SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  4-8.4.11, No. 365  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Foreign and Military Affairs Crises open doors for Sino-Japan cooperation (China Daily)
2011-04-04
China and Japan should explore opportunities for cooperation in the massive reconstruction job Japan faces in the aftermath of its triple disasters, political and opinion leaders from both countries said on Friday. Kenichi Matsumoto, special adviser to Japan's cabinet, said Japan will enter an era of reconstruction […]. "The reconstruction will be unprecedented in Japan's history We hope we will get proper suggestions from the Chinese people," Matsumoto said on Friday after a preparatory conference for the Beijing-Tokyo Forum. The forum, organized by China Daily and Genron NPO, a Japanese nonprofit think tank, is a major public diplomacy platform for the candid exchange of ideas between Chinese and Japanese political and opinion leaders. […] "The massive reconstruction work, like that after the Osaka-Kobe earthquake in 1995, might help Japan to break through its decade-long downturn and realize a V-shape recovery," said Wei Jianguo, secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a high-level business think tank. Zhao Qizheng, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Japan's reconstruction coincides with China's effort to transform its growth model from export-driven to increased domestic consumption under its 12th Five-Year Plan. […]. Tokyo Electric Power Co announced on Thursday that radiation in groundwater surrounding the stricken plant is 10,000 times higher than government safety limits. However, the operator went back to review its analysis on Friday due to erroneous calculations, the government's nuclear safety agency said. Japanese authorities said on Thursday that radioactive material was found in beef and groundwater in some areas, raising concerns over possible contamination from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. But an official for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that a new test conducted on Friday found no abnormal radiation in beef from Tenei, nearly 70 kilometers from the plant. […] Although radioactive foods are not yet likely to enter the Chinese market, domestic businesses have already carried out preventive measures. […]. ^ top ^

China needs flexible diplomacy in Mideast (Global Times)
2011-04-06
London held an international meeting yesterday to map out what a post-Gaddafi Libya might look like. The US is looking to step back, but as long as its stalwart allies in the UK and France insist on military action, it will not let them stand alone. Among the international powers, China is relatively detached from the conflict. To maintain and expand China's diplomatic initiative on the Libyan issue will better aid China in dealing with the Middle East. As long as its society is not infected by the chaos sweeping the Middle East, China possesses a strong foundation for strategic initiative. The past two months have proven that the Chinese public desires stability and remains cool-headed toward the Middle East revolution. This enables China to consider its Middle East policy based on regional geopolitics and China's global interests. China should set out to contact the Libyan opposition forces in time. We should neither rush to recognize them, nor continue seeing them as "rebels." We should also maintain contact with Gaddafi, too […]. Some Western countries are eager to see a swift exit of Gaddafi and a unified Libya under the temporary authorities in Benghazi. China does not need to follow suit. The timetable of Gaddafi's exit does not truly relate to China's significant interests. The more flexibility China has, the smoother cooperation it will have with any future Libyan authorities China should expand friendly relations with Middle East political forces, both those in and out of office. The nation should dispel the doubts that say it prefers seeing Middle East dictators staying in office. In the past, the West had paid grave costs for involving itself deeply in a small country's political crisis, whereas China paid for leaving it too late to contact emerging opposition forces. Political unrest in a small country tests the intelligence, insight and tolerance of international powers. The UK and France have failed to draw the lesson from their previous experience. China should at least surpass them with its own political wisdom. China prefers stability, whereas the West often prefers radical changes. No power is immune to the impact of turmoil in the Middle East, but China will definitely not suffer the most. China does not need to repeatedly give warning, as long as Western powers brave the turbulence there. The most important thing for China is to have the self-confidence that chaos in other areas will not ignite the fuse of instability in China. China has too many of these fuses at home and external turbulence will be the last element to cause social unrest. […]. ^ top ^

China supports rational UN reform (China Daily)
2011-04-07
China abstained from the UN vote to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya as it "always opposes the use of force in international relations", the country's top representative to the world body said. In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Li Baodong, China's permanent representative to the UN [...]. Li stressed that reform should include not only council expansion, but also an improvement in its modus operandi to maintain its authority, increase efficiency and strengthen its global role. "The reform should help improve the authority and efficiency of the council and make sure it more effectively performs its responsibilities entrusted to it by the UN Charter," he said. Li said council reform should give "top priority" to increasing the representation of developing nations, especially from Africa. "Reform should reflect the global trend of a democratization in international relations and give more small- and medium-sized countries access to the council and the decision-making process," he said. While developing countries account for more than two-thirds of the entire UN membership, they are still under-represented in the council which has five permanent members - China, Russia, France, the UK and the US - who have the power of veto. Li said the basis of reform is to enhance geographical representation to form a more balanced council. "Reform is an issue of great sensitivity and complexity as it bears on the national interests of all UN member states," Li said, adding it should be based on "democratic discussions" to reach the broadest possible consensus which reflects the spirit of mutual compromise. ^ top ^

Chinese top political advisor meets Australian deputy House speaker (Xinhua)
2011-04-08
Visiting Chinese top political advisor Jia Qinglin met with Bruce Scott, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in the Australian Parliament House […] on Thursday. Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Jia Qinglin […]. Despite of the international financial crisis, economic cooperation between China and Australia was not affected. On the contrary, it maintains rapid growth constantly, said Jia. The two sides have also conducted effective cooperation in different fields, such as science, education, culture and tourism, Jia said, and on international and regional issues, both have maintained smooth communication and coordination. Therefore, Jia said in a move to push ahead mutual benefits between the pair, China is willing to work closer with Australia, further enhance political trust, expand practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. Jia also said exchanges in the legislative bodies of China and Australian are important component to their relations and he is glad to notice that more exchanges in this field were seen in recent years. […] Scott said thanks to Australia's strong trade and investment relations with China, the nation escaped from recession which demonstrates the significance of Australia's relationship with China. […]. ^ top ^

Strong public diplomacy vital for China (People's Daily Online)
2011-04-08
China needs to look for better ways to convey its stance on various issues to the global community, said Zhao Qizheng, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Zhao Qizheng, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), talks with Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying at a meeting on public diplomacy in Beijing on Thursday. Wang Jing / China Daily Speaking at a meeting on Thursday, he said senior officials in China are now more aware of the need to communicate effectively with the rest of world. Stressing on the importance of enhancing "national rhetorical competence" - the ability Zhao said is highly important to express the country's unique features effectively, and it is the key to successful public diplomacy, he added. [...] Public diplomacy has become a hot topic ever since the latest session of CPPCC in March [...]. Discussions on how China should express itself became more noticeable after it started taking center stage in global affairs after the financial crisis. Next week, China will host the annual Boao Forum for Asia in Sanya, Hainan province. Many experts consider the meeting as a successful international platform for public diplomacy. China, however, needs to think how it can express its stance more clearly and also rethink the use of words to describe its uniqueness, Zhao said. [...] Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying said the job of talking and expressing oneself through public diplomacy has an integral role in China's future development. "We have been doing well on the development front, and we are facing an even better new decade. Now we need to talk better, to make our messages clearer to the world. That can not only help form a better environment, but also boost the nation's confidence," she said [...]. Fu said China should not attach undue importance to the word "defense" when communicating with the outside world. "We need to positively talk with them, and tell them what we are thinking and what we are doing, effectively." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Ai Weiwei 'detained' at airport (SCMP)
2011-04-04
One of China's most famous and controversial artists, Ai Weiwei, was stopped from leaving Beijing for Hong Kong yesterday morning and appeared to have been detained, with his studio in the capital city raided by police afterwards. Political activist Ai […] was barred from boarding […] at about 9am, leaving his companion to fly alone, according to one of his assistants, who declined to be named. "Ai was heading for Taiwan for an art exhibition via Hong Kong," said the assistant, adding that the trip had nothing to do with politics. It was not immediately clear why he was taken away. "He has been out of reach since he was taken away by two border officers [at the airport]," the assistant said. "He would certainly have called us if he were free. But no, he has not phoned us yet. He may have been detained." An officer at the airport branch of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau declined to confirm if Ai was being held. […] Ai's assistant said that after the airport incident, more than a dozen policemen cordoned off an area of 50 metres around Ai's studio in Beijing's Chaoyang District and cut off power supply in the neighbourhood. They also took away Ai's colleagues for questioning, he said. Police also visited the studio three times last week, purportedly to conduct fire safety inspections and check the passports and mobile phone numbers of foreign staff, he said. Qian Feifei, one of eight staff members who were taken away at 11am, said last night after her release that seven of them were allowed to leave at 7.30pm, leaving Ai's wife and his driver at the police station. "Up to 50 police officers, either in uniform or plainclothes, came in with a search warrant in the morning. Almost all the computers, discs and notebooks had been confiscated by the time we returned to the studio in the evening," Qian said. "During the 8-1/2 hours in the police station, they kept asking us simple questions about our relationship with Ai and why we were in his studio. […] His Shanghai studio was torn down in January after officials said he had failed to follow planning procedures, although Ai maintained it was linked to his political activism. He is apparently the latest to be targeted in a renewed crackdown on political dissent. Beijing has arrested or detained dozens of lawyers, writers and activists since February, when online calls began for protests similar to those in the Middle East and North Africa. In the past week, three activists have been formally arrested on subversion charges for their alleged roles in spreading rally calls online. It is the second time Ai has been blocked trying to leave the mainland. The artist, 53, was stopped from boarding a flight for Seoul in December, less than 10 days before dissident writer Liu Xiaobo was honoured as the Nobel peace laureate. ^ top ^

Legal system less arbitrary but still a work in progress (SCMP)
2011-04-04
New talent and rising competition is helping to boost the transparency of the mainland's legal sector, long derided as being a Communist Party offshoot. With foreign investors in the world's second-biggest economy demanding legal certainties for their billion-dollar projects, Chinese courts are slowly moving towards a system based more on the "rule of law" rather than on official whim. […] For foreign lawyers working in the country, the legal system is still a closed shop in many respects; and issues of independence, training and impartiality remain. According to a study in 2009 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the mainland's legal system remains a "work in progress" despite three decades of reform. The study found half of corporate litigants admitted to giving judges "gifts or banquets" to sway legal decisions. But it was not all bad news - only 8 per cent of litigants who lost their case thought it was due to preferential treatment. Increasingly, Chinese lawyers educated in the common or civil law systems of the West are rising through the ranks of the legal system. Many have degrees from universities in the United States or Britain […]. "It is a relatively young legal system," says mainland-born and US-educated Howard Wu, a partner with Baker & McKenzie in Shanghai. "But it is becoming less arbitrary and there are clearer rules and procedures that people can follow." […] Young lawyers like Luke Zhang are at the coalface of a central government push to put more emphasis on legal training. In 2007, there were close to 600 law schools or law departments on the mainland, with nearly 300,000 students studying law. […] Gong Zhenhua, a partner with Shanghai Ronghe Law Firm, is more frank about the shortfalls. "Education for students majoring in law is far from adequate to develop them into qualified lawyers or judges," Gong, a bachelor degree graduate from East China University of Political Science and Law, said. […] Both lawyers said the mainland's legal system - particularly in the commercial area - had a lot of room for improvement. […] Wu says the mainland legal system is developing rapidly, especially in the area of commercial law. The country introduced an antitrust clearance procedure for foreign company acquisitions in China in 2003 and an anti-monopoly law in 2008. […] The legal system has also undergone an overhaul. […]. Unlike lawyers in the US, Australia or Britain, Chinese lawyers cannot rely on hundreds of years of precedents […]. Important rules on foreign joint ventures, for instance emerged only in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the country did not have a company law until 1994 […]. Andrew Tortoishell, managing partner for Greater China at Herbert Smith, says the mainland legal system presented a number of challenges for lawyers. "The legal system in China is evolving rapidly. Situations do arise where laws are interpreted or applied differently in different provinces," he says. "Naturally this increases the commercial risks faced by foreign investors who seek legal certainty before they make investment decisions." But Tortoishell says the situation is improving as a new generation of lawyers start practising. […] David Fleming, a partner at Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong, says as a civil system, the Chinese state plays a different role than in a common law system. "It involves a greater degree of interpretation, […]" he says. The view of the mainland's legal system as arbitrary is outdated, Fleming says, although foreign lawyers are still restricted in what they can do. ^ top ^

Beijing's silence an ominous signal (SCMP)
2011-04-06
As international pressure mounts for the release of the mainland's most famous artist-activist Ai Weiwei, Beijing's failure to respond sends an ominous signal to the country's other dissidents and liberal scholars who fear further tightening of political controls. The United States, France, Germany, Britain, the European Union and Australia joined Amnesty International and other rights groups in expressing concern and calling for the release of Ai, who has not been seen since Sunday morning when he was stopped from boarding a flight to Hong Kong by border police at Beijing Capital International Airport […]. Ai's wife, Lu Qing, said yesterday that his whereabouts remained unclear, […]. “Up to this moment I have not received any news about him at all," she said. "I am now exceedingly worried, particularly as his physical health is really not good. He has high blood pressure and diabetes." The level of concern was highlighted by tainted-milk activist Zhao Lianhai breaking his silence since being released on medical parole late last year. In a Twitter account used by Zhao before his arrest, messages resurfaced late last night criticising the authorities for arresting dissidents. He said he and his family have been living under intense pressure. An officer at the Beijing police bureau said yesterday afternoon they had not heard of Ai's case. Analysts and other activists said the artist's detention marked a shift in the government's tactics as the 53-year-old outspoken critic had been previously widely thought to be untouchable due to his international standing. "Ai Weiwei's detention is definitely a turning point in the ongoing crackdown because the arrest of someone of the stature of Ai could only have been carried out with approval of someone in the top leadership," said Nicholas Bequelin from Human Rights Watch. "It is designed to send a signal that no matter how prominent you are, the police can arrest you at any time they choose." The latest and most high-profile detention in recent weeks represents "a broad effort to redefine the limits of dissent and criticism of the government, which has grown considerably thanks to the internet and the communication and information revolution of the past few years. As a result, the authorities are going after the most outspoken critics across the board: lawyers, rights activists, NGOs, journalists and artists". Beijing was trying to "roll back the progress made by Chinese civil society over the past decade", he said. […] Amnesty International on its website described Ai's detention as a stepping-up of a clampdown on activists in response to North African-inspired so-called jasmine protests over the past month. Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's director for the Asia-Pacific region, said: "Ai Weiwei was not even involved in any call for jasmine protests. "There seems to be no reason whatsoever for his detention, other than that the authorities are trying to broadcast the message that China's time for open dissent has come to an end." Chen Ziming, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail as one of "the black hands" behind the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement, said the authorities were using the jasmine crackdown as an excuse to round up "all those people who have been causing them a headache for a long time". ^ top ^

Beijing gives first official confirmation of activist's detention (SCMP)
2011-04-07
Beijing last night said police were investigating maverick artist Ai Weiwei for suspected economic crimes - the first official confirmation of his detention since he was stopped from boarding a flight to Hong Kong four days ago. A brief Xinhua statement, released after midnight, did not give further details about the investigation, but it is a sign the authorities may prosecute the internationally renowned artist […]. Police have 30 days to decide whether to charge Ai. Liu Xiaoyun, a lawyer friendly with Ai, said police had broken the law by not explaining Ai's detention within 48 hours […]. Yesterday, state-controlled newspaper the Global Times began to build a legal case for Ai's detention. "Ai Weiwei does as he pleases and often does what others dare not," the newspaper said. "He himself probably realised that he was never far away from the red line of Chinese law. So long as Ai continued, it was possible that he would breach the line one day." His mother, 77-year-old writer Gao Ying, voiced fears about her 53-year-old son's fate. She earlier issued a handwritten note, later posted on the Net, appealing for news about him. "The [Global Times] is an official newspaper. From that we can glean the authorities' attitude," said Gao, the wife of late patriotic poet Ai Qing. "What do they mean by the red line? And how do they define the line? Are they using law as a yardstick, or is [official] power greater than the law?". […] Amid a widening campaign against the country's rights lawyers, activists and reform-minded intellectuals following online calls for Middle Eastern-style "jasmine revolution", many believed Ai would be spared because of his international fame. He is also respected at home because of his father, Ai Qing. But the Global Times said Beijing would not make concessions for people just because they were backed by the West. "The law will not bend or make concessions for `people with special status' just because of Western criticism," it stated […]. It is not the first case of a dissident facing charges of economic crimes. In 2007, Zhao Yan, a news assistant on The New York Times, was jailed for three years for financial fraud. Xu Zhiyong, an outspoken lawyer, was investigated for tax evasion in 2009 but later released. Human rights groups and dissidents say it is a tactic the authorities often use to silence dissidents. ^ top ^

Law will not concede before maverick (Global Times)
2011-04-07
Ai Weiwei, known as an avant-garde artist, was said to have been detained recently. Some Western governments and human rights institutions soon called for the immediate release of Ai Weiwei, claiming it to be China's "human rights deterioration" while regarding Ai Weiwei as "China's human rights fighter." It is reckless collision against China's basic political framework and ignorance of China's judicial sovereignty to exaggerate a specific case in China and attack China with fierce comments before finding out the truth. The West's behavior aims at disrupting the attention of Chinese society and attempts to modify the value system of the Chinese people. Ai Weiwei is an activist. As a maverick of Chinese society, he likes "surprising speech" and "surprising behavior." He also likes to do something ambiguous in law. On April 1, he went to Taiwan via Hong Kong. But it was reported his departure procedures were incomplete. Ai Weiwei likes to do something "others dare not do." He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day. In such a populous country as China, it is normal to have several people like Ai Weiwei. But it is also normal to control their behaviors by law […]. The West ignored the complexity of China's running judicial environment and the characteristics of Ai Weiwei's individual behavior. They simply described it as China's "human rights suppression. "Human rights" have really become the paint of Western politicians and the media, with which they are wiping off the fact in this world. "Human rights" are seen as incompatible things with China's great economic and social progress by the West. It is really a big joke. Chinese livelihood is developing, the public opinion no longer follows the same pattern all the time and "social justice" has been widely discussed. Can these be denied? The experience of Ai Weiwei and other mavericks cannot be placed on the same scale as China's human rights development and progress. Ai Weiwei chooses to have a different attitude from ordinary people toward law. However, the law will not concede before "mavericks" just because of the Western media's criticism. ^ top ^

Ai Weiwei's case our affair, says Beijing (SCMP)
2011-04-08
Foreign governments had no right to interfere with China's detention of maverick artist Ai Weiwei, Beijing said yesterday, insisting that he was involved in economic crimes that had nothing to do with human rights. Ai […] has not been seen since Sunday morning […]. In what were the first comments from the central government on Ai, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news conference that he was under police investigation. "Ai Weiwei is under investigation on suspicion of economic crimes," Hong said. "It has nothing to do with human rights or freedom of expression. "China is a country under the rule of law... other countries have no right to interfere," he said, giving no other details. Ai's wife, Lu Qing, said yesterday she still had not received any official notification about her husband. […] "They hate his guts. He is a nail that they've wanted to remove but hadn't been able to," said Gao Ying, a writer and the wife of the late patriotic poet Ai Qing. […] The pretext of economic crimes, ranging from tax evasion to illegal business operations, has been widely used on the mainland to indict outspoken activists and silence voices of dissent, said rights groups and lawyers. "There is plenty of precedent for using economic offences as a basis for punishing troublesome individuals in China," said Joshua Rosenzweig, senior research manager for the US-based human rights group the Dui Hua Foundation. "From Beijing's perspective, it has the advantage of insulating them from accusations that Ai is a `political prisoner'," he said. Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, insisted that Ai's incarceration was politically motivated. "Ai's case has everything to do with human rights and freedom of expression," he said. "Ai's arrest was political and the outcome will be political. The law has nothing to do with it... the purpose of his arrest is to silence him and intimidate others. The role of the law enforcement authorities is simply to put a veneer of legality [on] decisions... made by the [Communist] Party." Lawyer Mo Shaoping, who has defended many dissidents charged with economic crimes, said the authorities should not be selective about law enforcement. "That's not genuine rule of law," he said. […] China Human Rights Defenders said Ai's assistant, Wen Tao, who was also reportedly seized by police on Sunday, remained missing. At least 16 people were still missing since the "jasmine revolution" calls began in mid-February, it said. […]. ^ top ^

NGOs struggle with legal status despite new rules (SCMP)
2011-04-08
The capital relaxed its registration rules for four categories of non-governmental organisations this year, but the change has been met with a lukewarm response from NGOs, long working under tight restrictions on the mainland. The four categories of NGO benefiting from the change are industrial and commercial, charity, social welfare and social service, Xinhua reported yesterday, citing officials from the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau. The report did not clarify the definition of each category. NGOs have been tightly regulated as mainland authorities are wary of these often foreign-funded and rights-advocating groups. "We have tried to register so many times," said Lu Jun of Yirenping, an NGO that focuses on anti-discrimination work and legal aid. "They might not give you a clear 'no', but they just keep making requests and dragging the matter out." Under the new policy, NGOs in the four categories can register directly with the bureau. They no longer need find a government department to act as "patron" before they can register. […] The government's apparent change of heart may be linked to a realisation that NGOs can come in useful as it emphasises social harmony this year. In February, President Hu Jintao expounded for the first time on the concept of "innovating social management", which was followed by clear statements in the 12th five-year plan, for 2011 to 2015, of the need to develop NGOs. Several cities, such as Shenzhen and Chengdu, have been experimenting with different forms of loosened NGO registration rules in recent years. In Beijing, the Zhongguancun area has been running a pilot scheme since July allowing those four categories to register directly with the area's civil affairs department. The authorities decided to expand the scheme to the whole of Beijing at the end of February. Several NGOs that the South China Morning Post […] spoke to were unaware of the new policy. They said they did not have high hopes as yet, especially since the categories had not been clearly defined […]. Professor Wang Ming of Tsinghua University's NGO Research Centre said he was not sure about the difference between social welfare and social services […], urging that the guidelines stipulate a unified use of the category names across the mainland. Guo Yushan, of the Transition Institute, which does economic research, said he would probably not try to register either, as he believed the new push was more to strengthen traditional Communist Party or government-affiliated social organizations. […]. ^ top ^

Milk activist told 'be quiet or go back to jail' (SCMP)
2011-04-08
Melamine-tainted-milk activist Zhao Lianhai, who was taken away by police on Wednesday night for questioning, said yesterday they threatened to throw him back in jail if he continued to speak out about the treatment of dissidents. Meanwhile, as condemnation mounts over the detention of artist-activist Ai Weiwei, Beijing warned foreign countries they had "no right to interfere". […] Zhao […], who broke his public silence on Tuesday to comment on Ai's detention […], said he appealed for the artist's release when he was questioned by four Beijing police officers. "I told them that if they are stepping up the crackdown [on dissidents], they can start with me," he said. They responded by saying he would go back to prison if he "continued to do what you are doing now". Zhao, 38, said if that happened he would go on hunger strike and was prepared to die. He said he tried to reason with the police, asking them to examine the tense situation between the authorities and the dissidents with a level-headed attitude. […] "Zhao said. "I also said: 'I know you're part of the [authoritarian] system and I understand your fear... but I still hope there's some effort that can be made to alleviate the tension'. I was really hoping they would have a good think. I told them that would be good for their next generation as well." Zhao, […] was jailed in November for 2-1/2 years for "provoking quarrels and making trouble". He was released on medical parole in late December, but faces the prospect of being sent back to prison because one of his parole terms was not talking to the media. The government crackdown on dissidents continued yesterday with the reported arrest of another prominent rights lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin. Ni, 50, a campaigner against government-backed land grabs, was crippled by police during several days of questioning after being arrested in 2002. She and her husband were forcibly taken from their hotel in Beijing yesterday morning, according to the US-based news portal Boxun.com. Ni's cellphone was switched off yesterday. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier urges U.S. to relax restrictions on high-tech exports to China (Xinhua)
2011-04-08
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called on the U.S. to substantially relax restrictions at an early date on high-tech products export to China. Li made the remarks when meeting with former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Henry M. Paulson in Beijing, who is in China for the upcoming annual meeting of the Boao Forum slated for mid-April in China's southern island province of Hainan. Reaffirming China's adherence to opening up, Li said, "We hope the U.S. side would substantially ease restrictions on high-tech products export to China and create a level playing field, predictable and non-discriminating environment for Chinese enterprises investing in the U.S." Recognizing economic and trade cooperation as the bedrock of the China-U.S. relationship, Li said the two countries would have new opportunities to deepen cooperation as China has begun implementation of its Five-Year Plan for 2011-2015 and the U.S. is restructuring its economy. […] Li spoke highly of Paulson's efforts to advance China-U.S. cooperation and expressed the hope that he would continue to play a positive role in this. For his part, Paulson applauded China's performance in tackling the international financial crisis and maintaining a steady, relatively fast economic growth. Paulson said he would continue to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the two sides. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Fewer houses sold in Beijing upon strict purchase limits (Xinhua)
2011-04-04
House trading has remained largely lukewarm in Beijing since the nation's capital promulgated a series of purchase limit policies on Feb.16 to help cap the soaring home prices. Latest statistics from the city's real estate trading management network show that in the first quarter of this year, more than 20,700 new homes changed hands, a decrease of nearly 40 percent from the fourth quarter of last year. The transaction volume was the lowest for first quarters over the past three years. […] In March alone, nearly 5,000 homes under construction were sold, down 44 percent from the same month of last year. Last month also saw 11,102 second-hand apartments traded, down 50 percent year on year, according to 21 Century Real Estate. […] Lin Lei, who is in charge of marketing with the 21 Century Real Estate, said that currently home prices remained largely unchanged, however, if restriction policies were carried out strictly, home prices in Beijing would likely to go down more or less at the end of the second quarter. […] The soaring housing prices have become a major source of public complaints in the country's major cities. Beijing is determined to stabilize or lower new home prices this year. It's considered the most ambitious housing price control target among those issued by more than 40 Chinese cities. Industry insiders say Beijing is the first city that has targeted an actual price decline, which is unexpected. ^ top ^

Beijing to double tourists in five years (SCMP)
2011-04-08
Beijing plans to double its annual tally of international visitors to 10 million within five years to catapult itself into position as one of the world's top tourist destinations. The city is working to make tourism a pillar of its economy, contributing more than 10 per cent to its economic growth, according to the chief of the Beijing Municipal Tourism Development Committee, which has replaced the tourism administration. Lu Yong said the world's most visited cities - including […] attracted more than 5 million foreign visitors a year, while Beijing drew 4.9 million last year. "Beijing plans to become a global city with Chinese characteristics and any global city is, above all, a top tourist destination," Lu said. To achieve the ambitious goal, Beijing would further open its tourism market to overseas travel agencies […]. But academics said work needed to be done to address overcrowding at tourist spots and other problems if more tourists were to be attracted. Pollution and air quality were still bad and traffic congestion continued to worsen despite measures to limit the number of cars on the road. "Tourism covers a wide range of sectors," Lu said. […] He said more co-ordination would be needed with other departments to address problems affecting the city's tourism goals […]. Many of Beijing's famous places of interest have been compromised either ecologically or aesthetically, Professor Sheng Guangyao, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, said. "Very few of them have adopted measures to restrict the number of visitors because Beijing's tourism has a slack season in winter. Most of the operators want to make as much money as possible during the peak season," he said. […] "Lu said 110 sectors were directly or indirectly linked to tourism. Last year, Beijing earned tourism income of 277 billion yuan […], up 13 per cent on 2009. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai seeks migrant workers to return balance to population (People's Daily Online)
2011-04-07
This Chinese business hub is doing more to attract young migrant workers to replenish a labor pool that has become smaller as the local population gets older and the birth rate remains low, a senior population official has said. "Shanghai is faced with a serious aging problem, and the birth rate is still at a very low level," said Xie Lingli, director of the Shanghai Municipal Population and Family Planning Commission, […] "In this regard, the city's future prosperity will have to depend largely on the migrant population." Xie said the number of Shanghai workers who are between the ages of 16 and 59 will drop from 9 million to 8.3 million by 2015, largely because too few babies are being born to replace workers who are getting old. "We are looking at encouraging more young workers, especially those between the ages of 25 and 35, to come here to give balance to the local population, […]" she said. According to the commission, the official average life span of Shanghai's registered population was extended to 82.13 years in 2010. The city then contained more than 3 million people who were 60 years old or older. Together, they accounted for more than 22 percent of the total registered population. According to estimates, that figure will rise to 28 percent by 2015 and will represent a third of the city's entire population by 2020. Meanwhile, the low birth rate also bodes ill for efforts to maintain a balance in the city's population. Shanghai now contains about 1.17 million officially registered children who are 14 years old or younger. Those in that group account for about 8.3 percent of the registered population in Shanghai, whereas they make up 18.5 percent of the population of China and 27 percent of the world. The city's family planning policy has prevented the births of about 7 million people during the past 30 years, according to media reports. Earlier this year, local Chinese media cited the most recent national census, conducted in November, when reporting that the city's population had likely reached 23 million, a figure that accounted for 9 million migrants. […] From 2013 onwards, more than 80 percent of Shanghai's increasingly older population will be composed of parents of only-children. To ensure such parents can live comfortably in their old age, when they cannot expect to have support from a group of children, the city is looking at offering them more public aid. Previous reports have said Shanghai will be one of several regions where test policies will allow more couples to have a second child. […]. ^ top ^

European bosses prefer Shanghai for regional base (SCMP)
2011-04-08
Shanghai has emerged as a more attractive option than Hong Kong for multinational companies looking to set up Asia-Pacific headquarters because of its location and the rising importance of the mainland market, according to the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. […] A survey of more than 60 executives by the chamber and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants showed that Shanghai topped the list of 15 locations for Asia-Pacific headquarters, trailed by Hong Kong and Singapore. The finding added a new dimension to the rivalry between Shanghai and Hong Kong since the mainland's most affluent city unveiled its ambition to transform itself into a global financial centre in 2009. Piter de Jong, vice-president of the chamber, said Shanghai's rise "reflects China's growing importance in the world and the significance of Shanghai as the largest centre of business and finance in China". He added that Shanghai, compared with Hong Kong and Singapore, still had room to improve in areas like the legal and regulatory environment. Shanghai now has 319 regional headquarters established by foreign businesses, fewer than a quarter of the number in Hong Kong, home to 1,200 regional headquarters […]. The chamber said proximity to clients was the most important issue for respondents seeking locations for regional headquarters […]. "The main challenges for Shanghai-based headquarters lie in the regulatory and tax environment, which creates less favourable conditions compared to Singapore and Hong Kong," the chamber said in a report. Shanghai focuses on drawing companies in capital-intensive industries to set up headquarters there. Analysts said the mainland city had to roll out more incentives to attract companies in service sectors as it strove to improve its competitiveness […]. ^ top ^

Shanghai unveils affordable housing plans (Global Times)
2011-04-08
With rental prices for cheap, medium and luxury apartments all booming, Shanghai announced Wednesday morning the launch of seven companies to provision public-rental affordable housing to the city's long-term residents. […] To help the poor find better housing, China has allocated more than 60 billion yuan ($8.97 billion) to build 5.8 million apartments including low-rent, resettlement and the public-rental housing. Under the supervision of Shanghai Municipal Housing Support and Building Administration Bureau, the seven companies will construct, operate, distribute, rent and manage the city's public-rental housing projects [… A total 5,000 apartments would become available to those poorer residents working in nine Puxi districts or who carry Shanghai hukou, household registration cards […]. The hukou is an identity and residency permit that qualifies the holder for all the public benefits China's most prosperous city offers and operates like an internal passport system by which ordinary Chinese citizens receive either urban or rural welfare rights based on their household unit […]. Shanghai plans to build about 40,000 public-rental houses - 2 million square meters - this year. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's March PMI of non-manufacturing sector rebounds: CFLP (Global Times)
2011-04-04
The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) of China's non-manufacturing sector rose to 60.2 percent in March, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Sunday. The March index was 16.1 percentage points higher than that in February, the CFLP said in an online statement, adding that the rise indicates non-manufacturing businesses are gaining strengthen and maintaining a healthy growing trend. A reading above 50 percent indicates economic expansion. One below 50 percent indicates contraction. The figure has been staying above the boom-or-bust line since March 2010 except this February due to the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, it said. All major sub-indices saw increases with the index for new orders sharply up 10.4 percentage points from February to 55.5 percent in March while that for new export orders rose 4.1 percentage points to settle at 50.3 percent. it added. Meanwhile, the statement noted that the retreats in the increase of two indices -- price indices for charges and intermediate input, sent a positive message in terms of easing the ongoing inflation expectation. The price index for charges fell 2.8 percentage points to 51.7 percent in March and that for intermediate input edged down 1.5 percentage points to 63 percent, it said. The PMI of China's manufacturing sector rose to 53.4 percent in March, rebounded from a previous slid for three consecutive months, adding pressure of inflation and expectation of interest rate hikes, according to CFLP's data released Friday. Statistics authority data show that China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 4.9 percent year on year in February this year and was widely expected to rise above 5 percent in March. The central bank has raised benchmark interest rates three times since last year and increased the reserve requirement ratio for commercial banks nine times to contain inflation. ^ top ^

China announces 2nd increase in benchmark interest rates this year to tackle inflation (Xinhua)
2011-04-06
The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, announced Tuesday it would raise the benchmark one-year borrowing and lending interest rates by 25 basis points beginning Wednesday. This was the second time that China's central bank raised the benchmark interest rates this year and the fourth such increase since the start of last year. After the hikes, the one-year deposit interest rate will climb to 3.25 percent while that of the one-year loan interest rate will reach 6.31 percent. Analysts said the move indicated that the central bank was enhancing efforts to ease stubborn consumer price increases. The consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of China's inflation, jumped 4.9 percent in February from a year earlier, exceeding the government's full-year target of 4 percent. Food prices, which account for about one-third in the basket of goods used to calculate China's CPI, surged by 11 percent in February from a year ago. [...] Rising oil and commodity prices on the global markets will also push prices higher in China during the year, said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist with Industrial Bank. Lu expected China's CPI growth to reach a new high of 5.2 percent in March, adding that there would be another two or three benchmark interest rate hikes during the rest of the year. [...] The Chinese government has prioritized price stability in this year's government work report and stepped up efforts to bring inflation under control. To mop up the excessive liquidity that helps fuel inflation, the central bank has raised the reserve requirement ratio for commercial banks nine times since the beginning of last year. Besides the monetary tools, the government also implemented production boosts and intensified crackdown on price speculations and hoarders. ^ top ^

Economic growth is to be slow but steady (China Daily)
2011-04-07
The growth of China's economy is set to moderate during the next two years as the expansion of investment and exports […] the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday. The Chinese economy is likely to expand by 9.6 percent this year and 9.2 percent in 2012, slower than the 10.3 percent growth rate last year that was mainly driven by the rebound in exports and investment, […]. While fixed asset investment will remain a key driver of the nation's economic growth during the next two years, the momentum of the expansion will decelerate because of the winding-back of the government's fiscal stimulus measures and a tighter monetary policy, ADB said in its report. Paul J. Heytens, the ADB's director for China, said at a press briefing in Beijing that the Chinese economy carries very little risk of a hard landing because growth momentum remains robust for the medium term. However, any failure to decisively implement the government's agenda to rebalance the economy may jeopardize the sustainability of growth in the longer term, he said. […] The fragility of external demand along with fiscal and debt concerns in the European Union, China's largest trading partner, and in Japan, as well as the rapid increase in local governments' debts to an estimated 7.6 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion) are three other downside risks to China's economic outlook, he added. The bank also predicted that China's Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, will accelerate to 4.6 percent on average in 2011 as a result of higher global prices for food and oil, rising wages and robust domestic demand. […] Consumer prices jumped 4.9 percent in February year-on-year, exceeding the government's full-year target of 4 percent. An official with the Chinese central bank was quoted on Wednesday by Reuters as saying that liquidity in the country's financial market remained excessive, making its fight against inflation difficult. The policymakers face challenges in particular from capital inflows and a large volume of maturing central bank bills and bond re-purchase agreements in its open market operations, the official said. […] The Chinese stock market on Wednesday responded positively to the latest rate hike by closing above the psychologically important threshold of 3,000 points with share prices of insurance companies and banks jumping on expectations the rate hike will boost investment income and net interest margins. ^ top ^

China 'opening wider' for FDI (China Daily)
2011-04-08
China will "open wider" to the world by encouraging foreign companies to invest, for the first time, in certain industries under a new draft regulating foreign investment, experts said. The select industries, in the recently released Foreign Direct Investment Industry Guidelines, include high-tech, clean energy, aerospace and aviation, new materials, high-end manufacturing and advanced logistics. The guidelines will replace the previous version, published in 2007. There are also changes in the services sector with vocational education and training encouraged in the guidelines and the medical professions are no longer excluded. […] The guidelines come after a foreign direct investment (FDI) directive was issued last April encouraging more investment in the high-tech, renewable energy and service sectors, and to focus more on western and central areas. The guidelines follow criticism by some foreign companies of China's investment environment in the latter half of last year. […] "The new version is undoubtedly good news for local industry and foreign companies." The guidelines are still being formulated and a month-long program soliciting public opinion commenced at the beginning of April […]. The new guidelines, when implemented, will be the fifth version and should be issued in the coming months. "As the new guidelines show, China is allowing many strategically important and emerging industries to get foreign investment," said Huo Jianguo, director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation […]. But the guidelines also prohibit foreign investment in some sectors. Foreign companies, for the first time, are excluded from some energy industries, including crude oil and nuclear fuel processing and chemical manufacturing. Foreign companies are also prohibited from industries dealing in certain metals and marine resources as well as seed selection and production and processing agricultural goods. "The prohibition is understandable," Huo said. "China has to say no to foreign investment in some sectors for the sake of protecting its industries and natural resources." […] FDI hit a record high last year, growing by 17.4 percent from a year earlier to $105.74 billion, after dropping by 2.6 percent in 2009. From January to February, China's FDI grew by 27 percent year-on-year to $17.8 billion. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Kim Jong-il, son absent from annual assembly (Global Times)
2011-04-08
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his youngest son, Jong-un, did not attend Thursday's parliamentary session, shattering speculations that Jong-un could be handed a key military post at the gathering. During the fourth session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), North Korean officials vowed to modernize the economy and to boost living standards. They adopted a budget increase of 7.5 percent and froze defense spending at 15.8 percent for 2011, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, without giving a figure for the size of the budget in monetary terms. The assembly also appointed a key aide of Kim Jong-il as minister for people's security and made a fresh appointment to the National Defense Commission (NDC), but Kim Jong-un did not appear to take on a commission post as had been speculated. [...] Before Thursday's meeting, he was rumored to be named the first vice chairman of the NDC, becoming the country's No. 2 leader behind his father. The post of NDC first vice chairman has been left vacant since Jo Myong-rok died in November. The NDC has four vice chairmen, including Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law. [...] Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Bloomberg that a promotion to NDC's first vice chairman would solidify Kim Jong-un's legitimacy as the next leader and allow him to amass his own power base. Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korea at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, told the Global Times that such an appointment is unnecessary. "It doesn't really matter whether Kim Jong-un has an administrative position. It's certain that he will become the country's top leader, but not in a hurry," Zhang said. Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, told AFP, "If Kim Jong-un was not promoted today, this means that they appear to be waiting for a proper time. Due to unfavorable economic, political and diplomatic conditions, it appears to be delaying the process." [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

SPC and LSE sign master service Agreement (news.mn)
2011-04-07
The State Property Committee (SPC) of Mongolia and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) signed the Master Service Agreement soon after midday today at the Mongolian Stock Exchange building. Prime Minister S.Batbold was present at the ceremony and said in his opening remarks that the development of the Mongolian capital market would be of great significance for the economy and expected the MSE-LSE cooperation to contribute substantially to this. Among others present were Deputy Minister for Finance Ch.Gankhuyag, and MSE Acting CEO Kh.Altai. its head, D.Sugar, signed for the SPC, while the LSE was represented by its CEO, Xavier Rolet. Both were confident the partnership would be smooth and productive. The work covered by the agreement includes developing a legal frame for the Mongolian capital market to work in, setting up Millennium IT technology, and to training staff. An official of the LSE will be appointed Executive Director of the MSE, but management of the MSE has vested on the LSE with the signing of the agreement. ^ top ^

Spring Session of Parliament begins (news.mn)
2011-04-05
Parliament began its Spring session today, with 93.4% of members, including Prime Minister S.Batbold, present. Among others who attended the opening ceremony were President Ts.Elbegdorj, some members of the Government, Chiefs of Agencies and some foreign diplomatic representatives. Speaker D.Demberel opened the session and said it was being held at a time when strategic deposit mines are being prepared for exploitation, large projects are being taken up, and herders are taking care of new born animals. He reminded MPs that big issues awaited their attention, including amendments to the Constitution. ^ top ^

Minimum size salary increases (Montsame)
2011-04-07
According to the first resolution of three-sided national committee of labour social agreement on April 5, a minimum size salary has reached 140 thousand 400 togrog. Before this 30 percent rise the salary stood at 108 thousand togrog. The decision was made at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The Minister of social welfare and labour, T.Gandi said this change will not somehow influence other salaries, insurance, pensions, benefits. A one third rise was made in salaries of state servants October 1, 2010. When adding the minimum salary, the parties considered social partnership issues, survey, clauses of laws, consumer price index, economic growth, labour output, average salary, changes in cost of living. ^ top ^

Citizens likely to get a preference share in Erdenes Mongolia (new.mn)
2011-04-07
Yesterday's weekly Government meeting agreed in principle to a suggestion made by the State Property Committee to issue to all citizens one preference share of Erdenes MGL LLC but a final decision will be taken only after further discussion at the next meeting. If the decision is taken, citizens would hold 536 common shares in Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC and one preference share in Erdenes MGL. Children born after April 1, 2011 would also be eligible for the preference shares. A preference share is capital stock which provides a specific dividend that is paid before any dividends are paid to common share holders, and which takes precedence over common share in the event of liquidation. The SPC plans to issue 3 million preference shares for Mongolians, to cover the existing population and new births up to a cutoff date. ^ top ^

Cooperation documents signed between Mongolia and Cyprus (Montsame)
2011-04-01
An inter-governmental agreement on mutual exemption of diplomatic and official passport holders from visas was established Wednesday between Mongolia and the Republic of Cyprus, in Nicosia city. The agreement has been signed by Ts.Gankhuyag, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Bulgaria, and by Andreas Zenonos, a head of consular affairs of Cyprus's Foreign Ministry. In addition, a mutually understanding memorandum between Mongolia's Stock Exchange (MSE) and Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) has been inked by the Ambassador Ts.Gankhuyag and by Georgios Koufaris, the CSE's president. The Ambassador also has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr. Charalambos Lottas, the secretary-general of the Cyprus Olympic Committee on cooperation between national Olympic committees of the countries. Present at the ceremony of signing were diplomats of the Mongolia's Embassy in Bulgaria, officials of Cyprus's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as CSE and Cyprus Olympic Committee. After the ceremony, the Ambassador gave interviews to the "Cyprus Weekly" and "Politis" newspapers to cover the Mongolia-Cyprus relations and cooperation.
The two countries established the diplomatic relations in 1973, and established an agreement on culture in 1984. Mongolia's Ministry of Health and the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics are about to establish a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in rendering service of neurology, genetics and bio-medical sectors, and to organize trainings. The two countries are ready to sign other agreements as well. As of today, some 60 Mongolians are living and studying in Cyprus. From August of 2010, a Cypriot citizen Andreas Kristoforides has been working as honorary consul of Mongolia. ^ top ^

 

Jean Binder
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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