschool education in rural areas, according to source from the regional education department. The region will use the fund to build 134 new rural bilingual kindergartens, and renovate and expand another 20 ones in the rural area. The overall planned area reaches up to 204,000 square kilometers, with various supporting facilities to be constructed. All the kindergartens of the region will accommodate 510,000 local kids by the end of this year. ^ top ^

Chinese Tibetologist doubts if Dalai Lama can really 'retire' (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-25
A Chinese Tibetologist Wednesday expressed the doubt if the 14th Dalai Lama can really "retire" from his political role like what he had openly claimed. "It is natural for the 76-year-old man to retire from work but I do not understand from what position the Dalai Lama will retire and how he will do to realize it," Prof. Du Yongbin, with the China Tibetology Research Center, told a group of journalists at a seminar organized by the All-China Journalists Association, The 14th Dalai Lama has a dual identity, both political and religious, but he does not hold any official position at the so-called Tibetan "government-in-exile", Du said. "And by no means he will retire from being the Dalai Lama," he added. The Dalai Lama announced in mid March that he would give up his political role in the Tibetan "government-in-exile" and shift that power to an "elected leader." His claim soon was shrugged off in China as a "trick" and "political show" with attempts to arouse the attention of the international community and mould public opinion. "Judging from his announcement, we can easily observe that in the past years the Dalai Lama and his followers had followed the old theocratic way despite claimed efforts to transform their group into a secular and democratic one," he said. "His resign announcement can be regarded as an attempt to give up his political role but I doubt if it will be easily realized," Du said. Du said he would not rush to make the conclusion but would follow the future development. When asked what would happen if the aging Dalai Lama passes away, Du noted that the Tibet issue would not have a quick solution with or without the 14th Dalai Lama. "For so many years, all related sides have been working to find a solution to the Tibet issue while the Dalai Lama is alive. And they have not got one," he said. "I don't think they would easily find one after he passes away." The Dalai Lama's claim to build a "greater Tibet" is a major obstacle because the Chinese people, including Tibetans, do not agree with it, Du said. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

China's Urumqi aims to attract 10 million tourists this year (Xinhua)
2011-03-23
China's northwestern city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, aims to attract 10 million tourists this year as the ethnically diverse city recovers from the deadly riot two years ago. Director of Urumqi's tourism bureau, Shewketi Tursun, said Tuesday that the government expects 7.5 billion yuan (1.15 billion U.S. dollars) of revenue from tourism and tourist shopping this year, up from 6.37 billion yuan in 2010. Tursun said the regional government hopes to achieve that goal by intensifying promotion efforts in cities across the country and by regulating the tourism sector, mostly through curbing price speculation and false advertisements. Urumqi is a town along the ancient Silk Road, located on the verge of northwest China's sprawling desert with a population of over 2 million. With air links to major Chinese and central Asian cities, Urumqi serves as a jumping-off point for back-packers on their way to Xinjiang's idyllic pastures and mountain villages. Urumqi, with a fairly large presence of the ethnic Uygurs, also features a number of ethnic cultural sights of interests. The city's tourism plunged to its lowest point in decades after the riot on July 5, 2009, which left 197 people dead. Authorities blame overseas separatists for instigating the riot. Official figures show that tourism slowly recovered last year with the number of tourists rising 15 percent year-on-year to reach 7.82 million in 2010. ^ top ^

7 Uygur robbers and murderers to be executed (SCMP)
2011-03-24
The central authorities have approved the execution of seven Uygurs who allegedly robbed and murdered nine people in the southern Xinjiang city of Kashgar late last year, according to a local media report. The official Xinjiang Daily reported that the Supreme People's Court had recently upheld the death sentences pronounced earlier by the Kashgar Intermediate People's Court. They were apparently all ethnic Uygurs, based on their Chinese translated names, and could be executed any time. The top court expressed its approval after it endorsed the capital punishments of four other Uygur men late last month. […] All members of the group were arrested. Apart from the seven awaiting execution, three received the death penalty with a two-year reprieve, one got life imprisonment and one 20 years in jail. The newspaper labelled them as criminals involved in terrorist activities, but gave no details apart from the crimes it listed in the report. In another development, exiled Uygur activist Rebiya Kadeer said while visiting Australia that China was reacting to popular uprisings against governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya by cracking down on its Uygur minority. […]

She said China had responded with a security crackdown that made the western cities of Kashgar and Urumqi resemble war zones, with soldiers searching homes and rounding up members of her Turkic-speaking Muslim minority. The restive region of Xinjiang has long been plagued by ethnic issues, particularly after massive clashes broke out between the Han Chinese and the Uygurs in Urumqi in July 2009 that left nearly 200 people dead and thousands injured. In an apparent attempt to ensure stability in the Uygur-dominant region, Beijing replaced the hard-line top party official in Xinjiang, Wang Lequan, with a more open-minded and media-savvy cadre, Zhang Chunxian. It also poured in huge amounts of resources to boost the once sluggish economy and sent more prosecutors to deal with complicated criminal cases, usually related to ethnic conflicts. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

HK, US block food from Japan as fears rise (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-24
China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, have ordered a ban in imports of food from the area of Japan where the most disastrous radiation leakage in 25 years is happening. Hong Kong will ban dairy products, vegetables and fruit from Japan's Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma and Fukushima prefectures from today, after excessive radiation elements have been detected in three vegetable samples there. Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Clement Leung said all dairy products, vegetables and fruit harvested or produced in the five Japanese prefectures could not enter Hong Kong unless they were certified by the Japanese government as safe. Meanwhile, relevant authorities in Beijing in charge of food safety said that China's mainland will also step up screening of food, including fruits and sea products, from Japan. Those found to be polluted by radiation will be barred from sale. And, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday it will halt imports of dairy products and produce from the area of Japan where the tsunami-crippled nuclear reactors is leaking radiation. The FDA said those foods will be detained at entry and will not be sold to American public. Other foods imported from Japan, including seafood, still will be sold to the public but screened first for radiation, FDA officials said Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has been leaking radiation after it was damaged in a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The sea near the nuclear plant has shown elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium, prompting the government to test seafood. Japanese foods make up less than 4 percent of all U.S. imports, and the FDA said it expects no risk to the U.S. food supply from radiation. The World Health Organization said this week that Japan should act quickly to ensure that no contaminated foods are sold at home and abroad. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Mainland chief negotiator calls for enhanced cross-Strait exchanges (Xinhua)
2011-03-22
Chen Yunlin, the Chinese mainland's chief negotiator with Taiwan, called for enhanced exchanges between the two sides when he met with a politician from the island on Monday. During a meeting with former Kaohsiung county chief Yang Chiu-hsing, Chen, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), said enhancing exchanges between various sectors between the two sides is important for the peaceful development of cross-Strait ties. The ARATS would continue to promote exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan, including its southern region, to help ordinary people on the island benefit from the improving cross-Strait relations, he said. Yang said the island's southern region lags behind the north in economic development, but the southern region still has unique advantages in farming products and tourism, which means potentials in exporting more agricultural products to the mainland while attracting more mainland tourists. He hoped the mainland could step up cooperation with the south. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China needs foreign firms in economic transformation: commerce minister (Global Times)
2011-03-21
China's commerce minister said on Sunday that foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have a more active role to play in the process of China's economic transformation. "China's efforts to transform its economic development model and expand domestic demand are not closed to FIEs, rather, we need FIEs to play a more active role," said Chen Deming, China' s commerce minister. It is only for fair market competition that China has rescinded some preferential policies for FIEs and set a uniform taxation rate for domestic firms and FIEs, said Chen during the 12th China Development Forum. "The policies designed to encourage innovation in China are applicable to all enterprises running business in China, including the FIEs," he said. China's publication in early March of the rules governing foreign takeovers of Chinese companies was in line with international standards and would result in no additional administrative procedures, he said. "In government procurement, the Chinese government would continue to follow an open and transparent policy to grant completely equal treatment to Chinese and foreign firms," said Chen. Chen also called upon some countries to offer Chinese enterprises equal market access and protect their legitimate interest and rights. ^ top ^

Support agriculture to 'curb inflation' (China Daily)
2011-03-21
China's Finance Ministry has said that it plans to increase support for agriculture this year as part of the government's general effort to put a halt to growing commodity prices. Xie Xuren, the finance minister, made the remark at the 12th China Development Forum in Beijing on Sunday, where he told the gathering that fiscal measures could play a major role in the fight against inflation. But economists and industry analysts have pointed out that the recent earthquake in Japan and the military strikes in Libya could make it more difficult for China to control inflation. […] The government has pointed to inflation as the major economic threat, with the consumer price index growing about 5 percent a month in the past quarter. On March 18, the central bank announced an increase in the reserve requirement ratio by 50 basis points to soak up liquidity in the market. That is the third hike this year. The new ratio will take effect on March 25. […] But, Fan said, the recent Japanese earthquake could still bring some uncertainties to the fight against growing commodity prices, because many countries' rethinking of their nuclear plans may boost up prices of agricultural products and oil in the global market. China said last week that it will suspend approvals for new nuclear power stations and take another look at all nuclear projects, including those under construction. Michael Spence, a professor of economics at Stanford University in the United States, told China Daily on Sunday that if many countries abandon their nuclear plans and start using grain for bio-fuel, global food prices could spike over the long run. The most immediate impact on world commodity prices could come from the military strikes on Libya, which could disrupt oil production in the Middle East and push up oil prices, Spence added. Fan also pointed out that China may have to accelerate the pace of appreciation in the yuan to offset rising prices on the global market. A "moderate" appreciation could essentially curb China's growing food prices, he noted. ^ top ^

China's Jan-Feb ODI up 13.1% (China Daily)
2011-03-23
China's outbound direct investment (ODI) in the non-financial sector saw an increase of 13.1 percent year-on-year to $5.27 billion in the first two months, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced Tuesday. During the January-February period, Chinese entrepreneurs invested in 680 overseas enterprises in 88 countries and regions,said Yao Jian, spokesman for the ministry. MOC figures show that China's outbound direct investment in the non-financial sector had amounted to $264 billion by the end of Feburary 2011. China's ODI in the non-financial sector hit $59 billion in 2010, up 36.3 percent year-on-year, which equals to 60 percent of the foreign direct investment China attracted. "In the next five to 10 years, China will gradually strike a balance on the capital flow," said Chen Deming,the Minister of Commerce, at a forum held in Beijing last weekend. ^ top ^

China's overseas direct investment 'set to grow' despite setbacks (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-23
China's overseas direct investment (ODI) is on a long-term upward trend despite a recent slowdown, partially due to political unrest in some African countries, Yao Jian, Ministry of Commerce spokesman, said on Tuesday. The political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt and the Libyan situation have taken a toll but China's ODI will surpass foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country in the next five to 10 years, he said. Chinese companies invested in 680 overseas enterprises in the first two months of 2011, with investment growing by 13.1 percent from a year earlier to $5.27 billion, the ministry announced on Tuesday. "It is true that political turmoil overseas could exert a negative impact on Chinese investment, but we are confident that China's ODI will grow in the long run thanks to the rising competitiveness of Chinese companies," Yao said at a monthly news briefing. China's commitment to transform its economic development pattern to focus on innovation and green technology is also a plus, he added. Domestic businesses have suffered setbacks in Africa, the prime destination for China's international projects. Ministry statistics showed that the value of newly contracted projects in north Africa and the Middle East decreased by 53.2 percent year-on-year to $3.47 billion from January to February, with declines of 45.3 percent in Libya, 97.1 percent in Algeria and 54.2 percent in the United Arab Emirates. A ministry official, who declined to be named, said China will cease investment in Libya, at least for the short term, after the evacuation of Chinese nationals. Echoing the ministry, some experts said short-term political chaos in some countries will not prevent future overseas investment and that prospects generally were good. […] In 2009, China became the world's fifth largest ODI investor, rising from 12th in 2008. In 2010, China's ODI surged 36.3 percent to $59 billion, while its FDI rose 17.4 percent to $105.7 billion. […] By the end of 2010, China's foreign reserves amounted to a record $2.9 trillion, an 18.7 percent increase year-on-year. The amount accounts for about 30 percent of total worldwide reserves. Overseas investment targets a wide range of sectors, including finance, mining, manufacturing and retail, and experts predict a greater focus on mining, and more interest in energy.Upgrading innovation capabilities and reducing energy consumption are key parts of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). ^ top ^

Chinese GDP share of the world's total jumps to 9.5 pct: NBS (Xinhua)
2011-03-25
China's gross domestic product (GDP) accounted for 9.5 percent of the world's total in 2010, nearly double the five percent in 2005, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday.China's GDP ranked the second in the world in 2010, up from the fifth in 2005, the NBS said in a statement on its website.The NBS also said that China's 2010 GDP was equal to 40.2 percent of the figure of the United States, which is up from 2005's 17.9 percent.However, the per capita GDP of China still lagged behind most of the countries, said the NBS.Citing an estimate of the World Bank, the NBS said China's per capita gross national income (GNI) reached 3,650 U.S. dollars in 2009, lower than 124 other countries. In 2005, 127 countries had higher per capita GNI than China.However, China's per capita GNI share of the world average jumped from 24.8 percent in 2005 to 41.8 percent in 2009, said the World Bank report.In the meantime, China's overseas direct investment (ODI) in 2010 reached 59 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 380 percent from that of 2005, the NBS said.Jumping from the world's 18th in 2005 to the fifth in 2009, China's ODI accounted for 5.1 percent of the world's total, up from the 1.4 percent in 2005, said the NBS. ^ top ^

China to impose rare earth tax from April 1 (Xinhua)
2011-03-25
China will impose a tax on rare earth minerals starting April 1, according to a statement issued jointly by the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation to rare earth producers. Zhang Zhong, general manager of Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Co, the country's leading rare earth producer, confirmed Thursday that the company had received the statement. According to the statement, the tax rate of mined light rare earths is 60 yuan ($9.1) per tonne, while that of medium and heavy rare earths is set at 30 yuan per tonne. Zhang said the tax would increase the company's production costs by about 720 million yuan this year. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK urges S. Korea to halt psychological warfare (People's Daily Online)
2011-03-24
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) military on Wednesday urged South Korea to halt psychological warfare immediately, the official news agency KCNA reported. "The Korean People's Army (KPA) always keeps itself fully ready to target and destroy those bases used for anti-DPRK psychological warfare, not only in the western sector of the front but in all areas along the front," a commander told the KCNA in an interview. Some South Korean activist groups were reported to have attempted to scatter leaflets critical of the DPRK regime over the border. According to the KCNA, the South Korean military brought "conservative organizations" to Paekryong Island where they launched balloons containing hundreds of thousands of anti-DPRK leaflets and one-dollar notes across the border on Friday and Saturday. The commander also warned that, if South Korea did not want to learn another lesson as taught by the Yeonpyeong Island shelling, they should "immediately stop all the psychological warfare, including the leaflet-scattering operations and behave with discretion.". ^ top ^

S.Korea holds live-fire drill near Demilitarized Zone (Global Times)
2011-03-25
South Korea launched a major live-fire drill Thursday in the vicinity of the Demilitarized Zone, which separates it from North Korea, in a show of strength marking the first anniversary of the sinking of its warship Cheonan. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces, helicopters and jets took part in the drill at the Pocheon range, just 30 kilometers south of the border, the defense ministry said. This was a defiant response to the North's threat Wednesday, in which it threatened to retaliate if a planned launch of leaflets by anti-Pyongyang activists near the disputed Yellow Sea border went ahead. South Korea is also holding a week-long sea exercise that began Monday to mark the first anniversary of its warship, which sunk on March 26 last year. The North's military warned Wednesday that it would open fire if defectors from Pyongyang launched propaganda leaflets from Baengyeong island, the closest land to the sea border. A Baengyeong village leader said on Thursday that the island will seek to stop the activists, as it fears a Northern backlash. […] Pier workers, who are all Baengyeong residents, are set to refuse to unload the shipment from a cargo ship early Friday, including 200,000 leaflets, large plastic balloons and helium gas tanks needed to launch the propaganda, he said. "We will also block the piers with cars so that the ship cannot unload the truck carrying the leaflets and equipment," Park said. Tourists have stopped visiting the island last year in protest of Seoul's naval training near the sea border. ^ top ^

North Korea's Kim Jong-il gives $500,000 to Koreans (Global Times)
2011-03-25
North Korean leader Kim Jongil has sent $500,000 to aid Korean expatriates in Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the official KCNA news agency reported Thursday "Leader Kim Jongil sent (a) relief fund of $500,000 to Korean residents in Japan who suffered from the killer quake and tsunami that happened there," KCNA said. The North's Red Cross has separately sent $100,000 in disaster relief for its residents in Japan, it added. More than 26,000 people have been confirmed dead or missing in Japan, 12 days after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the country's northeast coast and triggered a crisis at a nuclear power plant. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Prime Minister Receives Reps of Kazak People (Montsame)
2011-03-25
The Prime Minister S.Batbold has received a head of UB city-based the Bayan-Ulgii aimag's council, A.Bakei in connection with the Kazakhs' national holiday "Nauryz". S.Batbold has congratulated the Kazakh people wishing a health and all the best. According to A.Bakei, during the last 20 years "the Kazakhs people's proficiency in the Mongolian language has been rather poor, due to which we cannot get educated, aquire professions, and receive information the Kazakh language". He has asked the Premier to spare them time on TV to air a special programme on Mongolia's national public television. The Premier has said related ministries have been trying to solve the problems aimags are facing. He has added that Minister and vice minister of education have been focusing on such works. ^ top ^

State prize awarded to cosmonauts (Montsame)
2011-03-22
On occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first joint space program of Mongolia and USSR, state prizes were awarded Tuesday to former cosmonauts of the Soviet Union and members of the joint program, pursuant to a decree of the President Ts.Elbegdorj. The Red Flag Order of Military Merit has been awarded to cosmonauts Major-General V.A. Dzhanibekov, V.V. Gorbatko, V.V. Kovalyonok and V.V. Lyakhov. Congratulating the former cosmonauts, the President has expressed a satisfaction with visit of the group of the Mongolia-Soviet Joint Space Program. He has underlined that J.Gurragchaa become the #1 cosmonaut in Mongolia, and the #101 one in the world thanks to the joint program. “My country is the #10 country in the world to send its cosmonaut, and the #20 country to make an experimental work in space. We always proud of it,” Ts.Elbegdorj has stressed. Major-General and Hero of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia V.A. Dzhanibekov has thanked the President for inviting them to Mongolia, and expressed a satisfaction with awarding the state prizes. Mentioning about various measures for the anniversary, J.Gurragchaa has expressed a gratitude to the President for an audience, and granted to Ts.Elbegdorj a commemorative coin which has been issued by the Bank of Mongolia dedicated to the anniversary. During the ceremony, the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Mongolia V.Samoilenko also has granted to the President a commemorative medal for the 65th anniversary of Victory on World War II that is sent from the Russian President D.Medvedev. ^ top ^

Government celebrates World Water Day with UN (News.Mn)
2011-03-22
The Government of Mongolia and the United Nations in Mongolia jointly organized Tuesday a ceremony observing World Water Day in the Government House. The objective of the 2011 World Water Day is to focus attention on urban population growth, industrialization, conflicts and natural disasters and their impact on urban water systems. This year's theme, "Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge," aims to highlight and encourage governments, private sector and individuals to actively engage in addressing water scarcity and quality through better urban water management. [...] In a statement to mark the day, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon notes:“On World Water Day, I urge governments to recognize the urban water crisis for what it is -- a crisis of governance, weak policies and poor management, rather than one of scarcity. Let us also pledge to reverse the alarming decline in pro poor investment in water and sanitation. And let us reaffirm our commitment to ending the plight of the more than 800 million people who, in a world of plenty, still do not have the safe drinking water or sanitation they need for a life in dignity and good health.“ Ban Ki-moon said. Over the last few decades, Mongolia has experienced unprecedented urbanization and today 62 per cent of all Mongolians live in urban centers. Of these, Ulaanbaatar city alone holds 41.4 per cent of the total population, close to 60 percent of which live in ger areas not connected to the urban water supply system. The provision of safe water and basic sanitation to the urban poor is a critical challenge facing Mongolia today. National figures indicate that 47.8 per cent of total population has access to safe water and 30 per cent to adequate sanitation. As an important step to address these issues, the United Nations agencies in Mongolia commend the Ministry of Nature and Environment for announcing 2011 as the “Year of Water”. Through their various programs including the UN Joint Program on Water and Sanitation, the UN agencies in Mongolia are supporting national and local authorities to address the governance and technology challenges related to improving access to safe water and adequate sanitation in urban and rural settlements. ^ top ^

IAAC chief Ch.Sangaragchaa gets prison term (News.Mn)
2011-03-22
The Chief of the Independent AuthorityAgainst Corruption (IAAC), Ch.Sangaragchaa, was yesterday sentenced to 2 years and 4 months in Gantskhudag prison by the Court of Chingeltei District after a two-day trial. The Deputy Chief of IAAC, D.Sunduisuren, and the Chief of its Executive Board, U.Altangadas, have also received two-year terms in the same prison. The head of the IAAC Office, G.Badarch, was acquitted. The trial was held behind closed doors as the issue was a state secret. Journalists were given no information on the proceedings. ^ top ^

Development Bank's regulation is approved (Montsame)
2011-03-21
The cabinet has discussed actions to be made in connection with approving the law on the Development Bank (DB) and has decided to issue the Governmental resolution. It happened March 18 at the cabinet irregular meeting. The cabinet has approved the DB's organization, structure, rules, but a question of its Board of directors has been postponed until the next meeting. As supposed, the DB will have several main departments that are to be in charge of active-passive management, loans, risk management, inspection, and administration. ^ 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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