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
  15-19.8.11, No. 384  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, Israel vow to improve military ties (China Daily)
2011-08-15
Chen Bingde, visiting chief of the General Staff of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), pledged Sunday to lift the friendly ties between the Chinese and Israeli militaries to a new level during a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. A deepening Sino-Israeli cooperation is contributing to regional peace and stability, Chen said, stressing the relationship between the two countries' armies is developing in recent years. Barak, who visited China two months ago, hopes that the two countries will work together to tackle all kinds of threats and challenges. Chen's visit is the first of its kind, according to Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who said the visit was significant in promoting the relations between the two militaries. At the invitation of Gantz, Chen arrived here on Sunday for a three-day visit. ^ top ^

China gives Ethiopia $55 m in aid (China Daily)
2011-08-16
China on Monday announced food aid worth 353.2 million yuan ($55.28 million), one of its largest single gifts to a foreign country, to help Ethiopia and other African drought-stricken regions solve the current famine crisis. Premier Wen Jiabao made the promise while meeting visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [...]. China had alreadyy announced plans to provide 90 million yuan ($14 million) worth of emergency food assistance to countries in the Horn of Africa in late July. Starting from last year, the Horn of Africa region, which includes Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia, has been devastated by severe drought. More than 12 million people there desperately need food and humanitarian assistance [...]. On Monday, Wen also said Chinna is willing to expand cooperation with Ethiopia in areas including industrial investment, technology transfer and efficient agriculture to help realize sustainable development in the African nation. Besides, China will push for the G20 group to forge a good environment for stability and development of Africa, the premier said [...]. President HHu Jintao also expressed concern over the famine when meeting Meles on Friday in the southern city of Shenzhen, when the leaders were there to attend the opening ceremony of the 26th Summer Universiade. Hu said China would deliver its direct humanitarian aid to the area and Ethiopia as soon as possible. Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Relief, on Saturday stressed that aid workers must have a safe passage to those in need [...]. ^ top ^

No access to wrecked stealth copter: China (China Daily)
2011-08-17
The Chinese military on Tuesday refuted a report that Chinese intelligence officials were allowed by Pakistan to photograph the crashed US Blackhawk helicopter from the Osama bin Laden raid and take wreckage samples to research. According to a press release sent to China Daily from the Information Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of National Defense, such reports are "groundless and ridiculous". The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence gave China access to the previously unknown "stealth helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Bin Laden in May, despite explicit requests from the Central Intelligence Agency not to do so." During the raid, one of two modified Blackhawk helicopters, believed to employ secret stealth capability, malfunctioned and crashed, forcing the commandos to abandon it. The newspaper quoted a person "in intelligence circles" as saying that Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed chopper as well as take samples of its special "skin" that allowed the US raid to evade Pakistani radar [...]. In an incident such as the helicopter crash, it is standard US procedure to destroy sophisticated technology such as encrypted communications and navigation computers. A senior Pakistani security official denied the report and pointed out that the wreckage had been handed back to US officials shortly after the raid. "It's just speculation. It's all false. The wreckage was handed back. There is no helicopter left (in Pakistan)," the official told AFP. The US officials cautioned that they did not have definitive proof that the Chinese visited the town of Abbottabad where Bin Laden was killed [...]. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese official outlines proposal to boost China-Nepal ties (Xinhua)
2011-08-18
Visiting senior Chinese official Zhou Yongkang put forward a range of measures here Wednesday to promote China-Nepal relations. Zhou, [...], put forward the proposal in a meeting with Nepalese caretaker Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal. The two sides, Zhou said, should maintain the momentum of high-level diplomacy and promote exchanges and cooperation between their governments, parliaments, political parties and peoples. Meanwhile, the two neighbors needed to deepen their mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as infrastructure construction, agriculture, tourism and border trade and assign priority to major cooperation projects, he said. In parallel, China and Nepal should continue to beef up communication and cooperation both on their security and law enforcement issues and on important international affairs, Zhou said. He proposed efforts also be made to boost bilateral people-to-people exchanges, especially those between the young generations, to reinforce the foundation for the bilateral friendship. Zhou thanked the Nepalese government for its steadfast support for China over issues related to Tibet and Taiwan, expressing the hope that Nepal would continue to prevent Tibetan separatists from using Nepalese soil to act against China [...]. Following the meeting, the two attended the signing ceremony for a number of bilateral cooperation agreements. Also on Wednesday, Zhou met with Madhav Kumar Nepal, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and a former Nepalese prime minister. Zhou highly appreciated Madhav Kumar Nepal's contribution to the China-Nepal friendship, while Nepal said his country was committed to boosting the friendly ties with China and hoped to learn from China's experience in socio-economic development [...]. ^ top ^

China's first aircraft carrier to serve in South China Sea (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-17
China's new aircraft carrier is planning to serve in the South China Sea by the next Army Day, a military source said. The vessel will be under direct command of the country's Central Military Commission. "An aircraft carrier is the mark of major powers," said General Qiao Liang, a military expert. The vessel will largely expand the combat radius, raising the country's offshore comprehensive combat capabilities beyond the first island chain. Qiao said that air domination is the prerequisite of naval warfare, especially for the remote areas away from the heartland. As a result, there is no alternative for the vessel's leadership [...]. The vessel has a symbolic meaning for the country's naval power image. The participation of the vessel will strengthen the navy's combat ability and deterrent force, Qiao said. "The aircraft carrier will guarantee the smooth inflow of energy and resources into China from international waters. It can also ensure security and interests of Chinese workers overseas," Qiao said. China's new carrier aircraft has reached the world's best level, Qiao said. Technically, the lifetime should be at least half a century. "The Chinese people should not overstate or understate in terms of its meaning. It is merely a necessary step for the Chinese navy," he said. ^ top ^

China sends emergency aid to war-torn Libya (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-18
The first batch of emergency humanitarian relief materials, sent by the Red Cross Society of China to war-torn Libya, departed from the Tianjin airport early Thursday morning. The relief materials, weighing about 90 tonnes, included rice, edible oil and medicine, and are scheduled to arrive in Benghazi Thursday afternoon Beijing time. The Red Cross Society of China said it decided to offer two batches of humanitarian relief aid to Libya in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The aid is worth 50 million yuan (about 7.825 millon U.S. dollars) in total. The organization didn't say when the second batch of the relief aid would be shipped. It said as a member of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, it had been closely following the development of the situation in Libya, adding Chinese people deeply sympathize with the Libyan people. ^ top ^

Russia may have hand in China jet (SCMP)
2011-08-19
Similarities between a new Chinese fighter jet and a prototype Russian plane have brought suggestions that Moscow may be quietly helping Beijing compete with the world's top military powers. Experts say the fifth-generation J-20 fighter, which made its maiden flight in January in front of the visiting US defence secretary, could have its origins in the Mikoyan 1.44 stealth jet that never made it to production. A highly placed source close to Russia's defence industry said the similarities suggested Mikoyan technology had been passed into the hands of Chinese arms designers [...]. He said it was not clear whether such a transfer of technology had been legal. Analysts said Russia's assistance to the Chinese might help Moscow keep tabs on the rising military power's defence capabilities of its eastern neighbour. Independent analyst Adil Mukashev, [...], suggested there had been a financial transaction. "China bought the technology for parts, including the tail of the Mikoyan, for money," he said. China's Defence Ministry declined a request for comment. Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which oversees production of the Mikoyan jets, denies any technology or design transfer took place with China [...]. China's creation of such a plane would put the country in an elite group of military powers, although analysts say it will take years to perfect the craft. The source said Chinese officials had been invited to the plane's first public display when Russia was in the early stages of creating a fighter jet to compete with the F-22 from the US [...]. Russia, the world's top energy producer, has fed China, the largest energy consumer, with natural gas and oil in its fast rise to become a global power. But it has been unable to keep up with China's military spending, which was second only to the United States' in 2010. Relations between the two countries are cordial, but, in a sign that the two sides are suspicious of each other, Moscow is boosting its military capabilities in Russia's far east to defend its position in resource-rich Siberia. China, once a buyer of Russian tanks, helicopters and jet fighters, has slowed its purchases as its own production grew [...]. ^ top ^

Philippine president to pay visit to China (China Daily)
2011-08-19
Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III will visit China at the end of this month amid rising tensions over the South China Sea. Aquino will pay a state visit to China from Aug 30 to Sept 3, [...]. Issues on the agenda include measures to boost trade, tourism, education and cultural ties. "The President will be holding his first summit meeting with President Hu Jintao, which is expected to raise the level of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship to its highest level," said Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez. He said Aquino's visit aims to strengthen the more than three decades friendship and mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries [...]. Other key topics that are expected to be discussed include enhancing the Joint Action Plan on Strategic Cooperation that was signed in October 2009 and the signing of the Philippines-China Five-Year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation [...]. Bilateral relations between the two countries were strained this year over disputes in the South China Sea Islands and surrounding waters, where China has insisted indisputable sovereignty [...]. In a televised address in July, Aquino said the Philippines was ready to defend its territorial claims in the South China Sea with beefed-up military forces. Analysts said Aquino's visit is part of ongoing diplomatic efforts related to the South China Sea dispute, and that all relevant parties are "probing" each other's bottom line. "They are looking for a way to maximize their interests," said Zhang Shengjun, deputy dean of the Institute of Political Science and International Studies at Beijing Normal University, "and not determined to totally confront China over the territorial dispute” [...]. ^ top ^

Talks between Biden and Xi go into overtime (SCMP)
2011-08-19
Talks between visiting US Vice-President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing yesterday ran almost an hour longer than scheduled, suggesting a good start to the "personal relationship" said to top their agendas. Xi, [...], made it clear in their meeting in the Great Hall of the People that economic concerns dominated the bilateral relationship. But he also expressed confidence in American economic prospects and did not express concern about US debt, senior US officials said [...]. The US officials described the talks as remarkably open, candid and unscripted, with little use of notes or talking points. The Chinese side was interested in the talks that led to the raising of the US federal government's debt ceiling [...] but seemed far from anxious, the US officials said. They were confident in America's ability to adapt and recover from its economic difficulties, one official said [...]. Biden and Xi also discussed human rights issues, the prickly issue of Taiwan, and co-operation on Pakistan, Iran, North Korea and other global challenges, US officials said. Biden's tour has been overshadowed by the US debt crisis that resulted in the downgrade to AA-plus, triggering criticisms by Chinese media that the US is "addicted to debt". Biden told Xi and National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo : "I'm absolutely confident that the economic stability of the world rests in no small part on the co-operation between the US and China." After their meeting, Biden ate pork buns, noodles and cucumbers at a Beijing restaurant. He also attended a dinner hosted by Xi. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Rights activist on trial as crackdown continues (SCMP)
2011-08-15
An activist went on trial Friday in the latest case of the mainland authorities' sweeping crackdown on dissidents this year. Wang Lihong, 56, was expected to plead not guilty to the vaguely worded charge of “creating a disturbance.” If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail. The charge is linked to Wang's participation in a demonstration outside a court in Fuzhou city in April last year in support of three bloggers accused of slander after they tried to help an illiterate woman put pressure on the authorities to reinvestigate her daughter's death [...]. Representatives from eight countries and the European Union were also on hand. They were taken into the courthouse, but it was not clear whether they were allowed to observe the trial [...]. Wang was detained by Beijing police late in March during a widespread crackdown on activists as authorities moved to prevent the growth of a Middle East-style protest movement. Dissident artist Ai Weiwei, the most prominent target among the dozens detained was recently freed after three months of detention [...]. Zhao Lianhai, an activist previously jailed for protesting a massive tainted milk scandal, said he eluded state security at his home and took a bus to the courthouse, adding that it was his responsibility to speak out and support Wang. Public activism has surged in China in recent years, helped by the popularity of micro blogs, which allow rapid dissemination of information [...]. ^ top ^

Vehicles torched in Guizhou rioting (SCMP)
2011-08-15
About a dozen police officers and urban management officers were injured in a riot in Guizhou province, with vehicles smashed and overturned. The incident was sparked by a clash between a driver and a group of urban management officers and the beating of a woman. Official media accounts of the incident in Qianxi county on Thursday were vague but they said at least 10 police and urban management vehicles were smashed and burned. Xinhua said calm had been restored by yesterday. The rioting, which involved thousands of people, has again put the spotlight on urban management officers. Used by the government across the mainland, they have a reputation for roughing up people from vulnerable groups, such as unlicensed vendors, and are known for overstepping their authority. Rumours about what happened in the incident spread quickly. A woman working in a grocery store on Yanshan Street in a downtown area of Qianxi told the South China Morning Post by phone that she did not see the reported scuffle, but heard that the urban management officers involved were drunk when they stopped a couple on an electric bicycle on suspicion that they were providing an unlicensed taxi service. She said the rioting was the result of anger over the officers' alleged beating of the woman. An official from the Qianxi government's publicity department said by phone that investigators sent by the provincial government were still trying to piece together what happened, but he denied that the five or six urban management officers involved were drunk [...]. The official denied that protesters used trucks to block roads leading to downtown areas, as reported by China National Radio. He said the vehicles had merely been stranded as a result of the rioting. He said that the riot ended at about 4am yesterday, and dozens of rioters had been taken away. He said they may be held on charges related to looting and ransacking. A man working in a downtown electronics store [...] watched from a distance and said he feared for his safety. "But I was equally angry, and I knew it would happen," he said. "And I won't be surprised if it happens again if the urban management officers are allowed to mistreat people the way they did this time.". ^ top ^

China issues judicial rules to boost gov't transparency (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-15
China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) issued a judicial explanation to regulate and standardize trial procedures for the country's increasing number of government information disclosure cases in a bid to promote governmental transparency. The explanation, which was issued on Friday [...], confirmed that citizens may file lawsuits against their local governments if their requests for information disclosures are rejected or if they do not receive a response from the government before a specified deadline [...]. Under the new rules, citizens are also entitled to bring lawsuits if their local governments fail to respond to disclosure requests, even if they do not have a direct stake in the disclosure. If the government is required to publicize information on its own initiative but fails to do so, citizens may first ask the government to disclose the information and sue the government if their prior requests are refused, the explanation said. In some cases, the courts can include an order of disclosure in their sentences, which can help to solve disputes in a more timely fashion, an official with the SPC told the newspaper when explaining the rules. China issued a regulation regarding the disclosure of government information in May 2008, ensuring public access to administrative and regulatory information. The SPC official said that according to Friday's explanation, government departments that deny disclosure requests must offer valid reasons for their denials or provide evidence to the courts that specifies that the requested information is classified. Information involving state secrets, commercial secrets or individual privacy should not be released. However, commercial secrets and individual private information can be disclosed with proper consent, the explanation said. ^ top ^

Dalian protest 'won't be the last' (SCMP)
2011-08-16
The mass protest in Dalian over a toxic chemical spill scare was an urgent wake-up call to the Chinese authorities about rising public environmental awareness, which looks set to lead to more protests over pollution fears, analysts said. They hailed Sunday's protest as a victory for the people after embarrassed local authorities were forced to promise to shut down and relocate the chemical plant at the centre of the controversy after tens of thousands of Dalian residents took to the streets. The rare outpouring of public anger over health and environmental concerns apparently caught local authorities by surprise after earlier attempts to stifle anonymous calls on the internet for a protest "stroll" with an announcement that they were considering moving the plant. [...], Professor Zhu Lijia, from the Chinese Academy of Governance, said it was a serious warning to local authorities. "Locals in Dalian not only marched against the chemical plant and local authorities' handling of the spill scare, but also wanted to vent their anger at the government's crumbling credibility," he said. "The message is simple - the people are discontented and they simply don't trust the government" [...]. "Mainland authorities too often give empty promises in the face of public pressure, but later eat their words after the outrage ebbs," Zhu said. "Mainlanders simply know these kind of stalling tactics too well." Analysts were positive about the domino effect the Dalian protest may cause in other mainland cities, where environmental concerns still take a back seat to political interests and economic growth when governments make decisions on major chemical projects [...]. Professoor Ai Nanshan, an environmental scientist at Sichuan University, said the protest in Dalian would encourage people in other cities to care more about their safety when living alongside PX projects and voice their concerns. "I hope to see the domino effect of the Dalian protest although we know that's the worst fear of the stability-obsessed mainland authorities," he said. Ai said local authorities may try to crack down on such environmental activism because they were driven by huge economic interests when pursuing PX projects and other large petrochemical plants. Zhu agreed. "Further protests look inevitable... public environmental awareness has increased greatly as a result of the Dalian protest and another demonstration in Xiamen a few years ago," he said [...]. ^ top ^

Family begs for lawyer's return (SCMP)
2011-08-16
The elder brother of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has posted an online search notice for his brother, who has been missing for more than a year. Gao Zhiyi said he put up the notice yesterday, on the fifth anniversary of his brother's disappearance, because the family was worried about his welfare [...]. Gao Zhisheng first disappeared on August 15, 2006, before being arrested about three months later. He was convicted of subversion in December 2006, and sentenced to three years in prison, which was suspended for five years. But the New York-based group Human Rights in China said he was taken from his home village in Shaanxi by state security personnel in February 2009. He resurfaced in March last year, but his family said he disappeared again about a month later. In the online notice, Gao Zhiyi said he last saw his brother at the Ching Ming festival in April 2010, when the lawyer was accompanied by several state security officers when he returned home to pay respects to his mother. Gao Zhiyi said his brother had returned to Beijing afterwards, and they had talked over the phone once. "It has been more than a year now, and nothing about my brother has been heard. We are very worried," he said, adding that a director of a Beijing public security bureau had told him that his brother had "gone missing". Gao Zhiyi unsuccessfully attempted to seek an explanation from the petition and letters bureau in Beijing last September [...]. Bob Fu, president of the New York-based China Aid Association, said Gao Zhiyi would visit Beijing to petition the state in the next few days [...]. ^ top ^

Vice-President urges better labor relations (Xinhua)
2011-08-17
Vice-President Xi Jinping Tuesday said that building harmonious relations between workers and their employers was an important and urgent political task. Xi, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks while addressing a national meeting on the forming of harmonious labor relations held in Beijing from Monday to Tuesday. He urged local Party and government officials to further improve their understanding of the importance of efforts to build harmonious labor relations in the country. Currently and within a certain period in the future, the priority is to further improve laws and regulations concerning labor relations and ensure their sound implementation, to achieve a reasonable distribution of salaries, and to enhance corporate management in a democratic manner, Xi said. In addition, greater attention should be placed on solving labor disputes and the building of grassroots CPC units within enterprises, Xi added [...]. Also at the meeting, Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang, said those glaring problems in the field of labor relations, including malpractices of impairing workers' legitimate rights and interests, must be solved. In some enterprises, especially in the labor-intensive sector, the salary levels of front-line workers have been overly low, while in some others, workers' needs for career development have been ignored, Zhang added, demanding strenuous efforts to reverse the situation. He urged speedy steps to forge harmonious labor relations by improving the employment contract system, the system of collective consultation between the employee representatives' group as one side and the employer the other side [...]. ^ top ^

Yunnan plant dumped toxic dregs for two decades (SCMP)
2011-08-17
A Yunnan chemical plant was exposed for disposing more than 280,000 tonnes of uncontained toxic chromium residue near the source of the Pearl River, dating back about two decades and causing health risks to millions of Guangdong residents. Last week, the Yunnan Information Daily reported that two drivers from the plant were detained after allegedly dumping more than 5,000 tonnes of chromium dregs into reservoirs two months ago, resulting in 300,000 cubic metres of toxic water being discharged into the Nanpan River in Qujing, Yunnan, the source of the Pearl River, which supplies drinking water for many cities in Guangdong. Zuo Guorong, assistant to the general manager of Yunnan Luliang Chemical Industry, admitted to the China News Service that 288,400 tonnes of chromium dregs were dumped and buried under soil by previous plant operators between 1989 and 2003. Doctors say the intake of chromium may increase the risk of lung cancer and cause genetic disorders. The report said the chemical plant was ordered to build a retaining wall to prevent the toxic dregs from being washed into the Nanpan River by rainwater, and to do a clean-up. The Qujing government said yesterday that the plant had dumped only 148,000 tonnes of toxic dregs, which would be relocated [...]. China News Service reported that Xinglong village near the chemical plant has developed a cancer problem, with six or seven villagers dying of it every year. Villagers exposed the illegal dumping after 77 head of livestock drank polluted water and died. However, Guangdong officials insisted that no contamination was detected in the Pearl River [...]. ^ top ^

China kicks off campaign against sex determinations, sex-selective abortions (Xinhua)
2011-08-17
China kicked off a nation-wide campaign to significantly curb non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions to balance the gender ratio, according to a working conference held on Tuesday. The campaign was jointly launched by the National Population and Family Planning Commission, Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Public Security, All China Women's Federation, State Food and Drug Administration, and People's Liberation Army General Logistics Department [...]. During the eight-month campaign from August 2011 to March 2012, efforts will be made to raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring. Doctors who violate the ban will be stripped of licenses or penalized, and involved medical institutions will also be given harsh punishments, said Liu Qian, vice minister of the MOH. China's gender ratio stands at a relatively high level, 118.08 males for every 100 females in 2010, according to census data. Li Bin, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions were the main causes of gender imbalance [...]. Although the country's population has been controlled, illegal sex-selective abortions thrived in many parts of the country, as the country has a son-preference tradition. ^ top ^

Social control (SCMP)
2011-08-18
In recent years, it has become normal to look at news headlines about China and learn about yet another factory strike, a minority group's riot or a mismanaged natural disaster that sparks outrage on the internet and elsewhere [...]. And they are not isolated incidents. A common thread in many of these cases is the local mismanagement of an otherwise well-designed central plan, or the disregard for somewhat sensible regulations. The economic success of China in the reform era has been based on, among other factors, a successful decentralisation of economic activity and on the emergence of local corporatism, an occasionally opaque yet efficient way of boosting entrepreneurship at the township level. This sort of "decentralised authoritarianism", as described by Yale professor Pierre Landry, has accelerated economic growth and strengthened the pivotal role of the Communist Party in China. However, it has also handed excessive power to local authorities who, lacking solid governmental or societal supervision, are at times tempted to take a piece of the cake where they should be caring for their constituents' well-being. Corruption of all sorts is a plague that threatens China's environmental sustainability, the development of a "harmonious society", economic growth and, ultimately, China's developmental model [...]. Premier Wen Jiabao has made repeated calls for accountability, most recently regarding the investigation of the Wenzhou train crash. But the central government's good intentions become diluted once immersed in local complexities. In many cases, central government authorities seem to lack the resources to combat the corrupt inclinations of national and local politicians. And yet another common thread in these cases is the determination of Chinese people to expose those who are guilty and seek justice for the victims. These are not enemies of the party waiting for any excuse to put into doubt the legitimacy of the system. They are citizens who are aware that, on occasion, local politics diverges significantly from what the central government had originally devised […]. While the central government has taken small steps towards accepting an overseeing role for certain non-governmental organisations, particularly environmental ones, this is still very much constrained by its reluctance to open the political space to agents outside the party. Bureaucrats in Beijing do not feel ready for a fully fledged opening of the political system. But the emergent social voices don't seem to be asking for an ideological revolution. They are instead pointing to the many abuses that threaten to derail the current model. This is a central-government compliant civil society that, if empowered, could ease the local implementation of centrally designed guidelines and regulations. And, most importantly, it could help in improving the quality of life of many. ^ top ^

Seniors to have State pensions (China Daily)
2011-08-18
Urban and rural senior citizens will be receiving State pensions by 2015, according to a statement issued on Wednesday following an executive meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet. The meeting, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, discussed and endorsed the nation's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) on senior citizens. During those five years, the number of mainland Chinese who are 60 or older will go from 178 million to 221 million and from making up 13.3 percent of the entire population to 16 percent, the statement noted. The government will work toward ensuring that all senior citizens in both rural and urban places receive state pensions by the end of 2015. The five-year plan also calls for improvements to the medical system that serves the elderly [...].. The five-year plan says that at least 80 percent of urban communities and half of all rural communities should provide nursing services for the elderly by the end of 2015 [...]. The elderly in China now have difficulty in finding enough nursing services to meet their needs, said Yan Qingchun, deputy head of the National Working Commission on Aging's administration department. He said there is a huge demand in the country for nursing homes for the elderly. Yan made those remarks during a ceremony marking the release of a report that looked at the services China offered to the elderly in 2010 [...]. Over the years, China has introduced a series of policies meant to encourage private investment in nursing homes, and the number of private nursing homes in operation has increased as a result. Yan said China will continue to encourage the establishment of those homes. Yan said the market for nursing services for the mainland elderly population is worth more than 3 trillion yuan ($469 billion). The report also showed the number of China's mainland citizens who are 60 or older has risen to 178 million, and that it increased by 2.93 percent from what it had been in 2000. And the number of residents who are 65 or older reached 118.83 million by the end of 2010. China's mainland population is rapidly growing older while its birth rate remains low. Estimates hold that citizens who are 60 or older will make up about 30 percent of the country's mainland population by 2050 [...]. ^ top ^

Millions of Chinese men without brides by 2020 due to gender imbalance: experts warn (Xinhua)
2011-08-18
Experts have warned that millions of Chinese men of marrying age may be living as frustrated bachelors by 2020 due to gender imbalance, a trend that will add pressure to social stability. Boys under 19 outnumber girls in the same age group by 23.77 million, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that more than 10 million men will have almost no hope of finding a mate, according to calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics. May-to-December romances will be more common in China, and there will be more marriageable urban bachelors seeking rural girls, Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the School of Sociology and Population Studies at the Renmin University of China, [...]. The impoverished population will be more likely feel the pinch of China's gender imbalance, with rural men more likely left with no choice but resort to prostitutes and "mercenary" marriages, in which women are essentially sold to men and forced into marriage, he warned, adding such illegal activities endanger marriages and families as well as social stability. Chinese parents' traditional preference for sons [...] was magnified after the country introduced the one-child policy in the 1980s, as many parents choose to abort baby girls. China's sex ratio at birth was 118.08 males for every 100 females in 2010, higher than demographic norm of 103 to 107 boys per 100 girls [...]. To help restore gender balance, China has promoted the idea that "girls are as good as boys" and beefed up efforts to fight sex-selective abortions. China kicked off a nation-wide campaign to significantly curb non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions to balance the gender ratio. During the eight-month campaign from August 2011 to March 2012, efforts will be made to raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring. Doctors who violate the ban will be stripped of licenses or penalized, and involved medical institutions will also be given harsh punishments, said Liu Qian, vice minister of the Ministry of Health. ^ top ^

Activist released after year in prison (SCMP)
2011-08-19
An Aids activist was freed yesterday after serving a one-year jail term for "intentionally damaging property". Tian Xi, a 24-year-old rights advocate for Aids patients, said he arrived home around 3am yesterday morning after being released by police in Xincai county, Henan province [...]. Tian discovered in 2004, at the age of 17, that he had contracted HIV during a blood transfusion at the No1 People's Hospital in Xincai when he was nine years old. Speaking by phone yesterday on a bus headed to Beijing for medical checks, Tian said he was travelling with his mother and his lawyer, Liang Xiaojun. Liang said that there were no special conditions associated with Tian's release, such as being barred from talking to the media, adding: "He looks in good form today." Tian, who was jailed in August 2010, said he wasn't given any medicine for HIV or for hepatitis A or C, until about a month later, on September 22, when his story was made public [...]. Tian said he was petitioning authorities in Beijing on July 23 last year when he was persuaded to return to Xincai by the county's Communist Party boss, Jia Guoyin. Tian said Jia promised him that the issues of compensation for his disease, which has dogged him and his family for years, would be resolved. "But he kept hiding from me whenever I went to see him," Tian said, adding that he grew enraged after repeatedly being denied compensation from the hospital that infected him with HIV. "I admit I damaged some things, including a lock worth around 200 yuan (HK$244) and an eyehole, worth about 30 yuan, on the door of an office in the hospital on August 4 and August 10, respectively," he said. But Tian said the local prosecutors wrongly gave the dates of some of the five times he caused damage at the hospital - an attempt, he believes, to make the action look premeditated instead of being an emotional response to a heated argument [...]. Tian was detained and locked up before being convicted of "intentionally damaging property". He was sentenced on February 11. Rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong said: "He should have the right to seek compensation from those who caused him his condition today. Otherwise our laws are just empty promises if they are incapable of protecting an individual's rights.". ^ top ^

China home to nearly 90 mln non-CPC intellectuals (Xinhua)
2011-08-19
Nearly 90 million of China's most well-educated people are not members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), but are still an important part of the country's "united front," a senior official said on Thursday. More than 75 percent of China's 120 million "intellectuals," or people with degrees from institutes of higher education, are not CPC members, said Chen Xiqing, vice minister of the the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. "Universities and research institutes have always been an important gathering place for non-CPC intellectuals, as well as a major source of representatives for the united front," Chen said [...]. The "united front" refers to a coalition of CPC members and non-CPC members working together with other organizations to advance China's development [...]. Universities and research institutes provide a major foundation for "united front" work, Chen said, adding that the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of non-CPC intellectuals have greatly contributed to China's development in recent years. ^ top ^

Central China county announces complete ban on liquor for all its officials (Global Times)
2011-08-19
Yueyang county in Central China's Hunan Province has become the latest local government to impose a liquor ban on civil servants. The ban targets civil servants in both government departments and State-owned enterprises. Civil servants may face fines or job dismissals if they consume alcoholic beverages during working hours, according to the ban. However, for special occasions, such as official banquets in honor of foreign guests or important investors, civil servants can request approval for the ban to be lifted, the circular stipulates. The county government said the liquor ban aims to combat corruption, build an ethical government and improve work efficiency. The government has established a special office to deal with reports of violations [...]. Wang Tie, Party chief of Xinyang, said earlier this year that its liquor ban has been in effect for four years and has not only helped save considerable amounts of government expenditures on dinner parties, but also led to positive changes in work efficiency. But liquor companies are not happy about the ban, and Wang said they have repeatedly lobbied for it to be revoked. ^ top ^

New marriage explanation draws heated debate (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-19
The Supreme People's Court's new interpretation of the Marriage Act makes a clearer demarcation of spouses' property, but it has also sent the whole nation into a whirlpool of debate about an ominous result of freer breakup of families. The legal explanation, which came out on Saturday, rules that houses and other major properties... not explicitly put in the names of both partners on legal papers... are solely belonggings of the initial owner. In China, men are usually obligated to buy a house prior to marriage. Originally, the law said the properties must be evenly cut and distributed between the divorced partners. Opponents of the interpretation decry it as official abandoning of one of Chinese fine cultures -- close family... as the new interpretation is to encourage men or women to seek extramarital affairs, needless to fear property loss. "There will be fewer economic means to restrain the man's behavior after marriage, because even if he cheats he'll still get the house," complained a 33-year-old married woman surnamed Wu [...]. Nevertheless, more females will begin to work hard and try to buy their own houses. By protecting the rights of house owners, the new explanation is believed to bring China one substantive step closer to Western legislative values that prioritize private rights over anything else [...]. However, proponents say that by removing economic bandages, marriages would become more based on "true love". "If a law or interpretation could clear the road to divorce for many economically, it should not be regarded as a bad thing [...]. Once the economic obstacles are removed, it will become freer," said Law Professor Li Hong-xiang from Jilin University. He said the new interpretation reflected a change of the social environment in China caused by the shift from a planned economy to a market economy [...]. But the most prominent change is that people pay more attention to individual rights and freedom [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Soaring rents push people to quit Beijing (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-17
Spiraling rent hikes are so out of proportion to local salaries that young out-of-towners may be forced to quit the capital. With rents accounting for as much as half of workers' salaries, and non-residents forbidden to buy, many are priced out of the property market. While the local government's focus has been on cooling down overheated housing sales, they have yet to take action on soaring rents, [...]. Average monthly rent was 3,160 yuan ($489) during the first seven months of 2011, a 13 percent growth over the same period last year, according to Beijing Statistics Bureau. However, per capita income of urban residents only rose 10 percent [...]. The Beijing Times Monday reported that nine out of 10 young employees had to pay 200 to 500 yuan more per month this year, their rent accounting for more than 25 percent of their income, which makes them reconsider developing a career in Beijing, especially as they are unable to buy. Reports on the local rental market from 5i5j and Homelink Real Estate agencies in Beijing both noted that during the first six months of 2011, average rents increased 13 percent citywide, while they increased by 20 percent in desirable locations like the CBD and Zhongguancun [...]. The last time local government published an amendment to renting regulations on July 13, they said they would take temporary action if they sensed abnormal rises in the rental sector, without stating what form this would take. However, Chen Zhi, deputy director of Beijing Real Estate Association, pointed out there has not so far been any direct regulations in the renting market except for building "10,000 units of public affordable housing to be completed this year to relieve some pressure on the rental market.". ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Switzerland held a National Day reception in Shenzhen (Shenzhen Special Zone Daily)
2011-08-16
On the second day of the Universiade, the Swiss team had a carnival yesterday. The 720th National Day reception was held in Shenzhen yesterday. The New President of FISU Mr. Gallien, the Vice Mayor of Shenzhen Mr. Lü Ruifeng, the Consul General of Switzerland Mr. Ulrich Hun attended the reception, as well as the athletes and officials from the Swiss team. Switzerland has sent a team of 92 athletes to the Universiade to compete in 14 disciplines, such as Field and Track, Swimming, Fencing and Volleyball [...]. Mr. LV Ruifeng expressed his heart-felt congratulations to the 720th National Day of Switzerland. He said, in recent years, the relations between China and Switzerland has been deepened. At the same time, Shenzhen and Switzerland have carried out numerous cooperation projects in economic and trade, education, science and technology, culture and other fields. He hoped that in the future, Switzerland can provide more technological support to Shenzhen's development in finance, environmental protection, biology, etc. and to seek a new path for sustainable development together. ^ top ^

Guangdong finds it hard to shake off poverty (SCMP)
2011-08-19
President Hu Jintao's five-day tour to Guangdong that ended on Monday was an endorsement of the development of the coastal province, the local government said [...]. The Guangdong authorities said they would accelerate a transformation of the province from its reliance on labour-intensive industries to technology-centred development. They would also strive to make it a vanguard of "social harmony" [...]. Guangdong takes pride in its bustling Pearl River Delta megalopolis, factory hubs and transport network [...] while contributing a whopping 4.5 trillion yuan (HK$5.5 trillion) last year to gross domestic product. And yet, in the southwestern corner of the province, a school in Leizhou city does not have even one toilet for its 300 students. At the other end of Guangdong, southwest of Fujian, peasants do not have enough farmland. In the north, mountains keep local communities isolated from the outside world [...]. Lu Daxiang, a delegate to the Guangdong committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said urban disposable income growth between 2006 and 2010 was slower than in the other rich cities or provinces, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. Yet, Guangdong experienced the fastest growth in GDP and tax revenue [...]. Narrowing the wealth gap is the focus of the "Happy Guangdong" campaign [Guangdong party chief Wang Yang] launched early this year as the province seeks to concentrate on easing poverty rather than raising GDP over the next five years. Wang declared a three-year "war on poverty" in March last year that local media called the most ambitious scheme of its kind on the mainland. The outspoken Southern Weekend newspaper said more than 11,000 officials were sent to 3,409 villages in poor areas for up to three years on a mission to drive poverty from Guangdong [...]. More than 40 per cent of their residents earn below 1,500 yuan a year. The officials will help devise the most suitable form of development for each community. Officials who do the best in easing poverty will have the highest chances of promotion. Professor Cheng Jiansan of the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences praised the effort for its "refined goals" and political determination, but said poverty would not disappear in the next 30 years. "Happy Guangdong is just a political assignment handed down by Beijing, but this campaign only magnifies the severity of Guangdong's poverty problem," he said. Besides those living in abject poverty, Cheng said, Guangdong had a high number of low-income earners living on the brink of poverty. Some 40 million people [...] earned less than the mainland urban average standard of about 1,750 yuan per month, "which is already quite low" [...]. The provincial authorities paid hefty taxes to the central government but had little bargaining power to lower its contribution so funds could be used to help the poor, he said [...]. He said the main obstacle was a lack of governance reforms. "The key problem lies with the country's financial and administrative structure. Without major reform, it's impossible to nip poverty in the bud.". ^ top ^

Low-income houses built on polluted ground in Guangzhou (Global Times)
2011-08-19
About 1,996 sets of low-income housing, built on land previously occupied by the Guangzhou Nitrogenous Fertilizer Factory, went on sale on Tuesday. The location was highlighted in 2008 for being given a notoriously high rating in terms of soil poisoning by environmental assessment organizations and soil experts. Over 9,000 cubic meters of the poisoned soil within the former factory have been removed and properly disposed of to rid the area of organic pollution agents and heavy metals, according to the Guangdong Ecological Environment and Soil Research Institute. The soil, polluted with heavy metals, is eligible for housing if dwellers refrain from drinking underground water and from eating vegetables growing in the ground, according to Wu Qigang, vice director of the Soil Environment Expertise Committee of the Soil Science Society of China. However, Wu added that volatile organic compounds, which are produced during the production of nitrogenous fertilizer, could still be present and could potentially be harmful to residents [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Use of Tibet's mineral resources will be rational (China Daily)
2011-08-15
Tibet has abundant mine reserves but little exploration has been done so far, said Zhang Qingli, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua's Economy and Nation Weekly. "We have to accelerate exploration to know what we have before planning how to make use of it," Zhang said. Initial studies show that Tibet has China's largest chromium and copper reserves, and most of its rich iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil and natural gas reserves are unexploited. Government statistics show Tibet holds 102 varieties of proven minerals underground that are worth about 650.5 billion yuan ($100.6 billion). The region's land and resources department has forecast the mining industry could contribute some 30 percent of Tibet's gross domestic product by 2020, compared with the current 3 percent. Zhang said the purpose of mining is "to benefit the local people", noting exploitation should be conducted in an environmentally-friendly way, help create job opportunities for local people and raise their income [...]. The official also suggested that the industry will be tightly regulated that unqualified companies are not be allowed to operate [...]. "No one is more concerned with Tibet's ecological environment than the local people," said Zhang. Currently, Tibet has established 47 nature reserves, with a combined area of 413,700 square kilometers, or 34.5 percent of the region's land space, according to Zhang. ^ top ^

China steps up subsidy for Tibet grassland conservancy (Xinhua)
2011-08-16
The central government of China will inject two billion yuan annually from 2011-2015 into a subsidy program for grassland conservation in Tibet, according to the autonomous region's agricultural authorities. The subsidies will go to farmers and herders whose grasslands are under grazing ban, or who cultivate improved varieties of grazing and raise improved breeds of livestock, said Zhu Chunsheng, deputy director with the agricultural and animal husbandry department of Tibet. About 200,000 farmers and herdsmen will benefit from the subsidies with their incomes expected to increase by about 2,000 yuan (313 U.S. dollars) annually, Zhu said [...]. Ninety percent of China's grasslands are deteriorated to some degree, said Gao Hongbin, vice minister of agriculture, at a national work conference on grassland conservation last week. Officials came to an agreement at the conference to spend the next ten years revamping China's deteriorating pastures by prioritizing environmental protection. The State Council published a circular prior to the conference promising subsidies for herders who will be prohibited from allowing their cattle to graze on severely damaged grasslands [...]. ^ top ^

Monastery besieged after monk burns to death (SCMP)
2011-08-17
Soldiers and police on Tuesday surrounded a monastery in Sichuan where a Tibetan monk set himself on fire and died, sparking fears of a fresh crackdown on the area's large Tibetan population. The death of the 29-year-old monk, [...], came five months after a similar incident in a nearby area triggered protests and a huge security crackdown. “There are at least 1,000 soldiers and police guarding the monastery and about 100 monks inside,” one monk said over the phone from inside the Nyitso monastery in Sichuan province's Daofu county, not far from Tibet. “The power and water have been cut off for days, and we have no food supplies coming in.” The London-based Free Tibet rights group cited local contacts as saying authorities had cut off water and power supplies to the monastery after monks celebrated the Dalai Lama's birthday on July 6 despite a ban on doing so [...]. Hotel and restaurant owners in Daofu said there was a heavy army and police presence in the city, adding they were not accepting foreigners. “There are many soldiers and police on the streets, they have surrounded the monastery and the government headquarters,” said a hotel owner, speaking on condition of anonymity [...]. An official at the Daofu government office refused to comment. Many Tibetans in the mainland are angry about what they view as increasing domination by the majority Han ethnic group, and accuse the government of trying to dilute their culture [...]. ^ top ^

China to spend 11.6 bln yuan on Tibet's water projects over next five years (Xinhua)
2011-08-17
China will spend more than 11.6 billion yuan (1.8 billion U.S. dollars) on the construction of Tibet's irrigation and drinking water projects from 2011 to 2015, local authorities said Tuesday. The money will go to 16 categories of water programs that cover irrigation, drinking water, flood prevention and control and hydropower, sources with Tibet's Water Resources Department said. The water projects will enable all Tibetan farmers and herders to get access to clean drinking water upon completion, and more than 90 percent of the region's rural population will have access to electricity, the sources said. In the first half of this year, about 3 billion yuan has been earmarked for the water projects that include 129 programs, of which 125 are newly constructed ones. During the 11th Five-Year Program period (2006-2010), about 7 billion yuan has been channeled into the water programs in Tibet, providing 1.62 million farmers and herders in the region with clean drinking water. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Xinjiang courts crack down on child abductors (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-17
Eight people in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were sentenced to death or jailed yesterday after being convicted of abducting children or murder. The eight, involved in five cases, received the sentences in five different courts in Xinjiang. In one case, a gang headed by Umair Tohti coaxed young children in Xinjiang into working as migrant laborers in Huizhou City in southern Guangdong Province and then forced them into doing "hard work" by beating and abusing them, according to the sentence handed down by the Urumqi Municipal Intermediate People's Court. On November 9, 2009, Umair Tohti and two gang members, Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat, beat a young boy, who could not stand their torture and attempted to flee, into a coma and threw him into a river. The boy subsequently drowned, the court heard. Umair Tohti was sentenced to death, and Tudi Daman and Memet Ahmat received death sentences with a two-year reprieve. In another case, Arken Wusiman sold his 12-year-old daughter in April 2009 to criminals who trained her as a pickpocket. But after the young girl was rescued and sent back home, Arken sold her again to another pickpocketing gang in January this year, and he meanwhile took two other abducted children to inland provinces to become pickpockets, according to the Markit County People's Court. Arken was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan (US$782). In three other cases, four people were sentenced to jail terms ranging from two and a half years to 11 years, all convicted of trafficking children. In April, authorities in Xinjiang promised to find and bring home all native Xinjiang children in other parts of the country, some of whom stole or begged for a living. Most of the children were aged between 10 and 18 and from Aksu, Kashgar, Hotan and Yili, according to the regional bureau of civil affairs. Many of them were forced into stealing by gangs after being conned to leave home for eastern cities on fake job offers. The region has sent police who speak both Mandarin and Uygur to public security authorities of other provinces to assist in cracking down on the trafficking of children. The Ministry of Public Security also ordered police authorities nationwide to launch a crackdown on the kidnapping and coercing of Xinjiang children. To date, Xinjiang police, together with police forces of other regions, have rescued more than 500 abducted Xinjiang children in other parts of the country, cracked 90 criminal rings and detained 464 suspects. The efforts are aimed at helping the children resume normal lives and restore the region's reputation, as currently it is a notorious source of young thieves. Once returned home, the children will be placed in government-run shelters that provide schooling and a safe environment, Zhang Chunxian, the region's Communist Party chief, said in April. ^ top ^

Crackdown on crime ahead of trade show (SCMP)
2011-08-17
Xinjiang police have started a two-month crackdown on crime to boost security ahead of an international trade convention in the restive autonomous region later this month and October's National Day celebrations, it was reported yesterday. Police launched the crackdown after the regional government pledged to stamp out terrorist and criminal groups in Xinjiang to ensure the safety of the first China-Asia- Europe Expo in Urumqi later this month, and for the National Day "golden week" holiday, a report on the People's Daily website said [...]. The central government has blamed Muslim extremists for the two attacks, and sent its elite Snow Leopard anti-terrorism unit to Xinjiang early this month. The People's Daily report said Xinjiang police had mobilised all available manpower to monitor downtown areas around the clock, including squares, markets, bus stops and railway stations. Religious gatherings and circulars in the majority Muslim region had been identified as key surveillance targets, including related information on the internet. It said local police set up a specialist team to stop "illegal religious circulars" hiding "violent messages". Xinjiang party boss Zhang Chunxian told Hong Kong reporters in Urumqi last week that it was impossible for any official administering Xinjiang to eradicate the threat of terrorism entirely [...]. Meanwhile, the Xinjiang authorities started issuing permanent residence permits to "qualified non-locals" yesterday. The regional legislature said the move was aimed at providing migrants with a stable living environment that would help them merge into local communities, the Legal Daily said. At yesterday's ceremony, only 12 people received the permits, which allow them to live anywhere in Xinjiang, the newspaper said [...]. But local governments would still have the right to ban "troublemakers". ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Central gov't's new measures cement Hong Kong's status as int'l financial center (Xinhua)
2011-08-18
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang attended a forum focusing on the 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015) and financing and trade cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong on Wednesday, bringing new policies and measures to support Hong Kong's development. Analysts in Hong Kong said the new measures meet the needs of Hong Kong's development as a financial center, echoing the consolidation of shaping Hong Kong into the financing, offshore RMB market and asset management centers, a move to help upgrade the city's status as an international financial hub [...]. Bajum Zhou, senior research fellow with the China Everbright Holdings, told Xinhua that the cement and upgrade of Hong Kong's international financial center status will more and more comply with the expansion of the offshore RMB business in five years or a longer period. Fang Zhou, assistant chief research officer at the Hong Kong-based One Country Two Systems Research Institute, told Xinhua that though there had been many talks on developing Hong Kong into an offshore RMB center more aggressively, the lack of effective RMB flow-back mechanism and the low yield are always getting in the way. Fang said the new measures brought by the central government this time have allowed more non-financial corporates to sell RMB bonds in Hong Kong and given the green light to the RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII), together with the expansion of the issuance of Treasury Bonds [...]. A report released by the HSBC on Wednesday said it suggests to create a more transparent and standardized framework, giving foreign enterprises greater incentive to select the RMB in their cross-border transactions and potentially to speed up the circulation of RMB funds both in and out of China [...]. The HSBC expects the development of the offshore RMB market to outstrip broader market expectation, and the liquidity in the market should continue to deepen. Besides, Zhou said to strengthen the ties between Hong Kong's and the mainland's financial markets can also help cement and upgrade Hong Kong's status as an international financial center [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Chinese rating agency Dagong defends its rating on railways ministry (Xinhua)
2011-08-15
Chinese rating agency Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. on Saturday defended its AAA rating given to the Ministry of Railways, which has been under public fire over a train collision last month. The ministry received the long-term credit rating after launching on Monday its first bond sales since the crash [...]. It sold 20 billion yuan worth of three-month bills on offer in the interbank market, with a yield of 5.55 percent, a relatively high rate for short-term government paper. The rating was assigned because of the ministry's status as a government agency backed by the central government revenue, its sufficient capital flows and strong financing ability, Dagong said in an email to Xinhua. The agency made the elaboration in response to market doubts as the ministry is already heavily indebted and the accident has stirred up skepticism about its credibility and the safety of fast-expanding railways. Adding to doubts is that the AAA rating of the ministry is even a notch above China's local currency debt rating of AA+, which was also rated by Dagong. Government data showed the ministry's debts exceeded 2 trillion yuan (313 billion U.S. dollars) as of the end of June, raising its debt ratio to 58.53 percent, slightly up from the end of the first quarter of this year. Dagong said in the statement that the debt-to-asset ratio is medium level, lower than the alert line for the ministry which is 75 percent [...]. The ministry has "extremely strong" repayment ability as it is backed by the state's credit, Dagong said, referring it as one of the three authorities that are allowed to issue bonds, along with the Ministry of Finance and the People's Bank of China […]. Analysts said it has become more difficult for the ministry to borrow money because of tightened market liquidity and concerns over the ministry's debt burden. China's top four banks said at the end of last month that they will continue to offer loans to the ministry based on market conditions and risk appraisal [...]. The operational cash flows have continued to grow, making the ministry invulnerable to default risks due to management problems, the statement added [...]. In addition, Dagong said China will continue to ramp up investment in construction of railways, which will improve the ministry's repayment ability and credibility. The State Council on Wedneday reiterated its stance on railways, saying "China will unswervingly continue its development of high-speed railways” [...]. ^ top ^

China calls for enhanced coordination among ASEAN+6 economic ministers (Global Times)
2011-08-15
Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Saturday called on economic ministers of ASEAN and its six dialogue partners to enhance contact and coordination, so as to give confidence to the world. Chen said that the ministers should work on decreasing trade barriers, pushing forward Doha Round of trading talks, and accelerating the steady recovery of global economy, as the international finance market was facing new uncertainties and challenges. The Chinese minister made the speech at the Informal Consultations of East Asia Summit Economic Ministers that was joined by ASEAN economic ministers and their counterparts from six dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), Australia, New Zealand and India [...].. He called for not abandoning the fruits of Doha Round in the past ten years and jointly pushing forward the accomplishment of the early harvest program on the least-developed countries. He added that China was sincere and willing to be flexible for that [...]. According to the joint statement issued after the meeting, all attending ministers welcomed and exchanged their views on the joint proposal from China and Japan on East Asia Free Trade Zone ( FTA) and East Asia Comprehensive Partnership. They also hoped to take the suggestion from ASEAN on the structure and model of ASEAN plus FTA and the joint proposal from China and Japan into discussion simultaneously. Thus, the ministers asked senior officials to discuss on these topics in the meeting this November and submit the report to them. The attending ministers reiterate the significance of maintaining the core position of ASEAN in the process of regional economic integration [...]. The ministers attending the 14th ASEAN Economic Ministers Plus Three Consultations on Saturday issued a joint statement, which highly appreciated the trading and investment cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan and ROK, and welcomed the joint proposal from China and Japan on East Asia Free Trade Zone (FTA) and East Asia Comprehensive Partnership. They also hoped to take the suggestion from ASEAN on the structure and model of ASEAN plus. ^ top ^

Local govt debt risk 'is under control' (China Daily)
2011-08-16
Local government debt is "controllable", the Ministry of Finance said on Monday, easing fears that bad loans could derail the world's second-largest economy. "Judging from the audit results, local government debt is, generally, controllable, though there are potential risks in some areas," the ministry said in a statement posted on its website. Local government debt hit 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) at the end of 2010, or about 27 percent of China's gross domestic product, according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) on June 27. The Ministry of Finance said that local governments have enough resources to act as buffers to potential risks [...]. The State Council, or the Cabinet, vowed in July that it would continue to clean up local government financing and said it would look at setting up a mechanism to regulate the way they raised money. Local authorities borrowed heavily through corporate bodies they created, to meet borrowing standards set by banks, to finance infrastructure and other projects [...]. Zhang Shuguang, researcher at the Institute of Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that though the overall debt risk is under control, there might be a "structural crisis". "Debt repayment is heavily dependent on land sales," Zhang said, adding that nearly 40 percent of all local governments have promised to repay their debt with money raised from land deals. Land sales have declined 11 percent year-on-year in the first five months of this year. And as tightening policies targeting real estate are poised to continue, land sales may even drop further. "If land-based finance continues to worsen, a large crisis may loom," Zhang said. By the end of 2010, there were 78 cities and 99 counties whose governments were on the verge of bankruptcy [...]. Some, in fact, have already defaulted [...]. While the problems are serious, they can be overcome, analysts said. "Yunnan's case is not unique... but it is not too serious," said Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS Securities. Wang said that the financing vehicles of most local governments are facing a problem of cash flow rather than insolvency [...]. The debt will not lead to a hard landing for the economy, or severely damage the banking system, Wang said. Zhou Qiren, a professor of the National School of Development at Peking University, held a similar point of view [...]. ^ top ^

Property prices fall in more Chinese cities in July (China Daily)
2011-08-19
More cities reported lower or unchanged property prices in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In July, some 31 cities out of the statistical pool of 70 major cities saw new home prices declining or unchanged from a month earlier, compared with 26 cities in June, the NBS said in a report on its website. ^ top ^

China's banks lend more to small business (China Daily)
2011-08-19
Chinese financial institutions increased credit support to the country's small business to shore up their growth, despite maintaining an overall lending curb, a central bank official said on Thursday. Against the backdrop of a prudent monetary policy, loans to small businesses accounted for a higher percentage of total lending in the first half of this year, said Wu Xianting, deputy director of the financial market department of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), [...]. By the end of June, the total balance of loans to small- and mid-sized companies stood at 20.1 trillion yuan ($3.15 trillion), a rise of 18.2 percent from a year ago, Wu said. The share of loans to small enterprises in total bank lending was 0.6 percentage points higher than at the end of 2010 and 2.5 percentage points higher than at the end of 2009. In an effort to curb escalating inflation by soaking up liquidity, the central bank has ordered the nation's banks to set aside a record high of 21.5 percent of their cash in reserves and has also increased benchmark interest rates five times since October. The central bank also stressed the need to adjust the lending structure by giving more support to small businesses and the rural sector, both of which generally have less access to bank lending compared with large, state-owned firms [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK media denounce U.S.-S. Korea joint military exercises (Xinhua)
2011-08-17
State media of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday issued commentaries to condemn the joint military exercises held by the United States and South Korea. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a bylined commentary on Tuesday that the "Ulji Freedom Guardian" exercises were "little short of openly declaring that they would escalate military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula." The exercises starting Tuesday were proved to be a drill for "an all-out war against the DPRK and largest-ever nuclear test war" in terms of means and scale, the commentary said. State-run newspaper Minju Joson said in its commentary Tuesday that South Korea "made no scruple of plunging all the Koreans into a war disaster" to realize their ambitions for invading the DPRK in collusion with foreign forces. The exercises clearly proved that the dialogue touted by the South Korean authorities was "nothing but a cynical ploy to mislead the public opinion," the commentary added. The DPRK was ready for both dialogue and war, the commentary said, stressing that South Korea and the United States should immediately stop the joint military exercises. The Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People's Army demanded last week the cancellation of the 11-day exercises. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Ivanhoe Energy spuds first exploration well (News.mn)
2011-08-17
The Ivanhoe Energy announced Tuesday that its subsidiary, Sunwing Energy, has spudded the first exploration well on the company's Mongolian property. The well, which is being drilled by the Daqing Exploration Company, was spudded on the Nyalga block, and has since been drilled to 437 meters. Surface casting has also been run and cemented. "This is an important step in our exploration program in Mongolia," said David Dyck, Ivanhoe president and COO. "Given the results of our 2D seismic study, we are optimistic of the potential to discover oil resources in Mongolia." The structure on the Nyalga block is approximately 32 square kilometres in size, and will be drilled to a total depth of 2,500 meters. The Ivanhoe acquired the property in November 2009, after merging Sunwing with PanAsian Petroleum, which held the exclusive rights to the Nyalga oil block. The Nyalga basin is reported to possess many of the characteristics of interior rift basins that produce light oil east and south of Nyalga and in northern China.. ^ top ^

First Deputy Premier and new railways (Montsame)
2011-08-17
The First Deputy Premier N.Altankhuyag received on Wednesday 17th August authorities of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Mongolia-Russia joint venture and an advisory group led by the McKinsey & Company, Inc, a global management consulting firm. He has got acquainted with a draft economic and technical justification of the new railways to be constructed in Mongolia. The advisors underlined that the policy of Mongolia on railway drawn up dedicated to the new railways is able to contribute to development of infrastructure and mining sectors, and it would be a tool for distributing minerals extracted in Mongolia to the international market augmenting size of export. Railways in route Dalanzdgad--Tavantolgoi--Sainshand--Baruun-Urt--Choibalsan are planned to be constructed in the first turn through a state policy on railway transportation approved by a parliamentary resolution which was issued on 24th June of 2010. Thus, the advisors have pointed out it is effective to implement the project of railways together with second phase of the policy. "It may reduce expenses for constructing the basic structure and easy to attract investments," they said, adding that it is calculated money of about USD 5.5 billion is required for the railway project. The First Deputy Premier asked them about support that should be rendered from the cabinet of Mongolia. In response, the advisors said the project needs a governmental investment of about USD 50 million. N.Altankhuyag promised to positively tackle the financial matter, and to convey it to the cabinet. ^ top ^

Surgery of Liver transplantation to be done first time in Mongolia (Montsame)
2011-08-17
Teams of Mongolian and South Korean medical doctors plan to operate a surgery of liver transplantation for the first time in Mongolia. This surgery will be performed in November of this year in accordance with a related contract established between the Health Ministry of Mongolia and the Asian Medical Centre in the Republic of Korea. Necessary medical equipment has been donated from the Hyunday Group to Mongolia through the Asian Medical Center. Moreover, medical doctors at the Health Ministry and the Central Clinics of State will be trained in the South Korea. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar's fumes to decrease by 30% (UB post)
2011-08-18
In 2010 the Mongolian Government adopted a law about air pollution in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. This law prohibits the burning of raw coal in some khoroo (districts) of four regions: Chingeltei, Sukhbaatar, Bayanzurkh, Bayangol. The Mongolian Government organised to sell coked or refined coal in these regions, but this was not effective enough due to the high price and deficient supply. Thus, this year, the Government is paying more attention to decrease the fumes in the city. Last year, many complained about the high price of refined coal. Therefore, the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism decided to keep the price of refined and coked coal equivalent with anthracite coal. Officials gave the commission to sell 70 thousand stoves that emit low fumes to households located in the four districts. However, only 500 households have the ability to buy it. After considering the average family income and living wage, they decreased the price of the stove for a ger (Mongolian traditional dwelling) to 24,000MNT from 74,000MNT and the price of a stove for house to 50,000MNT from 150,000MNT. This winter discount of electric power will be allowed to households which have bought a stove. Furthermore, they planned to use gas coal in 1000 households, and next year that will increase to 30000. The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism will impose a fine to households that use anthracite coal. Chiefs of each khoroo will oversee the households. It was calculated that the fumes of the city will decrease by 30 percent by selling refined coal and stoves to 70 thousand households, which emit less fumes and pollution. ^ top ^

Ministry of Foreign affairs: no nuclear waste deal in the works (News.mn)
2011-08-18
United States Vice President Joe Biden might encounter some protesters when he visits Mongolia on Monday, August 22. During the forthcoming visit, the U.S Vice President will hold a meeting with S.Batbold in order to share views on strengthening the bilateral relations and cooperation, developing the comprehensive partnership and on present situation of the ties. In addition to it, Mr. Biden will be received by the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj. The two sides consider that the visit would contribute towards keeping the high-level talks, increasing the mutual confidence and understanding at the bilateral relations and strengthening the friendly environment. But the Green Coalition and some activists suspect the real purpose of the visit is to discuss the possibility of burying nuclear waste in Mongolia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denies this. A Foreign Affairs official said, “There is no nuclear waste deal between the two nations. An official statement will be issued soon.” Mr. Biden's visit comes 67 years after a former U.S. vice president, Henry Wallace, visited 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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