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
  19-23.12.11, No. 402  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

China, S. Korea, Japan conclude joint study on trilateral FTA (Xinhua)
2011-12-17
Delegates from China, South Korea and Japan concluded a joint study on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) among the three countries (CJKFTA) in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday. A statement, relating to general trade and economic relations, trade in goods, trade in services, investment and other issues, was issued after the conclusion of the meeting. The combined GDP of the three countries accounts for approximately 20 percent of the world's total, but the potential for the substantial economic integration has not to be exploited yet among the three countries, the statement said. It also said that the trilateral FTA will not only expand bilateral and trilateral trade as well as investment with tariffs and non-tariff measures eliminated or gradually reduced, but also to provide a comprehensive and institutional framework, leading to a win-win-win situation for the three countries. At the joint study, the three sides recommend the governments to decide on how to proceed with a possible trilateral FTA and to announce the course of action, such as a time-frame and a road-map guiding the negotiations. The "Joint Study Report" will be released early before the Trilateral Summit to be held in China, according to the statement. Chong Quan, chief Chinese delegate to the meeting, told Xinhua that China expected that the leaders of the three countries would announce the launching of the trilateral FTA negotiations as early as possible. [...]. ^ top ^

China's 1st 3,000m survey vessel delivered for use (China Daily)
2011-12-17
A deep-water survey vessel that is capable of conducting exploration at 3,000 meters below sea level was delivered to its user on Friday at a shipbuilding plant in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong province. The vessel, HYSY708, is 105 meters long and 23.4 meters wide. With a tonnage of 11,600 tonnes, it has a top speed of 14.5 knots. Powered by electric propulsion and outfitted with a dynamic positioning system, the vessel is designed for functions including deep-sea geophysical and seismic exploration, remotely-operated vehicle operations, sea-floor sampling and large-scale marine engineering lifting. It is also capable of drilling up to 600 meters below the sea floor at a depth of 3,000 meters underwater. Built by CSSC Guangzhou Huangpu Shipbuilding Company, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corp., the ship will be operated by China Oilfield Services Ltd. [...] It will play an important role in exploring and developing the oil and gas resources in the South China Sea, the sources said. ^ top ^

China backs Myanmar's development path based on its own conditions: state councilor (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
Visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo said Monday China always supports Myanmar to walk on a development path chosen in line with its own national conditions. During his talks with Myanmar President U Thein Sein, Dai said the Chinese government adheres to a friendly policy toward Myanmar and the time-tested good neighborliness between the two nations has become an outstanding example for conducting state-to-state relations based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence. He hopes the two sides could properly handle the problems in their cooperation by developing and expanding their cooperative ties so as to achieve better progress in all areas of cooperation. Dai lauded the efforts the Myanmar government has made to push forward domestic political reconciliation and improve foreign relations. He believed the Myanmar government has the wisdom and ability to address the problems and challenges in the way forward. [...] U Thein Sein said Myanmar highly values bilateral relations with China and will not allow any damage to the ties. The government is willing to push forward bilateral cooperation in energy, agriculture and major projects to boost their comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. They made the remarks during Dai's attendance at the 4th Summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)-Economic Cooperation Program in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar's administrative capital. Dai said China is an active participant, staunch supporter and one of the beneficiaries of the GMS cooperation. China will continue to be a part of the cooperation, increasing investment and making more contributions. [...]. ^ top ^

First South China Sea law research center established (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
A center for the purpose of conducting research on legal issues regarding the South China Sea was founded in south China's Hainan province on Monday. The center is the first established in China for the research on such issues, local authorities said. The center is aimed at promoting the country's strategy of development in the South China Sea and help construct a legal system for this region, and it will act as a think tank for resolving relevant maritime issues, according to Liu Kangde, secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Committee of Hainan University. The center is co-founded by Hainan University and the Hainan Federation of Social Science Circles. Liu said the center will carry out researches on areas related to the South China Sea such as marine economics, petroleum and gas exploration, tourism development and marine environmental protection. ^ top ^

Chinese, Polish presidents hold talks, agree to enhance bilateral ties (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-21
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday held talks with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, and both agreed to advance bilateral relations to a level of strategic partnership. [...] "China appreciates Poland's adherence to the one-China policy and the efforts it has made in promoting China-European Union relations," Hu said. Hu called on the two sides to take the establishment of a strategic partnership as a new starting point and implement all the tasks listed in the China-Poland joint statement issued Tuesday. He also asked the two sides to constantly enhance political mutual trust, tighten political ties and offer reciprocal support on issues concerning each other's core interests. President Hu suggested both countries strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional affairs, join hands to cope with global challenges and push for a more fair and reasonable international order of politics and economics. He called on the two sides to give full play to the role of intermediary agencies such as inter-governmental committees and business councils, expand trade and cooperation in traditional sectors such as transportation and mining, and tap potential in two-way investment, new energy, modern agriculture and green economy. China welcomes Polish companies to tap its market, Hu said, noting the two countries could also bolster cooperation in such fields as culture, education and scientific research, expand exchanges between youth, NGOs, media and think-tanks, and stimulate cooperation at provincial levels. Komorowski agreed with Hu's remarks on bilateral ties, saying it is in both countries' interests to strengthen bilateral cooperation. Poland will, under the complex context of the international situation, make joint efforts with China to boost political exchanges, economic cooperation and coordination on international affairs. He pledged to encourage the two business circles to speed up cooperation and urge institutions of higher education to broaden exchange. [...]. ^ top ^

New 10-year strategic framework to inject dynamics into GMS cooperation, development (Xinhua)
2011-12-21
A new ten-year strategic framework of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation endorsed at the Fourth GMS Summit here Tuesday will bring new vigor and vitality into the cooperation and development of the subregion. The GMS Ten-Year Strategic Framework (2012-2022) is anchored to the corridor-development approach and maintains the pragmatic, action-based and results-oriented character of GMS cooperation program. [...] The new strategic framework proposes eight priority sectors for cooperation: namely GMS economic corridor development, infrastructure linkages, energy, telecommunications, tourism, agriculture, environment and human resources development. [...] The summit, with the theme of "Beyond 2012: Towards a New Decade of GMS Strategic Development Partnership," was held here at the Myanmar International Convention Center on Tuesday. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Myanmar's President U Thein Sein, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, as well as ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda attended the meeting. [...] Meanwhile, Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo said at the summit that the new strategic framework will "open a new chapter for GMS cooperation." [...] "China's development would not have been possible without the support and help of the other GMS countries," Dai said, adding " And the prosperity and progress of the subregion also need China's development." Dai presented five perusal: to engage in comprehensive and multi-tiered cooperation on connectivity; to promote transport and trade facilitation and boost the development of the economic corridors; to boost cooperation in environmental protection, agriculture, science and technology and human resources training; to enhance capacities for mobilizing resources; to encourage the active participation of local governments and the private sector. GMS leaders also endorsed at the summit the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration which reaffirmed the GMS countries' commitment to subregional cooperation and their resolve to pursue with great vigor a new generation of shared undertakings, guided by the new ten-year strategic framework. [...] The continued progress achieved by the GMS program in the past two decades has showed the world that "an area beset by conflict can rise up and through cooperation and goodwill build a zone of peace, increasing prosperity and resilience," said the joint declaration. With the endorsement of the new strategic framework, the GMS program will approach closer to an integrated, prosperous and harmonious subregion, it added. [...]. ^ top ^

Xi glosses over territorial rows in Hanoi talks (SCMP)
2011-12-22
China and Vietnam yesterday brushed aside differences over territorial disputes and vowed to further consolidate bilateral ties on the second day of Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit to Hanoi. Xi and Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Thi Doan witnessed the signing of seven agreements pledging co-operation on financial, youth and health affairs and the media at Hanoi's presidential palace. One of the deals signed was for a US$200 million loan from the China Development Bank to the Bank of Investment and Development of Vietnam to help fund projects, including in the energy and telecoms sectors. Ties between the two countries soured in May when Vietnam accused Chinese vessels of harassing Vietnamese ships within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. But President Hu Jintao, also party general secretary, and Vietnam Communist Party head Nguyen Phu Trong signed an agreement to maintain peace in the disputed waters during a visit by Trong to Beijing in October. In yesterday's talks between Xi and top Vietnamese leaders, the two sides vowed to implement that consensus and maintain stability in the South China Sea, Xinhua reported. [...] At a meeting with Vietnamese public security minister General Le Hong Anh and Doan, Xi said China was willing to develop ties with Vietnam through enhanced communication and mutual trust. "China is willing to exchange views with Vietnam on issues concerning deepening Sino-Vietnam ties, strengthening mutual co-operation, and important international and regional problems, and to tackle problems relating to bilateral ties in a timely manner," Xi said, adding both countries would attempt to boost bilateral trade to US$60 billion by 2015 and implement a five-year economic and trade co-operation plan. [...]. ^ top ^

China's carrier on 3rd sea trials (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-22
China's aircraft carrier set off for its third sea trials yesterday with experts saying they may involve the first tests of aircraft landing and taking off. The Ministry of National Defense said previously that the carrier had completed all refitting and testing work as scheduled and the following sea trials would be for scientific research and experiments. The carrier was towed out by five tugboats at 2:30pm from the port of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province to the Yellow Sea. The trials will last for nine days in an area out of bounds to other shipping, the Dalian Maritime Bureau said on its website. The sea trials will still focus on how the carrier handles, but helicopters should begin landing and taking off from the deck in a prelude to tests for fixed-wing aircraft, said Zhang Yao, senior researcher of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and an aircraft carrier expert. [...] Li Jie, a researcher of the China Navy Military Academy, said the sea trials should involve aircraft flying low over the deck as well as letting their undercarriage touch the deck in preparation for actual landings. [...]. ^ top ^

Japan arrests fishing boat captain after hour chase (Global Times)
2011-12-23
Beijing urged Tokyo to protect the rights of Chinese fishermen, after Japan's coast guard on Wednesday detained another Chinese captain. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said yesterday that the situation is under investigation, and China urged Japan to handle the issue properly. After chasing a 132-ton Chinese fishing boat for an hour, Japanese coast guard officers boarded the vessel in waters about 17 kilometers southwest of Yome Island, 950 kilometers south of Tokyo, AFP reported. Coast guard officers later detained the captain, Liu Zongyong, at around 6 pm local time after he allegedly ignored their order to stop and refused to allow onboard inspections, said Xinhua. Japan's foreign ministry spokesman Masaru Satou told the Global Times that the vessel has violated Japan's fisheries law, and the case is being investigated. The detainment came just days after Japan's coast guard detained a Chinese boat captain four kilometers off an island near Nagasaki, southwest Japan on Tuesday. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges EU to rethink carbon tax (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-23
China opposes the European Union's carbon emissions tax on airlines, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Spokesman Liu Weimin said many other countries also opposed the EU move, and China hoped the EU would act with caution and settle the issue in a positive and pragmatic way through consultation with relevant countries. On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg dismissed arguments by US airlines and allowed the EU to impose the tax on routes to or from Europe next year. The system will inevitably increase the price of air tickets for international flights, a senior official with the China Air Transport Association said yesterday. The move is expected to cost Chinese airlines an estimated 743 million yuan (US$117.39 million) in 2012, or about 300 yuan for each ticket for flights between China and Europe, said Chai Haibo, deputy secretary general of the association. [...]

A total of 33 Chinese airlines, including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern airlines will be affected by the tax. [...] China's aviation watchdog has urged the EU to drop the plan to promote sustainable development of the industry. "The EU should at least make a distinction between developing and developed countries," said Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The air transport association, representing the 33 Chinese airlines, is preparing to challenge the move in European courts by the end of the year, said Chai. "We know the result would most probably be the same as that for the US airlines, but will still take the action as a measure of protest.". ^ top ^

Japan's PM to ask Beijing for two pandas (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-23
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on Thursday that he will ask Beijing to lease two pandas to Japan during his visit to China. [...] Tokyo hopes Beijing will lease the pandas to the Yagiyama Zoological Park in the city of Sendai, an area heavily stricken by the earthquake and tsunami last March, Japan's Fuji Television said on Thursday. Noda held a meeting on Thursday morning at the prime minister's office with Sendai City's Vice-Mayor Yukimoto Ito [...]. Noda said he will voice support and "inform Beijing of the panda proposal at the weekend". [...] "We want (the pandas) to heal the pain that children experienced and serve as a light of hope for them," Ito, the vice-mayor, told reporters after the meeting, according to Kyodo News Agency. Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations, and leasing pandas is seen as a symbolic event to mark the friendship between the two countries, Fuji said. Sendai's Mayor Emiko Okuyama said in mid-October that she had talked with the Chinese ambassador to Japan about leasing pandas to the city-run Yagiyama Zoological Park, according to Japan's Mainichi Shimbun newspaper. Sending pandas to Japan is a diplomatic way of boosting civil exchanges and building China's soft power, said Feng Zhaokui, a researcher with the Institute of Japanese Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. China gave a pair of pandas to Japan in 1972 to commemorate the normalization of bilateral relations. In 2000, China leased a pair of pandas to another Japanese zoo following the 1995 earthquake that devastated the city of Kobe. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Bale roughed up during activist visit (SCMP)
2011-12-17
Hollywood actor and Batman star Christian Bale was roughed up by security guards in Shandong this week when he tried to visit detained legal activist Chen Guangcheng - a move that has cast fresh international attention on the blind campaigner. Bale, who is in China to promote his Nanking massacre film The Flowers of War, was stopped on Thursday along with an accompanying CNN camera crew outside Dongshigu village, where Chen has been held under house arrest for 15 months, a CNN report said. Bale and the camera crew were confronted by four men and pushed after approaching a checkpoint leading to Chen's village and saying they wanted to see the activist. More men soon emerged and punched Bale when he repeatedly asked: "Why can I not visit this man?" After the actor and journalists retreated, they were chased by a minivan for more than half an hour. CNN filmed the encounter and posted the footage on its website. "What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale told CNN as their van left the scene. "I'm not being brave doing this. [It is] the local people who are standing up to the authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it." CNN said Bale got interested in the plight of Chen from its news coverage and approached it while in China to say he hoped to meet him. "I was inspired by the man himself - this is a blind human rights lawyer... it is amazing that he is able to have the power that he does," he said later. "It's amazing that a superpower like China is terrified of this man." [...] CNN said Bale was prepared to accept that authorities might never allow him back on the mainland after the incident. ^ top ^

VP stresses Party's organization construction (China Daily)
2011-12-19
Vice President Xi Jinping Sunday called for better organization construction of the Communist Party of China (CPC)to prepare for the Party's 18th National Congress scheduled next year. Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks while meeting heads of the Party's provincial-level organization departments. Xi said comprehensive criteria should be adopted to select and promote competent officials in ongoing changing term of office of the CPC's local committees. During the evaluation on officials to be promoted, the Party committees should give full play to democracy by combining public opinions with centralized decisions, Xi said. The Party's local committees should avoid simply regarding economic aggregate and growth rate of an administrative region as the main parameter to evaluate an official's political achievements, he said. As many young cadres will take office in leading posts of the Party's local committees, it's necessary to enhance education on them for political loyalty, anti-corruption and leadership capacity, the official said. Xi, also a member of the CPC Central Committee's Secretariat, urged to strengthen the Party's organization construction among grassroots units to better serve improving people's livelihood and recruiting more Party members among young workers and farmers. ^ top ^

Police to try softer tactic on uprisings (SCMP)
2011-12-19
Beijing's security chief has ordered police on a six-month charm offensive to improve relations with the public and deal with their gripes, following a spate of social unrest across the country. The announcement came as supporters of a southern mainland village in open revolt against officialdom mounted a demonstration in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou yesterday, the first indication the Wukan protests might spread. The three protesters - all of whom were detained - said it was the second time in a week they had gone to a square in the Guangdong provincial capital to show support for the Wukan villagers. While the Guangzhou city protest was relatively small, it is a sign that government efforts to block news of the unrest in Wukan have failed and the villagers are attracting support from the public. [...] The three friends said they had taken part in a bigger protest last Wednesday involving about a dozen people handing out fliers on the square. Police had confiscated the material but no one was detained. Amid apparent concern over social unrest, Zhou Yongkang, the country's top security official, ordered police to begin a six-month campaign to improve how they deal with complaints from the public. Police officers would be sent to households to help settle disputes and complaints, Xinhua reported, citing Zhou, who is in charge of the country's security issues as a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo. Police should "carry out in-depth investigations" and "enhance people's sense of safety and satisfaction" during the campaign, which was launched by the public security ministry on Friday, Zhou said. Zhou's remarks highlighted the growing concern in the top ranks of the Communist Party over rising social tensions across China as it prepares for a generational leadership handover next year. Residents of Wukan, a community of 13,000, said yesterday they would march on government offices in the nearby city of Lufeng this week unless the body of village representative, Xue Jinbo, is released and four villagers in police custody are freed. [...]. ^ top ^

CPC members shall not believe in religion (China Daily)
2011-12-20
Members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) shall not believe in religion, which is a principle to be unswervingly adhered to, a senior official has said. The Party would suffer "pernicious" consequences if members are allowed to believe in religion, said Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee. "Party organizations will be greatly weakened in the fight against separatism, as hostile forces home and abroad are doing what they can to use religion for their separatist activities in the areas inhabited by ethnic groups," said Zhu in an article published in Qiushi, or "Seeking Truth," the biweekly official journal of the CPC Central Committee. Zhu slammed the growing occurrences of CPC members participating in religious activities, establishing close contacts with religious figures and some members becoming de facto religious believers. [...] The Party will be divided ideologically and theoretically if members are allowed to believe in religion, as it means the coexistence of both idealism and materialism and of both theism and atheism, compromising the guiding role of Marxism. [...] "It is not accidental that Party committees in Xinjiang and Tibet, where the anti-secession struggle is the most acute, take a clear-cut stand that Party members shall not believe in religion," Zhu said. [...] The official also refuted the notion that the ban on CPC members believing in religion was inconsistent with the freedom of religious belief in the Constitution. Freedom of religious belief in China means that every citizen has the freedom to believe or not to believe in any religion. When a citizen voluntarily joins in the CPC, he or she accepts the Marxist dialectical materialism view of the world and has the right to believe in no religion. The official also called for more efforts to enhance the Marxist view of religion and atheism education within the Party. [...]. ^ top ^

Chinese farmers' income growth overtakes urban workers': report (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-20
A government-backed blue book unveiled Monday said China's millions of migrant workers had acquired increasing income growth, but more than 60 percent of them lived separately from their family members. With a rapid rate of urbanization since China adopted an opening-up and reform policy at the end of the 1970s, millions of farmers left their rural homes to find seasonal jobs in the construction and service industries. Estimates put the country's number of migrant workers at over 240 million people, a number roughly equal to the entire U.S. population. Compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the book said that about 40 percent of migrant workers had chosen to relocate their families to urban areas, while 60 percent left either their spouse or children in rural homes. [...] Meanwhile, Chinese farmers who have not left rural areas are also seeing increasing incomes. The book said that urban residents' disposable income per capita was 16,301 yuan (2,574 U.S. dollars) in the first three quarters of 2011, marking a 7.8 percent jump compared with that of 2010. Rural residents' cash income per capita during the period was 5,878 yuan, marking a 13.6 percent increase that has outpaced the income increases for urban residents. According to China's latest nationwide census that wrapped up in 2010, China's urban population accounted for 49.68 percent of the total population. The blue book estimated that the country's urban population will outnumber the rural population by the end of 2011 at the current speed of urbanization. "If the rural population really outnumbers the urban population, it will be a significant breaking point for China in changing its thousand-year-old farmer-dominated population structure," the blue book said. It will not only mean a simple alteration in the percentage figure of the urban population, but will also mean profound changes in people's lifestyles, employment, consumption and even values, it said. ^ top ^

CPC newspaper hails public support behind manhunt victory (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
The People's Daily, flagship newspaper the Communist Party of China (CPC), in a Monday report hailed extensive support from the public as a factor in the successful capture of 12,000 fugitive homicide suspects during a major manhunt campaign. Launched by the Ministry of Public Security in May, the nationwide campaign has so far resulted in the apprehension of 190 criminals on the national "wanted list" and 23,000 more fugitives who were on the run for at least 10 years, according to ministry statistics. The report said police used information from relatives of the criminals, as well as tips from the public and data gleaned from online sources, to capture the fugitives. One of the fugitives, a television actor who is suspected of being involved in an attack on a police officer 13 years ago, was arrested after police received tips from his relatives, the report said. More than 30,000 tips received from citizens helped the police to track down 19,000 of the fugitives, according to the police. "The seven-month campaign has come to a conclusion, but the pursuit of fugitive suspects should not cease," said the report, urging followup proceedings to punish the criminals in accordance with the law. The report said a summary of the most effective measures used during the manhunt should be created to facilitate the capture of fugitives in the future. ^ top ^

Vice-Premier pledges 'clean water, blue skies' (China Daily)
2011-12-21
Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday that the government will strive to provide people with a more livable environment featuring clean water and blue skies. Li made the remark at the 7th National Environmental Protection Conference held in Beijing, stressing that the government should keep a balance between economic development and environmental preservation. The vice-premier said a basic suitable environment is a public product that the government should make sure is provided to its people, adding that the government should make more preparations for monitoring levels of PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less, in the air. [...] The official revealed that the country's amounts of major pollutant emissions had increased in 2011, urging strengthened awareness of environmental protection. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), Chinese cities should realize an 85-percent treatment rate for urban sewage, he said. "Strengthening environmental protection could promote China's transformation of its economic growth pattern and promote China's international cooperation, as there are more and more trade barriers in the name of environmental issues," Li said. [...] It is estimated that industries related to environmental protection in China will achieve an output value of more than 10 trillion yuan ($1.54 trillion) during the 2011-2015 period. As China upgrades traditional industries and develops new high-tech industries, it is also essential to develop the service industry which could provide huge amounts of jobs and emit far fewer pollutants, Li said. The official also said the government should provide necessary assistance to environmental protection NGOs and volunteers, so as to encourage more people to devote themselves to the cause. Also on Tuesday, China's central government publicized a work plan for environmental protection in the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), which sets a target to reduce sulfur dioxide emission by eight percent by 2015. [...]. ^ top ^

China assigns mandatory emission reduction tasks to local gov'ts, state-owned enterprises (Xinhua)
2011-12-21
China's environment minister, entrusted by the State Council, or Cabinet, signed agreements on emission reduction targets with provincial-level governments and major state-owned enterprises. Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian signed the agreements with 31 provincial-level governments, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and eight state-owned enterprises at the National Environmental Protection Conference that kicked off on Tuesday. The agreements specify mandatory emission reduction targets and pollution control targets for these local governments and enterprises, respectively, within the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), and lists major emission reduction projects that signatories have to fulfill within a designated time frame. According to the listed projects for 2011-2015, China will build at least 1,184 new sewage treatment plants with a daily capacity of treating 45.7 million tonnes of sewage, and equip thermal power plants with a total generating capacity of 400 million KW with de-sulfurizing facilities. The central government will conduct annual performance evaluations of provincial governments in emission reduction and pollution control, and hold underachievers accountable, according to previous State Council statements. ^ top ^

Massive resettlement for south-north water diversion project completed in central China (Xinhua)
2011-12-21
The resettlement of about 92,000 residents was completed Tuesday in central Hubei province, making way for the middle route of the country's south-north water diversion project, according to local authorities. The last batch of residents in Hubei around the Danjiangkou Reservoir, a source of the south-north water diversion project's middle route, moved to new communities Tuesday. The south-north water diversion project is set to commence operation in 2014. The migrants are mostly residents from the banks of the Danjiangkou Reservoir, which forms the border between Hubei and Henan provinces. The construction of the middle route involved the relocation of 330,000 people from the two provinces. The relocated residents, whose homes will be submerged after the project is completed, have settled in new communities in other parts of the two provinces. The massive south-north water diversion project is designed to take water from China's longest river, the Yangtze, to feed the drought-prone areas in the north, including Beijing. Water will flow northward via three routes - an eastern route, a middle route, and a western route. The project started with the construction of the eastern route in 2002. The construction of the middle route followed in 2003. Pre-construction evaluations of the western route will begin soon. ^ top ^

Mass disturbances to be handled in accordance with laws: senior Chinese leader (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-22
Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Zhou Yongkang said Wednesday that mass disturbances will be properly dealt with in accordance with the laws, as the Party prepares for its 18th National Congress next year. Zhou, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a national tele-conference on political and legal issues. He urged law-enforcement authorities to take a civil manner as the proper solution to mass disturbances and extreme events, and crack down on crimes and violence against national unity in order to maintain national safety and stability. The authorities will also make efforts to safeguard the legitimate rights of businesses and positively provide legal services to support their sound development while punishing economic crimes, Zhou added. In 2011, the country has made great progress in judicial restructuring and largely enhanced the level of social management in resolving civil disputes at their flash points, Zhou said. ^ top ^

CNOOC to repair leaking pipeline in S China Sea (China Daily)
2011-12-23
CNOOC, China's largest offshore energy explorer, said Thursday that it will repair a leaking pipeline after inert gas replaces natural gas in the South China Sea, and no oil spill was reported. The undersea pipeline will be repaired after nitrogen replaces natural gas, said Gao Guangsheng, vice president of CNOOC's Shenzhen branch, which manages the terminal. The leak was detected Monday by fishermen about 12 kilometers from the natural gas terminal in the city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and after four days of active pressure venting, the internal pressure of the pipe is approaching the appropriate level for repair, Gao said. Injections of nitrogen started Thursday morning as a dredger surveyed the pipe's surroundings for repair work. However, winds were too strong on the sea Thursday, making it a bad time for doing repairs. Gao said no oil spill was detected, no casualties were reported, and the situation was under control. The report was echoed by China's State Oceanic Administration, which announced Thursday afternoon that no oil spill had been reported at the scene but sporadic oil was detected. Marine authorities and police quarantined the sea area. Ten water sampling stations have been set up, and they reported that the water met quality requirements and burnt embers from the leakage point had been spreading to the outer sea area, according to the report from the South China Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration. ^ top ^

$7.7 b loans provided to Chinese women (China Daily)
2011-12-22
More than 48.6 billion yuan (about $7.7 billion) in small-amount loans with interest subsidies had been provided to women in China by the end of September, up 51 percent from last year, according to a meeting held by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) on Thursday. The small-amount loans have directly helped 1.1 million women in both urban and rural areas start businesses and have also helped another 4 million women get jobs, according to the meeting. Song Xiuyan, vice chairwoman of the ACWF, said at the meeting that more than 2,100 practice bases have been established, providing training for more than 80,000 female students and helping 40,000 female university students with job opportunities. "The ACWF has carried out a project aimed at providing job opportunities to women in more than 100 Chinese cities," Song said. "So far, we have already provided women with over 3.7 million job posts." On Thursday, Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, urged women's federations at all levels to further communication with women and make efforts to safeguard their rights. ^ top ^

Sichuan to raise minimum wage by 23% (China Daily)
2011-12-23
Southwest China's Sichuan province will hike the minimum monthly wage by about 23.4 percent starting January 1, 2012, to help attract laborers facing rapidly rising living costs, local authorities said Thursday. The minimum monthly wage will be raised to 1,050 yuan ($166), 960 yuan, 880 yuan and 800 yuan in regions at different levels of development, the provincial human resources and social security office said in a statement. Sichuan, with a population of 89 million, is a major source of migrant workers for major cities around China, especially in the eastern coastal manufacturing hubs. In the southern economic powerhouse of Shenzhen, local authorities plan to raise the minimum monthly wage by 15 percent to 1,500 yuan in January to attract laborers. Severe labor shortages and rising living costs in Chinese cities prompted wage hikes both this year and last year. Twenty-one provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had raised the minimum monthly wage by an average of 21.7 percent by October this year, according to Yin Chengji, spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. ^ top ^

43,000 investigated over abuse of power (China Daily)
2011-12-23
Chinese prosecutors from January to November launched investigations into 31,616 abuse-of-power criminal cases involving 43,265 suspects, according to figures provided at Thursday's national meeting of procurators. Of those investigated for abuse of power, 2,475 are government officials at the county-level or above. Statistics show prosecutors across China in the first 11 months this year approved the arrests of a total of 837,736 criminal suspects and prosecuted nearly 1.07 million people. The country's prosecutors so far this year have approved the arrest of 1,801 criminal suspects for their roles in the manufacture and sale of poisonous or harmful food products. A total of 120 government employees have also been investigated for food-related graft and dereliction of duty this year. ^ top ^

More cities require real names for micro blogs (China Daily)
2011-12-23
More Chinese cities joined an Internet supervision measure Thursday following Beijing's requirement of local microblog operators to register users with real names, a move designed to purge online rumors and enhance social credibility. Seven major websites in the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen in south Guangdong province will begin from Thursday to require new users of their microblogging services to register with real names, the provincial publicity department said in a statement. Among the seven microblog operators is Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings, the country's leading Internet company that operates the popular QQ instant-messaging service. The new rules only apply to new users, including private and institutional users, who are required to submit their real identities at registration, the statement said. However, users can choose to use their real or screen names on the webpage, according to the statement. The new rules are made "in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations" in a bid to "foster healthy Internet culture" and "strengthen management and guide social networking services (SNS) and instant-messaging tools," according to the statement. Guangdong's real-name requirement came shortly after Beijing announced new rules last Friday, requiring users of microblogging services in the city to provide their true identities at registration. Experts claim the new rules will purify the Internet environment, as fake and fraudulent information is often seen spreading through microblogs, which are gaining popularity among users. According to statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center earlier this year, China had 63 million microbloggers at the end of 2010, accounting for 13.8 percent of its 457 million Internet users. However, nearly 600 million microblogging IDs are registered with Beijing's seven microblogging service providers, including the popular Sina Weibo and Sohu, which have 280 million and 120 million microblog IDs, respectively, according to Tong Liqiang, executive deputy director with the Beijing Internet Information Office (BIIO). The tremendous gap between the numbers of microblog users and IDs is an indication that either some users have several IDs or some IDs are mere "dummies" - created to increase the number of microblog followers, experts say. [...] Real-name registration is considered part of the country's efforts to strengthen the management of new media, including the Internet. In a guideline adopted by central authorities on October 18 at the sixth plenary session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it was proposed that Internet security should be highlighted, online information spreading should be regulated, and a cultivated and rational Internet environment should be fostered to promote the credibility of new media. [...]. ^ top ^

Monitoring, but no data on fine particles (SCMP)
2011-12-23
The top environmental watchdog has set out a timetable for monitoring smog-related pollutants across the mainland amid mounting public pressure and setbacks in curbing pollution and energy waste this year. The timetable unveiled by Environment Minister Zhou Shengxian on Wednesday is widely seen as a step in the right direction, but it fails to address mounting demands for immediate access to data for monitoring fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less - tiny enough to invade even the smallest airways - known as PM2.5. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Tianjin and provincial capitals would start monitoring the health-threatening airborne particles - and ozone, another hazardous pollutant that has long been overlooked - from next month, Zhou told a national gathering of local environmental chiefs, the Beijing Times reported. "Environmental agencies must address the discrepancies between official monitoring data and public feelings," he said, in a vague reference to mounting allegations of official cover-ups of the capital's worsening smog, which later escalated into a full-fledged public debate. "We must let statistics speak for themselves and try to protect the public from pollution." Zhou said PM2.5 data would be monitored across the mainland and released by January 1, 2016. The debate and the subsequent public outcry over a lack of transparency about worsening air pollution has apparently embarrassed authorities, with both Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang publicly acknowledging the urgency of overhauling the mainland's outdated pollution standards, which do not include PM2.5. [...]. ^ top ^

Rulings must consider morality: top judge (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-23
Courts should keep public morality in mind when they are handing down decisions that could have far-reaching effects, China's top judge said on Thursday. Wang Shengjun, president of the Supreme People's Court, called on some 30 chief justices from provincial high courts to "legally protect Good Samaritans" and not let them be misjudged. Wang's remarks were in response to some controversial cases in which the people who lent a helping hand were later accused of being the offenders. Speaking at an annual work conference, Wang said maintaining justice and morality is a challenge, and the constitution's principle of judicial independence is not well implemented in some regions. In addition, Wang noted that the lack of capability of some judges also contributed to society's distrust of courts. "Some of the individual lawsuits have made the public question whether judges can balance social conventions with legal provisions," he said. The work conference also pledged to establish an accountability system that intends to hold judges accountable after they make an erroneous judgment. "The influence of some individual lawsuits snowballed after being disseminated on the Internet and left a negative impact on society," he said, urging the courts to make plans before major judicial interpretations and decisions are released. "Risk assessment and preplanning are necessary for major cases, policies and judicial interpretations that might trigger social misunderstanding and speculation," he said. A case in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in which a man who allegedly helped an injured person was found guilty because the injured claimed he was the one who caused the injury, was believed to have set a negative social example and prevented many from helping others. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Residents cry foul at city's blue skies boast (SCMP)
2011-12-19
Beijing's environmental authorities said yesterday that air quality in the capital city in 2011 was better than during the Olympics year of 2008, and that they had already met their target of "blue sky" days for this year, despite growing public concern that officials are covering up worsening problems of air pollution. "Beijing has seen an overall decline in the concentration of various pollutants in 2011," said Zhuang Zhidong, the deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. The city had 274 days of "grade one or two" air quality, according to a statement posted on the Beijing government's official news portal yesterday. China uses a five-grade classification system to rate its air quality, with one being the best and five the worst. Days graded one or two are considered "blue sky days". Overall air quality in Beijing was better than last year, and there were 22 more days of grade-one air quality than were recorded in 2010, and 11 more than in 2008, when Beijing hosted the Olympics, Zhuang said. Zhuang admitted that the capital also saw "several days of poor air quality as a result of bad weather conditions". Factors such as weaker winds and a rise in humidity can raise the presence of atmospheric pollutants, according to the bureau. The environment ministry is under pressure to change the way it measures air quality after thick smog blanketed Beijing earlier this month, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and triggering a surge in sales of face masks. Public anger over heavy pollution has been compounded by official data showing air quality is good, or only slightly polluted, on days with obvious heavy smog that the US embassy rated as "very unhealthy". Beijing authorities use a method known as PM10, focusing on larger air particles. [...] But there have been growing public calls for the government to adopt the tighter PM2.5 standard, which measures much smaller particles that are considered more hazardous to people's health as they penetrate deeper into the lungs. [...] Many internet users expressed doubt or anger over the authorities' assessment of the city's air quality. [...]. ^ top ^

New rules to keep out bad TV (Global Times)
2011-12-22
Beijing authorities have unveiled a censorship plan starting next year aimed at preventing poor quality TV dramas and movies from entering the market, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Radio, Film and Television. Li Wei, director of the policy and law department at the bureau, told the Global Times yesterday that an assessment system will be established next year to review scripts for movies and TV series. "We will organize experts to assess the submitted scripts and those that fail to pass the assessment will be prohibited from being shot into movies or TV dramas," she said. As the secretary-general of the Beijing Film and TV Industry Alliance, which was established last week, Li pointed out that no investment will be allowed for film or TV scripts that harm national honor and interests, violate morality, or have a negative impact on young people. "There is currently no system in Beijing or the country to assess and supervise scripts, so we hope the system will help prevent negative influences brought by films and TV at the source," Li added. However, details of the system, including the standards for assessment, are still under discussion. [...] Some screenwriters are concerned that the system will be a new way of tightening censorship in the culture industry. [...] The State Council issued a draft law early this month saying that films must not harm national honor and interests, incite ethnic hatred, spread "evil cults" or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror. A total of 13 types of content are banned in the draft law, but no terms or phrases were defined. [...] The country is expected to produce more than 550 films this year, half of which will be produced by Beijing companies. One-sixth of the total number of the TV dramas this year will be produced in Beijing. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Sports court to serve Asia by next year (Global Times)
2011-12-22
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will establish an Alternative Hearing Center in Shanghai's Pudong New Area by next year to serve Asia to manage sports disputes through arbitration or mediation according to international sporting rules, the city's sports authorities said yesterday. The CAS center at Yuanshen Sports Center will facilitate disputes involving internationally competitive athletes, including cases pertaining to doping charges and sponsorship contract issues, said Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau, which is in charge of the center. [...] The new center is expected to bring greater convenience for athletes involved in disputes from competitions held in Asia, as they will no longer need to rely on CAS headquarters in Switzerland, or offices in New York and Sydney, said Wu. "More international competitions have been held in Asia in recent years, and Shanghai has shown its capability in handling such affairs in recent years," Wu Wei, a Chinese arbitrator for CAS, told the Global Times yesterday. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Cantonese broadcasts restricted in Guangdong (SCMP)
2011-12-18
Broadcasters will need to have permission to use Cantonese on television, radio and in online footage from March, according to an order posted on the Guangdong provincial government website. It comes just over a year after the government proposed switching prime-time programming on Guangdong TV's main channels from Cantonese to Putonghua. The proposal was later postponed when it triggered a series of mass demonstrations by furious Cantonese speakers. The new order was passed by Guangdong authorities on December 1 and signed by acting governor Zhu Xiaodan last Monday. It will come into effect on March 1. According to the order, Putonghua should be the main language for broadcasts, programmes and interviews on television, radio and in internet videos. Central or provincial radio, film and television administrations must approve any use of dialects, the order said. Penalties would apply to people in charge of the programmes that contravened the rules. Although the order is similar to existing regulations at a national level, the release of such rules by the Guangdong government has generated unease. "Cantonese is the most ancient language in China. It is not a dialect - hundreds of thousands of people all over the world use Cantonese. I feel very uncomfortable about [the change]," a Cantonese-language radio host said [...]. ^ top ^

Health dept. to investigate surrogacy service after birth of octuplets in SE China (Xinhua)
2011-12-21
Southeast China's Guangdong province will conduct a rigorous investigation into a surrogate pregnancy service and suspend approvals for organizations with assisted-reproduction services, the provincial health department announced Tuesday. Local media in Guangzhou reported on a story about a wealthy couple from Guangzhou who had eight babies via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and a surrogate pregnancy. Their story raised public concern and caught the attention of the provincial health department, an official with the department said. The Department of Health of Guangdong province held a conference to research and investigate these kinds of events in the province. The conference stressed that any organization providing surrogacy services is in violation of the human assisted-reproduction technologies regulation issued by Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China in 2001. The provincial health department will also suspend the approvals of agencies with assisted-reproduction services. Meanwhile, 38 medical institutions, all of which have obtained licenses for human assisted-reproduction technology services in Guangdong, will receive special examinations to determine whether they have been involved in illegal activities, including buying and selling gametes or embryos, providing surrogacy services, using non-certificated sperm, or checking the gender of fetuses without permission. Any action violating the law will be punished seriously in accordance with the law, the health department said. ^ top ^

Olive branch brings life back to normal in Wukan (SCMP)
2011-12-22
Wukan villagers who have been protesting for days over land grabs and the death of a community leader called off a protest march yesterday after top provincial officials laid out a compromise offer while blaming the conflict on pent-up social ills. In a sign that months of tension may have been defused, the village's chief negotiator said life and work in Wukan was back to normal and protest banners had been removed after a senior provincial Communist Party official offered concessions including the release of three young villagers from detention and the authorisation of a temporary village committee. Village leader Lin Zuluan said after a 90-minute meeting in Lufeng with deputy Guangdong party chief Zhu Mingguo and Shanwei party chief Zheng Yanxiong that the village had achieved a "rather ideal" solution. "They [Zhu and Zheng] acknowledged the wrongdoings of individual corrupt officials," Lin said. "Recognising the legal status of Wukan's temporary village committee paves the way for a future land deal solution to be recognised legally, too." He said a committee would operate until villagers found a full solution to the land disputes. Lin said the government had agreed to re-examine the death of village representative Xue Jinbo, who locals say was beaten to death in custody by police. The compromise offer is being seen as a major victory for villagers that sets a precedent for the handling of riots by provincial governments. Wang Yang, Guangdong's liberal-minded party chief, admitted the villagers had cause to complain. Villagers say they were told President Hu Jintao had twice inquired about the trouble in Wukan. At an earlier meeting in Lufeng, Zhu quoted Wang as saying the Wukan protests resulted from conflicts arising from breakneck economic development. "As a responsible government, we must directly resolve these conflicts and issues," Zhu quoted Wang as saying. But a Guangzhou-based scholar in Wukan said it was still too early to tell if the deal signalled a shift in mindset towards more liberal handling of protests. [...] News of Wukan's plight was censored by local media, but mainland internet users followed developments on microblogs. Some travelled to Wukan to show their support. [...]. ^ top ^

Police use tear gas on third day of protest (SCMP)
2011-12-23
Several thousand furious residents confronted riot police in Haimen township, Shantou, for a third day yesterday. The authorities tried to drive them away with volleys of tear gas. Roads leading to the Shenzhen-Shantou highway remained blocked by thousands of armed police, who shouted at residents and fired tear-gas canisters. But those who fled returned as soon as the gas dispersed. Police vehicles equipped with water cannon were also on standby and nearly 600 armed police continued to guard the highway last night. "We won't go until the government totally abolishes its plan to build another coal-fired power plant in our town," said a 40-year-old man with eyes bloodshot from tear gas. "We couldn't stop them from building a huge power plant in 2006, but we won't let it happen again. "The 160,000 residents of Haimen need fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink and safe fish from the sea. But the government simply ignores our demands and human rights." He said many villagers had been diagnosed with cancer since the power plant started operating. The official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday that five protesters had been detained on Wednesday night, but denied there were any casualties in the town. [...] The authorities warned residents through television and newspaper announcements that protesters who occupied the highway, smashed cars or attacked the police were breaking the law and damaging state assets. The media pronouncements said that people should make use of legal channels to air their grievances. [...] Xinhua also quoted the party boss of Chaoyang district, Chen Xinzhao, as saying the new plant was still in the planning stage and construction would not start unless it passed an environmental assessment and won the consent of local residents. [...] Meanwhile, Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, the party's top security official, said the authorities should try to resolve disputes "at the grass-roots level" to prevent violence. "We must deepen our efforts to mediate conflicts and disputes, improving the system of mediation to resolve conflicts and disputes at the grass-roots level and nip them in the bud," Xinhua quoted Zhou as saying. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Top nationality university opens graduate program on Tibet Buddhism (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-23
Minzu University of China, the country's top nationality university holds opening ceremony for the first graduate class on Tibet Buddhism, affiliated under the major of Tibetan Studies, on Tuesday in Beijing. [...] Zhaba, vice president of the university's graduate school for Tibetan Studies briefed on the courses, faculty and enrolment of the new class, saying not only philosophical courses and lectures but also history and monastery management courses will be held. Also studies over China's religious policy and current situations and comparative studies over different religions and religious arts will be conducted, Zhaba said. The graduate class on Tibetan Buddhism is designed to cultivate more professional clergyman and administrative experts, said Tong Fengying, deputy director-general of the website partner. The class will also serve as a platform for communication between administrators and priesthood, in the meanwhile strengthening cultural exchange and cooperation through professional courses, lectures and academic interactions, Tong said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Mainland to suspend poultry sales to HK after recent bird flu scare (Global Times)
2011-12-23
China's quality watchdog said yesterday that it decided to suspend supplies of live poultry to Hong Kong after a dead chicken there tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. The suspension will last 21 days, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). AQSIQ took measures after it was informed of the case that was uncovered on Tuesday, AQSIQ Spokesman Li Yuanping said at a regular press conference. AQSIQ will maintain close contact and work together with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government to jointly step up measures in controlling the epidemic, Li said. AQSIQ has ordered local quality authorities in Guangdong and Hainan provinces to strengthen quarantine inspection at ports to prevent the spread of avian flu, Li said. Local entry-exit quality watchdogs are also required to promote prevention, control and monitoring of the disease, and boost disinfection and personnel protection work in registered farms that produce poultry for the city, Li added. The HKSAR government raised the city's response level for bird flu to "serious" from "alert" following the discovery of the virus. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Xi warns Taiwan on '1992 consensus' (SCMP)
2011-12-17
Vice-president Xi Jinping yesterday warned that all agreements made with Taiwan would become invalid if it failed to recognise the so-called 1992 consensus. Xi gave the warning at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats) at the Great Hall of the People yesterday. "If the 1992 consensus is denied, negotiations across the strait cannot continue and all the agreements made in the past cannot be fulfilled. Cross-strait relations will return to the volatile situation of the past." Under the consensus, both sides recognise there is only one China, which each interprets in its own way. Xi's warning seemed to target DPP candidate Dr Tsai Ing-wen, who said earlier that there was no 1992 consensus. [...] Beijing has always described cross-strait ties as part of its national strategy, but has recently called them part of a great revival of China. [...] Taiwanese speakers at the forum who backed closer cross-strait ties said Tsai's proposed "Taiwan consensus" was actually a "Taiwan independence consensus" designed to derail the improvement in relations. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan holds final TV debate for election (China Daily)
2011-12-18
The last televised debate among three candidates for the upcoming Taiwan leader election was held Saturday in Taipei, with last year's signed cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) highlighted in the debate before the January 14 voting date. The candidates -- Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, Tsai Ing-wen who represents the island's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, and People First Party (PFP) chairman James Soong - stated their political views and debated with each other. Both Ma and Soong affirmed the ECFA's role in promoting cross-Straits trade. Ma said the ECFA has given Taiwan opportunities to compete with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other Asian economies. Both Taiwan and the ROK were labeled as members of "Four Asian dragons" in the 1990s for their promising performance in economic growth. Ma said the accusation against him that signing the ECFA was "selling Taiwan to China" was groundless. He criticized Tsai's cross-Straits policy and the so-called "Taiwan Consensus" as "vague". Soong of the PFP said that the mainland and Taiwan should not retrogress after signing the ECFA, and they should create better opportunities for each other under shared prosperity. However, he said the ECFA is not a "panacea" as there are more concrete problems to solve. On the contrast, Tsai continued to deny the "1992 Consensus" and avoided clarifying details of the "Taiwan consensus." In November 1992, the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation reached the consensus that each of the two organizations verbally acknowledges that "both sides of the Taiwan Straits adhere to the one-China principle." The agreement has since been serving as a significant basis for cross-Straits negotiations and peaceful development. [...] Saturday also marks the beginning of the election campaign, according to an announcement Friday by the island's authority in charge of the election. ^ top ^

Chinese mainland companies invest 174.6 million USD in Taiwan (Xinhua)
2011-12-21
Companies from the Chinese mainland have invested 174.6 million U.S. dollars into about 200 projects in Taiwan since the island allowed mainland investments on June 30, 2009, Taiwan's economic department said Tuesday. The department said in a report that mainland investors pumped 42.79 million U.S. dollars into the island from January to November this year, down 54.45 percent year-on-year. During the 11 months, the number of new mainland projects in Taiwan reached 98, up 28.9 percent year-on-year, it said. Meanwhile, Taiwanese companies invested in 530 projects on the mainland in the same 11-month period, up 30.54 percent year-on-year. The value of these investments reached 12.41 billion U.S. dollars, up 2 percent year-on-year, it said. ^ top ^

HK's Taiwan trade office opens (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
The Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office opened in Taiwan on Monday, to promote the long-term development of closer economic and cultural relations between the two regions. Office Director John Leung said it will spare no effort to promote Hong Kong-Taiwan economic relations in areas such as investments, financial services and business exchanges, while enhancing cultural, education and tourism and other exchanges. It will also help take forward and implement initiatives agreed through the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic & Cultural Cooperation & Promotion Council and the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic & Cultural Cooperation Council, to support Hong Kong residents and businesses in Taiwan. The office will encourage Taiwan businesses to invest in Hong Kong, help Hong Kong businesses to appraise the local market, enhance exchanges between the cultural and creative industries of the two places and promote Hong Kong's image, Leung said. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China issues guidelines to boost hi-tech service biz (China Daily)
2011-12-17
The State Council, or China's Cabinet, issued guidelines on Friday to promote the development of the country's high-tech service industry. China is targeting an 18-percent increase in the annual revenues of the high-tech service industry over the next four years, according to the guidelines posted on the central government's website. Meanwhile, China intends to make its high-tech service industry an important engine of economic growth by 2015. And it will establish an impeccable high-tech service industry system by 2020, according the guidelines. The high-tech service industry will play a significant role in boosting domestic demand, generating jobs, fostering the growth of emerging industries and optimizing the country's industrial structure, the guidelines said. The guidelines also noted that the industry remains in a fledgling state, despite the country's growing demand for high-tech services. The guidelines asked relevant government departments and local authorities to properly implement the central government's policies aimed at boosting the industry's growth, improving the industry's business environment, giving favorable financial and tax policies to the industry, expanding the industry's financing channels and strengthening personnel training for the industry. ^ top ^

Local concealing of market disorder to be sanctioned: MOC (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
China issued management measures to sanction local commerce authorities who conceal any market disorder, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) announced on Monday. The measures stipulate that any local competent commerce authority guilty of concealing, lying about or failing to report unusual market fluctuations will face administrative penalties, including criminal sanctions. The MOC said the measures will take effect from Feb. 1, 2012 in order to monitor and control unusual fluctuations caused by unexpected incidents in the daily necessities market. The measures said unexpected incidents like natural disasters, accidents and public health emergencies impact and alter the supply and demand of daily necessities, which may result in price turbulence. [...]. ^ top ^

New vehicle, vessel tax to start on Jan 1 (China Daily)
2011-12-20
The adoption of adjusted taxes for vehicles and vessels under a new law is intended to contribute to efforts of energy conservation and emissions reduction in China, a government statement said. The Vehicle and Vessel Tax Law, effective Jan 1, will levy moderately higher taxes on passenger vehicles with an engine size between 2 liters and 2.5 liters and much higher taxes on those with an engine size above 2.5 liters, while tax rates for those with an engine size below 2 liters will be marginally lowered or kept unchanged, an online statement from the State Administration of Taxation said Sunday. According to a second draft to the law earlier this year, taxes on vehicles with engine capacities from 1.0 liter to 1.6 liters dropped from 360-660 yuan ($57-104) to 300-540 yuan. Meanwhile, taxes on vehicles with engine capacities of 1.6 liters to 2.0 liters dropped from 660-960 yuan to 360-660 yuan. This means that the tax burden for owners of vehicles with smaller engine capacities of 2.0 liters or below will not be increased from the current rate. Electric vehicles and hybrids are excluded from paying the tax under the regulation, which indicates the nation's policy orientation toward environmental protection and energy saving, the statement said. The law stipulates passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, trailers, motorcycles, and vessels as taxable under the law. Foreign-based vehicles and those from China's Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan are also excluded from the tax. The new regulation has kept the original tax rates for freight vehicles, motorcycles, and vessels. [...]. ^ top ^

Vice premier urges China's central SOEs to maintain growth (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-20
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang on Monday urged the country's centrally administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to maintain "stable and relatively fast" growth as the slowing economy weakened their profits. Central SOEs should "make it a priority to maintain stable and relatively fast growth... and prevent big fluctuations in production and operations," Zhang said during a meeting of central SOE leaders in Beijing. His remarks came after China's central SOEs reported a 3.6 percent year-on-year increase in net profits for the first 11 months of 2011, a dramatic drop from the 50.1-percent surge recorded in the same period of 2010. Next year will be a tough one for these companies as the global economic downshift and higher commodity prices will weigh on their profitability, Wang Yong, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), said Monday. Zhang told the central SOEs to foster strategic emerging industries, advance restructuring and innovation and deepen corporate and share-holding reforms. The companies should also open up more and better manage and guide their overseas subsidiaries or branches to play a leading role in the country's strategy of "going global," he said. The SASAC, China's SOE regulator, ordered central SOEs to improve their ability to avoid legal risks in a circular on Monday. The companies must basically put an end to major legal disputes resulting from their own illegitimate acts within three years, the statement said. Business revenues for the country's centrally administered SOEs accounted for approximately 42 percent of China's gross domestic product last year, while the taxes they paid accounted for about 17 percent of the country's total fiscal revenue, official data showed. China currently has 117 central SOEs. ^ top ^

New policy to stabilize food prices (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-21
China will focus on government-invested markets as an important way to stabilize agricultural produce prices and meet people's basic needs, according to a document from the State Council. The document released on Monday said governments at all levels should increase investment in purchasing or constructing agricultural produce wholesale markets, farmers' markets and vegetable markets. It is the first State Council document that requires local governments to purchase and have a stake in agricultural produce wholesale markets, and to clarify the public welfare nature of fresh agricultural produce markets, Dai Zhongjiu, director of the China Vegetable Marketing Association, told the Economic Information Daily. Beijing is pioneering government-invested markets and is promoting the model of using reduced stall fees to lower vegetable prices in government-invested markets, said Dai. [...] Linking sales directly to production has become a common method of reducing overall distribution costs. The State Council proposals encourage large-scale distribution enterprises to have stable relationships with leading agricultural enterprises. [...]. ^ top ^

Judicial decision to protect intellectual property (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-21
China's top court is drafting a judicial interpretation to protect online intellectual property rights, which is expected to be released in January at the earliest. Kong Xiangjun, director of the third civil tribunal of the Supreme People's Court, said on Tuesday that disputes in online copyright infringement have taken up half of the copyright cases this year, due to a boost in information exchanges on the Internet. Kong said the upcoming judicial interpretation will try to strike a balance between protecting intellectual property rights and facilitating the continued healthy growth in China's online community. "While strengthening the protection of online innovation and creation, it is also important to avoid overprotection, which may harm the development of the Internet industry in the long run," he said. Sun Jungong, spokesman of the Supreme People's Court, said the number of intellectual property right cases has surged rapidly, and cases of first instance received by courts at all levels last year has tripled compared with the number 10 years ago. In the first 10 months this year, the number of intellectual property right infringement cases exceeded 52,000, of which 60 percent were copyright infringement disputes. The number of intellectual property rights cases marked a 42 percent rise year-on-year, exceeding 50,000 for first time. China currently has four laws and 19 regulations related to intellectual property rights protection, covering patents, trademarks and other fields. [...] To solve disputes of online copyright breaches, China practices the rule of notice and takedown, a regulation widely used in many countries that exempts Internet service providers from infringement liabilities if they take down the disputed content after receiving a notice from the copyright owner. Zhejiang-based Taobao.com, China's leading online retail platform, said it has deleted more than 47 million pieces of disputed information after receiving notice from copyright owners since the company was established in 2003. By this means Taobao has managed to escape hundreds of lawsuits related to copyright violation. [...]. ^ top ^

PBOC stresses stable growth (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-22
CHINA will continue with its prudent monetary policy in 2012 and sustain a reasonable increase in total social financing to power "stable and healthy" economic growth, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, said in remarks published yesterday. The comments came a week after top government authorities decided after an economic conference that China will maintain a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy in 2012, seeking faster economic restructuring based on stable growth and stable inflation. In yesterday's remarks, Zhou highlighted the need to boost the economy instead of stable consumer prices, which used to be the priority when talking about the goal of China's macro-economic measures. [...] "(The central bank) will continue to implement a prudent monetary policy in 2012 while making it more targeted, flexible and foresighted to support stable and healthy economic growth," Zhou said. "(The central bank) must learn lessons from the global financial crisis to better handle the intensity, pace and focus of financial macro-control." He said the PBOC will increase support for the "focal sectors" and weak links of the economy, and sustain a reasonable growth of total social financing. The term "total social financing" was introduced by the central bank to measure all sources of funding in the Chinese economy, including initial public offerings, bank credit and loans from alternative lending markets. The PBOC said the data was compiled based on information collated from the regulators of the banking and securities industries, the country's top planning body and the inter-bank market. Latest data showed that total financing totaled 9.8 trillion yuan (US$1.5 trillion) in the first nine months of this year, a decline of 1.26 trillion yuan from the same period of last year. Yuan-denominated bank loans took up 58 percent of the total social financing, up 1 percentage point from a year ago. Zhou also called for further improvement in the formation mechanism of the yuan's exchange rate and enhancing the management of foreign exchange reserves. ^ top ^

China to step up local pension fund management (China Daily)
2011-12-22
China is likely to improve its management over the country's 1.5 trillion yuan ($236.2 billion) of local pension fund next year to maintain its value, said social security officials. Dai Xianglong, chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund (NSSF), said the government is planning to collect part of the pension funds managed by local governments and put them into the capital market, Wednesday's China Securities News reported. But Dai stressed that such investment should be long-term, responsible and value-oriented, as equity investment could be risky. The Chinese government is likely to establish an investment management company to handle basic operation of the pension fund, according to a report on China's pension management from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released Tuesday. As part of the nation's social security fund, China has a total of 1.5 trillion yuan pension fund managed by local governments as of 2010, which is only allowed to make bank deposits or buy government treasury bonds, according to government regulations. Therefore, the fund's average annual rate of return stood at less than two percent, far less than China's annual inflation rate, Dai said. Chen Liang, an official in charge of social security fund supervision with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS), said Chinese regulators are working on new rules and regulations on pension fund management, which are likely to be issued next year. [...]. ^ top ^

China urges U.S. to correct wrong-doing by stopping CVD on Chinese products (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-22
China's Ministry of Commerce Wednesday called on the U.S. to correct its wrong practice of slapping countervailing duties on Chinese imports when it does not recognize the market economy status of China. A statement on the ministry's website said that the U.S. side has for many years kept launching countervailing probes against Chinese products, which has not only violated the WTO rules, but also lacked legal support of U.S. laws. The statement came after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided Monday that the U.S. CVD law should not apply to "non-market economy" (NME) countries. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

U.S. envoy to DPRK wraps up Asian tour (Xinhua)
2011-12-17
U.S. Special Representative on DPRK policy Glyn Davies says he gained a closer appreciation of the challenges ahead during his 7-day Asian tour. He also expressed gratitude for China's efforts to restore peace on the Korean Pennisula. Davies made the remarks in brief press conference in Beijing on Thursday afternoon before embarking on a journey back to Washington. [...] He said, "U.S. appreciates China's role in reducing tension of the Korean Pennisula, and essential role in six-party talks." [...] In a regular press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin maintained that the resumption of the six-party talks serves the fundamental interests of all parties, and more dialogue will help to create a favorable atmosphere. Liu Weimin, Spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and Special Representative for Korean Pennisula Affaris Wu Dawei have each exchanged opinions with Glyn Davies. China maintains that the Korean Pennisula should be nuclear free, only through dialogue can peace and stability in the Korean Pennisula be safeguarded. China hopes to work with the related parties to create favorable conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks. ". ^ top ^

Pyongyang stricken with grief following Kim Jong Il's death (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
The whole city of Pyongyang sank into deep sorrow on Monday following the announcement of the death of top leader Kim Jong Il of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Xinhua reporters saw a large number of people, including many students, gather in front of a bronze statue of Kim Il Sung in central Pyongyang to mourn the death of Kim Jong Il. In a sorrowful atmosphere, they walked up the steps in a queue to the bronze statue to express grief. Some laid wreaths to the statue. Some burst into tears. Some women even fainted and fell to the ground. Some restaurants and shops were closed, while vehicles and pedestrians in the streets were significantly fewer than usual. National flags were hoisted at half-mast in government institutions and schools. Inside Kim Il Sung University, many teachers and students also laid wreaths to a bronze statue of Kim Il Sung. Some students locked themselves in the dormitories and were heard crying loudly inside. Meanwhile, the DPRK has requested all forthcoming foreign delegations to cancel their trips. Some companies operating here have been asked to send their visitors back in a week. Kim Jong Il, who was general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, died "from a great mental and physical strain at 08:30 (2330 GMT Friday) on Dec. 17, 2011, on a train during a field guidance tour," the official KCNA news agency announced Monday. In a notice carried by the KCNA, the WPK Central Committee and Central Military Commission, the DPRK National Defence Commission, the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the Cabinet said that Kim Jong Il's demise "is the greatest loss to the WPK and the Korean revolution and the bitterest grief to all the Koreans at home and abroad." Earlier in the day, a tearful woman presenter of the DPRK's state TV, dressed in black, announced the death of Kim Jong Il in a choked voice. DPRK TV channels have stopped regular programs to broadcast the news of Kim Jong Il's death, footage of his inspection tours and documentaries about his life. ^ top ^

China expresses "deep condolences" on death of DPRK top leader (Xinhua)
2011-12-20
China on Monday offered its "deep condolences" on the death of Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "We are shocked to learn that DPRK top leader comrade Kim Jong Il passed away and we hereby express our deep condolences on his demise and send sincere regards to the DPRK people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on Kim's death last Saturday. [...] At the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday evening, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Pak Myong Ho, charge d'affaires of DPRK Embassy in Beijing. Yang conveyed messages of condolence from the Central Committee of the Communist Part of China (CPC), the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission to the WPK Central Committee and its Central Military Commission, DPRK National Defence Commission, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and the DPRK Cabinet. Yang said comrade Kim Jong Il was a great party and state leader of the DPRK and had dedicated the whole of his life and rendered immortal service to the DPRK's socialist revolution and construction. The Chinese government and people were deeply saddened by the demise of "close friend" Kim Jong Il, who would be remembered forever by the Chinese people, Yang added. Yang expressed the belief that the DPRK people would definitely remain united as one with the leadership of the WPK and comrade Kim Jong Un, turn their sorrow into strength, achieve new progress in socialist construction, and make new contribution to realizing the sustainable peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK expressed thanks for the condolences from China, saying that the passaway of comrade Kim Jong Il was a huge loss for the WPK and revolution, and the DPRK people would closely unite around the WPK and comrade Kim Jong Un to continuously advance the DPRK's socialist cause, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. ^ top ^

N Korea can stay united - Beijing (SCMP)
2011-12-20
China will do whatever it can to pre-empt political instability in North Korea and retain its influence over its communist ally after the death of the country's leader, Kim Jong-il, analysts say. [...] Unconfirmed reports said President Hu Jintao would attend Kim's funeral, scheduled for December 28 in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. World governments are seeing Kim's death as a possibly destabilising moment for the region as power passes to his youngest son but also an opportunity for a new diplomatic start. Beijing has long sought to convince North Korea of the need for economic reform, and Kim's death raises hopes that Pyongyang might now start to pursue economic changes. South Korea put its military on high alert and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened a National Security Council meeting after the news of Kim's death. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held an emergency national security council meeting. North Korea conducted at least one short-range missile test off its east coast yesterday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. Two South Korean military officials said any firing would be part of a routine drill and have little relation to Kim's death. The top US military officer, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters in Germany the United States and its allies had not seen any change "in North Korean behaviour of a nature that would alarm us." [...] Analysts say Beijing's biggest worry is over North Korea's stability. [...] Beijing is expected to strengthen security along its long border with North Korea, analysts say. An official from the border management office in Dandong, a border town in Liaoning province, said they held an emergency meeting to make some "special arrangements". Beijing, as Pyongyang's only major ally, is also under international pressure to fully use its leverage on North Korea to maintain regional stability in the post-Kim era, analysts say. [...] Currencies, bonds and stocks slipped across Asia yesterday as Kim's death and the accession of his son sparked fears of military conflict and a downturn in investment. ^ top ^

Hu stresses DPRK friendship, offers condolences (China Daily)
2011-12-21
Hu visited the DPRK embassy in Beijing to pay his respects a day after the DPRK announced Kim's death from a heart attack on a train during a field tour on Saturday. Hu spoke highly of Kim's contribution to the development of the DPRK and promised China's continued friendship with Pyongyang under the new leader, Kim Jong-un. "We are confident that the people of the DPRK will carry on the task bequeathed by Comrade Kim Jong-il, and closely unify around the Workers' Party of Korea, and under Comrade Kim Jong-un to turn their sorrow into strength," Hu said. Three other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee - Wu Bangguo, Li Changchun and Xi Jinping - accompanied Hu to the embassy. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Tuesday that China is open for the DPRK's new leader to visit, noting that China maintains high-level exchanges with the DPRK. "We would welcome the DPRK leaders to visit China at their convenience," Liu said. Also on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke by phone with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Republic of Korea (ROK) Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. Yang said safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula serves the common interests of all parties and China is ready to work with them toward that end. Agreeing on the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, both Clinton and Kim Sung-hwan said their countries will maintain close communication and coordination with China, according to Liu. Kim Jong-il's body was lying in state in a memorial palace on Tuesday as weeping mourners filled public plazas. The ROK sent condolences on Tuesday to the DPRK people over the death of Kim. Seoul will not send a government delegation to Pyongyang, but the families of the ROK's late president Kim Dae-jung and of former Hyundai Group chairman Chung Mong-hun, will be allowed to attend the funeral on Dec 28, said Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik. [...] Yu said he hopes the DPRK returns to stability as soon as possible so that the ROK and the DPRK can cooperate for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. The US offered "thoughts and prayers" in the wake of Kim's death. It was ready to help the DPRK people and urged the new leadership to work with the international community to usher in a new era of peace, prosperity and lasting security on the Korean Peninsula, Clinton said in a statement late on Monday. [...]. ^ top ^

Seoul prepares for uncertain future (SCMP)
2011-12-23
Regional diplomacy to shape a post-Kim Jong-il North Korea is intensifying, with Seoul's nuclear envoy starting talks in Beijing today. Lim Sung-nam left Seoul for discussions on North Korea's denuclearization with his Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei, suggesting that both China and South Korea want a smooth transition in Pyongyang. The two had agreed "on the need for stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula," Lim said. China - host of six-nation denuclearisation talks - would "play an important role as the situation develops" Yonhap news agency reported. In Seoul, debate continues over the role of Beijing as Kim Jong-il's youngest son Kim Jong-un takes the helm as "Outstanding Leader" - his latest accolade, having been named "Respected General" in 2011, and elevated to "Great Successor" after his father's death this week. Some South Korean analysts and parliamentarians fear that if China plays a too-active role as Pyongyang's last major ally it will limit the chances for a breakthrough in the transition from Kim senior's militaristic, unpredictable rule. [...] Leading defectors are telling the South Korean government that Kim's death has created a real opportunity for the opening up of the poverty-stricken "Hermit Kingdom". Others, meanwhile, have been slamming South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for the lack of direction in his approach to China as Beijing concentrates on Pyongyang rather than Seoul. While Lee did speak with his US, Russian and Japanese counterparts after Kim's death was announced on Monday, he has not yet spoken to President Hu Jintao. [...] President Lee is attempting to soften his hawkish approach towards the North - a stance intensified after the fatal sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March last year and the shelling of a border island eight months later. [...] In a meeting of the ruling and opposition parties, Lee stressed the importance of showing the new regime in Pyongyang that Seoul was willing to soften its stance and seize any fresh opportunity for change. "The measures we have taken so far basically aimed at showing North Korea that we are not hostile towards the North," he said. "North Korea must not have thought we would come this far. Frontline troops are maintaining low levels of vigilance and I believe an early stabilisation of North Korea's system is in the interests of neighbouring countries.". ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Results of environmental projects announced (News.mn)
2011-12-17
The Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism on Thursday announced the results of environmental projects implemented under phase two of a program called “Reform the Nature and Environment.” The program is being implemented with the assistance of the Dutch government and the World Bank. Representatives of nature, environmental, and tourism organizations from 17 aimags, as well as environmental specialists, lawmakers, and concerned citizens took part in the meeting. “Reform the Nature and Environment” aims to improve nature and the environment through governance, regulations, and education. Phase one of the program was implemented in 2006 with 62 projects completed at a cost of USD 935,420. In phase two, 36 projects were implemented at a cost of USD 291,000 in 2008; 35 projects at USD 281,481 in 2009; 51 projects at USD 281,281 in 2010; and 36 projects at USD 238,049 in 2011. Projects have been implemented in nature protection, recovery, and improvement of environmental standards. Project implementers were from NGOs that specialize in environmental protection, including in local settlements. ^ top ^

Teachers' strike ends (Montsame)
2011-12-19
The president of the Mongolian Trade Unions (MTU) S.Ganbaatar and a head of the Trade Unions of Education and Science J.Batzorig said that the teachers' strike ended on Monday. It became possible thanks to starting the trilateral social agreement, they said at a gathering held on Sunday by the Prime Minister S.Batbold. "I think the agreement has entered a high level because it is considered by the Prime Minister," S.Ganbaatar said. In turn, the Premier said cabinet will tackle soon the salaries of teachers who had been striking. He added that salaries will be augmented in two phases--in February and May, and that the cabinet will submit the issue to parliament in near future. "I has gathered all of you in order to solve the problem in realistic way. Now we ought to cooperate in realizing od the trilateral agreement," the Premier said, hoping this measure would be an important step to bring the state and private sector collaboration into a new level. ^ top ^

About altered law on parliamentary election (Montsame)
2011-12-21
The law on the parliamentary election has been approved and sent to the State Head Ts.Elbegdorj for an acquaintance. Until December 27, he has a right to put a veto on the law, said on Tuesday N.Enkhbold, the Vice Speaker of Parliament and leader of the working group, and J.Sukhbaatar, a head of the Standing committee on state structure. According to the amendment, a candidate who, during the election campaign, attempts to gain electorate's votes will bear a stern responsibility. A candidate is forbidden to give people handouts, cash, presents, to provide them with discounted or free-of-charge services, to organize receptions for voters. If a program of a party or coalition reflects a financial resource in its platform, the cost balance must meet the special requirement reflected in the budget stability law. A political party, coalition or an independent must not promise people money, capitals and any benefits from mineral resources. The election committee is to be comprised of state or administration servants only. The registration of voters is given to the authority of civil registration only. The domestic migration is to be stopped 30 days prior to the voting day. A special law has been approved to carry out the election through automatic systems. Then N.Enkhbold and J.Sukhbaatar answered some questions. As they say, voters will not receive electoral certificates. “Instead of it, the citizens will use their smart ID cards.” For living abroad Mongolians, a proportional voting system will be available only when voting at Mongolia's embassies. Last year, a revised population census counted over 100 thousand Mongolians abroad. They will vote in some 30 countries in accordance with a rule that will be created by the General Election Committee (GEC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs soon. For the time being, two criteria are known--to vote in proportional system and to take part personally. The voting papers from countries will be collected at least 15 days prior to the voting day and will be sent to the GEC so as to count them together with "domestic" papers. As the voting day is a working day, it will be announced as the holiday. ^ top ^

Mongolia's mining sector keeps growing (News.mn)
2011-12-21
The total production output of Mongolia's mining sector increased to MNT 1,890 billion at the end of November 2011. The rise is attributed to big increases in oil, coal, and iron ore production. Compared with the same period a year earlier, coal exploitation increased by 23.8 percent, and oil and gas exploitation went up by 12.1 percent. However, the exploitation of other mineral resources decreased by 10.7 percent. Iron production increased by 12.7 percent in comparison to 2010. ^ top ^

WHO: air pollution kills 1,600 people in Ulaanbaatar annually (News.mn)
2011-12-21
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that says air pollution kills 1,600 people annually in Ulaanbaatar. Ulaanbaatar is consistently ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world. The WHO report looked at air pollution's impact on health in the city since 2008. The research was carried out with the assistance of the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism. The research also found that air pollution causes lung and heart problems in 8,500 people every year. The report says the concentration of dust particles in the air is 35 times the standard recommended by the WHO. The concentration was especially high in ger districts, where residents typically burn garbage. That means poor and vulnerable households are most affected by air pollution. In fact, the report says the incidence of health problems related to air pollution is many times higher in ger districts than in the city center. The report says power plants are responsible for 30 to 40 percent of the air pollution in Ulaanbaatar. Specialists say that is why power plants should take measures to reduce emissions. ^ 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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