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
  29.8-2.9.11, No. 386  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China's legislature approves bill ratifying ASEAN protocol (Xinhua)
2011-08-29
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), or China's top legislature, on Friday ratified the Third Protocol Amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. According to Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, ratifying the protocol will help exhibit China's political support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and boost ties between China and the European Union [...]. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed in February 1976. It was one of the basic political documents of the ASEAN. The amendment is the third to be made to the treaty to pave the way for the European Union officially becoming a party to the treaty. The NPC Standing Committee approved China's joining the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and its two previous amending protocols in 2003. As of August 9, nine countries, including Singapore, France and Malaysia, have ratified the third amending protocol. In accordance with related provisions of the basic laws of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region, the Third Protocol Amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia should also apply to Hong Kong and Macao, Cui said. ^ top ^

China, DPRK pledge to strengthen military ties (Xinhua)
2011-08-29
China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday pledged to continue to promote military ties. The pledge was made during a meeting between Defense Minister Liang Guanglie and Jon Chang Bok, chief of the General Logistics Bureau of the DPRK's Armed Forces Department. Liang said China and the DPRK enjoy a traditional friendship due to shared treasures inherited from the two countries' former leaders. The two countries and the two militaries have continued to strengthen a friendly partnership over the years, promoting the development of both countries and militaries and safeguarding common interests [...]. Jon Chang Bok said the mutual support and assistance between the two militaries has broadened the content of DPRK-China friendship. He said the DPRK will always work with China to promote ties between the two countries and the two militaries during turbulent international situations. He also hopes to learn about military logistics construction from China. ^ top ^

China supports Palestinians' UN bid: envoy (Global Times)
2011-08-29
China's special envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, said here Friday that his country fully supports the Palestinians' right to establish an independent state in a balanced manner and through peace talks. "China supports the Palestinian people and their cause. We also support the Palestinians to get the United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state on the lands occupied in 1967 with Jerusalem as capital," he told Xinhua in Ramallah. The envoy said peace talks with Israel are the best way to reach a settlement, adding that gaining UN recognition is not an alternative to peace negotiations. China supports a two-state solution, [...]. "The Middle East witnesses many changes. People have many chances to participate in political life. The Palestinian cause is a main issue that attracts the attention of the Arab people," he said. "The recent meeting of the Arab League Peace Initiative Follow- Up Committee in Qatar assures the Arabs' support to the Palestinians' bid for full UN membership," he said [...]. The Palestinians say they will approach the UN in September to get full membership of the world body as peace talks with Israel have long been deadlocked, a move disapproved by Israel and the United States. Wu expressed his appreciation of the reconciliation deal signed between Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas movements in Cairo in May. "This move will help the Palestinians to have more countries on their side," he said [...]. He also said the ties between China and the Arab countries are based on strong foundations, regardless of the changes taking place in the region. Wu met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials Tuesday, the first day of his ongoing Middle East tour [...]. ^ top ^

Military talks clear way for Vietnam's top leader (SCMP)
2011-08-31
Top-level Sino-Vietnamese military meetings in Beijing this week appear to have cleared the path for a visit by Vietnam's new top leader, Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, later this year. The talks between Vietnamese Deputy Defence Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh and Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and PLA Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Xiaotian had further eased tensions between Hanoi and Beijing, according to diplomats close to the discussions [...]. "The fundamental differences and suspicions remain but the immediate tensions have eased," said a Beijing-based envoy. "We can expect to see progress in other areas and a smooth visit by the Vietnamese general secretary at China's invitation." A Xinhua report following the Vinh-Liang meeting on Monday noted both sides had pledged to resolve South China Sea disputes through consultations and negotiations [...]. Vinh, formerly a key military intelligence official, has led Vietnam's military diplomacy over the past 18 months or so, successfully forcing South China Sea issues back on to the regional diplomatic agenda despite Beijing's concerns. Those moves have included an emerging strategic partnership with Hanoi's old enemy, Washington [...] even as Vietnam and China have formally strengthened military ties. The pair signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2009. Vietnam's state press quoted Vinh before he left for China as saying that he would be reasserting Vietnam's sovereignty over the South China Sea's disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands even as he tried to improve ties [...]. The fraternal yet historically suspicious Sino-Vietnamese relationship is increasingly scrutinised by regional envoys and analysts. Relations have degenerated amid repeated anti-Chinese street protests in Hanoi [...] and reports of fresh tensions on the China-Vietnam border and at sea. Meanwhile, Vietnamese-US ties have appeared to strengthen [...]. Professor Carl Thayer, of the Australian Defence Force Academy, said this week's diplomacy highlighted Vietnam's bid to "compartmentalise" the South China Sea frictions: "Tensions have markedly reduced.". ^ top ^

UN Security Council should play leading role in handling Libyan issue: Chinese envoy (Global Times)
2011-08-31
The UN Security Council should play a leading role in handling the Libyan issue at the next stage, while other countries, international mechanisms and conferences should also play a supplementary role, China's UN Ambassador Li Baodong said here Tuesday. China is of the view that four principles should be followed in handling the Libyan issue at this moment, Li told reporters [...]. "First, bring an early end to the conflicts. Second, launch an inclusive political process as soon as possible. Third, respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya and the will and choice of the Libyan people," Li said. "Fourth, give play to the leading role of the Security Council, while other countries, international mechanisms and international conferences should also play a supplementary role under the guidance of the UN Charter and established principles concerning the Libyan issue," Li told reporters. Li said members of the Security Council have reached consensus on these major principles [...]. He also stressed that China supports the efforts made by the African Union in promoting political settlement of the crisis in Libya. ^ top ^

China to attend 'Friends of Libya' meeting (China Daily)
2011-09-01
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will attend the international "Friends of Libya" conference in Paris on Thursday as an observer. Zhai is visiting at the invitation of France, [...]. Ma said China supports the efforts made by relevant parties to restore Libya's stability and promote the peaceful transfer of power in Libya. China is willing to work with the international community to play a positive role in Libya's reconstruction, he said. Senior officials from around 60 countries are attending the conference to secure financial and diplomatic support for Libya [...]. ^ top ^

China-Africa People's Forum passes Nairobi Declaration (Xinhua)
2011-09-01
The forum, which was co-hosted by the Board and the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), was the first non-government exchange between China and Africa ever held in Africa. The forum passed the Nairobi Declaration, which outlines the guiding principles of non-government exchanges between China and Africa. It calls upon the governments of both China and African countries to recognize the importance of and encourage people-to-people exchanges. It also asks for support from the United Nations and international communities. The Declaration stresses “enhancing people-to-people friendship, facilitating pragmatic cooperation and promoting world peace” as the core values of China-Africa non-governmental exchanges. Li Jinjun, the executive vice-president of CNIE, said the forum was a milestone in the history of China-African relations, but that it also presented challenges. The NGOs that attended this forum were mainly from Anglo-African countries, and exchanges need to be expanded to include more French and Arabic speaking countries in the future, Li said. More than 200 representatives from Chinese and African non-government organizations attended the forum. They discussed issues such as climate change and food security, NGOs' credibility and transparency, the relationship among governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses and communities. They also explored cooperation methods to fight AIDS in China and Africa. ^ top ^

Hu, Aquino vow to deepen ties (SCMP)
2011-09-02
China and the Philippines vowed yesterday in a joint communique to deepen bilateral exchanges in the political, cultural, judicial and military fields, as Philippine President Benigno Aquino wrapped up meetings with top Chinese leaders on his first state visit. Both sides also reiterated their pledges that maritime disputes would not affect bilateral ties. The communique, issued by President Hu Jintao and Aquino, also said both sides would discuss the establishment of a nautical highway that would "infuse new energy" into bilateral economic development - a move analysts said was conducive to easing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Aquino stressed when meeting National People's Congress Standing Committee chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao that he was committed to enhancing ties with China. Both sides gave a positive assessment to the state visit, with Aquino saying he was thankful for the support of the Chinese, who agreed to allocate towards co-operation with the Philippines a "substantial portion" of funding for investment between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. [...] Both sides said they agreed not to let tensions in the South China Sea, which have been escalating in recent months, affect the broader picture of friendship and co-operation. "The two leaders reiterated their commitment to addressing the disputes through peaceful dialogue, to maintain continued regional peace, security, stability and an environment conducive to economic progress," it said. They agreed to enhance regular high-level exchanges, visits and meetings between leaders, cabinet members, legislators, judicial officials and military officials. The two countries will also double the number of two-way tourist arrivals to two million by 2016. The communique said it was "highly practical and important" for both sides to strengthen co-operation amid the current instability of the global economy and the growing role of emerging markets. [...] Wu and Wen described Aquino's visit as a success. Wen called for mutual respect and proper handling of disputes, for regional stability. Aquino will meet with business representatives in Shanghai today. Tomorrow, he will trace his ancestral roots in Xiamen, Fujian. ^ top ^

China urges increased diplomatic efforts in Iran nuclear issue (Xinhua)
2011-09-02
China on Thursday called on relevant parties to enhance diplomatic efforts in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue after Iran's atomic chief said nuclear fuel swap talks were over. "Under the current circumstances, relevant parties should ratchet up diplomatic efforts, continue to commit to dialogue and negotiation, take new measures to deepen trust, and create new conditions to properly resolve the Iranian nuclear issue," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said at a regular briefing on Thursday. Ma's comments came days after Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, vice president and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran will no longer negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with some world powers and will not stop producing uranium at a 20 percent level of enrichment for the Tehran reactor. As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has the right to peacefully utilize nuclear power and assume due international obligations, Ma said. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Implementation of China's rural land contract law to be checked (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-29
China's top legislature will send a team to find out how a law on rural land contract has been implemented in order to prevent farmers' land rights from being infringed. The team, organized by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), will go in six separate groups to the provinces of Hebei, Jilin, Anhui, Shandong, Hunan and Gansu from August to October, according to a meeting of the NPC Standing Committee Saturday in Beijing. The top legislature also ordered local legislatures of other provinces and regions to check the enforcement of laws concerning rural land contract and the mediation and arbitration of rural land contract disputes. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said in a written comment that the inspections are aimed at helping protect farmers' rights in land contract system, maintain the stability of the system, and strengthen the management and services regarding the transfer of farmers' land contract management rights. Wu said the inspections also aim to prevent the country's arable land from being illegally occupied, and better address the disputes stemming from rural land contract management [...]. Uyunqimg, vice chairperson of the Standing Committee of the NPC, said at the meeting that it is fundamentally important to promote better implementation of the laws through inspections because the rural land contract law has a bearing on farmers' interests, agricultural development, and the stability in rural regions. ^ top ^

Weibo cracks down on rumours after official's warning to net firms (SCMP)
2011-08-29
The mainland's most popular micro-blogging site is cracking down on what it says is the spread of false rumours after the Communist Party told internet companies to tighten control over information online. The move by Sina Corp reflects the pressure on the mainland's internet companies, most of which are privately owned, to help Beijing enforce censorship or risk losing the right to operate profitable businesses in a fast-growing market. Sina's Weibo service has sent notices to its 200 million users denying two reports posted on the site. It said the accounts of the users who originated the reports were temporarily closed [...]. The party secretary for Beijing, Liu Qi, visited Sina's headquarters last Monday and said internet companies should block the spread of false and harmful information, a party newspaper reported. Liu gave no details of what the party wanted, but Sina issued a statement on Thursday saying it would "put more effort into attacking all kinds of rumours." Weibo users reacted with dismay to Sina's move. "The constitution stipulates freedom of speech, but there is no freedom of speech in reality," one posting on the site said. "Please refute this rumour." Some users wondered whether the ruling party would use the policy to suppress the spread of information that might embarrass officials. "Do not ban the truth through `refuting rumours,"' one said [...]. Private-sector internet services must monitor content on their own and quickly remove any that violates censorship rules. Sina chief executive Charles Chao told Forbes magazine in March that Weibo had at least 100 employees monitoring content 24 hours a day. On Friday, Sina denied a report on Weibo that a suspect in the slaying of a 19-year-old woman was freed in Wuhan, Hubei province, because of his politically influential father. It cited police as saying the man was still in detention. Sina said the account of the user who spread the report was suspended for one month. The company also denied a report that the Chinese Red Cross was improperly charging hospital patients for blood. Sina said it has created a separate channel dubbed "Weibo refutes rumours" to spread denials of false information [...]. ^ top ^

Ai disregards gag order with bristling attack (SCMP)
2011-08-30
Dissident mainland artist Ai Weiwei has launched his first scathing attack on the central government since his release from secretive detention in late June, accusing officials of denying citizens their basic rights. In a strongly worded commentary published late on Sunday on the website of the US magazine Newsweek, Ai [...] called Beijing "a city of violence". He criticised the the judicial system, government's policy on migrant workers and rampant public corruption [...]. Ai's English-language commentary signals his growing impatience with the strict terms of his release from custody in late June after 81 days. It also presents Beijing with a direct challenge on how to handle the country's most famous social critic. "Every year millions come to Beijing to build its bridges, roads, and houses," Ai wrote. "They are Beijing's slaves. They squat in illegal structures, which Beijing destroys as it keeps expanding. Who owns houses? Those who belong to the government, the coal bosses, the heads of big enterprises. They come to Beijing to give gifts - and the restaurants and karaoke parlours and saunas are very rich as a result." Under the conditions of Ai's release, he is not allowed to be interviewed by journalists, meet foreigners, use the internet or interact with rights advocates for a year, a source familiar with the events of Ai's detention said [...]. In the commentary, Ai alluded to his time in detention, saying "the worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system". "My ordeal made me understand that on this fabric, there are many hidden spots where they put people without identity," Ai wrote. "Only your family is crying out that you're missing. You can't get answers from the street communities or officials, or even at the highest levels, the court or the police or the head of the nation." He wrote about the "secretive way" people came up to him in a park last week, giving him a thumbs up or patting him on the shoulder. "They always tell me, `Weiwei, leave the nation, please'," Ai wrote. Or `Live longer and watch them die.'" He had previously said he would never emigrate, but the latest article left that in question: "Either leave, or be patient and watch how they die," he wrote. "I really don't know what I'm going to do.". ^ top ^

Govt leadership changes continue (China Daily)
2011-08-30
More regional leadership reshuffles may be expected following changes to the top leaders of five provincial-level regions last week, as the Communist Party of China (CPC) gears up for next year's Party congress, experts said. Zhu Lijia, a public administration expert at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told China Daily on Monday that last week's personnel changes, in which seven provincial governors and Party chiefs from five provinces and autonomous regions were removed, were part of a national reshuffle, and more rearrangements may be expected in the near future [...]. Chen Quanguo has been appointed secretary of the CPC committee of Tibet. In addition, Qin Guangrong has been appointed secretary of Yunnan Provincial Committee of the CPC, replacing Bai Enpei, while Luo Baoming has been appointed secretary of Hainan Provincial Committee of the CPC, replacing Wei Liucheng. All of the departing leaders have turned 65, a standard retirement age for ministerial-level officials in China, and have been appointed as senior officials in the National People's Congress, China's top legislature [...]. Zhu said such rearrangements usually start at least two years before the CPC's national congress, a five-yearly personnel change in the country's top ruling body [...]. Last week's reshuffle was made along with the nomination of dozens of director-level officials, in which at least three officials from the central government departments responsible for the economy, finance and foreign trade, were appointed deputy mayors or Party officials of coastal cities. Liu said the purpose of the reshuffle was to help local governments better balance economic development and improvement of people's living standards. "By selecting officials from Beijing, the central government hopes local leaders can better comprehend and carry out its policies," Liu said. ^ top ^

Tougher supervision, corruption prevention urged for officials (Xinhua)
2011-08-31
He Guoqiang, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), urged strengthening the supervision of influential officials in a bid to prevent corruption by starting at the source. He, a Standing Committee member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks Tuesday at a meeting on preventing corruption risks and regulating the power of officials. He urged various government departments to draft catalogs and flow charts that reflect the power and responsibilities of officials at different posts and highlight corruption-prone phases that require enhanced supervision. According to He, supervision and corruption prevention efforts should focus on officials at key positions, such as those with authoritative power over appointments, law enforcement, project approvals and supervision [...]. ^ top ^

China's draft law amendment in conformity with international conventions: experts (Xinhua)
2011-08-31
China's draft amendment to the Criminal Procedure Law will further help protect human rights, and conforms rather than contradicts international conventions, legal experts in Beijing have said. The experts made the remarks in response to doubts cast by international media outlets on an article in the draft submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, last week. These outlets contend that the article violates international conventions and international law. Article 73 of the draft provides that, in cases involving crimes regarding national security, terrorism or serious cases of bribery, the defendants or suspects can be put under residential surveillance in places outside their own homes if residential surveillance at the home of the suspect or defendant is likely to hinder an ongoing investigation. The article also stipulates that when suspects or defendants are held under surveillance outside their homes, their family members should be informed within 24 hours of the surveillance as well as the reasons and the sites of the surveillance, except in cases when family members could not be reached or that notice could hinder the investigation. The wording in the draft indicates that police will first consider the grounds requiring the authorities to give notice to family members, Wang Minyuan, a legal researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences [...]. Current law in China stipulates two types of compulsory measures taken against suspects: depriving suspects of personal freedom, [...], and obtaining a guarantor or bail pending trial. Residential surveillance is a measure limiting a suspect's personal freedom. It can be taken by authorities when an arrest is unnecessary, impossible or unsuitable in a specific case [...]. The primary purpose of residential surveillance is to facilitate criminal procedures by preventing a suspect from fleeing, colluding in testimonies, destroying evidence or committing more crimes, said Song Yinghui, associate dean of the Law School of Beijing Normal University [...]. Regarding the clauses authorizing police not to inform a suspect's family members under certain conditions, Wang said, "These clauses are an exception, and will not become regular […]. The draft amendment has strengthened, not weakened human rights protection, because measures when a suspect in taken into custody, such as arrest and detention, are much harsher than residential surveillance [...]. An important goal of China's laws is to strike a balance between combating crime and protecting human rights, Song said. The draft amendment does not violate international conventions. Instead, it is in line with the purposes of international law that advocate the protection of suspects' rights by using the fewest compulsory measures possible in criminal procedure, he said [...]. ^ top ^

Draft secret-detention law posted for comment (SCMP)
2011-08-31
Draft amendments to the mainland's Criminal Procedure Law were finally made public yesterday, after leaked excerpts had earlier sparked heated debate. The draft amendments, which were tabled for a first reading by the National People's Congress Standing Committee last week, have now been posted for public comment on the NPC's website. Until yesterday the draft had only been seen by a handful of law professors and state media. One of the most controversial amendments would place new rules on the existing practice of "residential surveillance" that many human rights activists contend would allow police to detain suspects accused of endangering state security - usually dissidents - in secret locations for up to six months with little restriction [...]. The draft released yesterday specifies three circumstances in which individuals could be held in a specified residence: when they are suspected of terrorism, endangering state security, or if keeping them in their usual residences would "interfere with investigations". The draft says police must in most cases inform family members within 24 hours of residential surveillance outside the home; excepted are cases in which the subject of surveillance is suspected of terrorism or endangering state security or if keeping them at home would hamper investigations. Rights activists said the amendments would effectively legitimise the detention and disappearances of dissidents such as artist Ai Weiwei [...] and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo [...]. ^ top ^

Harsher penalties for cybercrime (SCMP)
2011-08-31
The authorities are tightening their grip on cybercrimes by imposing stricter penalties. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly issued a legal interpretation on Monday that will make the purchase, sale and cover-up of illegally obtained computer data a criminal offence. People who obtain more than 5,000 yuan (HK$6,100) by "transferring, purchasing, selling or covering up" such data or control of a network will be criminally liable under the new rules, which go into effect tomorrow. Hackers who intentionally implant viruses in more than 20 computers, or who provide viruses to other parties more than 10 times, could face jail terms of up to five years. Those who steal 10 to 50 usernames and passwords for online payment or stock trading accounts will face a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment [...]. In July, a military propaganda documentary was aired on state television, and the footage contained a six-second clip showing a military university using hacking software that it had developed to target dissident groups. However, the authorities say China is one of the world's biggest victims of hacking. The Supreme Court cited Ministry of Public Security figures that said that the number of cases related to computer hacking increased annually by 110 per cent. In a State Council Information Office report last year, more than a million internet addresses were said to be controlled by foreign hackers in 2009. Xiang Ligang, an analyst on information technologies and telecommunication, said the new interpretation was urgently needed, especially as smartphone usage was growing more prevalent [...]. "In the past, most Chinese didn't tend to consider hacking attacks as crimes." New laws would change the public's perception, he added [...]. The court's interpretation is intended to hit the profits of the online criminals, a tactic the interpretation paints as the key to combating such online crime. ^ top ^

Filmmaker rebukes censorship agency (SCMP)
2011-09-01
Renowned Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang has lashed out at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the country's broadcasting and film regulator, saying "ridiculous" censorship is detrimental to creativity. Beijing has been eager to project its soft power in recent years, by establishing the Confucius Institute language schools and by developing cultural industries. This week Li Changchun, a member of the top Politburo Standing Committee, pressed for reforms in the sector. But at a cultural reform conference held by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Friday, Feng said: "The pressure of censorship has, in turn, been shifted to directors and creators. [Sarft] misinterprets and makes everything a matter of principle. Many modifications have gone so far to the point of the ridiculous," [...]. "Being positive or negative has become the only standard to judge a film and, at the same time, creators are called on to make films able to withstand the test of time. [...]" Feng said strict censorship left filmmakers little choice but to walk on the safe side, to rush to make films on historic events and to avoid contemporary topics. Feng also criticised the financial burden that Sarft imposes on film studios, saying it has hurt the indigenous film industry. For the past 21 years, Sarft has been collecting 5 per cent of box-office revenues for every movie. The money is put in a fund for developing the film industry, but this has been a burden not only to small studios but also for big companies, such as Huayi Brothers Media, the mainland's biggest and most lucrative private film developer [...]. ^ top ^

Toxic river dumpers facing court action (SCMP)
2011-09-01
Mainland lawyers and environmentalists plan to file a lawsuit against a chemical plant accused of contaminating the Nanpan River in Yunnan, a main tributary of the Pearl River, for more than two decades. Environmental organisations say the litigation against the Luliang chemical plant on behalf of tens of thousands of distraught farmers living nearby in Qujing is necessary to put an end to the local government's inaction and stop the toxic heavy metal pollution from escalating into an environmental disaster. They also warn that despite talking about the urgent need to tackle heavy metal pollution, mainland authorities have yet to take effective action against soaring levels of toxic industrial waste across the country that pose grave challenges to the environment and public health. Friends of Nature director-general Li Bo said about 10 lawyers from Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Yunnan have agreed to work with his group on the case [...]. Li has just returned from a field trip to Xinglong village, which was worst hit by the plant's illegal dumping of chromium slag [...]. Unusually high rates of lung cancer have been reported in villages surrounding the plant. Hexavalent chromium is known to be carcinogenic and water-soluble [...]. Beijing has pledged to spend hundreds of billions of yuan in the coming decade to tackle widespread heavy metal poisoning, which has seen a flurry of pollution scandals in Hunan, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Shandong and Guangdong over the past few months. Public interest litigation remains rare on the mainland due to legal restrictions and a lack of judicial independence, but lawyers are hopeful. Yunnan was one of the first provinces to set up special environment courts to deal with pollution disputes and litigation aimed at protecting public interests. While there are nine such courts in Yunnan, a vice-president of the provincial high court said in June that they had only dealt with two lawsuits [...]. ^ top ^

Rural preschools to receive 50 billion yuan boost from central govt (Global Times)
2011-09-01
The State Council vowed Wednesday to increase financial support for the country's preschool education system. According to a statement released after a State Council meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, the central government will allocate 50 billion yuan ($ 7.84 billion) over the next five years to support preschool education in rural areas. Efforts to boost preschool education in the country's less-developed central and western regions will include transforming unused school buildings into kindergartens, encouraging schools with rich resources to set up kindergartens, and recruiting volunteer teachers to visit various kindergartens on a regular basis, said the statement [...]. Local governments were told to offer subsidies to impoverished children, orphans and handicapped children who meet difficulties in receiving a pre-school education, starting from the upcoming autumn semester in September. ^ top ^

Jailed airline tycoon points finger at official
2011-09-02
A jailed former airline tycoon yesterday accused a top official in Wuhan, provincial capital of Hubei, of adultery, usury, abuse of power and embezzlement. The relatives of 51-year-old Lan Shili, who founded the private East Star Airlines in 2005, released a document accusing Yuan Shanla, Wuhan's executive vice-mayor, of crimes including abuse of power, playing a major role in toppling the airline and cohorting with a triad head. A spokesman for the Wuhan city government's news office said the accusations were "groundless rumours of a malicious nature". He said the government's internet censor had stepped in and further government response would depend on how public opinion unfolded online. Lan was named China's 136th richest person by Forbes magazine in 2008. He was jailed by the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court for four years in April last year for tax evasion. Lan's accusation, dated July 22 and read by his relatives at a Beijing press conference, was submitted to Hubei's prosecutors and anti-graft watchdog in July, but no response had been received, his relatives said. It said a detailed list of allegations against Yuan, 57, had also been passed on with evidence. [...]. ^ top ^

Senior official calls for more efforts in handling people's petitions (Xinhua)
2011-09-02
A senior Chinese official said Thursday that the disciplinary organs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) around the country should receive more petitioners and help them resolve problems with patience. He Guoqiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks during a visit to a petition office of the CPC Central Discipline Inspection Committee (CDIC). He, who is also the head of the CDIC, said properly handling people's petitions is a political task for the party's disciplinary organs, and that leaders of disciplinary organs at all levels should regularly meet petitioners and listen to their appeals face-to-face to help solve their difficulties. [...] He also said the disciplinary organ's work to receive petitioners is an important part of the party's and government's work handling people's petitions as well as an effective information source for locating corruption. Disciplinary organs at all levels should seriously investigate and punish illegalities in land acquisition, food and drug safety, environmental protection and work safety as told by petitioners, he said. Officials who receive petitioners with buckpassing, runarounds or perfunctoriness should be held accountable, he said. ^ top ^

Upgrade of arms won't alter policy: Ministry (China Daily)
2011-09-02
The modernization of China's armed forces will not alter the nation's defensive policy, and China's naval strategy will remain based on offshore defense, the Ministry of National Defense said on Wednesday. China's first aircraft carrier has finished its first sea trial, which proceeded "as expected", ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a regular news conference. "Commissioning an aircraft carrier is a long and complicated project. In this process, there will be a number of tests," Yang said, adding that the carrier is currently undergoing refitting and further tests. China will not change its long-standing defensive policy because of new military equipment, he added. In a recent report from the Pentagon on China's military development, the United States said China's increasing naval power and high-tech weaponry will extend its reach in the Pacific and beyond. The development of China's armed forces targets no country or specific object, and it only serves to maintain national security, Yang said. The annual Pentagon report also said that China's new advanced rocket systems were a "deterrent" against India and the "mistrust" between the two countries is leading to continued tension. "The conclusion is totally groundless. China and India are not enemies, not opponents, but neighbors and partners," Yang said. ^ top ^

Fund set to halve cash given to China to fight HIV/AIDS (Global Times)
2011-09-02
A major international fund that battles HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria is likely to significantly cut its financial support to China after earlier freezing millions of dollars in grants to the country due to alleged mismanagement, according to the Beijing Times. The Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is considering an average cut of 50 percent for the three projects while the cut for the tuberculosis project could be as high as 80 percent, the paper reported, citing Urban Weber, the fund's unit director of Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean Unit. The cooperation with the Global Fund is China's largest international health-related project, and covers two-thirds of China's counties and cities. Over the past eight years, China has received $937 million from the fund. [...]. ^ top ^

Vice President Xi Jinping underscores value of learning Chinese history (Xinhua)
2011-09-02
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Thursday called on communist officials to read books on Chinese history and apply historical experience to their work. Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, urged officials to borrow useful examples from history to improve their work. Xi said he hoped officials could stand up to tests and ward off risks after learning more about preeminent traditional Chinese culture as well as the nation's lofty spiritual pursuits. In particular, officials should read modern Chinese history, which refers to Chinese history in the time since the Opium War of 1840, Xi said at the opening of the autumn session of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). This part of history could help readers understand why the Chinese people chose the CPC and socialism, said Xi, who is also the head of the Party School. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to cap coal use to reduce pollution (China Daily)
2011-08-30
The capital city will cap its annual coal consumption at 20 million tons by 2015, as part of its plan to release less carbon and further reduce air pollution, the municipal commission of development and reform said on Monday. The city will rely on other forms of energy, such as natural gas, petrol, diesel and import electricity from other provinces, to meet its increasing energy demand [...]. Beijing is the country's second largest energy consumer, and by 2015 its total energy consumption is expected to reach 90 million tons of coal equivalent, an increase of about 20 million tons from the 2010 level. According to the commission, Beijing aims by 2015 to reduce its energy consumption for each 10,000 yuan ($1,566) of GDP by 17 percent compared with the 2010 level and carbon emissions by 18 percent. The green goals are slightly stricter than the five-year national energy target of 16 percent and carbon intensity target of 17 percent [...]. Between 2006 and 2010, Beijing cut its energy intensity by 26.59 percent, which was the best performance in the country. "Beijing already boasts higher carbon productivity than most other cities in the country, thanks to its optimized industrial structure," said Zou Ji, China director of the World Resources Institute, a US-based environmental think tank [...]. To achieve its green goals, Beijing will also replace four large-scale coal-fired power plants with natural-gas electricity generation systems. It will also increase the share of renewable energy in the whole energy mix from 3.2 percent in 2010 to 6 percent by 2015, officials said. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Advisers to get bigger say in policymaking (China Daily)
2011-08-31
A new regulation says Guangdong provincial authorities should consult the members of non-Communist parties and prominent social organizations before making important decisions. Zhu Mingguo, deputy Party chief of Guangdong, said the regulation requires government departments to consult members of the Guangdong provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which is the provincial political advisory body, before making decisions on important issues or seeking the provincial legislature's approval for policy matters. Zhu said the regulation will help make the advisory body more powerful in coming years. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is the country's political advisory body [...]. The regulation, which was passed at the end of a work conference for provincial advisers, marks the first time the country's regulations have officially called on the government to consult certain organizations before making important decisions. At the meeting, Wang Yang, Guangdong's Party chief, said democracy with Chinese characteristics will prove to be "efficient, inexpensive and productive". "Without social supervision, it is very difficult to ensure that policies are well made and effectively carried out," the Party chief said [...]. Wang Zechu, a member of the Guangdong provincial advisory committee, said he hopes government departments will pay more attention to suggestions made by the public [...]. Wang Yukai, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance, said Guangdong has taken the lead in asking government officials to seek advice before making important decisions or passing legislation. It will also encourage various political parties to cooperate under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, he said. The regulation encourages political advisers to consult the public more using micro blogs, e-mails and other forms of technology [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

New Party chief of Tibet pledges more efforts in boosting regional development (Xinhua)
2011-08-29
Tremendous efforts are needed to boost development in Tibet and the region's long-term stability, said Chen Quanguo, the new secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, at a meeting here Thursday afternoon. The CPC Central Committee announced Thursday that Zhang Qingli, the former Party Chief of Tibet, has been replaced by Chen. At the meeting, Zhang Jinan, vice minister of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, said that Chen, who started at the grassroots level, gained experience through his work in various posts. "He is familiar with the work of the Party as well as the economy, and is good at handling the overall situation," he said. "The decision by the central authorities was out of consideration for the actual work needs, a spirit of cadre exchange, and the real leadership situation in Tibet," he said [...]. "The Party and the central government have high requirements for the development of Tibet, and local cadres of all ethnic groups have great expectations," he said. Chen Quanguo was born in 1955 in central China's Henan Province and later obtained a masters degree in economics. A retired soldier, he started as a worker in an automobile factory in Zhumadian City of Henan. After serving as a government leader at both the county and city levels, he was promoted to vice governor of Henan Province in 1998. In 2003, he became the province's vice Party chief. He was relocated to neighboring Hebei Province in 2009, where he served as vice Party chief of the Province, and governor from 2010 [...]. ^ top ^

Lama's jailing for monk's self-immolation decried (SCMP)
2011-08-31
Rights activists yesterday criticised China for jailing a Tibetan lama for 11 years over the death of a young monk who set himself alight, with one calling his prosecution "purely political". A court in the southwestern province of Sichuan on Monday convicted the lama of intentional homicide and said he had prevented the wounded monk from getting medical treatment, Xinhua said. The monk, Phuntsog, died in hospital after setting himself alight on March 16, triggering protests and a clampdown by authorities around the monastery in Sichuan's mountainous Aba prefecture. The court's verdict contradicted earlier assertions by rights groups that monks at the Kirti monastery had rescued Phuntsog from police who began to beat him after extinguishing the flames. As a court prepared to try two more monks yesterday, Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch said the cases were politically motivated [...]. "It comes against a background of unprecedented persecution against the monastery of Kirti, from where the government has already taken into arbitrary detention dozens of monks," Bequelin added [...]. "Sentencing a monk who appears to have only attempted to protect Phuntsog after his solitary act only compounds the agony for Kirti monks," Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet said. "By doing so, the Chinese government aims to deflect attention from the real reasons for the selfimmolation, which was an expression of anguish and sacrifice due to intense repression including new measures to suppress religious practice in Tibetan areas." Xinhua reported that two more monks linked to the self-immolation were to face trial yesterday after the imprisonment on Monday of a monk named Drongdru [...]. ^ top ^

Another two Tibetan monks sentenced in self-immolation, murder case (Xinhua)
2011-09-01
A local court in southwest China's Sichuan Province Tuesday jailed two Tibetan monks for intentional homicide over another monk's death by self-immolation. Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum of the Kirti Monastery in Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture were sentenced to 13 years and 10 years in prison, respectively, according to the verdict from the Maerkang County People's Court in Aba. The two plotted, instigated and assisted in the self-immolation of fellow monk Rigzin Phuntsog, causing his death, the court found [...]. Three days before the self-immolation, Tenchum and Dorje, another monk who would be charged in another instance in Phuntsog's death, sent photos of Phuntsog and Tsering Tenzin to a monk living overseas via Internet, proving that the self-immolation was premeditated. In court, Tsering Tenzin said he became a monk when he was young and committed the crime unaware that it was against the law. He also said he hoped to have a chance for repentance [...]. Both Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum confessed their guilt following the court proceedings. Some living Buddhas and monks attended the trial. "Monks can't kill. What they did was against the dharma and against the law," said Yangdron Jamaseng, director of the management committee of the Tsakhor Monastery. "Through the trial, I realized monks not only need to learn scriptures, but they also need to learn the law and obey the law." "I think the conviction is fair and just. A monk who goes against dharma and against the law should be penalized," said Shilha Lungden, a khenpo at the Mora Monastery in Maerkang County [...]. In a trial Monday, the court sentenced Drongdru, also a Kirti Monastery monk, to 11 years in prison for intentional homicide in Phuntsog's death. Drongdru was given the sentence because he hid the injured monk and prevented emergency treatment, causing delayed treatment and the subsequent death for his disciple and nephew, according to the verdict. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Trade push for restive Xinjiang (SCMP)
2011-09-02
Further opening up the economy of Xinjiang and boosting its trade with neighbouring countries are the keys to the region's rapid development, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday as he opened the first China-Eurasia Expo in the regional capital, Urumqi. Xinhua quoted Li as saying that the government was working to accelerate the opening up of Xinjiang by setting up special economic zones in two border cities, restructuring local industries, expanding the number of border trade ports, and implementing financial measures to encourage the use of the yuan in cross-border trade and investment. Li also urged neighbouring countries to fast track cross-border infrastructure projects - roads, railways, airports, pipelines and telecommunication networks - to explore the full potential of transport across the Eurasian heartland. In a bid to stem unrest in the region - where the former Uygur majority is outnumbered by Han Chinese and where ethnic clashes in July 2009 left nearly 200 people dead - the Communist Party has vowed to pursue rapid development and long-term peace and stability by providing the region with huge amounts of capital and human resources. Security was extremely tight in and around the expo venue in an Urumqi suburb, with scores of policemen carrying machine guns patrolling and all those attending the event, including reporters, being subjected to head-to-toe security checks. There have been reports that Urumqi had been targeted for terrorist attacks, with Urumqi party secretary Zhu Hailun saying on Wednesday that police had thwarted several attempts to sabotage public safety in the run-up to the event, Xinhua reported. Li also met Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on yesterday. In a speech to the forum, Tsang said that as the most important source of funds for Xinjiang, Hong Kong had contributed up to US$130 million of actual investment - making up 54 per cent of all outside funding flowing into the northwestern region. [...] The expo is an upgraded version of the former Urumqi Foreign Economic Relations and Trade Fair, which began in 1992 and became the highest-level trade fair in western China. Organisers of the event said about 50,000 officials and businessmen from China and about 30 countries, regions and international organisations are expected to attend the five-day trade fair. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Basic Law (Global Times)
2011-08-29
The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, or China's top legislature, ended its bimonthly session on Friday, adopting an interpretation of several articles of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Top legislator Wu Bangguo, [...], said the interpretation was the first of its kind after the Basic Law of the HKSAR was implemented on July 1, 1997, the same day that Britain returned the region to China. The interpretation stipulates that Hong Kong's laws concerning rules on state immunity must "be consistent with the rules or policies on state immunity that the central government has adopted" [...]. Wu said that while giving the region a high degree of autonomy, the Basic Law clarifies that its diplomacy and national defense affairs are administered by the central government, and that it also states that the HKSAR's courts have no jurisdiction over diplomacy and national defense affairs. "It is necessary (to have such an interpretation), as it reflects state sovereignty and maintains Hong Kong's lasting prosperity and stability," Wu said. The interpretation fully embodies the "one country, two systems" policy, which not only safeguards state sovereignty but also ensures the HKSAR's independent judicial and final adjudication power, he said. During the bimonthly session, the legislature also reviewed draft amendments of the Criminal Procedure Law, which prevents judges from accepting confessions from tortured suspects and gives those suspects more defense options. Wu said the draft amendments "properly handled the protection of defendants' human rights" [...]. ^ top ^

Leung goes from zero to people's hero in the polls (SCMP)
2011-09-02
Just a few months ago Leung Chun-ying was the least popular of the contenders for chief executive. Now another opinion poll rates him the one the public most trusts to protect Hong Kong's interests. Too bad for Leung that it's a committee of 1,600, not the people, who'll elect the city's new leader. The poll, carried out by the Democratic Party, shows a remarkable turnaround in support for Leung, the convenor of the Executive Council, at a time when his main rival, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, has drawn fire for a remark about how police handled Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Hong Kong. The Democratic Party poll showed Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai still had the most support of the three people widely tipped to contest the election. But Leung is catching up fast. About 28 per cent of the 586 respondents believed Leung would be the most courageous in protecting Hong Kong's interests and would be prepared to say "No" to Beijing when it mattered. [...] However, 28.7 per cent believed none of the three candidates would dare challenge Beijing. The findings are consistent with recent similar surveys by other groups. [...] Last month, Tang drew criticism for rejecting as "completely rubbish" journalists' claim that arrangements for Li's visit constituted an attack on press freedom. People have been suspicious of Leung's relationship with Beijing since before the handover. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Macau

Macao's economy expands by 24% in Q2 (Xinhua)
2011-08-31
Spurred by favorable performance of the gaming sector, Macao's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2011 grew 24 percent year-on-year, according to the figures released on Tuesday by Macao's Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). Analyzed by major components, exports of gaming services and investment soared by 39 percent and 23.1 percent respectively in the period when total visitor spending, excluding gaming expenses, increased by 5.9 percent, the figures indicated. Meanwhile, protracted decline in merchandise exports continued to register a decrease of 8.2 percent in the second quarter of 2011, while merchandise imports increased by 26.4 percent, the DSEC said. Due to the continuous rise in total employment and income, together with low unemployment rate in the second quarter, private consumption expenditure increased by 11.3 percent, of which final consumption expenditure in the domestic market rose by 7.6 percent, while final consumption expenditure abroad surged by 21.3 percent [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Inflation control target difficult to achieve (China Daily)
2011-08-29
A senior Chinese official said on Thursday that stabilizing the general price level remains the government's top priority, calling for all macro control policies in force to be fully implemented as it will be difficult to fulfill the government's inflation control target. The remarks by Zhang Ping, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, came at a bi-monthly legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. Zhang said that since the beginning of this year, China has taken a series of measures to cool rising prices. These measures included introducing a prudent monetary policy, boosting supply and containing irrational demand while establishing a price control mechanism. "The efforts we made to cool prices are gradually taking effect," Zhang told the NPC Standing Committee. "But it could be difficult to keep the consumer price index (CPI) growth below the government's target this year," he said. The Chinese government set the annual inflation rate control target at around 4 percent for the year. The CPI, a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.5 percent in the first seven months of this year. In July, the index jumped to a 37-month high of 6.5 percent, well above the government's target ceiling. Zhang expects the country's price level to remain high due to the pressures of global liquidity, imported inflation, a rise in domestic production costs, temporary shortages of some kinds of agricultural products and natural disasters. He added that the pressures and risks China faces could lift inflationary expectations, and make meeting the price control target difficult. ^ top ^

Local gov't debts differ from those in other countries, default unlikely: official (People's Daily Online)
2011-08-30
A government official said on Monday that debts incurred by local governments are different from those found in the debt-laden United States and the European Union (EU), adding that the likelihood that local governments will default on their debts is low. Xu Lin, director of the Monetary and Financial Department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planning agency, made the remarks in a statement posted on the commission's website [...]. He said China's local government debts, particularly those raised through local government financing vehicles (LGFVs), are largely used to build infrastructure, which indirectly generate revenue and boost local economies. Xu noted that China has strong solvency, given the rapid growth of its economy and fiscal revenues. In addition, the amount of realizable assets held by local governments is "quite large," he said. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's gross domestic product (GDP) rose 9.6 percent year-on-year to reach 20.446 trillion yuan (3.2 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year. The country's national fiscal revenue jumped 30.5 percent from a year earlier to 6.67 trillion yuan in the first seven months of this year. Local government debts totaled 10.72 trillion yuan as of the end of 2010, or roughly 26.9 percent of the country's GDP, according to data released by the National Audit Office in June [...]. Xu said that governments and supervisory departments at multiple levels have introduced risk-reducing measures against local government debts since the second half of 2009 [...]. China's banks have been ordered by the China Banking Regulatory Commission to stop providing loans to local governments for unapproved projects and to tighten credit management in order to prevent debt increases [...]. Chinese cities usually use capital raised through selling quasi-municipal bonds to fund infrastructure construction. Xu said the increased difficulty in selling corporate bonds via the LGFVs is the result of monetary policy changes and investors' worries about local government debt risks. He said that investors' worries have reminded the NDRC to pay more attention to the potential risks of such bonds and to take measures to protect bond investors' interests. ^ top ^

No loosening yet, Wen says as growth dips (SCMP)
2011-09-01
Premier Wen Jiabao says the recent moderation in the mainland's economic growth is within "expectations" and the result of the government's macroeconomic policies. Beijing will maintain its current economic policies despite a slowdown in the mainland amid faltering growth in main developed economies, Wen said in an article to be published in Qiushi magazine. Vice-President Xi Jinping told Chinese and American businessmen in Beijing last month that "China's economy is not heading for a hard landing", adding that he was confident the economy was capable of maintaining stable growth […]. "In general, the economy was sound, amid improving relations between quality and quantity, structure and efficiency," the central government's website quoted Wen [...]. Wen said stabilising prices remained the central government's top priority, suggesting that the leadership's concerns over inflation outweighed the prospect of an economic slowdown amid a deteriorating global economic environment. The mainland's gross domestic product grew more slowly in the second quarter of the year, down to 9.5 per cent year on year compared with 9.7 per cent in the first quarter. The mainland's consumer price index rose 6.5 per cent in July, the biggest jump in three years. In the first seven months of the year, the index increased by 5.5 per cent despite moves to rein in liquidity. In the battle against soaring inflation, the People's Bank of China has raised the benchmark interest rate three times this year [...] while increasing the amount of money banks must keep in reserve six times [...]. Wen's statement that fighting inflation remains the top priority suggests that no significant loosening of policy is imminent. The disappearance of this phrase from some recent government statements had triggered speculation that Beijing was set to ease its tightening measures. Wen said "the overall direction of macroeconomic controls could not change", and pledged to continue implementing policies to control prices and property speculation [...]. ^ top ^

60 mln free from personal income tax (Xinhua)
2011-09-01
A new personal income tax law of China will be implemented from Sept 1, exempting 60 million people from paying personal income tax from that date onwards [...]. According to the new law, people with monthly personal incomes under 3,500 yuan ($541) after pension, medical and unemployment insurances and housing fund are deducted will no longer need to pay personal income tax. The adjustment will cut the number of taxpayers from 84 million to 24 million, 28 percent to below 8 percent of total wage earners. Experts said that the new law will mainly benefit middle- and low-income earners. These income groups have a higher marginal propensity to consume so the tax reduction will stimulate domestic demand and boost economic growth. ^ top ^

Wen promises more support to small firms (SCMP)
2011-09-02
Mainland policymakers will keep economic tightening policies in place but are expected to give more support to the small companies that provide most people with work. Premier Wen Jiabao, writing in the Communist Party's Qiushi magazine, said Beijing would maintain its current macroeconomic policy stance and that combating inflation remained the government's top priority. Although that means policies to limit bank lending staying in place, Wen vowed to improve the environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In the article published yesterday, he noted that some of them were suffering from rising costs and falling demand. "China's exports will continue to face various kinds of difficulties and uncertainties in the future," Wen said. "Margins of foreign trade companies will be further squeezed and quite a lot of SMEs may face bigger problems." Beijing has been encouraging banks to extend more loans to small firms following reports that tens of thousands of the companies were on the verge of collapse. Most lending has flowed to large state-owned enterprises this year and SMEs have had to resort to underground banks, where they are charged high interest rates. The government would enhance credit support for small companies, easing the "prominent problem" of capital shortage, Wen said. [...]. ^ top ^

China needs structural changes to avoid middle income trap: Zoellick (Xinhua)
2011-09-02
China's economic growth has been a source of strength in the crisis, but the nation also needs structural changes to stave off a "middle income trap", World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Thursday. The world's economic leaders need to "rebalance" their thinking as well as their economies. Fiscal and monetary policies have dominated the current discussion. That makes sense to a degree, but these policies are "insufficient for sustained growth", Zoellick cautioned in an op-ed published on the website of the Financial Times Thursday. "We need action on the structural dynamics to generate jobs, higher productivity, and a sustainable long-term rebalancing. What happens in China is as important as Europe, Japan, or the United States," said the World Bank chief. For the past three decades, China has enjoyed average annual growth of about 10 percent. By 2030, if China reaches a per capita income of 16,000 U.S. dollars, a reasonable possibility, the effect on the world economy would be equivalent to adding 15 of today's South Koreas, he noted. Zoellick is scheduled to visit China from on Sept. 1-5 to discuss China's key medium-term challenges, his fifth official visit to the country since becoming the head of the Washington- based bank in July 2007. "It is hard to see how that expansion could be accommodated within an export and investment-led growth model, so China will need to rebalance through boosting domestic demand, lowering savings and increasing consumption," he said in the article entitled "The big questions China still has to answer". "In the longer term, the drivers of China's meteoric rise are waning: resources have largely shifted from agriculture to industry; as the labor force shrinks and the population ages, there are fewer workers to support retirees; productivity increases are declining, partly because the economy is exhausting gains from the transfer of basic production methods," he said. Zoellick noted that China's policymakers are well aware of " what" they need to do, as their 12th Five-year Plan points the way. Their current challenge is "how" to do it, and China's Development Research Center of the State Council, the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank are making joint efforts to turn "what" into "how" for a report later this year. [...]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Russia, DPRK eye closer naval co-op (Xinhua)
2011-09-01
Senior commanders from Russia and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been considering plans to enhance bilateral naval cooperation, a Russian military spokesman said Tuesday. Admiral Konstantin Sidenko, commander of Russia's Eastern Military District, who is in the DPRK for a visit, discussed the subject with senior DPRK military commanders [...]. The two sides also discussed the possibilities of holding joint search and rescue exercises and humanitarian drills in the open sea, Muginov told reporters. During his trip, Sidenko held talks with Ri Yong-ho, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA), [...]. Muginov said Russian and DPRK military ships may conduct friendly mutual visits in the coming days. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolian civil engineers to cooperate with Swiss engineers (Montsame)
2011-08-30
The Mongolian Association of Civil Engineers /MACE/ has concluded a cooperation contract with Swiss Association of Architects and Engineers /SAAE/. The contract has been signed by E.Ganzorig, the President of the MACE and Daniel Kuendig, the President of SAAE.Aims of the collaboration are to study construction norms and regulations, exchange experiences, cooperate on standards, implement a program on exchanging professional experiences between construction students and young engineers. The Swiss Association of Architects and Engineers will attend international expo "Construction Expo-2011" to be open o September 2 with a project of “Mongolian Circus tower” created by Swiss construction engineers. The project demonstrates ways of using renewable energy for the reduction of air pollution. Established in 1996 MACE numbers 109 member organizations and over 2000 construction engineers. It has cooperation agreements with the Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council, the Civil Engineering Associations of the USA, Japan, Taiwan, Republic of Korea, China and Turkey. ^ top ^

State visit of Finland President Begins (Montsame)
2011-08-31
On Wednesday, August 31, the State Head of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj and his spouse Kh.Bolrmaa welcomed visiting the President of the Republic of Finland Mrs. Tarja Halonen and her spouse Pentti Arajärvi on the Sukhbaatar Square. After the ceremony, the dignitaries paid tribute to the Monument of Chingis Khaan. Then, Mrs. Halonen wrote her signature on the Note of Honored Guests of the Government House, with being taken photos. ^ top ^

Nuclear waste not to be buried in Mongolia (Montsame)
2011-08-31
Although the Nuclear Energy Agency had to report on its activity to the Cabinet meeting, it postponed for one week due to the health condition of S.Enkhbat, the head of the agency. However, officials of the agency attended the meeting to answer questions put by members of the cabinet. Members considered there is a need to improve and ensure the transparency in activities of the Nuclear Energy Agency and the “MonAtom” company. The Prime Minister S.Batbold said “Information about burying nuclear waste on the territory of Mongolia has widely being spread without ground. It is banned by the law of Mongolia." Thus, he obliged related organizations to make an official statement on the groundless rumor. ^ top ^

Human development fund to give each student MNT 500,000 (News.mn)
2011-08-31
At today's meeting of the Cabinet it was decided that each university, institute, correspondence, and evening course student in Mongolia will receive a MNT 500,000 grant for tuition fees from the Human Development Fund. There had been concerns among students that the grant would be reduced or eliminated this year, since Parliament passed a law shortly before Naadam that grants qualifying students in Mongolian universities MNT 70,000 per month. Yo. Otgonbayar, the Minister for Education, Culture and Science, had also suggested that the grants from the Human Development Fund should not be awarded in direct cash payments, but his proposal was not accepted by the Cabinet. ^ top ^

TV lesson taught by the President (Montsame)
2011-09-01
September 1--the first day of the academic year of 2011-2012, lesson of the second part of the secondary school classes was taught by the State Head Ts.Elbegdorj. This lesson has been directly aired nationwide through the "600" studio at the Mongolian National Public Television. During the lesson themed "Throughout Beautiful Mongolia", Ts.Elbegdorj talked about Mongolian beautiful nature, heroic and outstanding people, amazing heritage, Mongolian tradition and custom. The previous two lessons held in 2009 and 2010 had topics "Global warming" and "Mongolian Pride". ^ top ^

Finnish President receives Speaker (News.mn)
2011-09-01
The Parliament Speaker D.Demberel was received Wednesday, August 31 by Mrs. Tarja Halonen, the President of the Republic of Finland paying a state visit to Mongolia. Beginning the meeting, the Speaker said he was satisfied with the results of the state visit paid by the Finnish President which is the very first one among Scandinavian countries, and underlined the bilateral inter-parliamentary ties play an important role in the Mongolia-Finland relations. "We consider that our countries are possible to continue a tradition to organize mutual visits of members of the parliamentary friendship groups and to activate the collaboration. I hope our countries will get achievement in this matter," D.Demberel stressed, and spoke about the political life in Mongolia and works of the State Great Khural. In response, Mrs. Halonen expressed her satisfaction with visiting Mongolia. She highlighted that any country must have corruption-free good governance that cherishes human rights and laws, and offered an equal partnership to Mongolia. Mentioning that Finland has much experience in recycling water and waste, environment protection, particularly saving and rehabilitating forests, Mrs. Halonen pointed out Mongolia can study experience of Finland in the fields of education, health and IT. The Speaker positively received the proposal of the Finnish President on developing the equal partnership between the countries, and underlined that it is important for Mongolia to learn experience in environment protection, combating desertification, rehabilitation of forests and saving fresh water. ^ 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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