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
  12-16.9.11, No. 388  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Senior Chinese official visits Switzerland to discuss bilateral ties (Global Times)
2011-09-13
Wang Gang, a senior official of China's political advisory body, met with Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey and Federal Assembly leader Jean-Rene Germanier respectively on Friday to discuss bilateral ties. Calmy-Rey said Switzerland attaches great importance to the relationship with China and hoped to further enhance the relations by promoting dialogue and cooperation. Wang, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said China and Switzerland are long-time good friends, the development of bilateral relations has brought real benefits to both countries and the their peoples. China is willing to enhance the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, said Wang. In his meeting with Germanier, Wang said the CPPCC will maintain good relations with the Federal Assembly of Switzerland to promote the bilateral relations between the two countries. For his part, Germanier said Switzerland admires China's great success in economic and social development, and hoped to further enhance exchanges and cooperation. ^ top ^

China recognizes Libya's NTC as ruling authority, representative of people (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
China on Monday officially recognized the National Transition Council (NTC) of Libya as the ruling authorities and representative of the Libyan people. "China respects the choice of the Libyan people and attaches great importance to the status and the role of NTC, and has kept in close contact with it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said […]. The announcement was made as the NTC has controlled most part of the North African nation following a six-month civil war and about 70 countries have recognized the legitimacy of the council. "China will work with the NTC to realize a steady and smooth transition and development of bilateral ties," Ma said, stressing China hopes that all the treaties and agreements inked previously with Libya will remain effective and be implemented seriously. According to the spokesman, the NTC leadership are "delighted with the result that has long been expected." The NTC attaches great importance to China's status and role, and will strictly abide by all the existing treaties and agreements, firmly adhere to the one-China policy, Ma said, citing a representative of the NTC leadership. […] Zheng Xiwen, a local observer on international affairs, commented that the decision came as conditions are ripe. "The water is flowing and a channel has been formed," Zheng said […]. "China's policy on Libya […] is aimed at preserving bilateral ties and peace, stability and development in the region, instead of seeking certain interests or supporting certain people or regime," Zheng said. China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, abstained from voting on the UN 1973 resolution in March, which decided to establish a No-Fly Zone in Libya. "On the voting, China respected the stands of the League of Arab States and the African Union, and considered the unity of the international community," Zheng said. Meanwhile, China stood against some Western countries's violent interference on Libya's domestic affairs by using force, Zheng said. […] Vice President Xi Jinping said earlier this month that China supports the United Nation's leading role in solving the issue of Libya. "We believe that the NTC, which bears the task of leading the Libyan people to end the war, restore order and rebuild home, will develop friendly cooperation with various countries, instead of just following the orders of some certain countries," Zheng said. ^ top ^

China, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan jointly submit Int'l Code of Conduct for Information Security to UN (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
Permanent Representatives of China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the United Nations jointly sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon here Monday, requesting him to circulate the International Code of Conduct for Information Security as a formal UN document of the 66th session of the General Assembly. The four ambassadors called on in the letter all countries to conduct further discussions on the Code, drafted by the four countries, under the UN framework in a bid to reach consensus on international norms and rules that regulate states' conduct for information and cyber activities at an early date. The Code is the first of its kind to put forward comprehensive and systematic proposals on international information security rules. According to the Code, its purpose is to identify states' rights and responsibilities in information space, promote their constructive and responsible behaviors, and enhance their cooperation in addressing the common threats and challenges in information space, so as to ensure the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) including networks to be solely used to the benefit of social and economic development and people's well-being, and consistent with the objective of maintaining international stability and security. The Code requests states voluntarily subscribing to it to pledge not to use ICTs including networks to carry out hostile activities or acts of aggression and pose threats to international peace and security; not to proliferate information weapons and related technologies. It also calls on states to cooperate in combating criminal and terrorist activities which use ICTs, to fully respect the rights and freedom in information space and to promote the establishment of a multilateral, transparent and democratic international management of the Internet. […]. ^ top ^

China, Argentina agree to further strategic ties (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-13
China and Argentina have agreed to further enhance mutual trust and their strategic partnership as the two emerging economies are playing an increasingly important role in the world arena. "China will work with Argentina to strengthen strategic mutual trust, expand cooperation and coordination within multilateral frameworks in order to promote bilateral ties and benefit the two peoples," Vice President Xi Jinping told Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman on Friday. During their hour-long meeting at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing, Xi hailed the development of bilateral ties since the two states forged diplomatic ties in 1972 and established the strategic partnership in 2004. Both China and Argentina are striving for a more fair and reasonable international political and economic order, Xi said, noting the two countries maintain close coordination on major international issues. Timerman said his country will stick to the one-China policy and firmly support China's stance on Tibet and Taiwan. […] Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also held talks with Timerman earlier Friday, vowing to further promote the China-Argentina relationship. […] Yang also voiced his appreciation for Argentina's adherence to the one-China policy. "As the coming year will mark the 40th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, China is willing to take this opportunity to work with Argentina to continuously deepen bilateral trust and cooperation," Yang said. […]. ^ top ^

China opposes Mexican president's meeting with Dalai Lama (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-13
China on Saturday expressed strong discontent and opposition to the meeting between Mexican President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa and the Dalai Lama. "This grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, and damages China-Mexico relations," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu in a press release. Despite strong objections and representations from China, the Mexican side arranged Calderon's meeting with the Dalai Lama on Sept. 9 local time, Ma said. […] The Dalai Lama had been engaged in secessionist activities in the name of religion for years, he said, adding that China firmly opposes any foreign leaders and government officials meeting with the Dalai Lama in any form. "The Mexican leader's meeting with the Dalai Lama went against the commitments of the Mexican side," he said, urging the country to take concrete actions to eliminate the negative impact of the issue and maintain the healthy development of China-Mexico relations. ^ top ^

China expects UN General Assembly to advance security council reform during new session (Xinhua)
2011-09-14
China on Tuesday voiced its hope to advance the reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) during the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing that UN member states have conducted in-depth discussions over issues related to UNSC reforms and enhanced their understanding of the positions taken by other parties during the 65th session of the UN General Assembly. She called on the UN to make use of intergovernmental negotiation mechanisms to seek reform-related solutions through consultations during the 66th UN General Assembly. She also noted that UNSC reforms should be conducted under a principle of openness and transparency. The 66th session of the General Assembly opens on Tuesday with incoming president Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser from Qatar. ^ top ^

Vow to boost European investment (China Daily)
2011-09-15
Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that China is ready to increase its investment in debt-ridden Europe, and urged the European Union (EU) to recognize China as a full market economy. "European countries are facing sovereign debt problems and we've expressed our willingness to give a helping hand many times. We will continue to expand our investment there," Wen said while addressing 1,500 business leaders and government officials at the opening of the World Economic Forum, known as the "Summer Davos". […] However, he added that "EU leaders and the leaders of (Europe's) major countries must look at Sino-EU relations from a strategic viewpoint. "Based on WTO rules, China's full market economy status will be recognized by 2016. If EU nations can demonstrate their sincerity several years earlier, it would be the way a friend treats a friend," he said. He said he hoped his scheduled summit meeting with EU leaders next month will lead to a breakthrough in recognition. Wen also expressed concern over the spread of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. China sits on more than $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. He urged the United States and some European countries to tackle their problems properly. "Europe and the US must adopt responsible and effective fiscal and monetary policies in a bid to reduce debt pressures," […]. […] Chen Fengying, director of the Institute of World Economic Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that the debt crisis could very likely lead to a total collapse of the euro and the European Union. […] She noted that that EU's biggest problem is not their huge debt and high unemployment, but lack of unity. […] "I think China should support the EU on tackling the crisis, because we'd like to see diversity in the global financial market, with the euro playing an important part," she said. The problem for the US is that it won't take any responsibility to find a way out of its debt problem, she said. […]. ^ top ^

Premier Wen says China's opening-up a long-term commitment (Xinhua)
2011-09-15
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the nation's opening up to the outside world is a long-term commitment which covers all fields and is mutually beneficial. "China's basic state policy of opening up will never change," Wen said in a keynote speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum annual meeting of "New Champions 2001", a three-day event held in the city of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province. "We will continue to get actively involved in economic globalization and work to build a fair and equitable international trading regime and financial system," he said. "We will continue to improve foreign-related economic laws, regulations and policies so as to make China's investment environment in keeping with international standards, transparent and more business friendly," he said. ^ top ^

Chinese envoy calls for early resumption of six-party talks (Xinhua)
2011-09-15
The Chinese envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stressed on Wednesday the need for an early resumption of the six-party talks. The six-party talks is an effective mechanism to advance the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain regional peace, said Cheng Jingye, China's permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna. […] He told an IAEA board meeting that China maintains its consistent position on solving the nuclear issue on the Peninsular through dialogue and consultations. Noting that parties concerned have started active engagement and dialogue in recent days, which is welcomed by China, Cheng pointed out that the consultations have opened a "new window of opportunity" for the resumption of the six-party talks. Top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Il said last month that the DPRK is ready to resume the six-party talks without preconditions. […]. ^ top ^

Italian PM expects to boost cooperation with China (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-16
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said here Wednesday Italy is willing to work closely with China to boost the overall development of cooperation between the two countries. Berlusconi made this remark when meeting with Wang Gang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and also vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). […] Wang said that both China and Italy are countries with a long history and that both have made significant contributions to world civilization. China is willing to work together with Italy to strengthen mutual trust in politics, expand pragmatic cooperation and become good friends and partners that respect each other, promote each other and grow together to constantly promote the overall strategic partnership between the two countries, he said. On Wednesday, Wang also met respectively with Vannino Chiti, vice president of the Italian Senate, and Rosy Bindi, vice president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Wang said that the CPPCC attaches great importance to sharing experiences with Italy's Senate and Chamber of Deputies in an effort to further advance relations between the two countries. Both Chiti and Bindi said they wanted to intensify exchanges and cooperation with the CPPCC and learn from each other. […]. ^ top ^

China reaffirms support for nuke-free Middle East (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
China on Thursday reaffirmed its support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and said that Israel should join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as soon as possible. China has always supported the strengthening of international nuclear non-proliferation regime and has been committed to promoting the universality, effectiveness and authority of the NPT, said Huang Wei, China's deputy envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Huang told the ongoing IAEA board meeting that China advocates that Israel should join the NPT as a non-nuclear country as soon as possible and put its all nuclear facilities under the IAEA's comprehensive safeguards. […] Huang also said that China welcomed the proposal of holding in 2012 an international conference on a WMD-free (Weapon of mass destruction) zone in the Middle East, which was agreed at the 2010 NPT review conference. China also welcomed the IAEA initiative to host a forum in November on building a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region, and hoped that parties concerned strive to implement relevant recommendations made by the NPT review conference, Huang added. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Anti-graft focus shifts to public projects and safety (SCMP)
2011-09-13
Anti-graft watchdogs plan to focus their efforts on areas where corruption is more likely to happen […] The campaign will also target officials in charge of decision making and administrative enforcement. The Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Ministry of Supervision and the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention have drafted guidelines on strengthening "graft risk prevention and control", the Beijing Times reported yesterday, citing a report in the official Outlook magazine. Special attention will be paid to areas where the incidence of corruption is high, such as industrial and infrastructure projects, the granting of land use rights and the trading of property rights, according to the draft guidelines. Attention will also be paid to areas where people's livelihoods are affected, such as land reclamation, education, medical services, social security, food and medicine safety, environmental protection and workplace safety. The focus will also shift to officials who have power over personnel matters, administrative enforcement, judicial affairs, and the approval or supervision of projects. The draft guidelines in effect acknowledge that despite repeated campaigns to stamp out corruption, the problem remains rife and has become one of the main sources of public anger on the mainland. Official abuse extends to all levels of administration, with increasing numbers of senior officials caught with their hands on ever larger amounts of money in recent years. […] The country's notorious record of corruption and mismanagement in construction projects is also causing grave concern over the financial sustainability of investments and the quality and safety of infrastructure projects and buildings. […] Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed to deal with officials if any corruption is uncovered. The central government recently vowed to tighten the auditing of public funds and all government-related construction projects. ^ top ^

China launches safety checks on offshore oil exploration (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-13
China will start "overall and thorough" safety checks on offshore oil exploration and production to eliminate risks in the wake of oil spills in the country's northern Bohai Bay, the work safety authority said Saturday. The checks, which starts from September 10 to December 10, will be applied to all offshore oil exploration and production, the State Administration of Work Safety said in a circular addressed to oil companies on its website. The companies include China National Petroleum Corporation, China Petrochemical Corporation, China National Offshore Oil Corporation, ConocoPhillips China, Kerr-McGee China Petroleum Ltd., Roc Oil (Bohai) Company, CACT Operators Group, Husky Oil China Ltd., Shanghai Petroleum Co., Energy Development Corporation (EDC) China and Tincy Group Energy, the statement said. The administration urged these enterprises to conduct self-examinations on their offshore fixed and mobile platforms and floating production storage and offloading units, submarine pipelines and onshore oil terminals in two months till November 10. […] The authority's officials, joined by experts, will launch inspections from late November […]. The order came after the State Council on Wednesday called for strengthened monitoring and management of the marine environment as well as safety checks over the country's ocean oil fields to toughen safety measures and erase potential risks. […] The central government also imposed restricts on new petrochemical projects and ban reclamation projects in the bay for environmental concerns. China has stepped up efforts to explore and materialize offshore resources to seek more dependence of the marine industries as a strategic development move. In its 12th Five-Year Plan, the government advocates greater scientific and systematic utilization of marine resources and coastal areas as energy demand soars. ^ top ^

Lawyer reveals detention ordeal (SCMP)
2011-09-14
A combination of physical and mental abuse, relentless brainwashing and threats kept rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong silent after his release from two months' detention. In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post […] he provides the first detailed account of how the Beijing authorities have intimidated activists into submission as part of a huge crackdown on dissent that started in February. Dozens of lawyers, bloggers and activists "disappeared" after online appeals for people to join "jasmine rallies" in major cities, inspired by the "jasmine revolutions" in the Arab world. Some are gradually speaking out about their ordeals during detention, but Jiang is the first to reveal full details, saying he does not want to live in fear any more. Jiang - recognised as an outstanding democracy activist by a US-based rights group at the weekend - said he was in deep mental stress because of the physical and verbal abuse he was subjected to and was also fearful of what the authorities could do if he broke the pledges that secured his release, which included an agreement not to give media interviews. Jiang, 40, came to the attention of authorities after representing activists and other sensitive clients like Aids patients and Falun Gong practitioners. He said he was taken away on February 19 and severely beaten for two nights. He was then made to sit motionless for up to 15 hours a day in a room where the curtains were always closed and interrogated repeatedly by national security officers. […] He said his interrogators told him: "Here we can do things in accordance to law. We can also not do things in accordance to law, because we are allowed to not do things in accordance to law." […] Jiang was released 60 days later after his interrogators believed their brainwashing had succeeded and he had signed eight pledges. If the pledges were broken, he was warned, they could make him disappear again at any time, and even threatened to detain his wife. "I was supposed to report who I saw and met to them, and what went on in meetings and gatherings," Jiang said. "So I'd rather not attend, or communicate with anyone." […] But he began making comments on microblogs at the end of June, then Twitter postings in August. Things seem to be returning to normal, but his ordeal has left psychological scars. […] Yet Jiang considers himself lucky compared to others, with reports by human rights organisations cataloguing a range of abuse. […]. ^ top ^

Chinese web portal pledges to ensure authenticity of online information (Xinhua)
2011-09-14
Popular Internet portal Sina has pledged to ensure the authenticity of the information it provides online and commit to the "spread of advanced culture." […] It called on other online media companies to employ content supervisors. Sina Weibo, the country's most popular microblogging service in terms of the number of registered users, will be included in the company's efforts to "eradicate online falsehoods and harmful information." Sina currently employs a team of 15 supervisors to screen its Weibo microblogging service and plans to expand the size of the team […]. Sina's supervisory team is created and managed by the company, although the team's work is considered to be independent from the portal's news reporting department […]. The supervisors' responsibilities include monitoring "harmful information" and collecting and analyzing customer complaints about the company's services. Sina took the lead in setting up its internal supervisory team by selecting supervisors from its user base, choosing those users who demonstrated great interest in helping the company to improve the authenticity of the information it provides through Weibo. Sina Weibo said in August that microbloggers who are found to be posting messages containing false information will have their accounts suspended for one month. The warning came after a top official's visit to the Sina office. During his visit in August, Liu Qi, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), urged Internet companies to stop the spread of "false and harmful information" and to "ensure the authenticity of information and create a healthy online media atmosphere," the Beijing Daily reported on Aug. 23. With 485 million users, China is home to the world's largest number of registered netizens. The rising popularity of microblogging services has allowed this segment of the country's population to voice their opinions in a way that has never been seen before in China. The number of Chinese microbloggers reached 195 million by the end of June, a stunning increase of 208.9 percent over the number recorded around the end of 2010, according to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center. ^ top ^

Govt earmarks 1.3b for drought relief (Global Times)
2011-09-14
China's central government has allocated 1.3 billion yuan ($203.13 million) to help with drought-relief efforts in the country's rain-starved southwest regions, the Ministry of Finance said Tuesday. The funds will be used to ensure people's well-being in the drought-hit provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan, Chongqing Municipality and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the ministry said in a statement on its website. The funds will also be used to ensure drinking water for residents and livestock, restore agricultural production and build irrigation projects and facilities, the statement said. A severe and persistent drought, which started in June, has left more than 12.6 million people short of drinking water and parched huge tracts of farmland in the country's southwestern regions. The dry spell has ruined about 61,333 hectares of crops, dried up more than 60 rivers, and drained up to 300 reservoirs and pools, according to latest national statistics. […]. ^ top ^

Freed activist aims to recover health (SCMP)
2011-09-15
Legal activist Guo Feixiong says he will focus on recovering his health after "experiences that were beyond human imagination" during five years in jail. Guo [...], released from Meizhou Prison on Tuesday, also said yesterday that he remained convinced that a democratic China would be realised through gradual reform. Also known as Yang Maodong, he was jailed and fined 40,000 yuan (HK$48,700) for conducting "illegal business activities" - publishing a book that exposed a political scandal in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province. He also represented farmers and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and gave legal advice to disgruntled villagers […]. Guo, 44, said yesterday he had not been diagnosed with any particular illness but it would take a long time to restore his frail health. […] "I don't want to go into details of what happened in jail because I don't want anyone [who assaulted me] to be targeted. I believe I can reconcile with them one day. […] What happened to me was too much but there is no point in pursuing it further... what I can say is only that what my lawyer and family said was true." Previous media reports said Guo had gone on hunger strikes to protest against abuse while in detention in Shenyang. He was quoted as saying that he no longer recognised the judiciary's authority because of the continuous "cruel and inhumane" treatment he had suffered in custody, including electric shocks to his genitals. Other examples of torture included being interrogated for 13 days without sleep, being restrained on a bed for 42 days and being beaten violently by an inmate. However, Guo said he had held onto his beliefs despite the trauma. "There is no thought about compromising or giving up principles," he said. "Five years ago, I believed in no violence, no bleeding and no enemy. Now, I'm still the same. I'm no more aggressive or weakened than I was five years ago. "Rights activists are not doing so well nowadays. It's not good to establish any more enemies. China must go through gradual steps of reform. Before achieving modern civilisation and democratic rule, the nation must be harmonious and united." […] Against legal advice in 2007, Guo dropped his appeal against his five-year prison sentence due to the physical and psychological toll wreaked by the previous 14 months in detention, according to his lawyer and his wife, who now lives in the United States with their two children. "I have no plans to go to the US; I don't expect to see them for another eight to 10 years," Guo said of his wife and children. ^ top ^

Chinese premier specifies five tasks for political reform (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-15
Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday specified five areas that must be addressed by the government in order to boost the reform of the country's political system. The premier specified running the country according to the law, promoting social fairness and justice, safeguarding judicial justice, ensuring people's democratic rights and combating corruption as the five tasks that must be undertaken in order to promote political reform. "Of the five tasks, the most important and challenging ones are to expand democracy, promote social fairness and justice and fight against corruption," Wen said at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2011, which is being held in northeast China's port city of Dalian. "By doing so, disadvantaged groups will receive help and our people will feel secure and look to the country's future with confidence," he said. Wen made the statement in response to a question raised by World Economic Forum Chairman Klaus Schwab.. ^ top ^

Govts go online to make spending transparent (China Daily)
2011-09-15
Public spending in 2,187 villages in Shaoxing city, East China's Zhejiang province, now not only requires the approval of higher authorities and invoices for auditing purposes, but also the submission of documents online. All original bills, trade contracts and any items related to rural collective resources - namely collectively owned funds, assets and resources in rural areas - must be published online, according to the city's new policies. The move is designed to facilitate auditing and verification by watchdogs and, more importantly, to make the details of spending more open to public scrutiny. Even if villagers do not have a computer, they can access up-to-date information about the rural collective's resources on 536 touch screens set up in their villages. "We guarantee the residents' rights to know, to participate and to supervise through the disclosure of information," said Shi Guangeng, a worker with the rural collectives resources management office of Lanting township in Shaoxing. "The system could expose embezzlement and waste, prompting village officials to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity. "Otherwise, lax management of the considerable resources in those villages will result in economic losses and aggravate people's grievances, which will further affect stability." As well as making public all spending on small office necessities, procurement in major projects such as costly construction services is also included as part of many local governments' efforts to fight corruption by using new technology to increase transparency. Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have attempted to utilize e-governance technologies to standardize and regulate the use of administrative powers. […]. ^ top ^

China mulls rules on pollution reporting (China Daily)
2011-09-16
The government is mulling rules to punish those who fail to perform their duties to timely report major pollution cases, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). The MEP and the Ministry of Supervision will jointly release the regulations on questioning the responsibilities of relevant parties in failing to deal with major environmental emergencies properly, said MEP vice minister Zhang Lijun Wednesday at a meeting on the safety of drinking water sources. Zhang did not reveal when the rules will be released, but said that local governments will be required to immediately report all cases of pollution that could threaten the safety of drinking water. Figures from the ministry show that 70 percent of the 49 major environmental emergencies that occurred between 2006 to 2010 concerned the safety of drinking water. […] Zhang noted various problems existing in the country's current drinking water management such as insufficient information transparency, inadequate risk prevention and measures to deal with emergencies and the lack of an effective system to pursue punishment for individuals and groups with malpractices. […] Zhang said the country will set up a mechanism to protect drinking water sources in five years and use remote sensing satellites to monitor the distribution of harmful materials in these areas. ^ top ^

Crash probe targets managers (SCMP)
2011-09-16
Shanghai rail authorities and regulatory loopholes should take most of the blame for the deadly Wenzhou high-speed-train crash, says an investigator helping to draft the official report on the disaster. Zang Mengshu, deputy technical director of the 34-strong investigative panel, said it had concluded that the root cause of the tragedy was a management "black hole" that had allowed the Shanghai Railway Bureau to continue services even though they were aware of equipment failure in unusual weather. Luo Lin, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, has pledged to release the report around the middle of this month. […] The conclusion by the panel - comprising officials and technical experts - plays down or overturns previous accusations that the weather, design flaws or front-line railway workers were responsible for the tragedy in which 40 people died and nearly 200 were injured on July 23. […] Wang said traffic control at Wenzhou station had detected the failure in the signalling system and sent a maintenance crew to fix it. They detained the two trains at platforms for some time but let them continue before the crew had fixed the problem. However, Wang said, front-line workers should not take the biggest share of the blame because running trains when such equipment had failed was not banned by the Shanghai Railway Bureau. "Our technology is good. Our machines are safe. Our workers work hard. But all failed to prevent the tragedy from happening because of bad management," he said. He said investigators identified management issues at the bureau, such as a lack of co-ordination between traffic control, drivers and maintenance crews, and the recruitment of recent graduates for jobs that required years of experience. Professor Zhao Jian, an economist at Beijing Jiaotong University and one of the most outspoken critics of the rapid development of the high-speed rail network, said putting the blame on the Shanghai Railway Bureau could be a way to avoid more heads rolling because three of its top officials had already been sacked. […]. ^ top ^

China's Cabinet announces appointments, dismissals of officials (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-16
The State Council, or China's Cabinet, announced Thursday the appointment of six senior officials while three others were stood down. According to a State Council statement, Han Wenxiu was appointed as vice director of the Research Office of the State Council. Tuo Zhen was appointed as vice president of the Xinhua News Agency. Chen Wenhui was appointed as vice director of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Chen Fanglei was appointed chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key State-Owned Financial Organizations. Yu Gesheng and Shen Xiaonan were appointed as vice chairpersons of the National Council for the Social Security Fund. The Cabinet ended Yu Zaiqing's post as deputy head of the State General Administration of Sport, Wei Yingning's post as vice director of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, and Wei Lijiang's post as chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key State-Owned Financial Organizations. ^ top ^

2,200 held after crackdown on gang crimes (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
Police have smashed nearly 300 triad gangs, conducting nearly 2,200 arrests, in a nationwide crackdown that started on Sept 1, a senior officer of the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday. The operation, carried out in coordination with police in 11 provinces and autonomous regions, targeted heads and key members of gangs in Hebei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Guangdong, and other areas, Liao Jinrong, deputy director of the ministry's criminal investigation department, told China Daily. Gang crime is a major priority for the government and police and "no effort should be spared to root out triad gangs", which threaten social stability and are detested by the public, Liao said. […] He admitted that the fight against gang crime is an uphill battle as some triads have prospered under the protective "umbrellas" of local officials. […] Dai Peng, a professor at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said crackdowns against organized crime are effective in the short term, but there are challenges ahead, including police corruption. […] He also pointed out that triad members "are often young people who have dropped out of school but could not find a job". The solution to the problem lies with society as well as the police, he said. Tang Hongxin, a lawyer at Ying Ke Law Firm, said punishment for triad-related crime is severe. The head of a gang could face up to 15 years in prison, according to Criminal Law. Those convicted of fatal crimes or crimes that caused serious injury face the death penalty. ^ top ^

Farmers tell of being tied up during Biden visit (SCMP)
2011-09-16
Police detained and tied up six farmers involved in land disputes with the government to prevent them from trying to see United States Vice-President Joe Biden during his visit last month, one of the farmers said yesterday. The farmers, all women from Sichuan province, filed a joint complaint with provincial prosecutors this week against police in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, said Gan Xingyan, 46, one of the plaintiffs. Police frequently detain dozens of activists and petitioners in Beijing and elsewhere on the mainland ahead of major events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Activists and petitioners often try to use high-profile visits to draw attention to their complaints and embarrass the government. Most attempts are unsuccessful. In Chengdu, police detained the farmers for days, put handcuffs and leg irons on them, tied them to benches and starved some of them in order to block them from seeing Biden when he made a stop in the city on August 20, Gan said. […] The complaint was published on 64Tianwang.com, a mainland human rights website run by veteran activist Huang Qi. ^ top ^

Twitter launches Chinese service (Global Times)
2011-09-16
Social networking website Twitter added the Chinese language to its services Thursday, targeting Chinese users outside the mainland, as the popular portal remains inaccessible here. Industry analysts suggested that the launch would not provide an immediate boost to Twitter's mainland ambitions, considering Internet regulations and the success of domestic microblogs. […] In 2009, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube became inaccessible in the mainland for not meeting China's Internet regulations. Users there can only access these websites by using VPNs, proxies or other means. In the same year, portal giant sina.com launched Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service, in China. Sina's rival sohu.com and messenger service provider Tencent quickly followed suit. As of July, Tencent's microblogging service had 175 million active monthly users, followed by Sina with 141 million users and Sohu with 65 million users, according to the Internet industry observing company iResearch in Beijing. By comparison, only 1.5 million people from the mainland managed to log on to Twitter in July, iResearch analyst You Tianyu told the Global Times. You noted that regardless of Internet regulations in the mainland, Twitter would have had difficulties in competing with its Chinese counterparts, considering the cultural and language barriers. […] "To some extent, China's Internet regulations helped Weibo's development due to an absence of foreign competition. It is time to have more foreign competition for the sake of the future growth of Chinese brands," You said. […] The way information and ideas travel among Web users on Weibo has led to new media upheaval in China. […] Party chief of Beijing Liu Qi visited Sina's headquarters on August 23 one month after the deadly train crash. Liu praised Weibo for being "a new platform for information exchange" and called on Sina to "make good use of this platform to communicate the core value of socialism." "Weibo and other new communications tools have made challenges come faster and more overwhelmingly for our work with the people than we ever expected," the People's Daily commented Thursday. ^ top ^

Student sues for 'right to know' (Global Times)
2011-09-16
A Tsinghua law student has filed an administrative suit against three government ministries after her requests for information were turned down. Li Yan, a second-year graduate student in Tsinghua University Law School, asked for disclosure of the vice ministers' duties in 14 ministries in May for her thesis research into administrative procedure law. So far, about half the ministries have replied, or disclosed the information on their official websites, and a couple asked for more time to respond. But the Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology failed to give a clear response. […] Li said that except for the People's Bank of China, the other ministries were very "suspicious and careful" about her request, setting up "many obstacles." […] A Sina Weibo post about Li's case was viewed 2,300 times Thursday. Most were supportive of her, while hoping more will "stand up and protect the right to know." Chen Jianfeng, a lawyer in administrative procedure law at Beijing Diyang Law Firm, said Li's appeal is fully in accordance with the law and the regulations on open government information, effective from May 1, 2008. "Except if the information to be disclosed would endanger State security or social stability, all levels of government agencies are obligated to disclose their scope of responsibility," said Chen. "If an agency violates the provisions of the regulations, administrative penalties shall be imposed," he said. Chang Ning, publicity official with the court, said the case is still under review to see if they can accept the suit. […]. ^ top ^

Campaign targets toxic waste (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
A nationwide safety campaign is to target all enterprises involved in the production and use of hazardous chemicals, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun announced on Thursday. The move is part of a series of measures aimed at tackling the growing risks of toxic waste caused by China's rapid industrialization. "Culprits causing severe pollution will be severely punished," Zhang said during a news conference. "Authorities in charge of supervision will also be held responsible." The government has also banned the building or expansion of chemical plants outside industrial parks to reduce unchecked discharge, he said, while all chemical manufacturers now need to register by the end of 2013, following international practice on the management of dangerous chemicals. "Environmental accidents involving toxic chemicals are on the rise, posing a grave threat to public safety and social stability," said Zhang. Since January last year, the ministry has dealt with 239 environmental emergencies caused by chemical spills, some of which threatened water safety, he said. A 2010 survey of 43,510 enterprises in the petrochemicals, chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries found that 86.2 percent were located in basins of China's major rivers. […] Fujia chemical plant in Dalian, Liaoning province, was ordered by the city authority to relocate in August after more than 10,000 residents took to the streets over concerns of potential toxic leaks. […]. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai's financial market turnover to more than double by 2015: official (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
The annual transaction volume of Shanghai's financial markets is expected to reach 1,000 trillion yuan (160 trillion U.S. dollars) by 2015, Shanghai's top financial services official said Thursday. Transaction of Shanghai's financial markets, including the Shanghai Stock Exchange, inter-bank bond market, Shanghai Futures Exchange, Shanghai Gold Exchange, reached 188 trillion yuan in the first half this year, up 7 percent compared with the same period last year, said Fang Xinghai, head of Shanghai's financial services office. Fang said Shanghai would further improve its financial system to, for example, encourage more bond issuance, establish an insurance exchange platform, start a board for listing of overseas companies, allow the listing of foreign exchange-traded funds (ETF), and expand channels for internationalizing the Chinese currency yuan. Fang said many state and foreign financial institutions have set up offices in Shanghai. At the end of 2010, about half of the foreign financial institutions in China, such as Citigroup, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, were based in Shanghai. A latest released global financial center ranking lists Shanghai as the sixth most competitive financial center in the world, up from the eighth last year. The city comes after New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore this year, according to the Xinhua-Dow Jones International Financial Centers Development Index (IFCD Index) issued this July. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Central government to finance 226 key projects in Tibet over next five years (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
China's central government will finance 226 key projects involving a combined investment of more than 300 billion yuan (46.89 billion U.S. dollars) between 2011 and 2015 in order to foster Tibet's social and economic development. "The projects, aimed at achieving rapid development in Tibet, will cost 330.5 billion yuan in total," said Hao Peng, executive vice chairman of Tibet's regional government, at an internal meeting held on Tuesday. The projects will cover infrastructure construction, environmental protection, housing, health care, social security, vocational training and other areas concerning the livelihood of the Tibetans, he said. […] Nearly half of the investment, or 90.5 billion U.S. dollars, will be spent on key infrastructure projects, including a railway linking Tibet's capital city of Lhasa with its second largest city Xigaze. Other projects will include new highways linking Tibet with China's interior regions and the construction of the Zangmu Hydropower Station, said Hao. About 33 percent of the investment will be used to accelerate social and economic growth in Tibet's rural areas by building new roads, homes and irrigation systems, as well as providing tap water, electricity and gas to rural homes. The investment will also be used to provide adequate health care and social welfare services for rural residents. About 8 percent of the investment will be used to foster the development of indigenous industries, including tourism, mining, agriculture and stockbreeding. Five percent of the investment will go to environmental protection, including the protection of wetland and pastures, soil erosion reduction programs and urban sewage treatment, he said […] Last year, the central government pledged to foster "leapfrog development" and "lasting peace and stability" in Tibet. By 2020, the per capita net income of rural Tibetans should be close to the national average level, according to a plan for Tibet's social and economic development announced early last year. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

Militants had no overseas terror links, official says (SCMP)
2011-09-16
The militant groups that launched three bloody attacks in Hotan and Kashgar in late July were homegrown and had no foreign terror links, Xinjiang authorities said yesterday as they released new details about the assailants. Most members of the two groups, whose attacks left 32 dead and dozens more wounded, were all from Xinjiang's restive Uygur communities and procured their weapons locally, said the director of the government's news office in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. "No clues have suggested that the groups were masterminded by overseas militant organisations," the official, Hou Hanmin, quoted a senior local police officer as saying. The government's findings contradict claims in late August by the foreign-based Xinjiang-independence group, Turkestan Islamic Party, which sought to take credit for the deadly attacks. Hou noted the group had made similar baseless claims before. […] The new details emerged two days after four Uygurs involved in the attacks were reportedly sentenced to death by local courts. In the first attack, 18 people, including 14 assailants, were killed when a group of alleged terrorists attacked a police station at the heart of the southern city of Hotan on July 18. […] Some local residents blamed the attack on government campaign to ban Uygur women from traditional Islamic veils and robes. Hou denied allegations that the defendants had been tortured. All were entitled to a legal representative, either hired by themselves or assigned by authorities, during the hearings, he said. Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, told the Associated Press the suspects were "desperate people who took measures they should not have taken", but he denied that they had links to organised terror. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

'Rubbish' remark hurts Tang's popularity in poll (SCMP)
2011-09-13
Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's popularity rating has fallen significantly since he dismissed claims that the government had violated civil rights during last month's visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang as "completely rubbish". The latest poll released yesterday by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme found support for the hotly tipped potential chief executive candidate dropped 3.4 points to 46.6 out of a possible 100 since the previous survey was finished in early August. […] Tang is widely expected to resign within a month to begin campaigning for the March chief executive election. Despite the controversy, Tang won the backing of National People's Congress deputy Wilfred Wong Ying-wai yesterday. […] “It could ensure continuity in government policies if Henry Tang becomes the next chief executive." Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying indicated on Friday his intention to run in next year's chief executive race. Meanwhile, the student union of Chinese University opposed the invitation of Tang as officiating guest at the 20th anniversary ceremony of the university's faculty of engineering on Friday. The union accused Tang of showing disrespect for freedom of expression with his remarks. ^ top ^

Leung Chun-ying facing heat over run for top job (SCMP)
2011-09-15
Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying is facing mounting pressure to withdraw from next year's chief executive race. A pro-Beijing heavyweight said yesterday Beijing might prefer a single government-friendly candidate to run, while lawmaker Lam Tai-fai, a close ally of likely candidate Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, said only one candidate from the camp should contest the top job. Executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, president of the Beijing-friendly Federation of Trade Unions, said: "I believe Beijing may think a sole candidate [from the pro-establishment camp] would be able to garner the widest support from the public." However, Cheng said that from the perspective of Hong Kong people, it would not be bad to have an extra one or two candidates contesting the election. "Some candidates may eventually decide not to contest the election after realising his chances are not high," he said. "We shouldn't say the eventual winner will be chosen by an imperial order from Beijing." […] Lam, who represents the industrial sector, said he would not ask anyone to withdraw from campaigning. "But I urge one of the two candidates to quit when he finds himself unable to secure support from the majority of the Election Committee members," he said. "Either one should quit before the nomination period - which is expected to start early next year." He said the competition between the candidates wound undermine the "harmony and unity" of the pro-establishment camp and therefore embarrass Beijing. Lam said he would support Tang in the contest. […]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Taiwan opposition leader announces running mate (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of Taiwan's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), announced Friday that Su Jia-chyuan will be her running mate during the next Taiwanese leader election. Su, who is currently secretary-general of the DPP, once served as magistrate of Taiwan's Pingtung County and was also in charge of the internal affairs department under the island's executive authority. The DPP announced Tsai's own nomination for the election on April 27. The election for Taiwan's next leader will be held in January 2012. Incumbent Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou, who is also chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, will compete in the election. Wu Den-yih, chief of Taiwan's executive authority, will be his running mate. ^ top ^

DPP chief tells U.S. she's no radical (SCMP)
2011-09-15
Taiwan's opposition presidential candidate on Tuesday assured the US she would not whip up tensions with the mainland if elected but pledged to boost defence spending to counterbalance a rising Beijing. The United States, the primary guarantor of the island's security, has repeatedly hailed the easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait since voters elected Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou as president in 2008. On a visit to Washington, Tsai Ing-wen - who is challenging Ma in January elections - acknowledged a "rough period" between Taiwan and the United States when her Democratic Progressive Party was last in power. But Tsai said the DPP, which emphasises Taiwan's separate identity and in the past has flirted with declaring independence, has "matured along with the development of Taiwan's democracy". […] "Our policy must be in line with the mainstream consensus in our society as well as international expectations, and therefore we will refrain from extreme or radical approaches," she said. Tsai, however, criticised Ma for a "lack of dedication to a strong defence". while calling for the United States to sell fighter jets to the island, Ma has not met a goal of devoting 3 per cent of gross domestic product to military spending, saying that the global economic crisis demanded other priorities. […] The United States […] administration has refrained from selling the island the latest F-16 fighter jets, despite rising pressure from Taiwan's supporters in the US Congress and assessments that Beijing is gaining a military edge. […] The DPP has sharply criticised a Taiwan-Beijing free-trade agreement - one of Ma's signature achievements - saying that it could lead to Beijing's domination of the island by non-military means. But Tsai said that with the deal already signed, the party would consider revisions only through "democratic procedures". […]. ^ top ^

Historians on mainland give credit to KMT (SCMP)
2011-09-15
Beijing has published its full version of the history of the Republic of China, recognising the role of Chiang Kai-shek in fighting the Japanese in the second world war. Analysts on the mainland and Taiwan said the book would assist in the healthy development of cross-strait relations, because it restores a part of history that had been deleted by the Communist Party. In the book, History of the Republic of China, mainland historians highlight the significance of co-operation between the party and the Kuomintang during the second Sino-Japanese war from 1937 to 1945, the People's Daily, a Communist Party mouthpiece, said on Tuesday. Jin Yilin, director of the Taiwan research centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the book shed new light on the struggles between the party and KMT before 1949. […] Jin said mainland historians hoped the book would pave the way for cross-strait political talks. The book not only confirms Chiang's resolve in handling the eight-year war and his efforts to overturn treaties that Western countries had signed with the Qing dynasty, but it also makes clear that Chiang's and Chen Qimei's families were not involved in corruption, as once reported. […] Beijing has said in previous history books that the Communist Party played the biggest role in winning that war and that the KMT just "dragged its feet". In 2005, President Hu Jintao gave rare acknowledgment of the KMT's contribution in winning the war. Yuan Weishi, a historian at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the new book set the facts straight. "I don't think the new angle is an official point of view, but rather a consensus of all modern Chinese historians... because assessments of historical figures shouldn't be decided by the government, but by history itself," he said. […] Zhang Tongxin, honorary director of Renmin University's Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau research centre, said the change in view on Chiang would also prompt Taipei to revise its interpretation of the Communist Party's history. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Local gov't debts controllable amid tightening regulations: central authorities (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-13
Senior Chinese officials from the nation's central government departments said that debt risks facing local governments are controllable as regulations are increasingly tightening to prevent such risks. According to the country's top auditing authority, the debts of local governments stood at a little more than 10.7 trillion yuan (about 1.67 billion U.S. dollars) at the end of last year. Audit results also showed that local governments' foreign debt ratio stood at 70.47 percent, lower than the 100 percent warning line. [...] Meanwhile, the debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio covering both the central and local governments was less than 50 percent, which was far lower than that of the world's major economies currently mired in debt crises, said Xu Lin, the director of the fiscal and finance department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planning body. [...] Xu also said that the likelihood of debt defaults by local governments was low. His remarks were validated by tighter regulations, or at least the central government's awareness of a need to act in order to prevent debt from getting out of hand. In June, officials made proposals to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body, that relevant laws and regulations be clarified regarding the management of the local government financing vehicles (LGFV) and the establishment of a mechanism for risk-warning and debt repayment. [...] An official with the Ministry of Finance said the ministry will speed up studies on plans to set up a risk warning system for local government debt and include local government debt in budget management. The country's banking regulator also said it will order banks to strictly control new lending, step up control over land-mortgage loans, and carry out cooperations with local governments in a "prudent" manner. ^ top ^

RMB's appreciation to remain gradual (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
The appreciation of Chinese currency will continue to follow a gradual pace despite the upcoming push of visiting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe for a faster speed of the renminbi's rise, economists said on Monday. Juppe will visit Beijing on Wednesday for talks ahead of the G20 summit in France in November. [...] But Wei Jianguo, secretary-general of the China Center for International Economic Exchange, said too rapid appreciation of the renminbi will chill the country's exports next year, especially when the global economy is expected to slow down. [...] Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, said in February that the yuan's appreciation will not compromise to foreign pressure, and China will write its own ticket on the pace of its currency's appreciation. [...] Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications, said that to curb inflation should not be entirely dependent on the yuan's appreciation. "To lower the domestic inflationary pressure via the yuan's appreciation will have to require sharp increase in a short term," Lian said. "It will be undoubtedly at the cost of a sharp decline of the export and loads of jobs lost - the loss outweighs the gain." Liu Ligang, chief China economist at Australia &New Zealand Banking Group Ltd in Hong Kong), wrote in an online research note that there is not enough evidence showing the yuan's appreciation is accelerating. [...] The currency has already appreciated 3.35 percent since the beginning of the year. Judging from the current pace, the year-round will be between 5 and 5.5 percent, which is still within expectations, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Yuan useful in corporations' overseas deals (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
China should formulate policies to encourage more companies to use the yuan in the settlement of their outbound direct investment (ODI), said a central bank official. "The scope of applications for the yuan is not much different from that of the US dollar and euro... and it will not be long before the yuan becomes fully convertible," said Xing Yujing, deputy director of the People's Bank of China's monetary policy department II. That division is in charge of driving the yuan's internationalization. Using the yuan in ODI could ease financing obstacles faced by companies investing overseas and let other countries share the fruits of China's strong economic growth [...]. Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Thursday called for stronger support for companies investing abroad, including "a broader channel for cross-border flows of yuan". [...] The central bank has been formulating policies to provide yuan loans for overseas projects, with nine banks offering such services, she added. As of the end of 2010, China's total ODI was $317.2 billion, the 17th largest in the world, with investments in 178 nations and regions. The Asia-Pacific region and Latin America were the top two destinations for China's ODI. A survey by HSBC Holdings Plc in May suggested that yuan would replace the British pound as the third most popular currency for trade settlement globally in the second half of 2011. According to Xing, overall cross-border settlements in yuan exceeded the equivalent of $1.1 trillion in the first seven months of this year, compared with $500 billion last year, involving more than 140 countries and regions worldwide. [...] According to Xing, using the yuan would also be a benefit for destination countries, as they could use the yuan for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Chinese bond market. The Chinese bond market is the world's fifth largest, with more than 200 billion yuan ($31 billion) in cash deals a day. [...] Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said during a visit to Hong Kong in August that the central government will strive to build the city into an offshore center for yuan businesses. The Financial Times, meanwhile, reported that the United Kingdom was likely to become another offshore market for the yuan, and it said Vice-Premier Wang Qishan's UK visit was part of a bilateral effort toward that goal. The yuan already meets the conditions to be an international currency for reserve and settlements. It will play an important part in achieving close relations with emerging economies and establishing a new international monetary system, Xing said. ^ top ^

Taming inflation still China's priority: central bank (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
China's central bank said in a monthly report that inflation remained elevated and the authorities will maintain tightening overall credit supply to tame further price rises. The People's Bank of China has earlier ordered the country's major lenders to freeze at least 20 billion (US$3.1 billion) at the central bank, via designated central bank bills, as a "punishment" for lending too excessively in August, media reports said, citing unidentified banking sources. And, the central bank has kept the major lenders' required reserve ratio at a historically high of 21.5 percent to rein in credit supply. "Some factors that drive prices upward have been contained but not yet eliminated, and inflation remains relatively high," the central bank said in a statement on its website Monday. Inflation peaked at 6.5 percent in July, hitting a 37-month high. It cooled down a little bit in August, rising 6.2 percent, said the National Bureau of Statistics last week. [...] It reiterated that stabilizing overall price levels remained the top priority of macro-economic regulation, and the country would continue its prudent monetary policy and keep the growth of credit stable and moderate. On Sunday, the central bank said new loans reached 548.5 billion yuan in August, 55.9 billion yuan more than July and 9.3 billion yuan more than the same period last year. "The growth in new loans probably indicates that the monetary policy has been easier to some sectors such as small businesses, but the monetary policy in general has not loosened as inflation is not likely to cool significantly in the near future," the Bank of Communications wrote in an analysis. The report said the central bank will rely more heavily on open market operations to withdraw liquidity, and estimated that new loans will total 7 trillion to 7.3 trillion yuan this year, compared to last year's 7.95 trillion yuan. Peng Wensheng, chief economist with China International Capital Corp, said another interest rate rise is likely this year, most likely this month or in October, to further contain inflation. ^ top ^

China's August exports grow 24.5 pct; surplus narrows (Xinhua)
2011-09-13
China's exports surged 24.5 percent year-on-year in August to reach 173.31 billion U.S. dollars, the General Administration of Customs announced Saturday. Imports expanded by 30.2 percent to 155.56 billion U.S. dollars, a record high since March this year, according to figures released by the customs authority. Trade surplus for the month stood at 17.75 billion U.S. dollars, down from July's 31.48 billion U.S. dollars. Exports and imports in the first eight months amounted to 2.35 trillion U.S. dollars, representing a 25.4-percent increase year-on-year. From January to August, exports totaled 1.22 trillion U.S. dollars, up 23.6 percent; imports totaled 1.13 trillion U.S. dollars, up 27.5 percent. Trade surplus during the period shrank to 92.73 billion U.S. dollars, down 10 percent compared to a year ago. In the first eight months, trade between China and the European Union (EU) rose 21.8 percent to 372.14 billion U.S. dollars. The EU remained China's largest trading partner. Trade between China and the United States came in second at 285.65 billion U.S. dollars, up 17.8 percent. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) block was China's third largest trading partner with bilateral trade totaling 234.61 billion U.S. dollars, up 26.6 percent. [...] China's exports of traditional commodities increased steadily while exports of machinery and textiles remained stable. [...] Chinese economist Cui Li with the Royal Bank of Scotland said China's exports competitiveness remained undiminished despite fast-rising labor costs, because products are improving and production efficiency is strengthening. [...] The data from the customs authority also showed that the nation imported a total of 450 million tonnes of iron ore in the first eight months, up 10.6 percent. [...]. ^ top ^

Tax cut in sight for luxury products (Global Times)
2011-09-14
China is likely to lower the tax rate on luxury commodities to boost domestic consumption by the end of this year, China Youth Daily reported Tuesday. "Various parties have reached a consensus on this issue," Chen Jiagui, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said to the paper. Currently, almost two-thirds of global luxury brands can be purchased in China. By the end of March, the total consumption in the country reached $10.7 billion, accounting for a quarter of the global market share and ranking second in the world in terms of luxury commodity consumption after Japan, according to a report by the World Luxury Association (WLA) in July. […] Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show the price of 20 high-end commodities including watches, bags, clothes, wine and electronic products in the Chinese mainland are 45 percent higher than in Hong Kong, 51 percent higher than the US and 72 percent higher than France. […] Chinese overseas consumption of luxury products reached nearly $50 billion by last year, four times the domestic equivalent, WLA's report said. […] However, not everyone agrees with the idea of a tax cut. […] Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Internal Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce, is another expert who opposes lowering the tax. "It will just benefit a small group of people, but will worsen domestic industries, reduce tariff duties and lead to more discontent over imbalanced income distribution," Mei said. ^ top ^

Premier Wen stresses domestic demand to drive economic growth (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-15
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that China will follow the strategy of expanding domestic demand while focusing on improving demand structure to drive economic growth. Wen made the remarks in a keynote speech at the opening of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting of "New Champions 2011" [...]. Wen said domestic demand is a crucial and necessary choice for a big country to achieve sustainable economic growth. He said enormous domestic demand will be generated by upgrading consumption and raising the life quality of urban and rural population and strengthening weak links in economic and social development. He said China will endeavor to create a favorable environment for consumption, improve consumer expectation, boost spending power and upgrade consumption structure. He said the country will also advance urbanization, protect and improve people's well-being and speed up the development of services industries during the course of consumption. Wen said the country will make urbanization rate grow by 4 percentage points and raise the share of the value added created by services industries in gross domestic product (GDP) by 4 percentage points during the nation's 12th Five-Year Plan Period (2011-2015). [...]. ^ top ^

ADB lowers economic growth prediction of China (People's Daily Online)
2011-09-16
Asian Development Bank (ADB) cuts China's economic growth forecast to 9.3 percent for the year from its previously estimated 9.6 percent and raises the annual inflation rate of China to 5.3 percent from its previously estimated 4.6 percent, the 2011 Asian Development Outlook released by ADB on Wednesday revealed. Due to the monetary tightening and weak external demand, China's economic growth has slowed down and the situation is estimated to last till 2012. ADB also lowered its estimate for the country's economic growth to 9.1 percent from 9.2 for the next year. The report indicates that the risk of the China's economic growth slowdown will mainly result from diminished external demands, particularly, the uncertain demand from European Union. Food prices will rise more than expected. Non-food inflation will peak in July while food inflation will peak in August, the report said. Inflationary pressures may ease in the second half of this year. It is expected that combined with the fall-off of global commodities' prices and the appreciation of China's currency, the yuan, the inflation rate is likely to skip down to 4.2 percent in 2012. And, the report said that the sustainable development of China's economy might be impacted by the increase of China's increasingly aging population. From 1975 to 2005, China's total population dependency ratio fell by almost half, which is the biggest decline the world has ever recorded. China has become an aging society since 2000. The country's working-age population will peak in 2015, and labor shortages will become more common thereafter. ^ top ^

China's August FDI rises 11.1 pct (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
The foreign direct investment (FDI) China attracted in August climbed 11.1 percent year-on-year to 8.446 billion U.S. dollars, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday. The growth rate slowed down from an increase of 19.83 percent in July, when the FDI reached 8.297 billion U.S. dollars. The August figures brought the total FDI for the first eight months of this year to 77.63 billion U.S. dollars, up 17.7 percent year-on-year, the MOC said in a statement on its website. China approved the establishment of 18,006 foreign-invested companies in the first eight months of 2011, up 7.68 percent year-on-year, according to the MOC. ^ top ^

China not intending to maintain role as major rare earth supplier, prices to remain high (Xinhua)
2011-09-16
China's top rare earth producer said on Thursday the country does not intend to maintain its role as the world's major rare earth supplier and it plans to shift focus to the domestic market. "The country will gradually shift to a domestic demand-oriented path from the external demand-oriented path," said Li Zhong, vice president of Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Holding Co. Prices of rare earths are expected to stay at high levels during the rest of the year and the trend of tight supplies is irreversible, Li said at the ongoing Rare Earths 2011 conference that runs from Sept. 15 to 16. China now produces more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth metals […]. The world's major rare earth consumers such as Japan and the United States have complained about China's tougher industry regulation, including falling export quotas and capped output, while the Chinese government repeatedly stated these policies were imposed in an effort to protect the resource and environment. […] Xu Xu, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, told the conference that he hoped "some other countries would share the burden of rare earth production" after China's decades of excessive exploitation. […] Tight supplies from China, rising demand and soaring prices have driven other countries to reopen their rare earth mines and look for alternative reserves outside China. […] China's rare earth regulation policies will also make manufacturers shift their production to China, Constantine Karayannopoulos, president and chief executive officer of Neo Material Technologies Inc. said at the conference. Meanwhile, continuously rising prices will encourage substitution and recycling of rare earth metals but discourage research that seeks new applications for the metals, said Dudley Kingsnorth, executive director of the Industrial Mineral Company of Australia Pty. Ltd. According to Kingsnorth, China consumed 60 percent of the world's rare earth metals last year. The proportion is expected to exceed 70 percent this year. He forecast the world's demand for rare earths would fall to 120,000 tonnes this year, from last year's 125,000 tonnes. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Russia, North Korea to conduct joint drill: report (Global Times)
2011-09-14
North Korea and Russia are set to hold their first joint defense drill as early as this year in an attempt to balance the US, South Korea and Japan's influence on the Korean peninsula, the Tokyo-based Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday. Members of the two neighbors' navies and air forces will take part in a joint rescue exercise at sea, following an agreement reached last month by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the newspaper said, citing a source close to the North. It is rare for the North to conduct defense drills with other militaries. Japan and South Korea are likely to keep an eye on the exercise, though it is not expected to involve the use of weapons, the Asahi said. Despite walking out of the talks aimed at providing it with economic and energy aid as an incentive to give up its atomic weapons program, Pyongyang has been making conciliatory moves in recent months. These have raised hopes that the Six-Party talks, which would bring together North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the US, could resume, with Moscow and Beijing supporting such a move. However, Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are wary and have called for a restart only when the North takes concrete steps to disable its atomic program such as allowing foreign nuclear inspectors into the country. […] Kim promised Medvedev when they met in Siberia last month that he would consider suspending nuclear arms tests and production if the Six-Party Talks resumed. ^ top ^

South Korea rules out drastic policy turnaround toward Pyongyang (Global Times)
2011-09-15
South Korea's next point man on North Korea said Wednesday he would try to end the deadlock in cross-border ties. Yu Woo-ik, the nominee for unification minister in charge of relations with the North, ruled out any drastic policy turnaround but said he would try to be flexible in dealing with the communist country. “The position of our government is that North Korea should first take responsible steps because its nuclear test and armed provocations strained relations,” he told a confirmation hearing in parliament. “However, the government is now studying various measures including humanitarian assistance in an effort to break the deadlock.” Yu was chosen last month to replace Hyun In-taek, the architect of President Lee Myung-bak's North Korea policy which links major economic aid to progress on denuclearization. The policy angered Pyongyang. Relations turned icy when Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 South Korean lives. Yu said South Korea is ready to start sending flood relief aid to North Korea, after offering assistance worth five billion won (US$4.7 million). […] Yu also said resolving the issue of separated families would be a priority. The two sides have occasionally staged temporary reunions for families separated during the 1950-53 war, but the program stalled due to heightened tensions last year. There are no civilian mail or phone connections across the heavily fortified border, and many do not even know whether their relatives are alive or dead. […]. ^ top ^

Washington to send drones over N.Korea (Global Times)
2011-09-16
South Korea Thursday declined to comment on a report from a US military newspaper that Washington is in talks with Seoul over the deployment of an advanced unmanned spy aircraft near the tense border between the two Koreas. According to US-based Stars and Stripes, Washington is negotiating with Seoul to fly a Global Hawk drone near the Demilitarized Zone separating the two sides, which could provide a much more detailed view of North Korea's military activities, AFP reported. […] Yang Bojiang, a professor at the University of International Relations, cast doubt over the authenticity of the report, saying that the US has no reason to deploy drones to watch North Korea now, as relations between the two Koreas have been warming in recent months, with Pyongyang proposing a restart of the Six-Party Talks. Meanwhile, two days of exploratory talks over the issue of resuming nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang in July was seen as constructive and businesslike by North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, so the US may be picking the wrong time to make the move, Yang added. […] Washington's move is aimed at maintaining its existing advantage in the Asia-Pacific region, especially its interests on the Koreas, said Lü Chao, director of the Center of South Korea studies of the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences. Lü said the US stance over the issue is contradictory, as it is trying hard to safeguard its interests while also seeking to enhance its deterrent force in the region. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

President: “Receiving Back Nuclear waste?—No” (Montsame)
2011-09-14
President Ts.Elbegdorj has underlined that a matter on burying nuclear waste in Mongolia became a center of the public attention in the last two months and that is creating a worry among people. On Wednesday, he expressed his position on this matter and talked with media about the Tavan tolgoi project and a criminal case of murdering a politician S.Zorig. As we informed before, the President by his decree and directives banned on Tuesday the government from dealing with nuclear waste issues. "In other words, we must re-examine the law on nuclear energy and other policy documents in order to prevent causing consequences. The matter of nuclear energy and burying nuclear waste is similar to playing with a fire, the nuclear waste of other countries is a 'snake grown up in another body', he said. “Receiving back the nuclear waste after exploiting and exporting uranium must not be, as I think, this is a pressure from foreign superpowers, and we must throw out this delusion,” the President stressed. Then he explained a reason of giving back a draft agreement on the Tavan tolgoi project after it had been discussed at the NSC. It is because the NSC cannot accept this draft as it is, in other words, the draft is not accorded with the laws and regulations. The cabinet wants to give it back, too, he said. Another issue touched upon was about the directive to intensify the consideration of the criminal case of S.Zorig murder. In accordance with it, the State Prosecutor-General has given information to the NSC on procedure of detecting the criminal case, he said. Present at the meeting were some MPs, cabinet members and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nuclear Energy Authority (NEA). A head of the NEA S.Enkhbat was not there due to health condition. ^ top ^

Mongolia and Japan's ministries to cooperate in nature environment (Montsame)
2011-09-14
The 6th consultative meeting of nature environmental policy between Ministries of the Nature environment and tourism of Mongolia and of Japan is running 13-15 in Dalanzadgad soum of Omnogobi aimag. The meeting has been headed by Ch.Jargalsaikhan, a Deputy Minister of Nature environment and tourism of Mongolia, by Tatsushi Terada, a Deputy Minister of Nature environment of Japan. The sides have exchanged positions on global warming, climate change, biological diversity, desertification, mining rehabilitation, natural resources assessment, dust storm, ecotourism, and have determined a cooperation tendencies. Ch.Jargalsaikhan has said the world countries must cooperate in nature protection in order to overcome difficulties and then presented results of jointly implemented works. He said that since 2006, when the two sides' Ministries determined a united policy, projects have been fruitful such as on “Protection of ecosystem of Ugii lake”, on creating dumping site, clear development mechanism, ecological tourism reserach, nature environment officials' abilities increase, and others. As the Mongolian Ministry has considered, it is needed to increase localities' participation in nature protection, to drill a proper management and to develop eco-tourism. ^ top ^

UNICEF proposes to enrich flour (Montsame)
2011-09-14
Permanent Representative of the UNICEF to Mongolia Mrs. Rana Flowers has said it is time to implement works here to enrich flour. She said it at a meeting on Wednesday with M.Enkhbold, the Deputy Premier and vice head of the National Council for Children. Mrs. Flowers mentioned about an initiative of the Deputy Premier to grant an incentive of 60.000 togrog per one ton wheat with a goal to encourage flour-mills, and underlined that thus Mongolia harvested some 200 thousand grain in 2008. "We can see Mongolia expects to harvest some 420 thousand grain this year. Mongolia managed to realize its policy on fully providing the domestic needs in flour, but now it is time to pay attention to its quality," she added. Mrs. Flowers talked about the "Enriched flour" program which is being implemented in 60 countries in frames of the UNICEF activities, and proposed it to Mongolia. "If Mongolia implements this program, some 120 million US dollars can be saved in five years," she claimed. She hoped the Deputy Premier would pay a special attention to the program. In turn, the Deputy Premier supported this program and promised to give directives to related officials. During the meeting, Mrs. Flowers said the UNICEF released its five-year plan and has chosen Khovsgol aimag as a model province and the City's Nalaikh district--as a model district to implement the plan. ^ top ^

Foreign-educated Mongolians beckoned home (News.mn)
2011-09-15
A job fair for Mongolians educated abroad was held at the Chinggis Khaan Hotel in Ulaanbaatar on September 13 and 14. Entitled “Labor Fair 2011,” the event was organized by the National Committee for Employment Support and a Mongolian-German NGO called A Bridge between Mongolia and Germany. Many young people who were educated abroad and have work experience abroad attended the job fair. Some said they were considering seeking employment outside Mongolia again because the wages are better abroad. N.Enkh-Erdene is the head of a council that is working to bring Mongolians who are studying or working abroad back home. He says preliminary figures suggest some 40,000 new jobs will be created in Mongolia by 2015. Among the organizations looking to hire at the fair were Oyutolgoi LLC, Mongolian Railway, Unitel, Mobicom, Monnis, Wagner Asia, Mongolian Gold, Monos Group, the Trade and Development Bank, and XacBank. An Oyutolgoi spokesperson said the company 40 openings in engineering, foreign relations, and administration. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar-Erlian flight to launch soon (Montsame)
2011-09-15
The first test flight Ulaanbaatar--Chinese Erlian town will be made September 18. It has been dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Consulate of Mongolia to Erlian of China. The flight will be made by “China air” bpoard with 118 seats from Ulaanbaatar to Erlian and from Erlian to Ulaanbaatar city. In future, the flight is expected to become regular.. ^ top ^

 

Gregor Muischneek
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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