SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  26-30.12.11, No. 403  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

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Foreign Policy

Official urges publishing companies to go global (China Daily)
2011-12-24
Senior Chinese leader Li Changchun on Friday called for greater efforts to build up more publishing enterprises competitive in the international market in an aim to promote Chinese culture. Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks when meeting with the publishers of the Library of Chinese Classics and China's publishing companies that have made outstanding achievements in the global market. "The publication of the library has shown the world the excellent achievements of the Chinese culture and the significant contribution the Chinese nation has made to human civilization," Li said. Li urged the publishing industry to make greater contributions to "promoting socialist cultural prosperity and building China into a socialist cultural power." The publishing industry should vigorously develop famed cultural brands and build a bridge of communication and understanding between people inside and outside China, Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, said at the meeting. ^ top ^

Pakistani President meets senior Chinese officals (China Daily)
2011-12-26
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo here on Saturday. During the meeting, Dai Bingguo first conveyed to Zardari the warm greetings and good wishes of Chinese President Hu Jintao. Zardari said that the friendship deeply rooted in the hearts of the Pakistani and Chinese people has grown ever stronger despite the domestic and international changes over the past 60 years. [...] The president said that friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan's external strategy and Pakistan is ready to further provide firm support for China on all issues concerning its core interests and is willing to work together with the Chinese side for promoting the traditional friendship between the two countries, deepening the mutually beneficial and practical cooperation, strengthening the coordination and cooperation on the global and regional issues and bringing the all-round strategic partnership between the two countries to a new height. Dai Bingguo said that the 60th anniversary of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations has made us more reminiscent about the pioneers and pushers of the friendly and cooperative relationship between the two countries [...]. He said that one very important reason for such a good development of the China-Pakistan relations over the last few decades is that both sides have always handled the relations with each other by adhering to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and other norms guiding international relations. The Chinese side feels grateful for the precious support given by the Pakistani side to China over a long time on the issues concerning Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang and will continue, as it has always done so, to firmly support Pakistan for its efforts to uphold the national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said. [...] Dai said that peace, cooperation and development are still the main trends of today's world. [...] Earlier on Saturday morning, Dai also met with Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Wynne and Chief of Army Staff General Kayani and exchanged views over China-Pakistan relations, Afghanistan issue and other international and regional issues of mutual concern. ^ top ^

Noda says China, Japan should share information on N Korea (SCMP)
2011-12-27
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda yesterday called on China to use its influence to stop North Korea making any provocative moves in the region following the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il. As he wrapped up a two-day trip to Beijing, Noda also expressed hope for the maintenance of peace in the disputed East China Sea. The talks between Noda and President Hu Jintao were originally intended to focus on bilateral issues, but Kim's death on December 17 and the anointing of his son, Kim Jong-un, as North Korea's "supreme leader" dominated Noda's first official trip to Beijing since taking office in September. [...] Japanese officials said Tokyo would like to share "any kind of information" about developments in North Korea, where the succession of Kim's youngest son, Jong-un, has fanned speculation about who will really control the country and its nuclear weapons programme. [...] Noda also urged Beijing to help in resuming the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's denuclearisation. "Strengthening relations between the two countries is indispensable to solve regional and global issues," he said at the start of the talks. For his part, Hu described Noda's visit as significant, with the two countries preparing for the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties. He said maintaining peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula was in the interests of all parties and a universal aspiration of the international community. China, he said, was ready to make joint efforts with all relevant parties, including Japan, to maintain stability in the peninsula, and to achieve lasting peace, security and order there. The two leaders also discussed the East China Sea, with Noda stressing that it should be a sea of "peace, co-operation and friendship". [...] The two countries signed agreements in various fields, including energy saving and hi-tech development, after Noda's talks with Wen, who stressed the two countries should be "good neighbours and partners rather than opponents". Wen also expressed willingness to lease giant pandas to a zoo in tsunami-hit Sendai, said Tsuyoshi Saito, Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary. [...] The neighbours also unveiled initiatives to tighten financial links, including encouraging the use of their own currencies in bilateral trade, supporting the sale of bonds denominated in yuan by Japan, and the purchase of Chinese government bonds. [...]. ^ top ^

China, ROK vow to make joint efforts to maintain peace on Korean Peninsula (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-28
China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) agreed that all parties concerned should work together to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press briefing by addressing Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun's attendance at the fourth high-level strategic dialogue between China and the ROK in Seoul on Tuesday. Zhang and ROK First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Park Suk-hwan hosted the dialogue together, Hong said. On the same day, Zhang also met with ROK Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik, respectively. They reviewed the development history of China-ROK relations, and mostly spoke about celebratory activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year, Hong said. They also exchanged views on the development direction of the two countries' relations, Hong said. "They all agreed to work together to push forward friendly cooperation in all areas, in order to bring benefits to both countries and their people." [...] Hong said it has been a regular dialogue since the two countries started it in 2008, and it is held by both sides on a rotating basis. [...]. ^ top ^

China's eyes in the sky 'go public' (SCMP)
2011-12-28
China opened its home-grown satellite navigation system to civilian use yesterday, presenting the United States with a challenge to its global dominance in the field. Though still incomplete, the Beidou system had already proven its worth in boosting China's military, technological and economic muscle, the central government said. China Satellite Navigation Management Office director Ran Chengqi released Beidou's interface communication document (icd) at a press conference in Beijing yesterday. Access to the codebook had long been limited to the People's Liberation Army and some companies with government backgrounds [...]. Ran said that with just 10 satellites in operation, only China and neighbouring countries could use the service at present. But the entire Asia-Pacific region will receive Beidou's signal with the launch of six more satellites by the end of next year. "In 2020, we will go global," he said, with a 37-satellite constellation to rival America's GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's planned Galileo system. Ran said an independent satellite navigation system was important to China's national security. Without it, the nation could not call itself a big and powerful country. Opening the system to the civilian sector would also benefit the economy, he said. [...]. ^ top ^

Afghanistan, China sign agreement on oil extraction (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
The Afghan government and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) inked an agreement here Wednesday after the China's state-owned firm won the country's first oilfield bidding. "According to agreement signed with the CNPC today, the ( Chinese company) is to explore and extract the Amu Darya River Basin oil deposits or Amu Darya River Oil Zone in the northern Afghanistan and will start producing oil in the next two years," Afghan Minister for Mines Waheedullah Shahrani told newsman before clinching the agreement. Shahrani and Lu Gongxun, the general director of CNPC, inked the agreement on behalf of the two sides here in government media and information center in Kabul. "I am very glad to attend this ceremony for the energy cooperation between CNPC and Afghanistan's ministry of mining which is the symbol of bilateral energy cooperation," Lu said in the event. According to the agreement, the CNPC will launched a joint project with local partner the Watan Group. Under the contract, the CNPC agreed to pay a 15 percent royalty in oil itself, a 20 percent corporate tax and Afghanistan would have a share of 70 percent in the profit proceeds. ^ top ^

China values defense exchanges with Japan: defense ministry (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
China has always valued defense relations with Japan and is willing to conduct multi-level defense exchanges with the country, a Defense Ministry spokesman said here on Wednesday. Spokesman Yang Yujun made the remarks at a press briefing in response to a question on a Japanese destroyer's port call in China. According to the annual plan of China-Japan defense exchanges, the Kirisame, a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force(MSDF) destroyer, made a port call in Qingdao, Shandong province, from Dec. 19 to 23, Yang said. During the port call, the ship's commander Fumiyuki Kitagawa went to Beijing to meet the Deputy Commander of the Chinese Navy Xu Hongmeng, Yang said. A welcoming ceremony for the Japanese vessel was held in Qingdao, while the Chinese naval staff paid a visit to the destroyer, Yang said. Naval staffers from both sides participated in friendship events such as a tug-of-war competition and a joint concert of Japanese and Chinese naval bands, he said, noting that they also conducted a joint communications drill. Kirisame's port call in China is of positive significance for increasing mutual understanding and trust and promoting bilateral defense exchanges, Yang said. Mutual port calls were agreed upon by the two countries' defense ministers in August 2007. [...] Regarding a question on Japan's decision to ease its ban on arms exports, Yang said he hopes the Japanese side will do more to contribute to regional peace and stability. ^ top ^

Detained Chinese fishing boat released (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
The detained captain and sailors of a Chinese fishing boat, the 132-ton Minxiayu 05128, were released Wednesday afternoon and sailed directly back to China from Yokohama, sources from the Chinese embassy in Japan said. The boat was detained on Dec. 21 by the Japan Coast Guard near the Ogasawara island chain for fishing in Japan's territorial waters. The captain named Lin Zongyong was fined 300,000 yen. ^ top ^

Chinese defense department, army continue to conduct foreign exchanges in 2012 (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
The Chinese defense department and army will actively carry out exchanges and communication with foreign countries next year, Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said here Wednesday. This year's military exchanges and cooperation with foreign countries were conducted in a comprehensive, multi-faceted and multi-level way, and positively contributed to China's diplomacy and the modernization of its armed forces, Yang said at a press conference. He said China's military diplomacy enjoys an active, pragmatic and efficient momentum and sees frequent high-level contacts with foreign countries. According to Yang, China in 2011 received more than 50 major foreign military delegations. China also held defense consultations and security talks with eleven countries this year, including Russia, Pakistan, Turkey, Germany, the United States and India. In 2011, China's armed forces conducted eight joint drills or training with the army from countries such as Indonesia, Belarus and Venezuela, and carried out emergency rescue and relief work in seven countries, including Japan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Thailand, he said. Yang said this year the Chinese army actively took part in dialogue within multi-lateral frameworks, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization The Chinese army also participated in a UN peacekeeping operation, escort mission in the Gulf of Aden, and sent a naval hospital ship for a four-country Latin American visit, he added. ^ top ^

China rolls out 5-year space plan (Global Times)
2011-12-30
China outlined its space mission for the five years ahead yesterday, including the launch of manned spaceships, new-generation rockets and the use of cleaner fuel, all of which will help the country realize its goal of building a space station by 2020. "The government has made the space industry an important part of the nation's overall development strategy and adhered to the exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes," said the white paper released by the State Council Information Office. China will build a space infrastructure framework composed of satellites for observation, communication, broadcasting, navigation and positioning. The country will launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft for either unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the Tiangong-1 vehicle that is currently in orbit, the paper said, without specifying a timetable. [...] The white paper also said the first flight of the Long March-5, Long March-6 and Long March-7 rockets are expected within five years. Long March-5 will use non-toxic and pollution-free propellant, and will be capable of placing 25-ton payloads into near-Earth orbit, or placing 14-ton payloads into geostationary orbit. Long March-6 will be a new type of high-speed response launch vehicle, which will be capable of placing not less than 1 ton of payload into a sun-synchronous orbit at a height of 700 kilometers. Long March-7 will be capable of placing 5.5-ton payloads into orbit at the same altitude. Morris Jones, an independent space expert based in Sydney, told AFP the announcement was significant. "It's impressive that China has reached that stage with this next round of heavy-lift vehicles, so crucial to reaching their goal of building a space station by 2020," Jones said. [...] Meanwhile, the white paper emphasized cooperation with other countries in space exploration. Zhang Wei, a spokesman for the China National Space Administration, said at a press conference yesterday that China has signed 66 international space cooperation agreements with 22 states and regions. [...] For deep-space exploration, China will launch orbiters for lunar soft landings, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration in the next five years. It will also push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the Sun. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

China calls for more cultural activities during holidays (China Daily)
2011-12-24
Authorities on Friday called for more cultural programs and activities during the upcoming new year and the Spring Festival, or the Chinese lunar New Year. The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, jointly released a circular on Friday, calling for enriching the cultural lives of its citizens. The circular said that the publicity departments at different levels should organize cultural and arts institutions to go to rural areas, urban communities, factories, border areas and military camps to deliver performances and cultural experiences during the festivals. [...] Radio stations, TV channels and evening parties should provide their audiences with first-class programs reflecting the core values of China's cultural tradition, said the circular. The circular called for free admission to public cultural institutions, including cultural centers, museums, libraries, and galleries. It also called for enhanced regulations to stifle vulgar, pornographic, and superstitious programs and activities. ^ top ^

Zhou Yongkang urges improving work in law organs (China Daily)
2011-12-26
A senior Chinese official has urged to improve work in the country's judicial administrative departments. Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting honoring excellent individuals and collectives in the judicial administrative sector in the past five years. Zhou commended the contributions that the judicial administrative departments have made to social stability, the building of socialist legal system, and the development of the society and economy, asking those being honored to make persistent efforts to serve the people. Zhou urged the judicial administrative organs at all levels to make new progress in serving the development by enhancing law awareness and providing high quality legal services. He also called for building grassroots mediation organizations that people can rely on, in order to resolve disputes in the grassroots and nip them in the bud. Labor education and rehabilitation in jails, as well as the community rehabilitation programs that can help law offenders successfully return and reintegrate into society, should be further improved, Zhou said, adding that it will also help enhance the social harmony by preventing repeated crimes. ^ top ^

Chinese legislature begins bimonthly session (Xinhua)
2011-12-27
China's top legislature on Monday began its bimonthly session to deliberate an expository bill of the Macao Basic Law and other draft laws and amendments. The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will review the expository bill of two stipulations of the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) regarding the method for the selection of the SAR's Chief Executive and the method for the formation of the SAR's Legislative Council. During the session which is scheduled to run from Dec. 26 to 31, legislators will also deliberate a draft amendment to the Budget Law and two draft laws, including one on the management of the exit and entry of personnel and another on insurance for servicemen. On the agenda, a Sino-Russia accord on cooperation for fighting terrorism, separatism and extremism, and two China-Italy treaties regarding extradition and mutual judicial assistance will also be discussed. The NPC Standing Committee session will continue deliberations of the draft amendments to the Criminal Procedural Law and the Law on Occupational Illness Prevention and Control. Lawmakers will also review a draft decision on when to hold NPC sessions in 2012 as well as a report on the qualification of certain NPC delegates, and they will discuss cases of appointments and dismissals. ^ top ^

Dissident jailed 10 years for subversion (SCMP)
2011-12-27
A veteran dissident who organised a pro-democracy activist network has been jailed for 10 years for inciting subversion, the second heavy punishment for a dissident in recent days. [...] Chen Xi's sentence yesterday came three days after Chen Wei, a dissident in the southwestern city of Suining, was sentenced to nine years for the same offence. A court in the southern city of Guiyang found Chen Xi guilty of "incitement to subvert state power" for 36 essays he wrote and posted online, his wife said by phone. He maintained his innocence but would not appeal, Zhang Qunxuan, said. "This is utterly absurd," Zhang said. "Chen Xi told the court it did not take into consideration the things he has written as a whole, and has interpreted his words out of context. But they have power and don't listen. The court said he was a repeat offender and that this is a very serious crime." Chen was active in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, for which he was jailed for three years. Several years after that he was jailed for a further 10 years on charges of counter-revolutionary offences. Beijing has long meted out heavy punishments to activists who have refused to give up despite decades of harassment and imprisonment. [...] In Chen Xi's case, the subversion charge is also likely aimed at punishing him for his work with the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, a network promoting democracy in the south. ^ top ^

High-speed test train capable of reaching 500km/h (SCMP)
2011-12-27
An experimental train capable of travelling at 500km/h was unveiled in Qingdao at the weekend despite widespread concern over the safety of the nation's existing high-speed rail network. Qingdao Sifang Locomotive and Rolling Stock, a subsidiary of train manufacturing giant China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock (CSR), revealed the six-car train on Sunday, calling it a breakthrough in the mainland's development of high-speed trains, Xinhua reported. CSR president Zhao Xiaogang said earlier the train, with a lead car featuring an elongated, Concorde-style nose, was made for tests running at 500km/h but would not be put into commercial operation, the company's website said. The report said the Ministry of Railways planned to take the train up to 600km/h in future tests. [...] The launch of Qingdao Sifang's experimental train would "give our country more say in the international community in the area of high-speed railways", Xinhua said. It was part of a national plan to study the mechanical behaviour of trains running at 500km/h, it said. [...] Wang Mengshu, a key drafter of the nation's high-speed rail development plan, said the train had no practical application for the time being. [...] Even if technology did mature, it was not necessary to have such fast trains. "When you need to take a plane, take a plane. Trains can't replace planes," Wang said. ^ top ^

With incense, noodles and song, Chinese mark Mao's birth (Xinhua)
2011-12-27
Tens of thousands of Chinese flocked to Shaoshan and Tiananmen Square, two major shrines for Mao Zedong, as well as other public venues on Monday, burning incense, eating noodles and singing "red songs" to mark the late leader's 118th birthday. [...] In front of the mausoleum's south gate, about 20 people, who wore red-star caps and pinned Mao badges, faced the shrine and sang "The East Is Red," which extols the deeds of Chairman Mao and was a well known anthem for every city and village's public address system during Mao's reign. After bowing three times, the group punched their fists in the air while hailing "Long Live Chairman Mao." "Chairman Mao is our great savior. Chairman Mao genuinely loved the underprivileged and hard-working people," said a tearful Nie Yeping, a 57-year-old woman from the southwestern city of Chongqing. Nie said she visits here twice a year -- on Mao's birthday and day of death. The fervent Mao devotees were only a tiny proportion of those who paid tribute to Mao on the day. In the memorial hall, dozens of bouquets were placed under the statue of Mao, and the flowers came from people across the country, according to administrators. [...] Memorial activities were also held in another shrine of Mao, a peasant house in Shaoshan, a small hamlet nestled in the pine-dotted hillside of Hunan Province, where Mao was born. [...]. ^ top ^

Dairy giant's milk tests positive for cancer toxin (SCMP)
2011-12-27
Excessive levels of a cancer-causing toxin were found in milk produced in Sichuan in October by dairy giant Mengniu, the mainland's product quality watchdog said at the weekend. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced on Saturday that pure milk produced by a Mengniu subsidiary in Meishan on October 18 contained as much as 1.4 times the national standard for aflatoxin M1. Milk produced by another firm, Changfu in Fujian, also had excessive levels of the toxin in the same inspection round. Aflatoxin, classified as carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organisation because of its ability to damage the liver, thrives in warm and wet environments and cannot be killed by pasteurization [...]. Mengniu spokesman Lu Jianjun said the batch was caught at the factory before reaching the market and was destroyed. Lu said the company traced the problem to dairy farms that improperly stored feed in damp weather. He said all the products on the market were safe because of the company's strict quality inspection procedures. But he did not say how the problematic raw milk, which normally goes through similar tests before being processed, was not stopped by internal checks. Mengniu published two statements on Sunday to apologise to customers and assure them that its products were safe. "Mengniu would like to express our sincere apologies to consumers," it said. "We will learn a big lesson from this incident and will work harder to meet all national and corporate standards on quality." [...]. ^ top ^

Officials asked to help needy people (China Daily)
2011-12-28
Governments at all levels in China have been asked to help needy people while maintaining market order and social security ahead of New Year's Day and the Spring Festival. Governments should distribute allowances promptly to low-income families, orphans, and the elderly who lack family support, said a statement issued Tuesday from the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, or Cabinet. Authorities should enhance supervision targeting employers who default on payments to migrant workers from rural areas, the statement said. Ahead of the festivals, officials are encouraged to visit poverty-stricken areas and regions hit by disasters to help solve problems there. Efforts should be made to stabilize consumer prices, especially those of necessities, by ensuring supply and fighting price manipulation, the statement said. The government must ensure a stable supply of tap water, power, petroleum, natural gas and heating, it said. The statement also asked local governments to step up the inspection of fire-safety measures and work place safety in the transportation and coal mining sectors, as well as fireworks factories. Police will tighten checks and punishments on violations of traffic rules, especially drunk driving, fatigued driving, speeding and overloading, the statement said. Police will also crack down on robberies, phone fraud and illegal fund-raising in order to maintain security ahead of the festivals, it said. Next year's Spring Festival, China's most important traditional festival, falls on January 23. Officials of all levels were also warned against spending public money on extravagant celebrations and private purposes. ^ top ^

We won't fall like USSR, Beijing vows (SCMP)
2011-12-28
Beijing marked the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union's collapse by pledging that China would adhere to its stability-based growth model despite mounting challenges to the legitimacy of one-party rule. The Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily ran a lengthy article on Monday - one day after the 20th anniversary of the resignation of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev - attributing China's economic success to the party's ability to carry out reform and opening up while striking a delicate balance between change and stability. Xinhua also ran at least three similar articles. A lack of such a balance was the key lesson in the demise of the Soviet Union, the People's Daily article said. [...] The article started with an analysis of predictions since the fall of communism in the former Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, including those saying China would collapse after its admission to the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and others warning that the Chinese economic bubble was about to burst. "Their ultimate purpose concerns China's socialist system, and such petty manoeuvres designed to obstruct China's growth and contain the country's rise have never ceased," it said. "China's successful development has proved that [Francis Fukuyama's] theory of "the end of history" was just an illusion created by the West." The article said the ability to bring about and embrace real changes had set apart the governments in Beijing and in Moscow. [...] It also lashed out at violent unrest that swept through the Arab world, saying that violence wasted a historic opportunity of peaceful transformation. The article bluntly pointed the finger at the Western powers, blaming their meddling for the prolonged political upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. "Development issues cannot be solved through violent revolutions," it said. [...]. ^ top ^

Farmers' rights must be protected: Wen (Global Times)
2011-12-28
China should strive to promote agricultural modernization and protect farmers' rights to boost the development of rural areas, said Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesdayat the annual central conference on rural work held in Beijing. As China is a country with a large population, agricultural modernization is as important as urbanization and industrialization, Wen said. The premier noted that more efforts are needed to protect farmers' rights in the areas of land ownership, income distribution, employment, social security and public services. Moreover, farmers enjoy the legal rights of land contracts, land use and collective income distribution as basic protections, no matter if they have moved into the cities or stayed in the countryside, he said. "No one is empowered to deprive such rights," he said. Local officials should respect farmers' wills and seek their understanding. Decisions should be made "more realistically" and reflect the wishes of the majority as well as those from the minority, according to Wen. "We can no longer sacrifice farmers' land property rights to reduce costs of urbanization and industrialization," he said. Wen's remarks came after illegal land grabs and other regulatory issues caused more disputes in China. A dispute over land use, financing and elections in Wukan village in Guangdong Province led to protests by villagers' against local authorities since September. Despite frequent natural disasters this year, China's grain output showed an eighth consecutive year of growth, totaling 571.21 million tons in 2011, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier, the People's Daily reported. However, the country's agricultural research priorities have been questioned. According to a Greenpeace report released yesterday, the government has invested 21 billion yuan ($3.33 billion) into genetically-modified (GM) crop technology since 1986, about 30 times as much as it invested in eco-agriculture. [...]. ^ top ^

Plan to boost services for elderly (China Daily)
2011-12-28
Chinese government issued a five-year plan Tuesday to boost social services for the elderly under the mounting pressure of an aging population of 178 million. By 2015, the country expects to provide 30 beds in nursing homes and community care centers for every 1,000 elderly people, according to the plan announced by the State Council on its website. The country now has a total of 178 million people over 60, accounting for 13.26 percent of the total population. It has become the only country in the world with an elderly population of more than 100 million, and the figure will increase by 3 percent annually, a State Council statement said. The elderly population is estimated to reach 221 million in 2015 and 243 million in 2020, the statement said. The country's social services have lagged behind the needs of the elderly, said Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs. In 2010, the number of beds in nursing homes and community care centers for the aged totaled 3.2 million across China, or 18 beds for every 1,000. [...] To meet the target in 2015 set by the plan, the country plans to add 3.4 million beds and renovate 30 percent of the current facilities, he said. [...] In next five years, at least 50 percent of revenue from the state welfare lottery program will be spent on social services for the elderly, Li said. The government will encourage enterprises and non-governmental organizations to invest in social service facilities for the elderly, he said. The government will provide preferential policies of land use and credit to attract more investment in the sector, according to the plan. [...]. ^ top ^

Deal ends 3-day strike at Korean plant in Nanjing (SCMP)
2011-12-29
Production resumed at a South Korean electronics factory in Nanjing late yesterday afternoon after management reached a deal with workers who had been on strike for three days over year-end bonuses. [...] China Labour Watch and online postings said about 8,000 workers downed tools at the plant on Monday following rumours that Korean staff were being given bonuses equal to 6-1/2 months' pay, while local staff were to receive just one extra month's salary. Factory management said operations resumed at 4pm yesterday after the company agreed to double the bonus for Chinese staff. The strike is the latest in a series of labour disputes to hit factories on the mainland over the past two months, starting with plants in Guangdong and spreading to the Yangtze River Delta. The heavy police presence in Nanjing yesterday is a reflection of the authorities' intense nervousness about social tensions and public unrest in the face of a bleak outlook for the global economy. Industry figures privately warn that the mainland's credit shortage is likely to lead to more disputes in the immediate future. [...] Videos posted online which appeared to have been shot at the scene earlier this week showed huge crowds of workers massed outside the building and in the entrance hallway, many of them taking photos with their mobile phones. In one, workers called the official labour union "useless" - a common complaint on the mainland due to unions' government-affiliated status and a perceived tendency to side with bosses rather than the workforce. [...] However, management said only "a small proportion" of the more than 10,000-strong workforce had taken part in the strike, which it said was due to "misunderstandings". [...] The company also rejected claims that staff members' Lunar New Year payments were based on their nationality. [...]. ^ top ^

Poor oversight and design caused wreck, report says (SCMP)
2011-12-29
Design flaws and chaotic management were to blame for July's deadly high-speed train collision in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, the long-awaited report on the investigation into the crash said yesterday, while withholding crucial technical details. The overdue report presented to the State Council said the accident was caused by serious design flaws in control equipment and an improper response to lightning that melted a fuse relating to signalling. [...] The conclusions, by an investigative team commissioned by the council, are largely in line with initial findings following the tragedy [...]. The Ministry of Railways mishandled the rescue and failed to address public concerns after the disaster. The report laid particular blame on former railways minister Liu Zhijun, though he was dismissed months before the crash owing to allegations of corruption. [...] Zhang Shuguang, the ministry's former chief engineer, who was sacked along with Liu, was blamed for approving the use of the train control system without proper testing and evaluation. They will face criminal charges over the crash and the earlier graft allegations. A third person the report focused on was Ma Cheng, president of China Railway [...] Signal and Communication Corporation, who died not long after the accident. The report listed 54 officials in total who would receive administrative punishments, ranging from internal warnings to removal from their posts. [...] Railways Minister Sheng Guangzu would have to present a "thorough self-criticism" to the State Council. The lightning strike melted a fuse in the traffic control system at Wenzhou South Station. The system's software picked up the malfunction but failed to "process" it, which turned a red light to green, the report said, without explaining why the software behaved strangely. [...] A top engineer employed by a German company that specialises in train signalling equipment said Beijing should release the technical details if it wanted to sell Chinese high-speed trains to other countries. [...]. ^ top ^

Safety in transport priority (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang said Wednesday that the nation's transport sector must always put safety a priority in order to prevent major traffic accidents from happening next year. "All related units must be sure that safety measures are in place and safety checks are enhanced to clear hazards," Zhang said while inspecting the Ministry of Transport. Zhang's words came after a string of school bus accidents have caused great public concern and frustration over traffic safety. The government is soliciting public opinion on the draft of safety standards for school buses. Also on Wednesday, the State Council, the cabinet, announced the final report on investigations into a high-speed train crash in July near the city of Wenzhou. [...]. ^ top ^

All 8,043 suggestions made at China's top legislature receive feedback (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
The 8,043 suggestions Chinese legislators made at the annual session of the nation's top legislature in March have received feedback, a report said Wednesday. These suggestions have been given to 177 government departments and public institutions, said He Yehui, vice secretary general of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), whose bimonthly session is running from Dec. 26 to 31. These departments and institutions have solved or are planning to deal with 77.2 percent of all these suggestions, and have achieved positive effects in boosting development and improving people's livelihoods, He said in a report to the session attended by 134 NPC Standing Committee members, which included Chairman Wu Bangguo. In addition, the NPC committees discussed 566 motions raised by legislators at the annual session in March. [...]. ^ top ^

China seizes 46 mln copies of illegal publications in first 11 months (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
Chinese law enforcement officials confiscated more than 46 million pieces of pirated, pornographic and illegal publications in the first 11 months of this year, according to the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publication. The latest figures revealed by the office showed that in a major move to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), authorities seized over 39 million copies of publications for IPR infringement between January and November this year. [...] During the same period, authorities investigated a total of 9,463 cases of IPR infringement. [...] Meanwhile, in a crackdown on illegal newspapers and magazines, media organizations and fake reporters, China investigated 275 related cases and confiscated more than 4 million copies of illegally-published newspapers and magazines during the same period. ^ top ^

China busts counterfeit drug racket (China Daily)
2011-12-30
Chinese authorities broke up more than 1,800 dens that made or sold counterfeit drugs in cases that involved 3.35 billion yuan ($530 million) in a two-year crackdown, according to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). During the campaign, 13 government departments mobilized more than one million law enforcement workers to combat the sale of fake drugs via online advertising or consignment, seizing more than 5,000 kinds of illegal products, said SFDA deputy head Bian Zhenjia Thursday at a meeting. According to Bian, the action also targeted malpractice during the manufacturing process as well as selling non-pharmaceutical products as drugs. In the operation, authorities conducted more than 28,000 on-site inspections in medicine production factories and halted the production of 98 varieties of drugs, Bian said. However, Bian noted that problems still exist, including rampant illegal drug advertising and online sales of fake drugs, improper manufacturing practices and outdated laws and regulations concerning drug safety. Bian said the SFDA will continue to cooperate with other government departments and step up supervision and crackdowns on the online sale of fake drugs. ^ top ^

Rules to manage radioactive waste (China Daily)
2011-12-30
Premier Wen Jiabao has signed a decree of the State Council, releasing a regulation aimed at strengthening safety management of radioactive waste, protecting the environment and safeguarding human health. Units engaged in operating nuclear facilities should hand over obsolete radioactive sources that cannot be recycled to licensed organizations for storage or disposal, according to the regulation, which was released Thursday by Xinhua. A safety buffer zone should be kept between facilities disposing radioactive solid waste and residential areas, water-supply sources, transportation arteries, and factories and enterprises, the rules state. Also, the sites of the facilities should be thoroughly evaluated in terms of their geological structure, hydrogeological conditions, as well as socio-economic conditions before construction. In addition, the regulation requires that units operating nuclear facilities or using nuclear technologies and those preserving or disposing radioactive solid waste should establish and improve their security systems in accordance with the potential harm of the waste, and conduct emergency drills against radioactive waste contamination. Any unit and individual is entitled to report violations of the regulation to government environmental protection departments above the county level or other relevant departments, according to the rules. The regulation takes effect March 1, 2012. ^ top ^

Social safety net widened (China Daily)
2011-12-30
China took more steps this year to build up its social security net to benefit more people in rural and urban areas while creating more than 12 million new jobs in non-farming sectors, Yin Weimin, minister of human resources and social security, said on Thursday. With the addition of those new jobs in cities and towns, China was able to keep its registered urban unemployment rate below the government's full-year target of 4.6 percent this year, Yin said at a national conference on human resources and social security. [...] The State Council this year adopted a string of measures, including offering tax breaks, subsidizing vocational training and offering small loan guarantees, to help 5.2 million laid-off workers get back to work. The government also boosted support to university graduates, who make up a large portion of the new labor force each year. Aside from the improved employment sector, the country's pension insurance system was extended to cover 300 million people in rural and urban areas by the end of this year, with about 85 million senior citizens claiming their pensions every month, Yin said. China's social security funds that insure pension, medicare, unemployment benefits, work-related injury compensation and maternity pay collected 2.35 trillion yuan ($372 billion) in revenues this year, up 24.7 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, spending by social security funds will rise 21.5 percent from a year ago to 1.8 trillion yuan this year, according to ministry data. Thanks to the extension of the social security net, 468 million urban residents now enjoy medicare insurance, with 280 million residents receiving a pension, 142 million getting unemployment benefits, 174 million work-related injury compensation and 138 million maternity pay, according to the ministry. [...] Across the country, 24 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities raised their minimum wage standards by an average of 22 percent year-on-year in 2011, Yin said. The minister also said an Internet-based employment training system for retired commissioned officers had been put in place across the country. [...]. ^ top ^

25% of China heritage sites poorly preserved (China Daily)
2011-12-30
More than 25 percent of heritage sites in China are in "poor" and "relatively poor" condition, a five-year census on the country's fixed cultural heritage has found. About 17.77 percent of the country's cultural relics are in relatively poor preserved condition and 8.43 percent are preserved in poor condition, Shan Jixiang, director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, said Thursday, citing census results. The census, the third and the largest since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, saw the registration of 766,722 fixed cultural relics, including those located underground and underwater. A total of 536,001 were newly registered. "(These results) have raised higher requirements for our country's cultural relics management, protection, scientific research and utilization," Shan said. Shan added that related laws and regulations should be improved and public awareness should be boosted, while increasing protection investments as well as strengthening the preservation abilities of cultural heritage institutes. The census, which cost 1.5 billion yuan ($237 million) and involved about 50,000 workers, recorded basic information of all fixed ancient sites. ^ top ^

Chinese leaders watch Peking Opera for New Year (China Daily)
2011-12-30
President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders watched on Thursday Peking Opera at the National Center for the Performing Arts in a gala to celebrate the New Year. Top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, top political advisor Jia Qinglin, and other leaders including Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang also watched the performance, together with nearly 1,000 audience. The programs include excerpts from classical Peking Opera "The Fourth Son Visits His Mother" and a series of other traditional works. The 200-year-old Peking Opera, which combines instrumental music, vocal performances, mime, dance and acrobatics, was regarded as a cultural treasure of China. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has listed Peking Opera as an intangible cultural heritage. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

China / Society Police to use microblog for online patrols (China Daily)
2011-12-29
The Beijing police will open a real-name microblog in a bid to prevent online rumors and hazardous information from spreading, a statement from with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said Wednesday. The statement said the Beijing police have set up a "new online law enforcement system," and the real-name microblog "capital cyberpolice" will take charge of online patrolling. This account represents the online security guard team of the Beijing municipal public security bureau, and its mission is to patrol the virtual society of the Internet and prevent harmful information from spreading, according to the statement. If the cyberpolice find harmful information being spread online, they will issue warnings to those who spread the information and handle the cases according to law, the statement said. In 2011, Beijing police cracked 2,600 Internet-related criminal cases, including Internet fraud and gambling, involving more than 2,600 suspects. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai to require real-name tweeting registration (Xinhua)
2011-12-26
Shanghai is going to require real-name tweeting registration on Monday, following similar moves adopted by other big cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou, municipal authorities said Sunday. The new rules currently apply to new users, including private and corporate users, who are required to submit their real identities upon registration, the municipal authorities said, adding that the rules are expected soon to cover all valid users. While identities are processed by web administrators for necessary verification, users are still free to pick either their real or screen names on webpages. The new rules are made, "in line with Chinese laws and regulations," to "foster a healthy Internet culture" and "better manage social networking websites and instant-messaging tools," the municipal authorities said. [...] According to statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center earlier this year, China had 63 million tweeting users at the end of 2010, accounting for 13.8 percent of 457 million Internet users. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

2010 illegal land grabs down 21 pct in China's Guangdong (Xinhua)
2011-12-25
About 4,100 hectares (62,000 mu) of land in South China's Guangdong Province was illegally seized in 2010, down 21 percent year on year, the provincial government said Saturday. Of all, the illegal land grabs involved 600 hectares of farmland, down 55.5 percent from a year ago, the government said in a statement on its official website. Despite the progress, there were still problems, it said. For example, some local governments seized land for key railway and road projects before getting approval from higher authorities, according to the statement. Also some cities were targeted by the Ministry of Land and Resources and the Ministry of Supervision in their crackdown on big land grabs, it added. Illegal land grabs often are the roots of mass incidents, or protests, in China. [...]. ^ top ^

New Shenzhen trains off to a speedy start (SCMP)
2011-12-27
The first high-speed trains between Shenzhen and Guangzhou began operating yesterday, completing the 102 kilometre journey in just 35 minutes. The line, part of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail link, was originally scheduled to open in August but was delayed after a high-speed train ran into another in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, in July, killing 40 people. The HK$60 billion Hong Kong-Shenzhen section of the link is scheduled to open in 2015. The first train heading north, carrying Railways Minister Sheng Guangzu and top Guangdong officials, left Shenzhen North railway station at 10.40am yesterday and arrived at Guangzhou South in 28 minutes. During the non-stop journey, the eight-carriage G6126 unit hit a top speed of 310km/h. [...] The high-speed rail link is a key part of Guangdong's plan to improve rail travel in the Pearl River Delta. In the next five years, it is committed to ensuring that no trip between any two cities will take more than an hour, with the railway network eventually connecting nine delta cities. [...]. ^ top ^

New village election for Wukan (Global Times)
2011-12-30
The Guangdong provincial investigation group announced Wednesday that the previous village committee election in Wukan, the village that kept out police during a tense standoff earlier this month, was invalid and ordered a new election to be held soon, Guangzhou Daily reported Thursday. The investigation, underway since December 20, revealed that the committee leaders elected in February in Wukan were voted for by 50 representatives including the former village head, in violation of laws stating that candidates should be voted for by all villagers, investigation group leader Wang Yemin said at a press conference in Wukan. The election also broke other local laws, including a law requiring public notices to display election progress. The Communist Party of China (CPC) committee of Donghai Town announced it would establish a branch in Wukan to temporarily took over the village work. Under branch supervision, a new village committee will be elected in accordance with the law, it said. The group will appoint members to guide the election and a team organized by the authorities, migrant workers from Wukan and villagers' representatives will supervise the election, the newspaper reported. [....] "The announcement sounds very active, which shows the government's determination to ensure grass-roots level democracy," Yang Semao, a Wukan village representative, was quoted as saying by Guangdong TV. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

China's Tibet reports double-digit GDP growth for 19th year (People0s Daily Online)
2011-12-27
Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region reported double-digit gross domestic product growth for the 19th consecutive year in 2011, the regional government chairman said Monday. Tibet's GDP is estimated to expand by 12.6 percent year-on-year to 60.5 billion yuan (9.6 billion U.S. dollars) this year, Padma Choling told the annual regional economic work conference. The per capita disposal income for urban population rose at an estimated annual pace of 7.8 percent. Meanwhile, the per capita net earning for farmers and herdsmen climbed 13.6 percent year-on-year, the ninth year for double-digit growth, said Padma Choling. Local authorities continued to build roads and bring water, electricity, gas, telecommunications, radio and television, and postal service to remote regions this year, he said. The local government helped 223,000 farmers and herdsmen gain access to clean drinking water and 89,000 get access to electricity, the top regional official said. ^ top ^

A holy place, a freeland of religion (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-27
All Tibet's ethnic groups enjoy complete freedom of religious belief and the unique traditions of these groups are respected and protected. All religions and all religious sects are equal in Tibet. The Living Buddha reincarnation or Tulku system, unique to Tibetan Buddhism, is fully respected. People are free to learn and debate Buddhist doctrines, to be ordained as monks and practice Buddhist rites. Academic degrees in Buddhism are also granted. The Central Government has listed several religious sites as cultural relics subject to state or autonomous regional protection, including the Potala Palace and Jokhang, Tashilhunpo, Drepung, Sera and Sakya monasteries. Tibet now has more than 1,700 venues for religious activities, and about 46,000 monks and nuns. Every year monks and laymen organize and take part in the Sakadawa Festival and other religious and traditional events. Annually more than 1 million worshippers make the pilgrimage to Lhasa. ^ top ^

More bilingual kindergartens in Tibet (China Daily)
2011-12-28
Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region plans to set up 251 new kindergartens offering education in both Mandarin and the Tibetan language next year, the regional government said Tuesday. The statement was made during an economic conference in Lhasa, in which the government promised to increase the region's spending on education and to promote bilingual preschool education in its farming and herding areas. According to the plan, Tibet will enroll 15,000 rural children into bilingual kindergartens in 2012, said Chen Quanguo, secretary of the Tibetan Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). By 2015, the two-year bilingual preschool education shall cover most of the region's rural areas, Chen said. Tibet has already implemented bilingual preschool education in its cities and counties and is working to expand such kindergartens into the region's vast countryside starting this year. In an earlier statement, education authorities said preschool education shall be made free for all children in rural Tibet by 2015. Tuition fees, as well as food and lodging expenses on campus, have been free for all primary and secondary school students from Tibetan herders' families since 1985. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

CNPC starts scale exploration of oil field in NW China's Xinjiang (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-27
China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) announced Tuesday that it has started large-scale exploration of the Lukqun Oil Field in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which has the world's deepest heavy oil reserve. The company said its subsidiary, Turpan-Hami Oil Field Co., opened 113 oil wells in Lukqun this year. Daily oil output in the field reached 1,100 tonnes in December. CNPC planned to drill another 70 new wells in 2012 to expand its production capacity by 100,000 tonnes. The oil field, situated in Lukqun, north of Aydingkol Lake in Turpan Basin, has oil reserves estimated at 100 million tonnes. The lake is the world's second-most low-lying land after the Dead Sea. ^ top ^

One officer, seven Uygurs killed in Xinjiang violence (SCMP)
2011-12-30
Police have shot dead seven ethnic Uygur "terrorists" in the restive northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang after local officials said their group kidnapped two shepherds and hacked to death a police officer sent to negotiate with them. The incident unfolded late on Wednesday night in Pishan county, in the city of Hotan, where the shepherds - both Uygurs - crossed paths with the 15-strong group while tending their flock, officials said yesterday. Four of the men were injured in the police assault. The remaining four were detained. Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the regional government, said the group attacked the local policeman, who was also a Uygur, while he was trying to negotiate with them. She said police opened fire only after the policeman was hacked and the abductors "resisted arrest". Hou said both of the shepherds made it through the ordeal unharmed. She declined to say whether police suspected any political motive to the kidnappings, but ruled out the possibility that the suspects were attempting to extort money from the abductees. [...] Liang Jiajun, the deputy head of Hotan prefecture's publicity department, said the kidnappings took place in the mountain town of Kuoshi Tage and that the county was one of the poorest in Xinjiang. State news agency Xinhua described the kidnappers as "a group of violent terrorists". However, Dilxadi Rexiti, spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, an exile group, described the incident as a confrontation between Uygurs and local police prompted by mounting discontent over government repression. Southern Xinjiang has been a hotbed for ethnic unrest by Turkic-speaking Uygurs who oppose Chinese rule. [...] On Saturday, Zhang Chunxian, the top Communist Party official in Xinjiang had pledged to stick to Beijing's ethnic affairs policy and safeguard regional stability. "The base for stability maintenance is relatively fragile, especially those works in key areas that remain harsh and complicated, although the situation is generally controllable in the region as a whole," Zhang told a meeting of senior cadres. [...] The shooting was at least the third fatal incident attributed to "terrorist groups" in southern Xinjiang in the second half of this year, killing at least 39 people and injuring dozens. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Hu says overall situation good for HK, Macao (China Daily)
2011-12-27
President Hu Jintao said that the current overall situation in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs) is good, urging both regions to ensure future prosperity and seek benefits for their citizens. Hu made the remarks while hearing work reports from the chief executives of the two SARs, expressing his appreciation for the work of the HKSAR and Macao SAR governments this year. While meeting Chief Executive Donald Tsang, Hu said that Hong Kong sustained steady economic growth as well as a comparatively low unemployment rate. Hu said the policy address of the Hong Kong SAR government actively responded to people's appeals and put forward a number of policies to improve their livelihoods that won positive public feedback. [...] "The central government is satisfied with the work of Tsang and the HKSAR government," Hu said. In a separate meeting with Macao SAR Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On, the president said that Macao maintained rapid economic growth and a harmonious and stable society last year. "The Macao SAR government improved its administrative capabilities and implemented effective measures in a timely manner to alleviate people's living pressure brought by the inflation," Hu said. [...]. ^ top ^

Public to get a vote on chief executive (SCMP)
2011-12-27
Hongkongers may have the opportunity to show their preference for the city's next chief executive under a simulated vote. Veteran pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, head of the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme, plans to hold a citywide vote two days before the Election Committee's 1,200 members choose Hong Kong's next, Beijing-approved leader. Under Chung's plan, permanent residents aged 18 and over will be able to cast a ballot on March 23, with results to be announced later that day. It won't have any legal or official significance but it will be a powerful indicator of what the public want, and could sway committee members who will cast their votes in the real election on March 25. With the Chung plan, people will use an electronic voting system, accessible from their computers or mobile devices. They will also be able to use terminals at polling stations to be set up by Chung and his team. [...] In recent months, his HKU team has conducted frequent public surveys on the chief executive election. But Chung said the simulated vote would have a higher reference value than opinion polls, as its scale would be much bigger. [...] "Those Election Committee members who promise to take into account public opinion when they consider which candidate they will support should consider the results of e-polling seriously," he said. The cost of administering large-scale e-polling of more than 50,000 people would be around HK$1 per voter. Chung plans to raise about HK$500,000 for the project - his most optimistic forecast is that half a million people will take part. [...] The three main candidates for chief executive - Henry Tang Ying-yen, Leung Chun-ying and a pan-democrat candidate (the camp will choose between Frederick Fung Kin-kee and Albert Ho Chun-yan) - would be asked to sponsor the poll. Chung said he would decide by early March whether to go ahead with his plan. The project would not need approval from HKU. Many will see the plan as a referendum on choosing the chief executive. In January last year, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said any so-called referendum in the city would be a blatant challenge to the Basic Law and the central government's authority. ^ top ^

Beijing envoy criticises HKU poll (SCMP)
2011-12-30
A senior Hong Kong-based central government envoy has criticised as "unscientific" and "illogical" the way questions were posed in a recent University of Hong Kong survey that found that locals identified themselves more strongly as Hongkongers than as Chinese citizens. The comments yesterday by Hao Tiechuan, of the central government's liaison office, marked a rare attack against an academic survey, apparently because the findings were deemed undesirable. In an informal meeting where only some local television reporters were invited, Hao, director general of the office's department of publicity, cultural and sports affairs, said the poll was wrong to give respondents the options of "Hong Kong citizens" and "Chinese citizens", as if they were separate. Hao reportedly said that since the handover, there should not be any difference between viewing oneself as a "Hong Kong citizen" and "Chinese citizen". He said Hong Kong was now an administrative region of China and it was only logical for a person to mean he is a "Chinese citizen" when referring to "Hong Kong citizen", according to television reports. [...] The reports said Hao was speaking in a personal capacity. [...] In 2007, President Hu Jintao called for "strengthening national education among Hong Kong youth". Since then, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has pledged the government's commitment to "strengthen students' sense of national identity and commitment to national development". [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

Most Taiwan people satisfied with direct flights (China Daily)
2011-12-28
More than 70 percent Taiwanese are satisfied with the current direct flight and shipping services across the Taiwan Straits, according to a poll released Tuesday by Taiwan's mainland affairs department. The poll was conducted by the Election Study Center of Taiwan's "National Chengchi University," which was entrusted by the island's mainland affairs department. Pollsters called 1,069 Taiwanese over the age of 20 between Nov 26 and 30. The poll shows that 72 percent of the respondents believe that mainland tourists to the island are conducive to Taiwan economy. More than 48 percent of the surveyed said the current scale of cross-Straits exchanges is "appropriate", whereas 25.7 percent consider it "too fast" and 12.9 percent said that it is "too slow ", the poll indicates. Starting from June, 558 direct flights are operated each week between 50 destinations across the Straits. Before that, there were 370 flights per week, the mainland affairs department said. [...] Over the past three years, the mainland has become the largest source of tourists for the island. The number of mainland tourist arrivals exceeded 2.92 million by November 2011 from July 2008, statistics showed. The inflow of mainland tourists has benefited Taiwan's tourism and hospitality industry, as the island has reaped 150.2 billion New Taiwan dollars ($4.84) earning from mainland visitors, the statistics showed. ^ top ^

Pilot regions open to SME investment from Taiwan (Global Times)
2011-12-29
Taiwan residents will from next year be allowed to run small private catering and retail businesses on the mainland. The new policy, announced Wednesday, has been hailed as a boost for cross-Straits peace and development. "In order to encourage more Taiwan residents to invest and run businesses on the mainland and deepen cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation, starting January 1, 2012, the mainland will open regions for them to apply for self-employed business," announced Yang Yi, spokesman with Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. The first regions to be opened up to catering and retail investment are Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hubei and Sichuan. [...]. ^ top ^

Denial of "1992 Consensus" jeopardizes cross-Strait talks: mainland spokesman (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-30
A Chinese mainland spokesman warned that the "1992 Consensus" is a prerequisite for talks and negotiations between the mainland and Taiwan, and that denying it will jeopardize these talks. Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, made the remarks at a regular press conference here Wednesday. In November 1992, the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation reached the consensus during talks on routine affairs, during which each of the two organizations verbally acknowledged that "both sides of the Taiwan Strait adhere to the one-China principle." The cross-Strait relationship has never been, and will never become, a "state-to-state" one, Yang said, adding that the denial of the "1992 Consensus" and sticking to the "Taiwan independence" stance will push cross-Strait relations back and harm the peaceful development of these relations. Moreover, Yang stressed that the two sides of the Strait can have some contact and exchanges on military issues to ease relevant concerns as well as talk about a military security mechanism of mutual trust. [...] The mainland will not intervene in the Taiwan election, Yang said. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China, Pakistan ink currency swap deal (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-24
China's central bank said Saturday that it has signed a 10-billion-yuan (1.58 billion U.S. dollars) currency swap deal with the State Bank of Pakistan. The agreement will last for three years and is extendable by mutual consent, according to a statement posted on the website of the People's Bank of China(PBOC). The swap is aimed at promoting bilateral financial cooperation and boosting trade and investment, while ensuring regional financial stability, it said. Since the onset of the global financial crisis in late 2008, China has signed currency swap agreements with 14 countries and regions. ^ top ^

China, Thailand sign currency swap agreement (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-26
Thai media reported that China and Thailand signed a currency swap agreement worth 7 billion yuan on Thursday. Prasarn Trairatvorakul, president of Thai central bank said on Dec. 19 that this agreement would promote the use of yuan in international trade settlements. Insiders said that the swap agreement will enable both countries use domestic currency for valuation and settlement in future business and investment without relying on the currency of any third country. Within a limited period of time, the central banks of both countries shall summarize and settle up the accumulated amount. [...] At present, the bilateral bank settlement network between China and ASEAN has been established initially, and the cross-border yuan trade settlement is developing steadily. China has negotiated with many ASEAN members about yuan currency swap agreement. [...] It is analyzed that the swap agreement will bring more convenience to bilateral trade and investment. And it will further help the countries to cope with the financial crisis. ^ top ^

Fiscal policy focuses on domestic demand (China Daily)
2011-12-28
Vice Premier Li Keqiang said that China will maintain a proactive fiscal policy next year with a focus on boosting domestic demand, structural tax reductions, and the improvement of people's livelihoods. "We will make our fiscal policy more targeted, flexible, and foresighted and facilitate its fullest role in macro-economic control," Li said while attending a national finance work conference that concluded Monday in Beijing. Li predicted a faster growth of fiscal expenditures for next year compared to this year. Government data showed the nation's fiscal revenues rose 26.8 percent year-on-year to top 9.73 trillion yuan ($1.54 trillion), while its fiscal expenditures went up 24.3 percent to 8.9 trillion yuan in the first 11 months of the year. He said the nation will seek more balanced foreign trade while boosting domestic demand. It will also work to reduce tax burdens for small and micro-sized firms. [...] Li said more will be spent in 2012 on low-income earners, employment, education, social security, affordable housing and medical services. ^ top ^

Cases involving anti-monopoly reviews surge 52% (China Daily)
2011-12-28
An official with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Tuesday that the MOC has conducted anti-monopoly reviews on 179 cases so far this year, up 52 percent year-on-year. Of the total, the ministry approved 151 cases, rejected five, while conditionally approving four cases, including the latest endorsement of the acquisition of Samsung Electronics' hard disc drive business by the United States' Seagate Technology. The surge in the cases involving anti-monopoly reviews was due to more international investors opting for acquisitions to strengthen competence after the financial crisis broke out, said Shang Ming, chief of the Anti-monopoly bureau under the MOC. It was also because many enterprises needed to apply for reviews after production capacities expanded, Shang said. Shang added that the enforcement of anti-monopoly law in China is fair and just. The country gives the same treatment for all applicants while conducting anti-monopoly reviews. ^ top ^

Natural gas imports expected to increase (China Daily)
2011-12-28
China's reliance on natural gas imports will continue, accounting for more than half of the country's total consumption, as demand surges for the fuel for both industrial and residential use.China, which is widely estimated to realize more than 9 percent growth in GDP in 2011, imported 3.1 billion cubic meters (cu m) of natural gas in November, 1.5 times higher than during the same month last year, according to figures from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The increase in November saw the nation's total imports of natural gas in the first 11 months of the year grow by 91.5 percent year-on-year to 28.1 billion cu m. The country produced 91.4 billion cu m of natural gas between January and November, with growth of 6 percent compared with the same period in 2010, the NDRC said. China's imports of natural gas are expected to hit 30 billion cu m this year, said Duan Zhaofang, a natural gas researcher at the Economics & Technology Research Institute of China National Petroleum Corp, the country's biggest energy producer. The institute's statistics show that China imported 17 billion cu m of gas in 2010, accounting for 16 percent of the nation's total consumption. China's energy demand will rise in tandem with the country's economic growth, said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the NDRC's Energy Research Institute. Natural gas imports will increase greatly to account for more than 50 percent of total consumption in the future, said Li, but without providing a timeframe. As supplies increase through the China-Central Asia gas pipeline and liquefied natural gas carried in storage tanks, imports will play an important role in the diversification of supplies of natural gas, Duan said. The nation's reliance on crude oil imports surpassed 50 percent for the first time last year, and experts estimate that the figure will hit 65 percent by 2020. Between January and November, the country's apparent consumption - including imports and domestic production but excluding exports - of natural gas rose 20.5 percent from a year earlier to 115.9 billion cu m, the NDRC said. ^ top ^

China's top economic planner calls for accelerated economic growth mode shift (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
China's top economic planner on Wednesday said the country will further accelerate the shift of the economic growth mode, as against inadequate consumption and high energy use. Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), made the remarks when reporting to the Standing Committee of the National People Congress, the country's top legislature. Zhang said the government will focus on raising people's incomes and improving their expectations in economic situations in a bid to expand domestic demands, especially household consumption. Domestic consumption's contributions to economic growth is still limited. [...] China has achieved an economic take-off through extensive economic growth in the last three decades, however, it has cost a lot in environmental damage and resources. Shifting the growth mode can make the economy achieve sustainable development. Industrial structure should be further optimized, and science and technology innovation should be accelerated, Zhang said in his report. He has also called for enhanced environmental protection and further energy saving and emissions cuts, saying that the eco-system remains fragile and energy consumption high despite the positive achievements made in the 11th Five-Year Plan period from 2006 to 2010. ^ top ^

Senior Chinese leader stresses shifting economic development pattern (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged more efforts in accelerating the thorough transformation of the country's economic development pattern. He Guoqiang, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during a three-day inspection tour in the southeastern province of Fujian, which ended Wednesday. The transformation generally aims to get the country's economy on a path of endogenous growth driven by innovation. [...] He instructed local businesses and authorities to optimize and upgrade the industrial structure and to boost the region's independent innovation capability in order to be more competitive. While inspecting the ports, shipping center and an comprehensive experimental zone along the southeast coastline, He urged the region to take full advantage of its geographical position at the Taiwan Strait and to implement a more active opening-up strategy in promoting cross-strait exchange and cooperation. [...] Moreover, He also addressed cultural sectors during his inspection. The protection and utilization of traditional cultural elements unique to each area should be enhanced so as to boost their cultural soft power, He noted. [...]. ^ top ^

Agriculture still vital to China (Xinhua)
2011-12-29
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu said Wednesday China must avoid mishaps in supply of major farm produce because agriculture is vital to ensure stable price levels, fast economic growth and social stability. [...] "We will promote agricultural modernization as we push forward industrialization and urbanization," Hui said at the annual central conference on rural work that concluded Wednesday in Beijing. Scientific and technological advancement and transformation of the agriculture growth pattern will be the key and fundamental solutions to developing a modern agriculture, as environment and resources impose greater constraints, Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu said. The vice premier also highlighted the effective supply of farm produce, fiscal spending on infrastructure building, and farmers' livelihoods as the major fields on which the country will work next year. Government data showed grain output rose to record high 571.21 million tonnes this year. [...] Han, however, warned that rising labor costs, more expensive production materials such as diesel, and limited space to expand crop acreage all impose tough challenges. Han said the country sought to maintain its grain output at a level above 525 million tonnes next year by stabilizing the total acreage for growth of grain crops and enhancing yield rate. "Any slight failure in agriculture will hamper the country's economic development and social stability," Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday at the conference. [...] Gan Zangchun, a state-land supervisor with the Ministry of Land and Resources, said land requisition must be reformed to ensure farmers' rights as rapid urbanization has given rise to frequent land disputes in recent years. [...] A finance official said earlier that fiscal spending of the central government on agriculture-related projects and farmers is likely to top 1.04 trillion yuan this year, which represents a 21.3-percent surge compared to that last year. [...]. ^ top ^

Vice premier urges efforts to boost employment (China Daily)
2011-12-30
Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang on Thursday called for intensified efforts to generate jobs in 2012 in the face of a severe employment situation. Governments at all levels must work to stabilize and increase employment next year, generate jobs through various channels, support the development of labor-intensive and knowledge-intensive industries, as well as the service sector, Zhang said at a national work conference on human resources and social security. Local authorities should fully tap small- and medium-sized enterprises in job creation, provide vocational training, improve social security safety net, and accelerate the extension of pension insurance to cover all rural and urban residents, Zhang said. He also asked local governments to help establish harmonious labor relations, protect employees' legitimate rights, and solve problems that concern most laborers, especially migrant workers. ^ top ^

QFII quotas resume as capital flows out (People's Daily Online)
2011-12-30
China resumed granting new quotas in October for foreign asset managers to invest in its capital markets after a five-month hiatus, according to an announcement on Thursday by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). The announcement came on the heels of figures indicating that capital abruptly flowed overseas during the fourth quarter. SAFE said that $950 million in new quotas under the QFII program were granted from Oct 19 to Dec 21. Approvals had been suspended since May. "Approval of new QFII quotas temporarily stopped because the surplus in international payments surged earlier this year. That put pressure on inflation and (pushed) the yuan to appreciate," said Huang Wujun, an analyst with CCID Consulting in Beijing. QFII grants "resumed after capital abruptly began to flow out of the country in October and the pressure on inflation and the yuan eased", Huang said. As of Dec 21, new QFII quotas granted this year stood at $1.92 billion, about 40 percent less than in 2010 and the lowest since 2007, according to SAFE data. The approval freeze came after the capital-account surplus doubled in the first half to $183.9 billion, as capital inflows, including some that analysts believe represented speculative capital, accelerated. As of the third quarter, the surplus was $229.8 billion. An international payments surplus puts pressure on inflation and the yuan to appreciate. [...] The new head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Guo Shuqing, said earlier this month that his agency would speed up QFII approvals. Under the QFII program, the CSRC, which is the nation's top securities regulator, gives foreign investors licenses. SAFE, which manages the nation's foreign exchange reserves, allocates investment quotas to licensed investors. [...]. ^ top ^

Central SOEs' profits to near 900b yuan (China Daily)
2011-12-30
Profits for China's centrally-administered State-owned enterprises (SOEs) will rise to around 900 billion yuan ($142.86 billion) in 2011, up from 848.98 billion yuan last year, an official said Wednesday. The economic value added of the 117 central SOEs will exceed 300 billion yuan in 2011, said Huang Shuhe, deputy director of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. The central SOEs have posted steady growth this year despite complicated global economic conditions, Huang said. The SOEs have come through bottlenecks in 2011, improved corporate management, made new breakthroughs in key technologies, and enhanced their ability to self-innovate, Huang said. The companies have also successfully completed special tasks given by the government and played a key role in promoting the country's steady economic growth, he added. Meanwhile, Huang said the country will further improve performance evaluation systems for the central SOEs. The central SOEs saw their profits up 3.6 percent year-on-year to 831.79 billion yuan during the first 11 months of 2011, official data showed. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

Kim Jong Un accepts S. Korean mourners' group (Xinhua)
2011-12-27
Kim Jong Un, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea, on Monday accepted condolences for his father's death from a South Korean mourners' group at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, the official news agency KCNA reported. Lee Hee-ho, widow of former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, and Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of the Hyundai Group, on Monday laid wreaths and paid silent tribute in front of the bier of Kim Jong Il, according to the KCNA. In the condolence book, Lee wrote that Chairman of the National Defense Commission fell in eternal sleep but she hopes that national unification will be realized under the spirit of the June 15 Joint Declaration at an early date. Hyun wrote that Chairman of the National Defense Commission, who made efforts for national reconciliation and cooperation, will be remembered forever. The southern mourners' group, led by Lee and Hyun, arrived Monday in Pyongyang via Kaesong. ^ top ^

Tears in snow for 'Dear Leader' (SCMP)
2011-12-29
The funeral yesterday of Kim Jong-il, North Korea's "Dear Leader," was a masterful feat of stage management blending communist militarism, mass adulation and an accelerated dynastic succession. [...] Heavy snow blanketed Pyongyang, hailed by the regime's propagandists as a sign from the heavens. The earliest pictures showed a parade of soldiers outside Kumsusan Memorial Palace, bowing as a limousine bearing a giant portrait of Kim led the hearse with his coffin mounted on it. Accompanying the hearse on foot were a group of dignitaries, led by Kim Jong-un, Kim's third son and appointed successor. Jong-Un, dressed in black and bare-headed and gloveless despite the cold, saluted as tens of thousands of soldiers bowed their heads while a band played the national anthem. Walking directly behind the younger Kim was Jang Song-thaek, the man who emerged after 2008 as one of the key figures in the late Kim's government, and who is widely expected to act as a "regent", guiding Kim Jong-un as he assumes control of the regime. He was accompanied by senior ruling party officials Kim Ki-nam and Choe Thae-bok; military chief Ri Yong-ho; armed forces minister Kim Yong-chun; and Kim Jong-gak, who is in charge of military administration and organisation. Their presence indicates they will be important players as the younger Kim consolidates his leadership. [...] The procession then mounted the vehicles and proceeded on a 40 kilometre route through the capital, with a convoy of army jeeps and trucks. The streets were lined with thousands of mourners, many of them - particularly those in the front rows - weeping theatrically. Hundreds of thousands braved freezing conditions wearing no hats or gloves to line the icy streets of Pyongyang, sobbing and wailing. [...] State media commentators were effusive in praise of the deceased leader. "Our comrade, who established the most independent nation, did everything he could do in the world, both great and tiny works, for the glory of the country and the happiness of the people," the broadcast anchor said. [...] The actual funeral service was held behind closed doors and not broadcast. Russian embalmers have reportedly been invited in to preserve Kim's corpse - the resultant cadaver will most likely be put on public display, as was the case with his father. [...] Although Pyongyang said no foreign delegations were invited, Beijing said its ambassador to North Korea, Liu Hongcai, attended the ceremony. The envoy was present at the ceremony "as per prior arrangements" with the North Korean government, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. [...]. ^ top ^

N.Korea holds giant memorial service (Global Times)
2011-12-30
North Korea Thursday staged a massive memorial service for Kim Jong-il to end almost two weeks of official mourning, and formally declared his untested young son Jong-un as the new supreme leader. Addressing tens of thousands of troops and civilians packing a wintry Pyongyang square, ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam praised the late leader for contributing to the "global peace and stability of the 21st century." Kim Jong-un, "the supreme leader of our party and army and people," had inherited his late father's spirit, leadership, personality, morality and fortitude, he added. [...] The country observed three minutes of silence nationwide at noon, punctuated by the horns of ships and railway engine whistles. "The great heart of comrade Kim Jong-il has ceased to beat... such an unexpected and early departure from us is the biggest and the most unimaginable loss to our party and the revolution," Kim Yong-nam told the crowd, his voice throbbing with emotion. The North would "transform the sorrow into strength and courage 1,000 times greater under the leadership of comrade Kim Jong-un and will march firmly along the path of Songun taught by great leader Kim Jong-il." Another speaker, Kim Jong-gak, pledged the military's loyalty to the new leader, who has been named a general but has not served in the armed forces. [...] Next to Jong-un on the balcony was military chief Ri Yong-ho. Also in the line-up were Kim Jong-gak, Kim Yong-nam, senior ruling party officials Kim Ki-man and Choe Thae-bok, and defense minister Kim Yong-chun. The new leader's influential uncle Jang Song-thaek was also on the rostrum, South Korea's unification ministry said. [...] China said it was ready to work with the new regime to maintain friendly relations. "We believe that the DPRK (North Korean) people will turn grief into strength under the leadership of the Worker's Party of Korea and Comrade Kim Jong-un," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters in Beijing. ^ 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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