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
  26-29.4.11, No. 368  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Chinese state councilor meets head of Swiss federal department of home affairs (Xinhua)
2011-04-26
Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong met with head of Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs Didier Burkhalter here on Monday. Liu spoke highly of the development of China-Swiss relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties and the two sides' cooperation in countering the global financial crisis and climate change, especially their cooperation in technology. "China welcomes all other countries to join its development, and will work with the Swiss side to expand bilateral communication and enhance friendship, and bring the China-Swiss friendly cooperation to a new high," Liu said. ^ top ^

Former Chinese vice premier urges closer cooperation among China, Japan, ROK (Xinhua)
2011-04-26
Former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said Monday that China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) should enhance their cooperative partnership to deal with international risks and challenges. Zeng made the remarks at the Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum, urging efforts to accelerate the establishment of a free trade zone among the three countries [...]. He noted that tthe free trade zone would help boost the impetus and sustainability of economic growth in the three countries and push forward economic integration in east Asia and Asia-Pacific regions. [...] He also called for efforts to build a reggional natural disaster response mechanism, which would involve cooperation on disaster warning, timely forecasting and more exchanges among professional disaster relief teams. Zeng further noted that all sides in the northeast Asian region should embrace a new security outlook centering on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and resolve disputes through dialogue and negotiation in an effort to maintain regional stability. [...]. ^ top ^

No hidden strings tied to aid' (China Daily)
2011-04-27
China will endeavor to "enlarge the scale" of its foreign aid, especially to the least-developed countries of Africa and Latin America, in an attempt to improve local people's well-being, said Fu Ziying, the vice-minister of commerce, on Tuesday. And China's long-term foreign aid to African nations is not being given in "exchange for natural resources" but out of a sense of "real friendship", he added [...]. Between 2004 and 2009, China's foreign aid grew at an annual rate of 29.4 percent, and the total value of foreign aid had reached 256.3 billion yuan ($39.3 billion) by the end of 2009. China is still a developing nation but is "very willing to give others a helping hand, partly because China expects to provide whatever we can to those in need and partly because China's peaceful economic development and globalization requires a peaceful environment in neighboring countries," said Fu. [...] Some Western nations have suggested that China has been offering significant amounts of aid to Africa because it wants to grab the continent's natural resources. Fu said that is not what is happening. [...] "Opinions in the media from some countries are nothing but nonsense." During the next five years, most of China's foreign aid projects will be involved in the "infrastructural, agricultural and educational fields", which are crucial to the recipient countries' quality of life and economic development, he explained. According to the ministry, China has funded more than 200 agricultural projects worldwide that have helped promote grain production in countries that have land resources but that lack growing expertise. Within the next five years, China plans to set up 30 farm technology demonstration centers in developing countries, send 3,000 technicians overseas and offer agricultural training to 5,000 people from poor countries. ^ top ^

Gillard raises rights issues but still seals US$600m iron ore deal (SCMP)
2011-04-27
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard appeared to have struck a balance between pressing her host on human rights and seeking more trade as she walked away with a US$600 million iron ore deal on the second day of her visit to China. Gillard arrived in Beijing on Monday for a four-day visit as part of a tour to north Asia, which includes Japan and South Korea [...]. Like many other Western leaders, Gillard faced the awkward challenge of prodding Beijing over human rights abuses while wooing the country for more trade; but more than any other advanced economies, Australia depends on China, which buys up a quarter of Australian exports and is Australia's biggest coal and iron ore purchaser. Gillard said after a one-hour meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao that "the relationship with China is in good shape". She said the talks had focused on trade and investment, but she also raised human rights concerns. "I did have the opportunity to raise with Premier Wen issues associated with Australia's concerns with human rights," she said, pointing to concerns over treatment of ethnic minorities, rights activists and the question of religious freedom. "[Wen] did indicate his view that China has not taken a backward step on human rights." According to Xinhua, Wen told Gillard that "China and Australia share broad common interests in maintaining regional stability, promoting regional and world economic growth and coping with global challenges". [...] Gillard said she raised the cases of detained Australians, mining giant Rio Tinto's Stern Hu and entrepreneur Matthew Ng. Hu was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting bribes and industrial espionage in March last year, while Ng is detained for embezzlement charges, for which the maximum jail term is 20 years. Another tricky issue that she raised was North Korea, where Australia joins Japan and the United States in wanting China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang. Wen and Gillard witnessed the signing of five co-operation pacts in science and technology, customs, tourism and the service trade, and the US$600 million deal on Chinese financing for an iron ore project with Western Australia's Karara Mining. ^ top ^

Chinese military chief to visit U.S.: spokesman (Xinhua)
2011-04-28
A senior Chinese military official will visit the United States from May 15 to 22 as the two countries begin to resume high-level military exchanges. Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, will make the visit at the invitation of Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Spokesman of China's National Defense Ministry Geng Yansheng announced in Beijing Wednesday. During the trip, Chen will hold talks with Mullen, meet with other political and military leaders of the U.S., as well as visit command centers, troops and institutes of the U.S. armed forces, said Geng at the ministry's first regular press briefing. Chen's visit, the first in seven years by an officer of his rank, is part of an effort to implement a consensus reached by the two countries' heads of state and will play an important role in promoting the steady development of bilateral military ties, Geng said. […] "Healthy and stable military ties are crucial to the China-U.S. cooperative partnership featuring mutual respect, reciprocal and win-win deal," said Geng, [...]. The two militaries have maintained effective communication through channels including defense consultations and working-level meetings between the National Defense Ministry of China and the U.S. Department of Defense, said Geng, adding that he hoped the U.S. side can create an optimal environment for the healthy and stable development of the bilateral military ties. Geng's remark came in response to doubts voiced by Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, over the effectiveness of China-U.S. military dialogues. [...]. ^ top ^

China welcomes Fatah-Hamas agreement on reconciliation (Xinhua)
2011-04-29
China on Thursday said it welcomed a reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian movements of Fatah and Hamas. "China welcomes the agreement on reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas of Palestine, and expects it will help enhance solidarity and coordination among parties in Palestine," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing on Thursday. Hong's comments came after Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas on Wednesday signed a preliminary agreement on reconciliation during talks in Cairo, paving the way for forming an interim government to prepare for elections. ^ top ^

SCO interior, public security ministers meet in Astana on regional security (Xinhua)
2011-04-29
Interior and public security ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states held their second meeting in Astana on Thursday, pledging for closer cooperation in law enforcement and security. The meeting, hosted by Kazakh Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kassymov, gathered Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, [...]. At the meeting, Meng, also Chinese state councilor, said the SCO member states should further expand and deepen the cooperation in the field of public security as the non-traditional security issues become increasingly prominent, especially the new challenges brought by "three evils forces" of separatism, extremism and terrorism, as well as transnational organized crimes, drug trafficking and cybercrimes. Thus, the member states should improve the cooperation mechanism, smooth channels of cooperation, and improve the cooperation efficiency, he added. Meng also said that China was ready to make joint efforts with other SCO member states to make this meeting a platform for pragmatic cooperation and further promote law enforcement cooperation in the region. [...]. ^ top ^

China, Malaysia in '$3b pact boost' (China Daily)
2011-04-29
China and Malaysia signed eight cooperation contracts on Thursday as visiting Premier Wen Jiabao and his counterpart Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to upgrade already successful commercial ties. China is Malaysia's top trading partner. The deals, reportedly worth $3 billion, [...]. Aluminum Corporation of China also signed a joint venture agreement with Smelter Asia Sdn Bhd to build a $1 billion smelter in Sarawak [...]. China is Malaysia's largest trading partner and its second-largest export destination. It was also the largest source of Malaysian imports in 2010. Malaysia has been China's largest trading partner in ASEAN for the last three years. Bilateral trade reached $74.2 billion in 2010, according to China's General Administration of Customs. The two governments also reached agreements on expanding and deepening economic and trade cooperation, and on frameworks to facilitate mutual recognition of higher education qualifications [...]. On the financial sector, he said both sides want to push for trade that is settled in local currencies. The quantity of trade settled in local currencies between the two countries in the first quarter of this year has already exceeded the total for 2010, he added [...]. Wen said he hopes that Malaysia will provide greater access for Chinese goods. "China has long been running a very large trade deficit with Malaysia, but we have never complained about that," Wen said [...]. According to a press release from China's Foreign Ministry, Wen welcomed Malaysian enterprises to join in the development of China's midwest and northwest regions [...]. There has been friction in the relationship between the two countries over the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea [...]. ^ top ^

China "happy to see" early contact between DPRK and ROK, DPRK and U.S. (Xinhua)
2011-04-29
China said Thursday it has always supported that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK), and the DPRK and the United States improve their relations through dialogues and consultations. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comments at a regular news briefing here [...]. China holds that the six-party talks are an effective platform for safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, realizing the peninsula's denuclearization and achieving long-lasting peace in the Northeast Asia region, Hong said. China hopes that relevant parties would work together to promote the early resumption of the six-party talks, Hong said. The six-party talks, involving China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, started in 2003. The sixth and last round of talks were held in December 2008. "We believe that bilateral dialogues and multilateral talks can complement and promote each other, and can be carried on further," Hong said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Cadres learn to become spin doctors to handle foreign media in Tibet (SCMP)
2011-04-26
Fifty cadres from ethnic Tibetan areas are being trained as foreign propaganda specialists in an unprecedented three-month programme that is part of China's international public relations campaign. Commissioned by the Communist Party Central Committee's International Communication Office, it is being held in Beijing, at the Communication University of China. The 50 officials taking part handle the foreign press relations in Tibet and areas with large Tibetan populations [...]. The Southern Metropolis News said: "Tibet-related news coverage has for a long time been a bottleneck in China's management of the region. This bottleneck has also affected China's overall image in the world." At a high-level work conference on Tibet in January last year, Beijing also said it planned to train its own teams of scholars in Tibetan studies and living Buddhas, to help spread information about Tibet and to "dissipate misunderstandings and biases". "Tibetan splittists" used propaganda to smear China and "China's traditional way of propaganda" was not effective, The Southern Metropolis News said. The students would be taught to pay more attention to providing details and anecdotes when answering questions instead of giving figures and concepts, it said. Professor Liu Xiaoying, who teaches international communications at the university, said [...] it was still too early to assess their performance because the programme would continue until the end of July. [...] The participants "were all very attentive, and willing to hear about our experience", she said. Seminars are also being given by scholars specialising in Tibetan history and society and Tibetan Buddhism. The basic approach towards religion, according to Tanzen Lhundup, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Centre, is that religions were protected by law and would continue to flourish along with the country's development. "Calling religion `the people's opium' was a practice in the Cultural Revolution [in the 1960s], and has been discarded a long time ago," Tanzen Lhundup said. ^ top ^

Senior official urges stemming extravagance (China Daily)
2011-04-26
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged Party and governmental organizations to strictly follow policies on using public vehicles and holding celebration events in a bid to stem extravagance. He Guoqiang, head of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), made the remarks on Monday at a meeting on regulating celebration events and the use of vehicles in Party and governmental organizations. He noted that some Party and government officials purchased luxury cars for their units and used them for personal matters, and that unnecessary celebrations, seminars and forums were held using government funds." [...]. According to He, officials and organizations found conducting such activities will be educated and given disciplinary punishments. Those whose violations are serious will be punished accordingly. ^ top ^

Crackdown on dissent targets culture and art (SCMP)
2011-04-26
Authorities have cancelled a string of arts and cultural events in Beijing amid a widening crackdown in which dozens of rights activists and religious figures have been detained or harassed over the past two months. Events that have the appearance of challenging authorities, touching on sensitive topics or showing support for detained activists [...] have been ordered called off. Weekly political and social lectures at two locations, which were halted for the Lunar New Year, have not yet resumed. The latest cancellation was an annual screening of documentaries planned for the first week of next month, said Zhu Rikun, curator of the festival and founder of Fanhall Studio, whose speciality is filmmaking. The documentary festival, launched in 2003, usually features screenings, awards and seminars in Songzhuang, the largest community for artists in Beijing. [...] "We had to cancel it earlier this week because authorities ordered us to censor the documentaries," Zhu said. "It's not the first time they had requested censorship, but they were very tough this time, and there was no room for negotiation or any compromise." The cancellation comes at a time when Beijing appears to be putting pressure on all kinds of real, potential and imaginary opposition to the government, extending to the cultural sphere. Religion has also become a target, with police rounding up worshippers of the Shouwang Protestant Church for the last two weeks. "The situation is very stern. It's been particularly obvious lately," Zhu said. "The general deterioration in the cultural environment will affect everyone in it. No one can escape." Amid a general atmosphere of government officials being jittery because of public discontentment with rising inflation [...] along with a widening wealth gap and persistent official corruption, online posts appeared two months ago urging weekend rallies in cities across the mainland [...]. Authorities responded by flooding the designated areas with police [...] to make sure nothing happened [...]. Along with that came one of the largest government crackdowns on rights lawyers, bloggers and activists, [...]. Any plans for events meant to support Ai have been closely monitored and targeted. Analysts said the recent crackdown was not simply targeting culture or art, but an attempt by authorities to simply maintain control in a time of teetering social stability [...] Two weekly political and social lectures, scheduled on Saturdays at the Sanwei Bookstore and the Transition Institute, took a break for the Lunar New Year holiday but have not yet resumed. Ren Xinghui, a researcher with the institute, said its lecture was unlikely to resume in the foreseeable future and would not say anything more. [...]. ^ top ^

Dozens more Christians detained or placed under house arrest (SCMP)
2011-04-26
Authorities cracked down on one of the mainland's most influential unofficial churches yesterday for the third week in a row, detaining at least 36 Christians and placing dozens under house arrest for trying to worship at an outdoor Easter service, according to its leader.

Officials have confined Shouwang Protestant Church's pastors, elders and many congregation members at home for days to prevent them meeting, said Pastor Jin Tianming and church members. Jin, who has been under house arrest since April 9, said his church insisted on its right to worship freely despite official pressure. "This is a manifestation of our faith [...]. Police detained 169 worshippers the first time and nearly 50 on Sunday last week. Most of them were released within 24 hours. Jin said many church members who were detained on previous Sundays were stopped by police from going out yesterday. Others were told by local police to sign statements promising not to worship outdoors again. "If this continues, maybe no one will be able to go out to worship in the end," Jin said. Early yesterday morning, large numbers of police surrounded the building where the service was scheduled to take place. As a group of about 20 Christians began to pray on the podium near the scheduled time of worship of 8.30am, they were interrogated by police, who accused them of gathering illegally and led them away. Dozens more who arrived later were also taken away by police when they brought out worship sheets and started to pray. Police manhandled several who refused to leave. [...]. Shouwang Protestant Church, which has been forced to move more than 20 times since it was founded in 1993, had wanted the authorities to give it formal approval to worship freely in its own property. It has tried to register with the government but the state has repeatedly refused to give it authorisation. Professor Ying Fuk-tsang, a divinity scholar at Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the authorities want to send a message to other unofficial churches that the government will not tolerate them growing too large. Officially atheistic, the government permits worship only in state-sanctioned churches, although millions of Christians still worship in unregistered "house" churches. In Guangzhou, more than 1,000 people worshipped yesterday at the Rongguili house church. Its leader [...] has been regularly summoned by the authorities. ^ top ^

China to strengthen efforts to alleviate rural poverty (Xinhua)
2011-04-27
China on Tuesday vowed to intensify efforts to alleviate poverty in rural areas over the next 10 years, in an attempt to improve Chinese citizens' quality of life and narrow the country's growing income gap. That was learned from a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in Beijing [...]. During the meeting, which was presided over by President Hu Jintao, participants studied the status of China's development-oriented poverty reduction work and the challenges the country is facing in this regard. They also discussed the development-oriented Poverty Reduction Program for Rural China (2011-2020), as well as several other issues. China had made great strides in poverty alleviation over the past 10 years, with fewer people in poverty than ever before and farmers' incomes rising steadily, [...]. China's poverty alleviation has helped to boost the country's economic development and maintain social stability, the statement said. [...] Over the next ten years, the government will intensify its efforts to eradicate poverty by increasing the number of poverty alleviation programs, increasing budgetary poverty-relief funds and enhancing the capabilities of people living in poor areas to develop their local economies, while making active efforts to carry out international cooperation, the statement said. [...] Also, the growth rate of the per capita net income for farmers in poverty-riddent areas will exceed the national average by the year 2020. [...]. ^ top ^

'Flying shark' jet ready for its next challenge (SCMP)
2011-04-27
Beijing has again let military enthusiasts publicise new PLA hardware - this time revealing that its J-15 fighter jet, [...], has passed factory tests and entered technical flight testing. The latest photos of the J-15 were first uploaded by internet users on mainland military forums on Sunday. […] The photos of the PLA Navy's "flying shark" J-15 were taken outside the airfield of the No112 factory of Shenyang Aircraft Industry Corporation, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China. [...] The first prototype J-15 is believed to have made its maiden flight on August 31, 2009. Video and smaller photos of J-15s have been circulating on the internet since June. Chang said the pictures showed the J-15 was still equipped with a Russian engine but also was crammed with the best indigenous technologies, including an advanced anti-ship radar detector, self-guiding missiles and sophisticated electronics. "Beijing's tactics in showing the latest development of J-15 are the same as when it revealed its J-20 and the Varyag - all aimed at playing down political impacts," Chang said. "That's because the J-15 and J-20 were copied from Russian fighter jets, which made Moscow very unhappy." Shanghai-based military expert Ni Lexiong said the latest J-15 pictures indicated that the jet would soon be on the carrier. "The pictures tell us that development of the Varyag is going very smoothly," he said. "But in order to prevent our neighbours from being nervous, we had better use non-official sources to confirm our achievements." Research and development of the J-15 formally began in 2006, after Beijing revealed it was planning to develop an aircraft carrier battle group. Earlier reports said Russia had planned to sell it up to 50 Su-33 Flanker-D fighters, but the deal collapsed due to China's request for two aircraft for a "trial". Beijing instead obtained an Su-33 prototype, the T-10K, from Ukraine for research. ^ top ^

China, US to hold human rights dialogue (People's Daily Online)
2011-04-27
China and the United States will hold a new round of human rights dialogue in Beijing on April 27 and 28, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday. Chen Xu, director-general of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, will co-chair the dialogue with Michael Posner, assistant secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the United States, said Hong. During the dialogue, the two sides will exchange views on issues of common concern. They will discuss new developments in both countries concerning human rights, as well as their cooperation on human rights at the United Nations. Regarding China-US differences on human rights issues, Hong said the two sides can enhance mutual understanding through dialogue based on equality and mutual respect. "We oppose that any country interferes in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues," said Hong. Adhering to the people-oriented policy, the Chinese government has implemented the "China respects and protects human rights" principle of its Constitution, said Hong, adding that China has made remarkable progress in human rights. "China is willing to carry out dialogues with related parties based on equality and mutual respect to pursue common progress and development," said Hong. ^ top ^

Gaps remain in China-US human rights talks (Global Times)
2011-04-28
Seemingly perennially opposed on human rights, China and the US met for a dialogue on the issue on Wednesday […]. However, the long-standing chasm remained as Beijing opted to try and reduce misunderstandings while Washington stuck to its demands for immediate reform, analysts said, turning the debate into a mere posturing session, showing off different ideologies, values and national interests [...]. Director-General of the Foreign Ministry's International Department Chen Xu headed the Chinese delegation on Wednesday to the two-day 16th China-US Human Rights Dialogue, for discussions with the US delegation headed by Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Details of progress at the dialogue were not immediately available. Last week, the US State Department strongly announced that they would raise concerns at the dialogue over China's "negative trend of forced disappearances, extralegal detentions, and arrests and convictions." The US has criticized China for what it views as an escalated detention wave of dissidents since some online calls organized silent protests on streets of some Chinese cities [...]. &quuot;Wang Fan, from the China Foreign Affairs University, said Beijing's hopes of the dialogue becoming an effective channel for cooperation have repeatedly been dashed. The US reportedly threatened to retaliate over an alleged China snub by lifting favorable visa policies for Chinese elites and their families. This response came after China withdrew from several scheduled bilateral meetings and programs, media reports say, a hypothesis denied by the US government [...]. ^ top ^

Rights groups dispirited as China-US talks begin (SCMP)
2011-04-28
China and the US opened what is likely to be a bruising meeting on human rights yesterday amid a severe Chinese crackdown on dissent that has left dispirited rights advocates questioning the value of such diplomatic exchanges. The two-day discussion opened behind closed doors as usual. In the lead-up, the two sides traded frosty language, with the US saying it would focus on the ongoing campaign against dissent, as well as the rule of law, religious freedom and labour and minority rights. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman warned the US not to use human rights to interfere in China's affairs [...]. With China determined not to yield to foreign pressure, rights groups and activists have called on Washington to show real results or consider abandoning the process. "It has gotten to the point where you have to ask the question: By having these affairs do we in effect provide cover?" said John Kamm, a human rights campaigner who is frequently consulted by the US and other governments. While the US is taking the immediate heat, it isn't alone. Rights groups have begun to question the value of the governmental rights talks with China, in general, saying the discussions have proved fruitless, failed to stop suppression of dissent and given Beijing a way to isolate rights issues from other pressing matters with foreign governments. ^ top ^

Officials failing to halt food scandals (SCMP)
2011-04-28
Despite repeated calls for a crackdown on toxic additives in food, the mainland has been hit by scandals almost every day in the past week, from rotten meat and fertiliser pork sausages to soy sauce made with unpurified industrial salt. Samples from various sauces produced in places including Beijing, Shanghai and Shandong recently found 11 had traces of arsenic and high levels of bacteria, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on its website yesterday. The State Council launched an intensified campaign last week, triggered by high-profile reports of steamed buns made from recycled out-of-date buns and clenbuterol-tainted pork [...]. Professor Li Duo, a food safety and nutrition specialist at Zhejiang University, said the latest incidents demonstrated the official inertia in supervising the food industry. "Officials have always been announcing plans to clamp down on illegal food production activities," he said. "But why have they failed to control it and why are the scandals appearing so frequently? The main reason is that the punishment is too light for businessmen who break the law and officials guilty of dereliction of duty." The National Food Safety Law, implemented in June 2009, capped financial penalties at 10 times the value of products seized, with serious cases leading to the loss of licences. In September last year the punishment was increased to the death sentence. But Li said clauses in the new rule were still vague and did not specify the punishment for officials. "China should learn from developed countries and impose harsh punishment, including forcing people with serious wrongdoing into bankruptcy and banning them forever from this industry," Li said. On Sunday, the State Council issued a blacklist of chemical materials that should not be added to food. ^ top ^

Out of reach (SCMP)
2011-04-28
It is now 24 days since artist-activist Ai Weiwei's detention by Beijing police. Yet foreign media interest has not flagged, despite the silence of the Chinese legal system and Chinese government efforts to manipulate information [...]. There has been no attempt by police to justify this failure on the only ground permitted by law - that such notice "might hinder their investigation". Nor have the police claimed that Ai's case falls within the narrow exceptions prescribed by law for extending a detained suspect's detention beyond seven days without their seeking prosecutors' approval. Ai's would-be legal advisers should have been permitted to meet him weeks ago, right after detention. That is what the law requires except when the police declare that the case involves "state secrets", which they have not. Yet police intimidation appears to prevent access to counsel even now. One lawyer was himself illegally "abducted" for several days after his discussions with Ai's family [...]. Without active defence counsel, there is no hope of making police and their thugs accountable to other officials, including prosecutors, judges or legislators, not to mention the public. Although in ordinary cases even Communist Party leaders may have difficulty controlling local police, in prominent cases such as Ai's one can assume that police follow high-level party instructions [...]. Only three things can safely be said at this non-transparent juncture, as we await the crucial decision on whether Ai will be formally arrested. One is that the investigation now is indeed focusing on possible income tax violations. Although we do not know why the police continue to detain Ai's associate, former journalist Wen Tao, and probably several other employees, [...]. Second, it also seems clear that, whatever the evidence being assembled about tax evasion or other charges, this was not the motivation for Ai's detention. This case started out on a "detain first and look for justification later" basis. If evidence sufficient to sustain a conviction is found, the case will become a pre-eminent example of what criminal justice experts call "selective prosecution" [...]. Although China is rife with economic crimes that reach the highest rungs of party, government and courts, the decision whether to detain and investigate someone suspected of such crimes is often a political act that is influenced by more than legal considerations [...]. Thus, even if the police find significant valid evidence against Ai, there would be a precedent for terminating the investigation on a similar basis and releasing him. Finally, however the investigation of this case ends, it has already demonstrated once again how China's police do not adhere not only to the standards of fair criminal justice enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Chinese government signed in 1998 but has yet to ratify, but also to their own country's criminal procedure law. If a famous figure like Ai can be so blatantly abused in the glare of publicity, what protections do ordinary Chinese citizens receive from their police?. ^ top ^

Wen in renewed plea for wider political reforms (SCMP)
2011-04-29
Premier Wen Jiabao has renewed his campaign for political reform, [...]. Most political observers said Wen's remarks indicated frustration with the pace of reform rather than any fracture within the party. Speaking to Chinese embassy staff and representatives of the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur, Wen said China needed to carry out political, economic and judicial reforms to balance its growth. He also said China needed to encourage "independent thinking" among its 1.3 billion people. "[China] must advance political, economic and judicial reforms, so that our superstructure [politics] will keep abreast with the development of our economic foundation," Wen said in his speech [...]. He also stressed the importance of "independent thinking" [...]. "The most important thing for future development is to promote independent thinking and creativity. [...]," he said [...]. Wen's remarks in Kuala Lumpur also departed from his earlier statements that usually put economic reform before political reform. These latest developments raised questions whether there were hidden fractures within the top leadership. But most political analysts said it was more likely a show of frustration by the premier and the party's liberals. "Wen appeared so frustrated because even as the premier, he couldn't do much [to initiate political reforms], [...]," said Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong. Cheng added that Wen might want to send such messages while he was still able to do so. With a major leadership reshuffle due next year, Wen understood that he would no longer be able to speak freely to the public once he had retired [...]. Last month, Wu - the party's No2 - told national lawmakers that China must guard against the dire consequences of promoting Western-style political pluralism and division of power. Four days later, at his annual press conference, Wen stressed the need for political reform [...]. Wen also said in Kuala Lumpur that China should no longer limp on one leg - referring to its economic reforms. Wen has been sending out similar messages on various occasions recently [...]. On Saturday, Wen raised eyebrows after he invited veteran Hong Kong columnist and former national lawmaker Ng Hong-mun for a 90-minute talk at his office in Zhongnanhai. Ng said Wen had warned against the lingering influence of "cultural revolution" and "feudalism" that had deterred people from speaking the truth. Cheng said Wen was referring to the conservative power and entrenched interests group, including the so-called princelings, or children of senior party members. Another political commentator, Johnny Lau Yui-sui, said Wen's political opinions were aimed at balancing the central government's current conservative policies. [...]. ^ top ^

Freedom of speech and tolerance urged (SCMP)
2011-04-29
In an unusual move, the ruling Communist Party's newspaper published a commentary calling for freedom of speech and tolerance of different views, while citing one of the most famous Western quotes about freedom of thought and expression. People's Daily led a commentary yesterday with a quotation often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This definition of freedom of thought and expression is widely accepted in the West as a core principle of a free society [...]. The article pointedly criticised the widespread official intolerance of dissenting views and condemned those using their powers to suppress such expression [...]. It called for tolerance of different views [...]. The article said that in a complex society, dissenting voices should be respected because they served as channels to alleviate social anxiety. Professor Hu Xingdou, an economist and social commentator at Beijing Institute of Technology, said: "It [the article] reflects the growing voices among some liberal officials and academics as many of them see China is at a historic junction of transition now." The article also quoted late chairman Mao Zedong and late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping on the need for citizens to be free to criticise and supervise their government [...]. But there are growing voices within and outside the ruling party for the introduction of Western-style democracy as decades of economic progress without political reform leave the country with widespread corruption, inequalities and tense social conflict [...]. ^ top ^

Pressure on population policies (SCMP)
2011-04-29
China is ageing rapidly, its migrant population has grown dramatically and almost half the population lives in urban areas, the mainland's latest once-a-decade census has found. The results look set to intensify pressure [...], the so-called hukou that gives reduced social welfare entitlements to people who move from their hometowns. The census shows people aged above 60 made up 13.3 per cent of the population last year, up nearly 3 percentage points from the previous census in 2000. Meanwhile, those aged under 14 now account for 16.6 per cent of the country's 1.34 billion people, down 6.3 percentage points from 2000. Having a grey society is the price the mainland has paid for keeping population growth low - the census shows that the population grew by just 73.9 million from the previous census. That means the mainland's annual population growth rate almost halved from 1.07 per cent between 1991 and 2000 to 0.57 per cent between 2001 and 2010. [...]. If those trends are not mitigated in time, there could be a day when only 40 per cent or 30 per cent of the population are of working age, supporting 60 per cent or 70 per cent of the population as retirees or children [...]. The census also shows other problems. The so-called floating population, migrants who have left their homes to work in cities, has leaped 81 per cent from 10 years ago to 261 million. Urban residents now make up 49.68 per cent of the population, up 13.46 percentage points. The findings, which are used by policymakers to decide the mainland's population policies, will add weight to the arguments of those calling for the abolition of hukou and the granting of equal social welfare entitlements to all [...]. On Wednesday, in a Politburo meeting that was apparently given the figures early, President Hu Jintao continued to talk about "a stable low birth rate". Ma said Hu's message meant that China would want to maintain a relatively low growth rate, but he added that the country must start to pay attention to the new realities and make cautious balancing moves. Pointing to a slide of the population's age structure at yesterday's press conference, Ma said: "All of us are thinking how to deal with such a situation." Wang Feng, a scholar with the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy, said: "The nation's birth rate is already too low. China's population growth has been below its replacement level [2.1 children per couple] for 20 years [...]. ^ top ^

Family planning policy to stay firm: President (People's Daily Online)
2011-04-29
China will maintain its stringent family planning policy it imposed a generation ago to keep the birth rate low and the economy growing, President Hu Jintao said in remarks before the release of a national census data [...]. Hu told top state leaders at a group study of the Political Bureau of the ruling Party's Central Committee Tuesday that the policy - which limits most urban couples to one child and rural families to two - should be maintained and improved. But no birth rate target or other specific details were given [...]. There has been growing speculation among Chinese media, experts and the public about whether the government would relax the family planning policy, allowing more people to have two children. The family planning policy has curbed China's population growth but brought new problems, such as a rising elderly population that demographers say will be increasingly hard to support as the young labor force shrinks. Hu said that social security and services for the elderly should be improved and he called on officials to formulate effective strategies to cope with the aging population. The president also called for efforts in building China into a country strong in human resources [...]. The male-female ratio at birth in China is about 118 males to 100 females. In industrialized countries, the ratio is 107 to 100. Problems concerning the sex ratio should be addressed, and gender equity efforts enhanced, Hu said [...]. As to whether to readjust and revise China's strict family-planning population policy, officials and scholars are taking starkly different positions. The proponents of the policy say that it is unsustainable for China to provide adequate food and other resources to support 1.5 billion or more people in the country. The opponents say, if the depleting work force is not replenished, China will have difficulty to compete with countries like India. ^ top ^

Soaring migrant numbers sign of social ills (SCMP)
2011-04-29
The mainland's migrant population rose 81 per cent in the past decade, prompting some analysts to point to an underlying social problem - the rising number of migrant children and the lack of basic care for the even larger population of youngsters left behind. Most of the 261 million people who moved from their registered household, or hukou, last year were migrant workers taking jobs far from their hometowns, according to the latest national census. The director of Renmin University's Institute of Population Research, Dr Duan Chengrong, said that based on its surveys and research, the migrant population would grow in the next 10 to 20 years to around 350 million if overall social and economic structure remains unchanged. Quoting statistics from an interim census in 2005, Duan said there were 23 million migrant children and another 58 million who had been left-behind by city-bound parents. He said the number of migrant children would increase significantly as the financial well-being of their parents improved. "So the schooling for these kids will be the most pressing issue the authorities will face as the migrant population increases," Duan said. Access to public services in rural and urban areas has been tied to the household registration system for decades, to the disadvantage of residents from rural residents and smaller cities. In Beijing, about 130,000 migrant children [...] are studying in substandard schools. Those lucky enough to attend public junior high schools must leave their parents to return to their hometowns if they want to sit the national university entrance exams, which are linked to the controversial hukou regime. Duan said preschool education for children from migrant families posed the biggest challenge for authorities because most of these youngsters either languished in private kindergartens with limited resources or were left to run around in open air markets where their parents worked [...]. ^ top ^

Efforts needed to correct govt wrongdoings (China Daily)
2011-04-29
A Chinese supervisory body has urged greater efforts to change improper practices and incidents among government agencies and their staff, according to an official statement posted Thursday. The move should be made in order to forge closer ties between the government and the people and thus facilitate China's social and economic development during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) [...]. Issued by an office under the Ministry of Supervision, the statement included a list of major corrections that need to be made for government agencies and staff members in 2011. Irregularities in land expropriation, the allocation of housing units for low-income families, food and drug safety and practices that jeopardize the interests of Chinese farmers were included in the list. The statement also called for further efforts to correct irregularities concerning the collection of highway tolls and improved supervision of government funds allocated for public welfare projects. In addition, government agencies should pay greater attention to the implementation of public welfare-oriented policies and continue to improve their work in the interest of all Chinese citizens. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Back to normal at Shanghai ports (SCMP)
2011-04-26
Trucks laden with cargo containers yesterday appeared to operate as usual on roads leading to Shanghai ports, as officials sought to calm truck drivers who went on strike last week over rising costs. Over the weekend the Shanghai government cut fees in a bid to defuse anger over high fuel prices among the independent contractors who haul goods to and from the city's string of ports. Many drivers working as company employees on fixed wages did not join the protest. The strike, which began last Wednesday, was a telling symptom of pressures over inflation, [......]. By yesterday morning, it appeared the Shanghai government's push to douse the discontent was working. Roads leading to the city's docks were busy with traffic. But several drivers said that despite their success in cutting fees, making a decent living from the fiercely competitive trucking sector would remain tough. "The government's response has been fairly reasonable, but this is largely a problem with the market. With so many drivers out there competition is tough, and it won't be so easy to fix. [...]" said Li Wenbing, 31, a truck driver [...]. "The government's new regulation won't have much impact on my wages. At least after four days parked here I am well rested." Large numbers of police officers continued to line streets around the Baoshan port area, and officials set up six outdoor stands where drivers could register any complaints. "The situation has only been resolved to a degree. Frankly, the new rules aren't that much help," said a 26-year-old independent driver from Henan. The drivers complain about high operating costs, citing fuel-price increases, low salaries, and irregular fees and fines imposed by authorities. Some said logistics companies were colluding to charge higher fees. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Harvard scholar elected to lead Tibetans in exile (SCMP)
2011-04-28
Harvard legal scholar Lobsang Sangay will be the next prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, officials announced yesterday, a role that will see him take over political leadership from the Dalai Lama. The 75-year-old Dalai Lama has long said he wanted to give up his political role while remaining the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. The shift to a more powerful elected leader is widely seen as a way to prepare for the Dalai Lama's eventual death. However, given how much Tibetans revere the Dalai Lama, it's unclear how much power the new prime minister will actually exert. Sangay, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School with extensive experience in international law and conflict resolution, won the election with 55 per cent of the votes cast by tens of thousands of Tibetans around the world, chief election commissioner Jamphel Choesang said in the north Indian town of Dharmsala, where the exile government is based. "I view my election as an affirmation of the far-sighted policies of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and another important step towards the realisation of his vision of a truly democratic Tibetan society," Sangay said. [...] While the Dalai Lama is believed to be in fairly good health, China's continued heavy-handed rule over Tibet has made the succession question all important within the Tibetan community [...]. The Dalai Lama has said that he believes leaders should be elected, and has suggested that negotiations with Beijing [...] would be less complicated under another Tibetan figurehead. The message "is that the Tibetan struggle is clearly a Tibetan people's struggle", government spokesman Thupten Samphel said. "This is a wake-up call for China." [...] Voters were delighted with the news yesterday, saying they felt Sangay was the right man for the job. [...] Successive rounds of talks between Chinese officials and representatives of the Dalai Lama have made no apparent progress. Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China, despite his claims to be working only for more autonomy under Chinese rule. The exiled Tibetan community in Dharmsala said it would not celebrate the election results as it was protesting against a Chinese crackdown on a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in western Sichuan province. The Kirti monastery was forcibly shut down after a police raid left two villagers dead. The new parliament-in-exile will take its oath of office May 30 in Dharmsala. ^ top ^

Dalai's new 'prime minister' illegitimate: official (Global Times)
2011-04-28
The Dalai Lama moved one step closer to "retirement" on Wednesday when his self-declared "government-in-exile" picked a new "leader"... a Harvard graduate who has never been to Tibet. Lobsang Sangay, 43, was named as the "exiled government's" new "Kalon Tripa (prime minister)" [...]. Sangay was a leader of the Tibetan Youth Congress, a hard-line organization under the Dalai Lama clique that openly preaches violence in their search for "Tibetan independence." The group was the mastermind behind a violent riot on March 14, 2008, which resulted in the deaths of 18 civilians. Xu Zhitao, an official at the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), told the Global Times that since the "exiled government" is not legitimate and is not recognized by any country in the world, Sangay's appointment is just another political show by the Dalai Lama [...]. Lian Xiangmin, a research fellow at the China Tibetology Research Center, told the Global Times that Sangay's influence in the clique is no match for that of the Dalai Lama, despite the latter declaring in March that he would resign from his political role [...]. "Any important decisions would still have to be discussed with the Dalai Lama," Barry Sautman, a Tibet expert at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, told AFP. "The problem for any 'prime minister' is that, compared to the Dalai Lama, he enjoys little name recognition outside specialized Tibetan circles, and that will be a difficult dynamic to shift," Sautman said [...]. According to Reuters, Sangay could be more radical than the Dalai Lama. He earlier hinted that he could move beyond the Dalai Lama's "middle way" policy of seeking "Tibet independence." His appointment could also stave off a possible crisis of "leadership" when the Dalai Lama dies. China has rejected the "middle way" policy as it flies in the face of the country's constitution and law [...]. In order to retain the influence of his "exiled government," despite his intention of leaving his political role, the Dalai Lama once proposed changing the way his reincarnation was chosen, including selecting the figure while he is alive. Traditionally, the Dalai Lama's successor has to be a boy containing his "reincarnated soul" born after his death, chosen by a committee of monks through a lot-drawing ceremony. The reincarnation should also be approved by China's central government. Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a living Buddha for Tibetan Buddhism, said the Dalai Lama's self-declared retirement was a sheer "self-directed and played out farce." "The Shakyamuni Buddha required Buddhists to pursue spiritual improvement, rather than meddle in politics. But the Dalai Lama has long engaged in activities that aim to split China," Tenzinchodrak told the Xinhua News Agency. Hu Yan, a professor specializing in Tibet affairs with the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, told the Global Times that Sangay's appointment might be the result of some groups who were disappointed by the aging Dalai Lama's failure to meet their political expectations [...]. ^ top ^

Leader for Tibetan exiles rejected (SCMP)
2011-04-29
Beijing dismissed the election of a new political leader by Tibetan exiles, suggesting yesterday it had no intention of dealing with a group which it called illegal and unrecognised.

[...]. "The so-called Tibet government-in-exile is an illegal political organisation set up overseas by the Dalai Lama to engage in Tibet independence activities," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing in Beijing's first official reaction to the election. "No country in the world recognises this organisation," he said, without elaborating [...]. By giving up his political powers, the 75-year old Dalai Lama has made it more difficult for Beijing to influence the course of the independence movement after his death, analysts say. Beijing says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It says it has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan to build stealth warships (SCMP)
2011-04-27
Taiwan has decided to build stealth warships armed with supersonic anti-ship missiles, a move analysts see as part of the island's measures to counter the planned launch of the mainland's first aircraft carrier [...]. The island's military said yesterday it had stepped up measures to cope with the PLA's naval build-up. "The defence ministry has closely monitored the building of the carrier and has a comprehensive understanding of its construction, which we feel would pose a threat to us," ministry spokesman David Lo said. "For this, we have prudently mapped out relevant measures to cope with such a situation." He declined to reveal details of the measures but military experts said they included plans to build 10 corvettes, [...]. Taiwan's deputy defence minister, Lin Yu-pao, acknowledged last week that the island's military would start constructing a prototype of the stealth warship next year, with completion scheduled for 2014. ^ top ^

First woman runs for Taiwan's top job (SCMP)
2011-04-28
The head of Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Dr Tsai Ing-wen, won her party's presidential primary, becoming the first woman in the island's history to run for the presidency. The 54-year-old former vice-premier will face Ma Ying-jeou, who was nominated by his ruling Kuomintang yesterday to run for a second term in presidential polls set for January 14 [...] "Unity is the biggest reason that the DPP is able to stage a comeback and stand on its feet in the past three years," she said, referring to the jailing of former president Chen Shui-bian of the DPP on corruption charges. The soft-spoken and moderate Tsai took over the DPP's reins three years ago when most believed it would fall apart. Taiwanese media said the fierce competition between Tsai and Su had seriously hurt the party's unity. Reports said Tsai had teamed up with a bitter rival of Su, former premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, which angered Su's camp [...]. To prevent Tsai from stealing the spotlight yesterday, the KMT moved ahead of schedule to nominate Ma as its candidate, just four days after Ma registered with the party to run for re-election. The ruling party was originally scheduled to officially announce its nominee on May 4. Ma, 60, pledged that he would never steer the island back to the "road of corruption, disunity, inability and international seclusion" seen during Chen's reign. The mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office warned the DPP it risked serious problems if it pressed for independence. "If [DPP's] cross-strait policy is based on Taiwan independence - or one country on each side of the strait - no matter how ingenious is the packaging, it will certainly disturb the exchanges and co-operation... and affect the stability of the Taiwan Strait," spokesman Yang Yi said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China implements price fraud checks amid high inflation (Xinhua)
2011-04-26
China's economic planning agency on Monday vowed to step up its crackdown on price fraud and manipulation by producers of consumer goods in light of China's stubbornly high inflation rate on Monday. Local authorities should keep a close watch on the prices of grain, cooking oil, vegetables, eggs and meat [...] the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on its website. Drastic price fluctuations should be reported to relevant departments in a timely fashion, the NDRC said. Local price departments should step up its investigations of monopolies and price hike collusion between consumer goods producers, it added. The NDRC also urged more transparency in the pricing of commercial housing [...]. Premier Wen Jiabao recently stated that keeping prices stable is a high priority for the government this year, as soaring prices might pose a threat to social stability. ^ top ^

Beijing sets production limit for strategic metals (SCMP)
2011-04-26
China has set production ceilings for five non-ferrous metals [...] in a move to control output and pricing for these strategic metals. The new restrictions came after Beijing in December cut export quotas for rare earth ores by 35 per cent for this year's first half and raised the resource tax on the ores' production by 20 to 150 times. The output quota for tin concentrate ore was set at 73,000 tonnes for this year, up 12.3 per cent from last year, while that of molybdenum has been raised by 8.1 per cent to 200,000 tonnes, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement. "For the five non-ferrous metals, the quotas are in line with Beijing's plan for 2011-2015 to balance the economy by slowing growth in energy and resource-intensive industries," said Guoxin Securities' analyst Peng Bo [...]. China's is the world's largest steel producer. The statement also reiterated three production ceilings announced by the Ministry of Land and Resources early this month. They included an 8.8 per cent increase in the quota for tungsten concentrate ores to 87,000 tonnes, a 5 per cent increase in the quota for antimony concentrate to 105,000 tonnes and a 5.2 per cent lift for rare earth oxides to 93,800 tonnes. The restrictions on rare earth ores have drawn the most criticism. The average prices on China's rare earth exports rose 88 per cent to US$68,305 a tonne in March from US$36,297 in January, according to data from customs. Last year's rare earths export volume fell 9.3 per cent from 2009, but the export value tripled. Peng predicted rare earth prices, currently half that of record levels seen in the early 1990s, would continue to rise although some pull-backs were likely after recent strong gains. She projected neodymium's average price to rise a third to US$512,800 a tonne in 2013 from this year and that of lanthanum by two-thirds to US$42,700 a tonne in the period. ^ top ^

Efforts to regulate China's home market see some effects: State Council (Xinhua)
2011-04-27
China's State Council, the country's cabinet, said Tuesday that the efforts of local governments to regulate the real estate market had seen some preliminary results."Speculative housing demands have been contained, and the sales volume of new and existing homes dropped month on month while home prices stayed generally stable," said the State Council in a statement released Tuesday. The State Council had sent eight inspection groups to 16 provinces, regions or municipalities to supervise their work of regulating the home markets from April 10 to 21. The inspection groups reported that local governments had attached great importance to rectifying the real estate market, and all the 16 provinces, regions or municipalities have taken concrete measures in implementing the central government's policy to regulate the country's home market. [...] The State Council has also ordered provinces, regions and municipalities that were not inspected to submit a report regarding their measures taken to regulate the housing markets. ^ top ^

China releases plan to modernize, update industry (People's Daily Online)
2011-04-27
Beijing has released an economic blueprint that spells out which industry segments it will encourage or discourage, in line with its push to weed out small-scale businesses and back large, efficient enterprises. It also highlights the country's emphasis on supporting high technology industries and downplaying resource extraction. The list published on Tuesday by the National Development and Reform Commission, [...]. It sets out 750 industry segments that will be encouraged, 426 that will be phased out, and 223 that will be restricted by criteria such as minimum size to encourage consolidation [...]. Overall, the document shows the world's second largest economy is seeking to modernize and leave behind antiquated, inefficient ways. On coal, the nation's leading source of electricity, the document said it would fast-track mines with a production capacity above 1.2 million tons per year, phase out mines with less than 300,000 tons per year of capacity, and prevent new development on a range of mines with capacities in between, depending on their location. It also gave high priority to developing renewable energy sources using water, solar and wind, as well as nuclear energy [...]. In line with previously announced policies, the country put the mining of rare earths [...] in the restricted category [...]. It outlines a forward-looking attitude toward the Internet, with the government encouraging the development of high-speed broadband networks, Internet Protocol services, e-commerce billing, digital mobile phone and anti-counterfeiting technology. Beijing also targets a range of products that appear to be pollution concerns, from "disposable foam plastic dinnerware" to "fuel bicycles," and older batteries that use mercury and lead acid. Instead it favors such things as lithium-ion batteries and biodegradable plastics. ^ top ^

China to set up funds for development of green energy counties (Xinhua)
2011-04-29
China will set up special funds to support the creation of green energy-oriented counties in an effort to promote the use of renewable energy in the country's rural areas, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Thursday. The move is believed to be able to help advance clean energy development and modernization in the country's rural areas. According to a set of regulations released jointly by the MOF, the National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Agriculture, the government will give subsidies to counties that make significant efforts to develop green energy sources. The subsidizing plan will support endeavors such as centralizing supplies of methane gas and the utilization of biomass energy. To win over the subsidies, each project should also meet four other pre-set objectives, including an increase in the production capacity of green energy equivalent to 50,000 tonnes of standard coal and inclusion of at least 20,000 families as beneficiaries, plus more than 80 percent of comprehensive use rate for straw resources [...]. ^ top ^

Experts call for relaxation of renminbi capital account convertibility (Xinhua)
2011-04-29
China, the world's second-largest economy, should ease restrictions on renminbi capital account convertibility to facilitate foreign direct investment, Chinese experts said on Thursday. The relaxation of the renminbi convertibility in the capital accounts would help China better integrate into the global economy and boost development of the country's financial markets, said Ding Zhijie, a professor with the University of International Business and Economics, [...]. The relaxation would also help enhance the ability of Chinese corporations to cope with financial risks, [...]. Further, China has already met the main criteria for convertibility, including steady economic growth, sufficient foreign exchange reserves, complex financial rules and a stable financial system [...]. Additionally, the country's foreign exchange reserves hit a historic high of 3.04 trillion U.S. dollars by the end of March, representing 24.4 percent increase over the previous year, according to data from the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank [...].Long Guoqiang, deputy director of Research Development of Foreign Economic Relations of the Development Research Center of the State Council, said that for years, the public took the risks brought by the relaxation of the renminbi capital account convertibility too seriously."It is not beneficial for the wider acceptance of the renminbi in the global market, nor the expansion of Chinese companies into other countries, if the capital account is not freely convertible," Long said. Meanwhile, experts suggested that the country should step up supervision of abnormal capital inflows and crack down on illegal cross-border financial activities, such as money laundering and terrorist financing, while pushing forward with convertibility [...]. In a bid to accelerate the pace of convertibility, greater efforts should be made to promote interest rate and exchange rate marketization, as well as to deepen reforms in the banking system, experts said [...]. ^ top ^

WB raises China 2011 GDP forecast (China Daily)
2011-04-29
The World Bank on Thursday improved its forecast for China's GDP growth to 9.3 percent this year, from a previous prediction of 8.7 percent, due to strong corporate investment and a robust labor market. In its latest China Quarterly Update, the World Bank said that the country's economic growth has remained resilient and the economic outlook remains broadly favorable. "We now project China's real GDP growth at 9.3 percent in 2011 and 8.7 percent in 2012, as a normalized macroeconomic stance, inflation, and somewhat slower global growth is likely to be partly offset by solid cooperate investment and a still robust labor market," said Ardo Hansson, the World Bank's Lead Economist for China. Inflation risks and the property market remain key challenges facing the country, according to the World Bank [...]. The central bank has raised interest rates four times since October as it tries to cool inflation that hit 5.4 percent in March, a 32-month high. "We believe China's headline inflation will gradually fall in the coming 12 months as the price hike pressure from food has peaked," said Kuijs [...]. But the World Bank cautioned that China faces pressure from near-record global costs for oil and other commodities [...]. Meanwhile, core inflation remained low, 2.3 percent in March, implying that the country could still absorb some price hikes, he added. The property market is a particular source of risk to growth, considering the importance of construction to the economy. "With tension between the underlying upward housing price pressure and the policy objective to contain price rises, interaction between the market and policy measures could lead to a more abrupt than planned downturn in the real estate market," the World Bank said in its report [...]. China's banking regulator last week asked banks to conduct more stress tests on their real estate lending as the government steps up efforts to curb surging housing prices. Real estate investment, however, has so far remained robust, as an expected slowdown in mainstream housing construction should, in part, be offset by the government's low-rent and affordable housing plan, according to Kuijs [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK senior official meets former U.S. president Carter (Xinhua)
2011-04-27
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun met former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and three other former heads of state Tuesday, official news agency KCNA reported. The report didn't disclose the content of their meeting. The group arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday morning to begin a three-day visit aimed at easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The visit would focus on Pyongyang's nuclear program and its food shortages, said Carter, winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, before heading for the DPRK on Monday. President from 1977 to 1981, Carter made a historic trip to the DPRK in 1994 to help defuse a crisis over the country's nuclear program. He paid a three-day private visit to Pyongyang last August to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who had been detained by the DPRK for entering the country illegally. ^ top ^

Carter says North Korea's Kim ready for talks (Global Times)
2011-04-29
Former US president Jimmy Carter said Thursday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is willing to hold direct dialogues with South Korea and the US without preconditions, as he and three other retired world leaders left Pyongyang for Seoul. Kim "is prepared for a summit meeting directly with President Lee Myung-bak at any time to discuss any subject directly between the two heads of state," the Xinhua News Agency quoted Carter as saying. The delegation did not meet Kim, but Carter said Kim's offer of talks had been vehicled earlier Thursday in Pyongyang in a "personal message" read by an official. The former US president also accused the US and South Korea of a "human rights violation" for, in his view, withholding food aid from the North for political purposes. He added that North Korean officials are now open to discussing both the nuclear issue and any other military issue with the South, and not merely with the US previously insisted upon by Pyongyang, according to Xinhua. However, South Korea belittled Carter's visit, saying Seoul does not have big hopes that Carter could change Pyongyang's attitude in three days [...]. Lü Chao, director of the Center of South Korea Studies of the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that South Korea's absolute rejection of Carter's visit to the North is inappropriate, as his diplomatic efforts made progress in delivering a significant message from the North Korean leadership, even if he failed to meet with Kim [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Albright gives lecture (Montsame)
2011-04-22
Being with a visit here at invitation of the Premier, a former U.S Secretary of State and a current director of the Board of the National Institute for Democracy (NID) Mrs. Madeleine Albright gave Thursday a lecture themed “Celebrating Mongolia's Democracy: A Special Role in Asia” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The lecture has attracted some 100 people including MPs, Ministers, heads of diplomatic missions, and representatives of civil movements and private sector. In her lecture, Mrs. Albright has emphasized that Mongolia is an amazing country capable of solving any disputes in a peaceful way, and has appreciated contribution of Mongolia to respecting of the human rights and freedom. “Mongolia has been focusing on solving social problems of women and children. I am very glad that the Mongolians are developing the democracy that can be model for the world's countries. Mongolia and its people are very lucky to have such fabulous natural resources and I believe Mongolia can be also a model nation by its utilizing the natural resource properly,” she has said. Mentioning that Mongolia has overcome many difficulties in developing the democracy in the last 20 years, Mrs. Albright pointed out about an importance of strengthening the democratic institution as Mongolia's state figures say, and it is a next step to forward the democracy. She has expressed her willingness to help Mongolia as the director of the Board of the NID, and hoped that Mongolia will succeed in spreading the democracy. ^ top ^

MNT 500 million from employment fund for 180 herder families (news.mn)
2011-04-25
Working groups from the Ministries of Social Welfare and Labor and of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry reviewed on April 22 the work report by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor on implementation of the Support of Herders' Employment program in 2010. They decided to allocate MNT500 million from the Employment Fund to 180 herder households in 45 soums of 15 aimags including Arkhangai, Bulgan and Bayan-Ulgii. Four households in every selected soum will be helped in getting some income-generating job. ^ top ^

Hernado de Soto is in UB (Montsame)
2011-04-26
A well-known economist and president of the Peru-located Institute for Liberty and Democracy Mr. Hernando De Soto is visiting Mongolia. On Monday, he was received by Mongolia's President Ts.Elbegdorj. De Soto spoke about the ILD's projects realized in many countries to put properties of poor families and vulnerable groups' people into economic circulation by enrolling them in a registration and to give them a chance to improve lives. Adding that in 2010 he conducted some researches into the same matter in Mongolia, De Soto introduced the President to its results and shared views on ways of implementing here a full project. Mr. Soto is visiting Mongolia for the second time at invitation of the President's Office, and is meeting with authorities of related Ministries to talk about improving of the property registration system of Mongolia. ^ top ^

Mongolia agrees to set up international research center (news.mn)
2011-04-27
The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade D.Tsogtbaatar yesterday signed in New York a declaration of intent to set up an International Research Centre of Landlocked Countries. Mongolia is the first country to sign the document, which will become a binding agreement when 10 countries support it. The international centre in Ulaanbaatar was proposed by Mongolia to provide permanent research facilities to landlocked countries to suggest their rights and to get these globally accepted. Tsogtbaatar called on UN-OHRLLS High Representative Ch.Diarra and exchanged views with him on further cooperation. He presented to Diarra a summary of the proceedings of the consultative meeting of landlocked countries in Asia and Pacific region that was held in Ulaanbaatar between April 12 and 14. Diarra will visit Mongolia soon for further talks on establishing the centre. ^ top ^

Mongolia elected member of UN's Statistical Commission (Montsame)
2011-04-28
Mongolia has been elected for the first time the member of the Statistical commission of the UN. It happened at the UN Economic and Social council forum that is running April 27-28 at UN headquarters. Being an observer, Mongolia was actively taking part in the commission work and managed to strengthen its position. Apart of our country, seven members have been elected--USA, Czech Republic, Hungary, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cuba and Oman. In the UN Economic and Social council forum present are from Mongolia Permanent representatives of Mongolia to UN O.Enkhtsetseg, a head and vice head of the National statistical office /NSO/ S.Mendsaikhan and G.Gerelt-Od. They intend to meet with a head of the Statistical department of UN, P.Cheng and others. ^ top ^

Low-income people to be provided woth apartments (Montsame)
2011-04-28
The government is taking a step-by-step measure to provide the low-income people with apartments who always face difficulties like high interest, short credit term and impossibility of up-front. On Wednesday, the cabinet approved a financing model to enroll the low-income people in housing soft loans in frames of the "100 thousand apartments" programme. An obligation have been given to S.Bayartsogt, the Minister of Finance; Kh.Battulga, the Minister of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development; and G.Monkhbayar, the UB city Mayor, to work and issue related rules and to organize a providing of the people with dwellings. The rules concern those who applied for the first time to get apartments or the low-income citizens, with up to 6 per cent interest per year. A head of the National committee on intensifying housing and Deputy Premier M.Enkhbold has been ordered to put control over the rules' implementation. An order has been given to the Minister of Finance to place money in annual state budget for the expense of interest difference between resource of the Development Bank (DB) and on-lending and of the DB's activities. Moreover, Kh.Battulga and the UB Mayor have taken a responsibility to organize a construction of apartments on new area of micro-districts. ^ 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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