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
  04-10.2.12, No. 409  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Wen rejects European aid fears (SCMP)
2012-02-04
Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday that China had neither the ability nor the intention to "buy Europe", amid concerns over its growing investment in debt-stricken euro-zone economies. China was "willing to co-operate with Europe to fight the current crisis. Some people say this means China wants to buy Europe," Wen told a Sino-German business forum in Guangzhou. "This is a concern and doesn't fit reality. China doesn't have this intention and doesn't have this ability." German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel, in China for a three-day visit to boost her host's confidence in Europe, also attended the forum along with executives from the energy, chemicals, engineering, banking and electronics sectors. Wen raised hopes in Europe when he earlier pledged to consider deepening Chinese participation in European bailout funds. [...] There are growing concerns in Europe that a recent wave of investment by Chinese companies and government-backed funds will give Beijing too much influence over struggling European economies. Popular opinion is also said to be strongly against bailing out Europe, whose US$32,100 per capita gross domestic product is about four times that of China. Analysts said Beijing was likely to play it safe by going through the International Monetary Fund, in part reflecting disagreement among government interests over how to respond to the crisis. [...] Earlier yesterday, Merkel held talks with President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo in Beijing. ^ top ^

Merkel ends Chinese visit with trip to cathedral (SCMP)
2012-02-05
German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel wrapped up her three-day visit to China yesterday after breakfast with Guangdong party boss Wang Yang and a meeting with Catholic bishop Gan Junqiu in Guangzhou. Political analysts saw Merkel's visit to the bishop and the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral as an indirect criticism of Beijing's suppression of religious freedom, after she was denied a trip to a liberal Guangzhou-based newspaper on Friday and prevented from meeting a prominent human rights lawyer in Beijing on Thursday. [...] The cathedral and the road in front of it were cordoned off for hours, with hundreds of policemen stationed along the route. Nearby communities were also under tight security yesterday. Mainland media were told they were not allowed to cover Merkel's trip to the church. [...] Before she left, Merkel expressed regret that Chinese police blocked a human rights lawyer from meeting her and said the communist government should have the confidence to allow dissent. The lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said Beijing police told him on Thursday that he could not attend a dinner and private meeting with Merkel. The order came amid restrictions on political and human rights activists. "Unfortunately the lawyer was unable to attend. I regret that," Merkel said, according to an official German transcript. Earlier she said talks with Chinese leaders would include discussions of human rights and other "sensitive topics". "We have spoken about the overall human rights situation," she said. "The issue of Tibet was also discussed - not very explicitly but as one of many issues which are also worrying for us." [...] Earlier on Thursday, Merkel's planned trip to the outspoken Southern Weekly in Guangzhou was cancelled. The official reason was that the paper was under huge pressure and was "too busy to play host". ^ top ^

Chinese naval drill legitimate (People's Daily Online)
2012-02-05
China on Friday dismissed Japan's concerns about Chinese naval ships traveling through international waters in the Okinawa Islands, saying it is just a regular drill. The Ministry of National Defense said in a statement that the vessels are en route for the western Pacific Ocean as part of a regular training exercise. "China enjoys legal rights including sailing through international waters, and the naval exercise has conformed to international laws and regulations," the statement said. According to Kyodo News Agency, four Chinese frigates sailed between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island in southern Japan. Japan's coast guard has its surveillance aircraft and ships on alert and monitoring the situation. [...] Also on Friday, Beijing expressed strong dissatisfaction over remarks by Japanese senior officials about China's Tianwaitian gas and oil deposit. Liu Weimin, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said the country's stance on the East China Sea issue has been clear and consistent. The deposit is located in undisputed Chinese territorial waters and does not apply to the principles of consensus concerning the East China Sea issue. [...]. ^ top ^

China bans airlines into EU carbon scheme (China Daily)
2012-02-07
China's airlines are not allowed to pay a charge on carbon emissions imposed by the Europe Union (EU), and neither to hike freights nor to add other fees accordingly without government permission, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said Monday. The CAAC said in a statement that it had been authorized by the State Council, China's Cabinet, to notify the ban to all domestic airlines. The statement said the EU's decision to charge flights into and out of EU airports for carbon emission "runs contrary to relevant principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the international civil aviation regulations." The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which has taken effect on January 1, is one of the widest-reaching measures adopted by any country or regional bloc to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. [...] "China objects to the EU's decision to impose the scheme on non-EU airlines, and has expressed its concerns over the scheme through various channels," the statement said. "China will consider adopting necessary measures to protect interests of Chinese individuals and companies, pending the development of the issue," the statement said. [...]. ^ top ^

Sudanese rebels release 29 kidnapped workers (SCMP)
2012-02-08
The 29 Chinese workers kidnapped by Sudanese rebel forces were in Kenya on the first leg of their journey home after being set free yesterday, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said last night. It said the workers, who had been held for 10 days, were in good health and would receive a body check-up there before heading home. [...] The semi-official China News Service and Chinese state television reported that two workers had suffered minor injuries to knees and ankles. The 29 - abducted in Sudan's main oil-producing state of South Kordofan - were released early yesterday. The International Committee of the Red Cross said the Chinese workers had travelled on board one of its aircraft from South Kordofan to Nairobi, where they were handed over to Chinese embassy officials. "The [Red Cross] assisted in this operation on humanitarian grounds, after all the parties concerned accepted its offer to serve as a neutral intermediary," Christoph Luedi, the group's head of delegation in Nairobi, said. The Red Cross said it played no part in the negotiations that led to the release. Xinhua said the release was the result of intensive efforts on the part of the Chinese and Sudanese governments and other parties. [...]. Rebels from the SPLM-N attacked a road construction site in South Kordofan on January 28. Of the 47 Chinese who worked there, 29 were taken hostage, 17 managed to escape and one died. The remains of the slain worker were handed to officials of the Chinese embassy in Khartoum yesterday, Xinhua said. [...]. ^ top ^

China starts talks with Libya on post-war business (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
A Chinese Commerce Ministry delegation held talks Monday with Libyan officials on bilateral cooperation and resumption of Chinese businesses in post-war Libya. The Chinese delegation, led by Wang Shenyang, director of the ministry's Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Department, is seeking China's participation in Libya's post-war reconstruction and to negotiate on obstacles facing Chinese companies resuming projects here. Omran Ghali, director of International and Economic Cooperation at the Libyan Ministry of Economy, hailed the remarkable cooperation between the two countries and said he hoped for more foreign investment covering construction, agriculture and tourism. Referring to projects interrupted by the country's civil war, Libyan Deputy Minister of Housing Facilities Ali Abdul Hafiz said the new government respected all contracts signed with foreign companies and had formed a special committee to review them and solve remaining problems in order to protect foreign investors' rights. [...] The delegation specified Chinese companies' difficulties, such as visa, financial accounts and export problems, which could not be solved without the Libyan government's help. [...] However, releasing money and activating accounts were priorities for getting back to work as some Chinese companies were too badly affected by the war to operate without help, the Chinese delegation stressed, calling it the biggest divergence between the two sides. [...] Before the war, China had contracts in Libya worth some 20 billion U.S. dollars and had built more than 100,000 housing units, some of which were 10 to 80 percent completed. [...]. ^ top ^

China, India pledge closer ties for common development (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
China and India pledged Wednesday to boost their ties and seek common development as the South Asian country's foreign minister paid a visit to Beijing. Indian External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna is on his China trip to inaugurate the South Asian country's new embassy complex in Beijing. [...] Earlier Wednesday, Krishna met with four high-ranking Chinese officials in Beijing, including Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, State Councilor Dai Bingguo, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, and Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee. [...] During his meeting with the Indian foreign minister, Zhou said China and India, as the world's largest developing economies, have multiple opportunities for national development and bilateral cooperation, expressing his hope that both nations can expand cooperation in infrastructure construction, information technology and manufacturing in order to boost two-way trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2015. [...] On Tibet, an issue that deeply concerns China, Krishna reiterated that India recognizes Tibet as a part of China and will tolerate no anti-China activities on Indian territory. In his meeting with Dai Bingguo, Krishna said the friendship and cooperation between the two nations have reached an unprecedented height [...] "Indeed, as neighbors, the stability and predictability that we provide to the other is itself of great value," he said. "The rise of India and China cannot only be a parallel process but, with vision and commitment, actually a reinforcing process," he added. [...] Krishna said that the two nations have agreed to designate the year 2012 as the "Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation" after they celebrated the Year of Exchange in 2011. [...]. ^ top ^

Canada trade links tightened (People's Daily Online)
2012-02-09
China and Canada signed a series of agreements on Wednesday covering energy, investments and other sectors, in a sign of improved ties amid the global economic slowdown. China wants to increase imports of energy and resources from Canada, Premier Wen Jiabao told Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper before they witnessed the signing of nine deals, including a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation. Wen also urged the early signing of an investment protection agreement and said the two sides could step up discussions on the feasibility of a free trade agreement. Other deals signed covered science, technology, academic exchanges, the development of natural resources and Canadian beef and tallow exports to China. Harper, on a five-day visit to China that started on Tuesday, leads a strong delegation of five ministers and 40 business leaders. Negotiations on a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement have been concluded, Wen said. [...] Both nations will need to conduct a legal review of the deal and then sign and ratify it before it can take effect, according to Reuters. [...] Wen also urged the two countries to step up joint studies on the feasibility of a free trade agreement. China is Canada's second-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade stood at almost $50 billion in 2011, up $6 billion from 2009. The two countries set a target of increasing bilateral trade to $60 billion by 2015. In the energy and resource sectors, Wen said, the two countries should set up a long-term partnership. Wen said China is willing to increase imports of Canadian energy and resources, and enhance energy cooperation, including nuclear. [...] Analysts suggest that Harper is trying to push oil sales and closer economic ties following the rejection by US President Barack Obama of a pipeline carrying Canadian oil across the continental US for environmental concerns. "Diversifying our markets is a key priority for Canada," Harper told Wen. [...]. ^ top ^

Syrian opposition group visits Beijing (SCMP)
2012-02-10
A Syrian opposition delegation visited Beijing this week and met a deputy foreign minister, Zhai Jun, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The meeting, during the first visit by a Syrian opposition group to the country, took place on Monday, two days after Beijing and Moscow vetoed a UN draft resolution on the country, ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said. [...] Saturday's double veto of the resolution that would have endorsed an Arab League plan for ending the Syrian bloodshed deeply angered the US, Europe and the Arab League. However, in a sign Beijing is staying engaged, the Foreign Ministry said that China this week hosted a four-day visit by Haytham Manna, the Paris-based head of the external branch of a group called the National Committee for Democratic Change. Manna met a deputy foreign minister to enable China to better understand the situation in Syria and maintain contacts and communication with the opposition, Liu said. "China is willing to maintain contacts and communication with relevant Syrian opposition groups, is willing to push and encourage talks and make great efforts to ameliorate the situation," Liu said. He said China would "make unstinting efforts towards peace and stability in Syria". "The Syrian government should earnestly fulfil its promises, urgently begin an inclusive reform process that has wide participation, and resolve disputes and conflicts via talks and consultations," Liu said. [...] Beijing's move is similar to that which it took for Libya last year before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. [...] China has been defending itself from bitter criticism over the UN vote, which marred Beijing's attempts to portray itself as a positive force for resolving global crises. Earlier this week, Beijing said it might send an envoy to the Middle East to discuss the crisis. China explained its stance by saying the vote was called before differences had been bridged and said it respected the norms of international relations. Russia and China, wary after seeing the West help Libyan militia oust Gaddafi, reject talk of military intervention or regime change. [...]. ^ top ^

Provincial marine authorities add patrol craft (China Daily)
2012-02-10
China's provincial-level marine supervision authorities have contracted to use 33 patrol vessels to boost marine law enforcement throughout the country, a senior marine supervision official said here on Wednesday. Wu Ping, deputy head of China Marine Surveillance under the State Oceanic Administration, made the announcement at a patrol vessel contract-signing ceremony held in north China's Tianjin Municipality. [...] China has 32,000 km of coastline. In 2010, the government began to establish provincial-level marine patrol fleets to tighten marine security. China's 2010 Ocean Development Report said the country's marine rights and interests face a complicated situation and safety threats, including terrorism, disputes over maritime resources and sovereignty, and sea delimitation. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Cadmium pollution cleanup measures safe, effective: experts (Global Times)
2012-02-05
The measures adopted to bring down cadmium concentration levels following a toxic spill in a river of south China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region are safe and effective, experts have told Xinhua. By 6 a.m. Saturday, the water quality of the Liujiang River, a source of drinking water for local residents, is up to national standard, according to data released by the emergency headquarters handling the incident. Neutralizers designed to gather the matter and ease its removal have been placed in the waterway, and agents designed for dilution in water discharged from upriver dams, Xu Zhencheng, deputy chief of the South China Institute of Environmental Sciences (SCIES) under the Ministry of the Environmental Protection, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. Xu said cleanup procedures organized by the team of more than 100 environmental and water experts that he heads had brought peak cadmium concentrations down from 80 times the official limit to less than 20 times the limit. Cadmium pollution was first detected in the Longjiang River on Jan. 15 in the city of Hechi, and it later spread to the downstream Liujiang River, threatening water security in Liuzhou, a city with 1.5 million permanent residents. Police officers have been mobilized to join in the cleanup work and the ongoing efforts are expected to run until the end of February. [...] Investigations found two factories, one producing a dye product called lithopone without a license, and the other a metallurgical chemical plant, to be responsible for the incident. They had illegally discharged highly contaminated sewage, the headquarters confirmed at a press conference on Friday. Inspections are still under way to screen other factories along the rivers for similar practices. ^ top ^

Pollution costing China dear: report (People's Daily Online)
2012-02-05
China is paying an increasing price for pollution brought about by economic development, says a report by the country's environmental protection academy. The cost of environmental and ecological damage to the country soared to almost 1.4 trillion yuan ($222 billion) in 2009, an increase of 9.2 percent on the previous year. China spent 3.8 percent of that year's GDP to clean up the environment, according to the statistics in the recently released China Green National Accounting Study Report 2009. "The damage to the environment not only results in health problems, but in financial loss as well," said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a non-government organization protection agency based in the capital. [...] The average cost of China's resources output is $320 to $350 per ton, far below that of developed economies, which is between $2,500 to $3,500 per ton, and it is still decreasing, according to the report conducted by the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, an institution of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. [...] Despite the government making efforts in the past few years to find a balanced solution, it still has a long and hard task ahead, says the report. [...] As economic globalization expands, most governments in China make economic development a priority and are becoming hostage to the heavy-pollution industries. Ma is calling for the government to toughen laws and regulations on environmental protection and impose charges as soon as possible. "The resources are too cheap here," said Ma. The report also showed that carbon dioxide emissions in China had more than doubled from 3.5 billion tons in 2000 to 7.2 billion tons in 2009, making China the biggest producer of carbon dioxide worldwide. [...]. ^ top ^

Wen backs 'open mainland' policy (SCMP)
2012-02-06
Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged further reform and openness, calling the measures the only key to solving the nation's "challenges and difficulties", during a visit to Guangdong province. Wen - the country's first top leader to openly support a policy championed by former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in speeches during his southern tour 20 years ago - made the remarks at the weekend while visiting a private firm on the outskirts of Guangzhou. [...] "Opening-up and reform should be implemented unswervingly, or there will be a dead end." Guangdong has long been considered the front line of reform, as seen, for example, in its robust economic development over the past three decades. "These words [by Deng] still have a huge impact and an enormous guiding sense to us even now," the premier said. "We have to be serious and spare no efforts in tackling institutional problems that have plagued the development of our domestic economy. "Reform and opening up is still the key to fixing quite a number of challenges and difficulties down the road," Wen said. [...] During a tour of a village, Wen also vowed to protect the election rights of farmers. "We must certainly protect the voting rights of farmers and be unwavering in properly carrying out village self-governance and the direct elections of village committees," he told farmers in an informal meeting in a village outside Guangzhou. [...] Some pundits hailed Wen's remarks on continuous reforms. [...] But others commented that they were nothing more than cliches. [...]. ^ top ^

Rapid growth triggers environmental accidents (China Daily)
2012-02-07
China is suffering from an increasing number of environmental accidents, mainly triggered by the rapid growth of the chemical industry in the wake of urbanization, a senior environmental official said. Last year, 542 environmental accidents were handled across the country, statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed. "At present, nearly 60 percent of such accidents were triggered by traffic accidents and safety accidents in the process of production," Ling Jiang, deputy director of the department of pollution prevention and control under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told China Daily on Monday. [...] Meanwhile, the number of accidents caused by illegal discharge of waste and other pollutants is quite limited as government authorities have launched strict monitoring measures, Ling said, without giving specific statistics. Officials said serious water shortages and pollution are now major bottlenecks to the sustainable development of the country. [...] "Water pollution is very serious in China now. Only about 46 percent of the 178,000 kilometers of key rivers and lakes monitored by the ministry are up to standard on quality," Chen Mingzhong, an official in the Ministry of Water Resources, said on Monday. Nearly 80 percent of the key rivers and reservoirs with specific usage functions are targeted to reach the standard by 2020, and all will meet the standard by 2030, according to the plan. "Government authorities at all levels are accountable for the task, and they will surely receive strict punishment for areas that exceed their standards on pollution discharge," he said. ^ top ^

China bust cross-border smuggling gang (China Daily)
2012-02-07
China's froninter defense forces have broken up a cross-border people smuggling gang and nabbed 12 suspects, said police of southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Monday. Border police on Friday prevented the gang from transporting 81 illegal immigrants to the nearby province of Guangdong, according to sources with the public security frontier defense forces of Guangxi. Large numbers of illegal immigrants have been crossing the border to seek jobs in China since the beginning of this year, according to local border police. To crack down on illegal immigrant, local frontier forces have intensified check-up on vehicles, personnel and materials at infrontier inspection station. So far, 23 suspected human smuggles and more than 600 illegal immigrants have been seized. The 12 suspects are being detained for further questioning, according to local border police. ^ top ^

Beijing gives ultimatum to unregistered microbloggers (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
Beijing authorities said Tuesday that the city's users of Twitter-like microblog services who fail to register with their real names by March 16 will be banned from posting on those websites. The ultimatum came nearly two months after the city introduced guidelines mandating real-name registration for microbloggers, according to a meeting held Tuesday by the Beijing Internet Information Office (BIIO). Starting from March 16, unregistered users will no longer be able to post or repost on microblogging websites, though still able to read other people's postings, according to the meeting. Following the guidelines, new users have been providing their true identities when registering microblog accounts since January 1. After Beijing's initiative, several other Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, adopted similar rules, as authorities believe microblogs help spread rumors and vulgarities. Nearly half of China's 513 million Internet users frequent the near-instant service to gather news and spread views. ^ top ^

Xinhua stands up for woman facing death (SCMP)
2012-02-08
In two unexpected articles, the state-run Xinhua News Agency has shown what appears to be sympathy for 29-year-old billionaire businesswoman Wu Ying, who was recently sentenced to death for fraud. Eight experts, including law professors, sociologists, economists and businessmen, were quoted by Xinhua on Monday as saying authorities needed to give Wu's case a second look, after the Zhejiang High Court upheld her death penalty on January 18. Wu, from Zhejiang, was convicted of illegally collecting up to 770 million yuan (HK$947 million) from the public by means of high interest rates and deception. [...] Some of those interviewed also said simply sentencing Wu to death would not solve the problem of illegal underground financing, and that there needed to be a fundamental change in the financing system. But the Zhejiang court issued a statement from judge Shen Xiaoming to defend the ruling. Shen said Wu's goal was to use the illegally obtained money to cover her huge debts. "It wasn't private financing but illegal fund-raising to defraud the public of their money," Shen said. [...] Wu's death sentence, which has sparked intense debate, awaits a final review by the Supreme People's Court. ^ top ^

More disadvantaged Chinese receive legal aid (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
More disadvantaged citizens have received legal assistance as the government has invested more on legal services, said the Ministry of Justice Tuesday. About 946,000 people sought free legal assistance last year, an year-on-year increase of 15.4 percent, with the majority being migrant workers, the disabled, women and children, said the ministry statement. Among those receiving legal aid last year, about 33 percent were migrant workers, a year-on-year growth of 16.1 percent, it said. China now has about 3,573 government-sponsored legal aid centers with a total staff of 13,800, while practicing lawyers also take legal aid cases. They handled about 844,000 legal aid cases in 2011, up 16.1 percent over that of 2010, the statement said. In 2011, the central budget for legal aid centers increased from 100 million yuan (16 million US dollars) in 2010 to 200 million yuan in 2011, said the ministry statement. [...]. ^ top ^

Myanmese refugees flood across border (SCMP)
2012-02-09
Beijing has landed in a delicate diplomatic dilemma after tens of thousands of Myanmese refugees flocked across the Chinese border to seek shelter from escalating clashes between Myanmar's military and the Kachin Independence Army. Mi Bingxing, a pastor in Yingjiang county, Yunnan, on the Myanmese border, told the South China Morning Post that around 10,000 refugees had flowed into area villages to escape the turmoil back home and that more than 40,000 were gathered on the other side, ready to cross. [...] Mi said refugees first flocked to the border in June after the Myanmese military and Kachin fighters resumed their conflict after a 17 year ceasefire and have since frequently crossed back and forth. For now, Beijing appears to be turning a blind eye to the refugee situation, with no official media reporting on it. [...] Mi said he was not aware of any attempt by Beijing to seal off the border or force the refugees to return. [...] Xinhua reported the Myanmar government on Tuesday signed an initial peace agreement with an armed anti-government ethnic group, the Kayin National Liberation Army, following similar ceasefire deals with the Shan, Chin and other ethnic rebel groups. [...] Professor Zhao Gancheng of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Beijing still hopes to use diplomatic channels to deal with the refugee problem and help Yangon avoid embarrassment. [...] Zhao said China could not openly accept the Kachin refugees, as it would upset the Myanmar government, nor force the flooding refugees back home, because it would then come under pressure for causing a humanitarian crisis. ^ top ^

'They want to get rid of us' (SCMP)
2012-02-09
The founding publisher of the mainland's most outspoken political magazine yesterday accused authorities of trying to use a cultural-sector reform initiative to weaken the editorial independence of his publication. At a new year celebration with more than 150 of Yanhuang Chunqiu magazine's writers and supporters in Beijing, 88-year-old Du Daozheng delivered an emotional speech spelling out his worries over the fate of the publication he founded 21 years ago. [...] "Some want to use the opportunity of the cultural-sector reform to change Yanhuang Chunqiu's editorial line of the past 21 years," said Du, who has been repeatedly told to step down by the Culture Ministry and the General Administration of Press and Publication, the central government's regulator and censor for print media. Du accused authorities of using the new government mandate, aimed at turning state publications into for-profit enterprises, as a pretext to strip his magazine of its relative independence. The mandate, which came under a broader initiative to "deepen the cultural-sector reform" announced at the sixth plenum of the Communist Party Central Committee in October, was intended to stop newspapers and magazines from receiving government subsidies, restructure them into for-profit enterprises, but continue to keep them under the party's editorial control. [...] Yanhuang Chunqiu, like all state publications, operates under a government-linked organisation that is supposed to be responsible for its content, but it maintains a relatively liberal editorial line, thanks to the backing of many respected retired senior party liberals. [...] Du said the magazine was told to restructure by the middle of this year. [...] But Du, a former director of the General Administration of Press and Publication himself, vowed he would not back down. [...]. ^ top ^

Senior official stresses healthy development of minors' ideology (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
A senior Chinese official has called for coordinated efforts among schools, families and society in building a sound social and cultural environment for the healthy development of young people's ideology and morality. Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks Wednesday at a meeting. Noting that minors are in the key period when their ideology and values are being formed, Liu urged deepened patriotism-themed education and more ethics practices that will guide them to follow disciplines and pursue ideals. While calling for more quality cultural products for the country's minors, Liu stressed a further crackdown on lewd content in the cultural market, especially online pornography. ^ top ^

China launches police campaign to stamp out gun-related crimes (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
China will launch a fresh police campaign to crack down on crimes involving guns and explosives, as it works to maintain social stability, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Police will be targeting major cases, tracking criminal dens and eradicating their sales network during the campaign that will last until November, participants at a national teleconference of the ministry said Wednesday. Despite the overall situation being stable, a quantity of prominent problems that undermines social stability still exists, said Huang Ming, vice minister of Public Security. Police have been ordered to direct their efforts against contaminated food, phoney medicine, telecom frauds, the abduction of women and children as well as economic crimes. They are also commissioned to take precautionary measures in ensuring social security, handling civil disputes and defusing major accidents. [...]. ^ top ^

Microblogging of Chinese officials, gov't agencies increases (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
The number of microblog accounts verified as managed by government officials or departments on China's four major websites reached 50,561 by the end of 2011, according to a report unveiled on Wednesday. The amount of governmental microblog accounts had increased more than seven fold from the beginning of the year, according to the report conducted by the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG). [...] Among all the government microblog accounts, 32,358 were managed by government agencies and the Communist Party of China (CPC) organs, and 18,203 were verified as being run by government officials, the report said. The report found that China's public security system, or the police force, was more active than other government agencies and its microblog accounts made up 47 percent of the total. The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, drug control office of Baise city in southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and information office of Chengdu city government were listed as the top three influential government microbloggers, according to the report. [...]. ^ top ^

U.S. says Bo's ally did go to consulate (SCMP)
2012-02-10
Washington and Beijing confirmed yesterday that the former right-hand man of Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai visited the US consulate in Chengdu on Monday. The visit by Chongqing Vice-Mayor Wang Lijun and reports of his subsequent transfer to Beijing by the Communist Party's discipline watchdog have fuelled speculation about a behind-the-scenes power struggle in the run-up to a leadership reshuffle expected later this year. Both sides declined to release details of the meeting, obviously non-diplomatic in nature, between US diplomats and Wang, who was the municipality's police chief until last week. [...] In Beijing, Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Wang's visit to the consulate was an "isolated incident" and would not affect a visit by Vice-President Xi Jinping to America next week. [...] Chongqing's government press office said Wang, previously a close ally of the maverick Chongqing party chief, was on "stress leave". But it is believed he was taken away by the party's top disciplinary body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, for an unspecified investigation. Wang's detention, if confirmed, is widely believed to have dealt a serious blow to Bo's political future. He had his eye on a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, the party's top echelon. [...] Wang was stripped of his police duties last week and reassigned to a portfolio covering education and the environment. It was seen as part of an attempt by Bo to sideline Wang, who spearheaded his controversial crackdown on organised crime. [...]. ^ top ^

Drought affects over 1.4m in SW China (China Daily)
2012-02-10
The continuous drought in southwest Yunnan province has affected more than 1.44 million people, and the dry weather will persist through the first half of February, local authorities said Thursday. The severe drought has left more than 1.44 million people and 827,000 cattle short of drinking water, and 2.35 million mu (156,666 hectares) of crops have also been affected, said the province's flood control and drought relief headquarters. [...] The central government has tapped a special 130-million-yuan ($20.6 million) fund to combat the drought, and the provincial government has been encouraging the residents to restrict water usage. Yunnan is suffering from its lowest amount of rainfall since 2009. ^ top ^

China probes foreign ship for toxic spill (Xinhua)
2012-02-10
China's maritime authorities have confined a foreign cargo ship as they investigate a chemical spill that partially contaminated the drinking water source of a city downstream the Yangtze River in east Jiangsu province, officials said Thursday. The government of Zhenjiang city on Tuesday confirmed that on Feb. 3 phenol levels collected in water samples were excessive, and the pollution caused tap water in some parts of the city to emit a pungent smell, sending panicked residents to stockpile bottled water from supermarkets. The authorities "highly suspect" that a South Korea cargo ship that had docked at Zhenjiang spilled the chemical when a valve was not properly closed, officials said. The departments of maritime affairs, environmental protection, and border quarantine are involved in the probe. [...] The governments of Nantong and Zhenjiang both said water samples of the two cities on Feb. 4 did not detect excessive phenol. Meanwhile, the authorities have ensured residents that the supply of purified bottled water is sufficient. [...]. ^ top ^

China vows to promote quality in development (Xinhua)
2012-02-10
China has vowed to step up management and supervision over the quality of its products and projects in its development for the years to come, according to a blueprint released Thursday by the State Council. The blueprint, featuring the development of enhanced quality, establishes targets for the 2011-2020 period. By 2015, China pledges to keep the qualification rate of agricultural products above 96 percent, while that of the general products in the national checks over 90 percent, according to the blueprint. Regarding project quality, the passing rate for large and medium projects should be 100 percent, while the rest should reach 98 percent. In the service sector, the customer satisfaction index in the producer service industry is targeted at above 80, while that in the consumer service at above 75, the blueprint said. The blueprint also requires local authorities to include quality safety issues to their performance assessment system. [...]. ^ top ^

Campaign organized to crack down on economic crimes (Xinhua)
2012-02-10
China's vice public security minister on Thursday called on the nation's police to go all out in a campaign to crack down on economic crimes. Liu Jinguo, vice minister of public security, said at the ministry's meeting in Shenyang, capital city of northeast Liaoning province, that police across the country should continue the heavy-handed approach against economic crimes and improve the investigation and handling of relevant cases. The number of economic crimes being investigated increased by 10 percent year-on-year in 2011, and economic-crime cases closed in 2011 rose by a record-breaking 13 percent year-on-year, Liu said. [...] The ministry will set up a leading committee to coordinate and supervise the campaign, according to decisions made at the meeting. Economic crimes include fraud, bribery, and embezzlement, and severe economic crimes carry the death penalty in China. ^ top ^

Nationwide food safety crackdown continues (Global Times)
2012-02-10
China last year closed more than 5,000 factories producing substandard or harmful food, as part of its national campaign to improve food safety, authorities said Thursday. More than 7,000 suspects were arrested last year, among whom 286 people were given heavy penalties, including life imprisonment and suspended death penalties, according to sources with the State Council's Food Safety Committee. The committee is still preparing another round of action to crack down on food safety incidents. [...] Health Minister Chen Zhu admitted Wednesday that China's food safety standards are in urgent need of improvement amid a spate of food safety scandals. The ministry issued a draft on revised food standards last month to solicit public opinion up to the end of February. The minister said the lack of research on national food standards and the country's fledgling risk evaluation system hindered the mapping of national food standards. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing vows to slash PM2.5 pollution (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
Beijing will roll out multiple measures to lower the city's readings of PM2.5, which stands for fine particulate matter in the air, by nearly 30 percent by 2020, according to an air pollution abatement plan made by the municipal government. [...] A fierce online public outcry over the measurements began at the end of 2011 when it came to light that air-quality monitoring results released by Beijing's weather forecast station and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing often widely differed. Influenced by the public outcry, Beijing environmental authorities launched the PM2.5 measure of air quality in late January and soon released the monitoring data. Monitoring results show that PM2.5 particles in Beijing's air are mainly caused by coal burning, automobile exhaust and dust generated at construction sites. The air quality improvement measures to be implemented this year in Beijing include the following items: By the end of the year, the city will complete a network of 35 PM2.5monitoring stations and establish a satellite remote sensing system to oversee the overall air condition. By 2020, 1.6 million old automobiles designed with outdated emission standards will be weeded out. By 2020, the government is expected to limit the city's annual total consumption of coal within 10 million tonnes, 62 percent less than the amount estimated to be consumed by the end of 2015. From now on, heavy-polluting and energy-consuming companies in oil refining, petrochemical, cement, iron and steel industries will not be allowed to open new plants or expand their current workplaces. By 2015, 1,200 factories producing asphalt, glass and ceramic will retreat from the city. By 2020, all cement plants run for profit in Beijing will be closed. By 2020, the city will increase its forest area by 2 million mu (133,000 hectares) and increase water surface by 2,000 hectares, in an effort to improve the city's environmental carrying capacity. ^ top ^

DNA tests for all homeless kids in Beijing (China Daily)
2012-02-10
Beijing will record the DNA of all homeless children in the capital to help reunite them with their families, the Beijing News reported Thursday. The police will reinforce patrols in the downtown areas, bridges or underground passages and train stations, and take samples of blood from homeless children. The report said the police will work with the civil affair department to help the children return home. ^ top ^

 

Shanghai

Shanghai industries see major labor shortage after Spring Festival (Global Times)
2012-02-07
Many labor-intensive industries in Shanghai are experiencing labor shortages despite the fact that migrant workers have gradually flocked back to the city after the Lantern Festival Monday. Zhao Jiande, vice director of the Office of Joint Work of Migrant Workers in Shanghai, told the Oriental Morning Post that if there are around 1 million employees in the catering services, 200,000 more are needed, creating a gap of about 20 percent. [...] For job vacancies that require certain skill qualifications, employers are complaining that they cannot find suitable people for available positions. "Companies complain that when they are looking for truck drivers or workers possessing specific technical skills, most applicants are not qualified," a director, surnamed Xu, from an employment service center for migrant workers in Shanghai, told the Global Times. Zhao explained that some labor shortage problems like this were structural as the skills possessed by migrant workers did not match with vacancies available. Xu revealed that the government is offering training courses on technical skills to ease the labor-shortage problem. Also, the employment service centers in Jiading district have created a system of sending short messages to migrant workers and employers to keep them updated on job market information. ^ top ^

 

Guangdong

Guangdong rights activist faces trial (SCMP)
2012-02-04
An independent candidate who tried to run for a seat in a legislature in Guangdong faces trial next week for allegedly breaching electoral regulations, according to her lawyers. Li Biyun, an outspoken land-rights activist, was to stand trial at the Shunde District People's Court in Foshan on Wednesday, lawyer Wang Quanping said. Li Biyun, 43, has been detained since September last year on the charge of "undermining elections" after she injured an election committee official with a pair of scissors, lawyer Li Zhiyong said. At the time, she was protesting at a pre-election meeting that she regarded as unlawful because it excluded most of the voters, he said. She had earlier tried to take the Shunde district election committee to court over what she saw as unfair electoral rules that disqualified her, but the court refused to accept the case. [...] Li, an independent running for a seat in her local people's congress, had the support of 600 residents but none of the political backing enjoyed by many other candidates. She was jailed for 10 months in 2010 for allegedly "obstructing the execution of public duty" after a confrontation with police while fighting for compensation for land taken from villagers, the advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders said. It said she was severely beaten in prison, injuring her back. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet earmarks $1.3 b for rural support (China Daily)
2012-02-05
Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region has earmarked more than 8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) this year to improve the living conditions of farmers and herdsmen in the region. The fund, 68.4 percent bigger than last year's, will be used for rural infrastructure construction and as agricultural subsidies, according to a written statement released by the region's financial department on Saturday Some of the money will also be used to encourage farmers to modernize and industrialize their work, and to develop Tibetan-featured industries, said the statement. According to the region's financial data, the net income per capita of its farmers and herdsmen last year surged 13.6 percent to 4,700 yuan. [...]. ^ top ^

Stability in Tibet stressed over "sensitive time" (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
The authorities of southwest China's Tibet autonomous region have stressed the efforts to maintain stability following a series of self-immolations in other Tibetan regions and the coming of a sensitive anniversary of past unrests. In a televised conference, a top regional security official on Monday warned that maintaining stability at the moment is a utterly important but gravely challenging task. Hao Peng, secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Tibet Committee, ordered local officials to boost security patrol, keep high alert, enhance personnel management, and tighten the control of the society. Hao also demanded increased security measures in Tibetan monasteries and addressing to the disputes and grudges which might upset stability. "Officials should widely visit impoverished herding families and monks in the monasteries to help them solve problems and do good deeds for them," he said. Hao stressed again the need for rapid economic development to solve the hard problems in maintaining stability. Tibet has achieved remarkable progress over the past few decades. [...]. ^ top ^

Ganzi focuses on unrest at temples (Global Times)
2012-02-08
Luhuo county, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, where violent unrest has drawn the attention of world media, launched a campaign Sunday to promote "law-abiding monks and harmonious temples" and eliminate the "cancer" that harms social stability. The county will further implement a policy regulating that Party and government officials should take part in the management of monasteries and continue to promote the law among monks. Officials should fully understand that the "comprehensive rectification battle" launched on Sunday is badly needed to consolidate the power of the Party in areas of the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and oppose Tibetan separatism, the Ganzi Daily reported Tuesday. [...] Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Tuesday that the riots were the work of criminals and were instigated by overseas groups advocating "Tibetan independence," according to the Associated Press. Liu Daoping, Party chief of Ganzi, termed the situation as a fierce battle against the Dalai Lama clique, not a disagreement among the people, caused by various economic interests. To win over hearts and minds, the Party and the government carried out a series of preferential policies for Tibetan people in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan autonomous prefectures in other provinces, Ba Deng, Party chief of the Sela county in Ganzi, told the Global Times earlier. [...]. ^ top ^

Four officials dismissed for leaving posts (SCMP)
2012-02-10
Tibet's top leader has fired four officials for abandoning their posts at a sensitive time, a day after another Tibetan set himself alight in protest against China's rule. The official Tibet Daily reported that Tibet's Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo [...] said at a meeting on Wednesday that four officials from the Chamdo region had been fired for leaving their posts during last month's Lunar New Year celebrations and threatening stability. All four were from Dingqing county. [...] "We must deeply recognise that the fight against the Dalai clique is a long-term, complicated, and at times a very sharp struggle," Chen was quoted as saying. "We must completely grasp and implement every measure aimed at safeguarding social stability and firmly take the initiative in the struggle against separatism." On Wednesday, a Tibetan set himself alight in Sichuan, bringing to at least 20 the number of people who have attempted suicide in the past year in protest against China's policies, the International Campaign for Tibet said. Also, Radio Free Asia said Tibetan protests erupted on Wednesday in two counties in Qinghai province, with about 1,000 people marching in each. Sources said that police surrounded the protesters but there was no violence. [...] Lobsang Sangay, the leader of Tibetans' self-declared exile government, said on Wednesday convoys of Chinese security forces had been seen moving towards Tibet in recent days, ahead of the Tibetan New Year on February 22 and the March anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising. "If the Chinese government think that the Tibet issue can be solved through violence, intimidation, then it's not going to happen, because the Tibetan spirit is strong," he said in Dharamsala, India. Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said yesterday that China had a responsibility to protect "lives and property and to curb violent criminal activities". He rebuffed the idea of the unrest as a human rights concern. ^ top ^

 

Xinjiang

10,000 Xinjiang grads to receive job training (China Daily)
2012-02-04
China's far western Xinjiang region will send 10,000 unemployed college graduates this year to receive job training in inland provinces and cities, local authorities said Friday. Last year, the regional authorities launched the massive training program, sending the first batch of 12,000 jobless college graduates to inland regions, amid concerns that jobless educated youth could spark unrest. The second group, who mostly graduated in 2010 and 2011, are expected to leave Xinjiang for the two-year training program in March and April this year, the Xinjiang regional organization department said in a statement. The participants will be offered jobs after passing an exam when they return. They can also choose to stay and work in the 19 inland provinces and cities, according to the statement. To ensure all the trainees can be employed after coming back, the authorities will create 12,200 jobs, including 5,000 jobs in companies, 5,000 bilingual teaching positions and 2,200 jobs at social security agencies and rural medical institutions. [...] Creating jobs has been a top priority for Xinjiang officials over the past two years, as they consider stable income through employment crucial to lifting poor Uygur families out of poverty and preventing younger Uygurs from turning to crime to support themselves and their families. [...]. ^ top ^

Xinjiang foreign trade rises 33 pct in 2011 (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
Foreign trade of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region grew about 33 percent year-on-year in 2011, far above the national average on robust growth of border trade with its central Asian neighbors, the local government reported Wednesday. Xinjiang exported 16.8 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods last year, up nearly 30 percent from a year earlier while importing nearly 6 billion U.S. dollars worth of goods, rising 44 percent year-on-year, according to statistics released by the regional customs bureau. Kazakstan remained Xinjiang's largest trading partner last year, while trade with five central Asian states -- Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan -- accounted for 78 percent of Xinjiang's foreign trade in 2011, the data shows. Since 2010, China has been pushing for greater opening-up of the resources-rich and strategically located Xinjiang to transform it into a regional economic hub from a relatively underdeveloped desert region. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Govt to slap fines on 2nd-child birth tourists (Global Times)
2012-02-10
In signs that the campaign to curb the influx of Chinese mainlanders seeking to give birth in Hong Kong is intensifying, officials have warned that those who take advantage of the policy discrepancies and breach the one-child policy will be fined. The statement by Zhang Feng, director of the family planning department of Guangdong Province, comes as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region witnesses a growing number of mainland mothers flocking to the region to give birth in order to obtain local residency. Local politicians in Hong Kong have called for legal amendments to end the tide for fear that unregulated arrivals could dry up limited public resources. [...] Zhang's remark came after Guangdong governor Zhu Xiaodan promised a solution to tackle the influx of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong. [...] The surge in mainland mothers going to Hong Kong to deliver their babies has prompted growing resentment against mainlanders in the SAR. These sentiments came to a head recently after the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily carried a full page advertisement last week, demanding the local government stop mainland pregnant women from entering the city. [...] Agencies in the Chinese mainland predicted a surge in mothers-to-be going to North America this year as Hong Kong tightens its policies. [...]. ^ top ^

Wanted: more workers by 2018 (SCMP)
2012-02-10
Hong Kong's workforce will be too small to power its economic growth by 2018 because of an ageing population, a government manpower study has concluded. It is the first time that the study, started in 1988, has predicted a labour shortage. The effect will be felt gradually as baby boomers continue to retire. About 14,000 jobs will have to be filled over the next six years by either foreign and mainland graduates or new immigrants. The source of the problem is the city's low birth rate, which demography expert Paul Yip Siu-fai believes has to be doubled to keep the economy growing at the current rate by 2018. [...] Further complicating the issue, the shortage will be felt unevenly across the workforce, largely due to a mismatch between education and economic restructuring. At the lowest education level, there will actually be a manpower surplus of 8,500 by 2018. But for the middle, secondary-school-educated level, we will experience a labour shortage of 22,000. For the top level, the shortage will be around 500 as Hong Kong moves further towards a knowledge-based economy. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Taiwan

New premier to deal with two thorny issues (SCMP)
2012-02-07
Taiwan's new prime minister, Sean Chen, has ordered the establishment of two task forces to deal with the European debt crisis and controversial imports of US beef. The orders were issued almost immediately after Chen [...] and his cabinet were sworn in yesterday, reflecting his determination to resolve two immediate challenges to the government's popularity. After a swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Chen took the helm of the 47-member cabinet from former prime minister Wu Den-yih, who was elected vice-president last month. Chen vowed that he and his cabinet would waste no time in working to achieve public prosperity [...] by pushing for economic transformation, which Taiwan's mainland-friendly president, Ma Ying-jeou, has described as the key to improving "gross national happiness". "Taiwan needs a new round of economic transformation so that not only can its low-cost, labour-intensive industrial structure become technologically innovative and culturally creative, but its service industry can also become exportable," Chen said. [...] Taiwanese voters named the ever-widening wealth gap as one of their chief gripes against the Ma government during its first four-year term. Chen said he would hold a meeting on Saturday for all cabinet departments and agencies to exchange views on how to improve government performance and increase understanding of public needs. [...]. ^ top ^

Taiwan's beacon on Spratlys may stoke tensions (SCMP)
2012-02-08
Taiwan will soon build a tactical air navigation system on one of the Spratly Islands, in a move that could reignite tensions in the South China Sea. The flight-guiding system will be built on the runway on Taiping Islet, the largest of the Spratlys archipelago, a military spokesman said yesterday. "The building of the system is solely to help increase the safety of landing and take-off by transport planes, and has nothing to do with any weapon," said Luo Shou-he, defence ministry spokesman. He dismissed news reports speculating that the building of the facility was part of a plan for co-operation between Taiwan and the US on military surveillance to gather intelligence about movements by the PLA and the forces of the Philippines, Vietnam and other claimants to South China Sea territory. [...] Taiwan, which holds Taiping Islet, has maintained a 1,200-metre airstrip built in 2006. Ministry officials said the system, centred around a seven-metre-high beacon, will send off signals for transport planes, mainly Hercules C-130s, approaching the airstrip. They said the facility was highly necessary, as currently pilots had to make visual contact for landing and flights had to be aborted on misty days. The officials said a building contract had already been awarded and construction would start this month, with official operation expected to start in September. [...] Since June, Beijing has several times called for co-operation with Taipei to deal jointly with the issue, only to be rebuffed by Taipei. [...] Taiwan's military also agreed in September to help the coastguard beef up its security on Taiping by replacing its obsolete defensive deployments with better ones. ^ top ^

 

Economy

China's non-manufacturing PMI drops to 52.9 pct (Xinhua)
2012-02-04
The growth of China's non-manufacturing sector slowed in January, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP) said Friday. The non-manufacturing sector's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), a key economic indicator, fell to 52.9 percent in January from 56 percent one month earlier, the federation said in a statement on its website. [...] "The decline in the index shows that China's non-manufacturing industries expanded at a slower pace last month," Cai Jin, vice chairman of the CFLP, said in the statement. The non-manufacturing data came after China's manufacturing PMI rose to 50.5 percent in January, the highest level since October, indicating that a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy may be stabilizing. The country's construction sector was less active in the off-season, which "weighed down the overall growth rate of the index" and countered "the sound development of holiday-related retail sales, catering businesses and transportation," Cai said. [...]. ^ top ^

China's industrial profit up 25.4 pct in 2011 (Xinhua)
2012-02-04
China's industrial enterprises saw their profits increase 25.4 percent year-on-year to reach 5.45 trillion yuan (863.68 billion U.S. dollars) in 2011, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday. The growth rate rebounded from 24.4 percent in the first 11 months of last year, NBS figures showed. But it marked a gradual downshift from 32 percent year-on-year growth seen during the first quarter, 28.7 percent during the first half, and 27 percent in the first three quarters. In December alone, industrial profits expanded 31.5 percent from a year earlier to 790.7 billion yuan, compared with 17.9 percent in November, the NBS said. The NBS attributed the sharp increase in December to final settlements of corporate profits, investment income and the exemption threshold rise of windfall tax on oil producers. [...] Profits of private businesses rose the most last year, up 46 percent year-on-year, followed by collectively-owned enterprises (34 percent) and equity-holding companies (31.2 percent). During the period, state-owned enterprises and overseas-funded firms saw profits up 15 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. [...]. ^ top ^

Premier: no discriminatory rare earth supply policies in place (Global Times)
2012-02-04
China's premier said Friday that the country does not discriminate against foreign companies in terms of rare earth supplies, stating that policies and quotas for both domestic and foreign companies are the same. Premier Wen Jiabao made the remarks while meeting with Chinese and German businessmen on the sidelines of a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Guangzhou [...]. Wen said China's previous lack of environmental protection and sustainable development resulted in the excessive exploitation of rare earth metals, which were then sold for low prices. "Although we now know that we must develop rare earth metals sustainably, we can still afford to meet 90 percent of global demand with less than 50 percent of the world's reserves," Wen said. He said Chinese and foreign companies face the same standards in terms of environmental protection and ecological sustainable development. [...] China's rare earth metal export quota for 2012 has been largely unchanged from that of 2011. China's rare earth metal exports totaled 14,750 tonnes during the first 11 months of 2011, meeting just 49 percent of that year's quota. [...]. ^ top ^

China growth estimate for 2012 cut to 8.25% (People's Daily Online)
2012-02-07
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for China's 2012 economic growth to 8.25 percent from the 9 percent projected in September, and it warned that exports would be a significant drag on expansion in the coming two years. [...] "The risks to China from Europe are large and tangible," said Murtaza Syed, resident representative of the IMF's Beijing office, at a seminar on Monday. [...] Given the uncertain global outlook, some modest fiscal support to the economy is warranted, he said. In particular, a general government deficit of about 2 percent of GDP should be targeted. The IMF urged policymakers to provide fresh stimulus through the budget rather than the banking system, since the large credit stimulus in 2009 and 2010 has increased risks in the banking system. [...] However, China is not heading for a hard landing and will remain a bright spot for global growth in the coming years. The IMF projects China's economy will grow 8.75 percent in 2013. Both investment and consumption have been strong despite weakening external demand. Also, the government's efforts to calm the property market have been effective, and underlying investment remains healthy due to government efforts to expand the supply of subsidized housing. Inflation is coming down to more comfortable levels, which should allow the authorities to fine-tune monetary conditions and supply the economy with modest additional credit, Syed said. Upward pressure on the Chinese currency has diminished recently and the pace of reserve accumulation has fallen, partly due to a smaller trade surplus and valuation effects associated with a stronger US dollar. [...] The EU's ambassador to China said on Monday that China could become Europe's biggest export market this year, overtaking the United States. [...] This year the EU-China interdependence will grow, he said, adding that European exports were increasing at a faster pace than European imports from China. ^ top ^

China to raise gasoline, diesel prices (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
China will raise the retail prices for gasoline and diesel by 300 yuan (47.53 U.S. dollars) per tonne starting Feb. 8, the country's top economic planner said Tuesday. The benchmark retail price of gasoline will be lifted by 0.22 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.26 yuan per liter, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The latest price change, which has been anticipated by the market, comes amid rising pressure for the country's refineries, as the increasing international crude oil futures prices keep driving up their operation costs. With the easing European debt crisis and intensifying conflicts in the oil-rich Middle East, fuel prices on the international market have been climbing this year. [...] The price rise will help motivate the oil refineries, ensure supply in the domestic market, guide rational consumption and promote emission cuts, an official with the NDRC said. The move follows the previous change on October 8 last year, when the NDRC announced the first price cut in 16 months, taking the fuel prices off from record highs. [...]. ^ top ^

China to see slow power consumption growth (China Daily)
2012-02-08
China's electricity consumption growth will slow in 2012, as the world's second-largest economy is expected to decelerate this year amid uncertainty in Europe and other developed economies, according to a report by the China Electricity Council (CEC). Total electricity consumption is expected to top 5.14 trillion kilowatt-hours (kwh) this year, with the growth rate slowing from 11.7 percent in 2011 to between 8.5 and 10.5 percent, the CEC said in an annual industrial report posted on its website. The report said that the country is still facing tight power demand and supply this year with a total electricity shortage of 30 million and 40 million kilowatts, due to uncertainties in thermal coal supplies and reduced supplies of hydropower ahead of flood season. According to the CEC report, China's electricity consumption rose 11.7 percent year-on-year to 4.69 trillion kwh in 2011, with 24 provincial-level power grids reporting electricity shortages. The CEC projected China's installed power generating capacity to reach 1.14 billion kilowatts by the end of 2012, adding 85 million kilowatts of capacity. The country needs to increase coal supplies to at least 300 million tonnes to account for an estimated 150-million-tonne increase in thermal coal demand, according to the CEC. Last year, China's investment in the power sector totaled 739.3 billion yuan ($117.11 billion), according to the report. ^ top ^

Mainland's trade with Taiwan, HK, Macao up (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
China's mainland has reported two-digit increases in its trade with Taiwan, and Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs) last year. According to reports published by the Ministry of Commerce Tuesday, the the mainland recorded a total of 160.03 billion U.S. dollars, or an increase of 10.1 percent, in its two-way trade with the other side of the Taiwan Strait. By breaking down the statistics, the mainland's exports to Taiwan stood at 35.11 billion U.S. dollars, up 18.3 percent year-on-year, while its imports from Taiwan reached 124.92 billion, up 7.9 percent. Meanwhile, the ministry reported 283.52 billion U.S. dollars annual trade with Hong Kong, up 23 percent year-on-year, and the exports and imports were 268.03 billion U.S. dollars, up 22.8 percent, and 15.5 billion U.S. dollars, up 26.4 percent, respectively. It also reported 2.5 billion U.S. dollars trade with Macao, or an increase of 11.2 percent, last year, and the exports and imports stood at 2.36 billion U.S. dollars, up 10 percent, and 160 million U.S. dollars, up 31.3 percent, respectively. ^ top ^

China to improve support for small firms: official (Xinhua)
2012-02-08
Chinese government will roll out more policies tailored for boosting the healthy development of small and micro-sized firms, an official said Tuesday. Ministries of finance and industry are finalizing details of the operation of a 15-billion-yuan fund created to support small businesses that face difficulties in loans and rising costs, said Zhu Hongren, chief engineer with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at a press conference in Beijing. The central government has decided to earmark 15 billion yuan (2.38 billion U.S. dollars) to establish a development fund for small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly focusing on newly-formed ones. [...] The State Council last Wednesday called for more efforts to support the sound development of small and micro-sized enterprises as they serve as a significant channel for creating jobs. Zhu said that with concerted efforts, the nation's small and micro-sized businesses are unlikely to experience a massive wave of bankruptcies this year due to cash flow failure. ^ top ^

Govt aims to close income gap with wage hike (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
The government aims to raise its minimum wage at least 13 percent each year from 2011 to 2015, according to a national employment promotion plan released on Wednesday. China raised its minimum wage by an average of 12.5 percent annually during the 2006-10 period, official figures showed. The plan issued by the State Council stipulates that the minimum wage should be lifted to at least 40 percent of the average Chinese citizen's salary by 2015. [...] According to the five-year wage plan, the country will continue and further reform its income distribution mechanism and encourage enterprises to set up scheduled salary increases by promoting collective negotiation on wages. The government plans to extend collective bargaining to cover 80 percent of corporate work units in the country by 2015. The figure was 50 percent at the end of 2010, according to Xinhua News Agency. [...] The employment promotion blueprint also promises to make adjustments to income distribution in some industries to close the income gap. [...] The plan also aims to create 45 million jobs from 2011 to 2015 and keep the registered urban unemployment rate under 5 percent for the next five years. ^ top ^

China's CPI at three-month high (China Daily)
2012-02-10
China's consumer prices rose to a three-month high of 4.5 percent in January, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released on its website on Thursday. The figure is 0.4 percentage points higher than December's growth and increased faster than the prediction of a 4.2 percent growth. Food prices jumped 10.5 percent year-on-year, driving the CPI up to 3.29 percentage points, the NBS showed. The surge is mainly boosted by consumption before Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, said Peng Wensheng, the chief economist with China International Capital Corporation. "But the inflation pressure is expected to ease this year, with an annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast of 3.5 percent." The government may have more space to loosen monetary policies and make supporting economic growth a priority, analysts said. The nation's whole-year consumer prices increase from 2010 to 2011 was 5.4 percent. It was the first rise after the CPI figure dropped for five consecutive months since August 2011, after it hit a 37-month high of 6.5 percent in July. The NBS also released the year-on-year Producer Price Index of 0.7 percent in January, compared with 1.7 percent in December 2011. ^ top ^

China's current account surplus represents 3 pct of GDP: SAFE (Xinhua)
2012-02-10
China's foreign exchange regulator said Thursday that the country's current account surplus would account for around 3 percent of the GDP in 2011. The ratio hit a record high of 10.1 percent in 2007 and has since seen a steady decline, as the government moves to promote the balance of international payments, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a statement on its website. The 3-percent figure falls within a "reasonable range" on international standards, the statement said. The improvement comes as China has taken a slew of measures to revamp its growth model and adjust its foreign trade policies. Meanwhile, the waning eternal demands due to the worldwide slowdown also contribute to the narrowing trade surplus in China, SAFE said. Despite the dwindling export growth, SAFE forecast that China's international balance sheet will retain a surplus this year, as China's savings-prone structure is unlikely to change in the short term. Moreover, foreign capital will continue to flow into China as the outside economic shocks will not hamper China's steady and relatively fast growth, SAFE said. China's surplus under the current account reached 145.6 billion U.S. dollars in the first three quarters of 2011. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK accuses Japan of "ambition to grab Tok Islets" (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) official news agency has denounced what it called Japan's ambition to grab the disputed Tok Islets east of the Korean Peninsula. According to a KCNA commentary published on Wednesday, Japanese authorities recently made reckless remarks about grabbing the Tok Islets, which was "a wanton infringement upon the sovereignty of the Korean nation and an action to provoke a war". The Tok Islets were part of the territory of Korea from a historical, geographical and legal point of view, the commentary said. Japan's attempt to grab them was "a wild dream which can never come true", it said. The commentary urged Japan to draw a serious lesson from the miserable defeat it suffered in the past and honestly apologize for its history of invasion. [...] The islets are currently under the control of South Korea, but are also claimed by Japan. The DPRK supports South Korea's claim. [...] Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba told parliament recently he would be firm in telling South Korea that Japan could not accept its claim to the islets. [...]. ^ top ^

S. Korea proposes talks with DPRK on preventing tree diseases (Xinhua)
2012-02-09
South Korea proposed Wednesday inter- Korean talks over preserving disease-threatened pine trees at ancient tombs in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), local media reported. Via a communication channel at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea's Forest Service suggested holding a working-level meeting later this month, according to Yonhap News Agency. The DPRK authorities have yet to agree to such a meeting. The move comes after the DPRK asked South Korean civic groups, including the Seoul-based Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, for medicine for tree diseases. [...] The meeting, if held, will be the first official inter-Korean talks since a working-level military talks last year failed to narrow their differences on two deadly border conflicts in 2010. It will also be the first talks between the former wartime enemies since the Dec. 17 death of top DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. [...]. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

About civil registration and election (Montsame)
2012-02-07
The state revised registration of citizens have counted one million 937 thousand people. It is 98 per cent of the population. The majority of the population is residing in the capital city, so additional registration committees have been set up in some of the UB city's districts. The districts' governors are trying to deal with a problem with increasing number of unregistered families. The election committees will be set up on February 15, the lists of electors will be put on a website by March 15. The approaching parliamentary election makes the State Registration Authority to work more intense these days, and it is expected that this year's election will be different from previous ones. ^ top ^

New judges appointed (Montsame)
2012-02-07
By a decree of the President, some judges have been appointed and some been discharged from the posts. D.Erdenebalsuren has become a judge of the Supreme Court, N.Batzorig--a judge of Orkhon aimag's court, G.Davaarinchin--a judge of Selenge aimag's court, and T.Ganbat--a judge of Khovsgol aimag's court. D.Altankhuyag and J.Otgonkhishig have become judges of the inter-soum courts in Dornogobi and Zavkhan aimags. B.Enkhtaivan has been appointed the judge of Khovsgol aimag's administrative cases court leaving the post of Orkhon's aimag's administrative case court, and D.Sarangerel has been appointed the judge of Khovsgol aimag's court of administrative cases. Three judges have been discharged from their posts. ^ top ^

General Election Committee about preparation for election (Montsame)
2012-02-08
Authorities of the General Election Committee (GEC) N.Luvsanjav, its head, and Ch.Sodnomtseren, a secretary, told on Monday that some 80 measures will be organized before the parliamentary election of this year. The election will run on a basis of the revised civil registration conducted in 2011. A new achievement is that the living abroad Mongolians will be able to vote but for a political party only, not for a candidate. Their voting papers will be collected and brought to Mongolia at least 15 days prior to the voting day and be counted together with other papers. According to these officials, the GEC addressed the Supreme Court to get explanations of 40 clauses of the new election law, "for example, the election's start and finish times when we have time zones, also the election regime must be clarified because organizing the parliamentary and the local elections at same time may put a great pressure on the election sections.” A candidate's name will be written on 26 types of paper for each section in some 300 districts and soums. They said a deal has been made with the U.S company to order a total of 2,500 paper counting machines, five have already arrived. Each machine costs USD 3,200. To operate them, nearly two thousand people with IT knowledge will be trained. ^ top ^

Ulaanbaatar must cope with soil pollution, too (News.mn)
2012-02-09
Much attention is paid to Ulaanbaatar's air pollution problem, but the capital faces another environmental problem: soil pollution. Yet this problem is not widely acknowledged by city officials. The capital's soil has been polluted by litter, garbage, and human waste, especially in ger districts. This can lead to the spread of infectious diseases. Some are urging the city to implement measures to fight the problem. It's estimated that 400,000 tons of garbage are generated in the city each year, but the Ulaanbaatar Administration has allocated just MNT 1.7 billion to collect from 70,000 to 80,000 tons of garbage. Frozen garbage, dirty water, and waste will melt in the spring and leach into the soil, creating ever more hazardous conditions. ^ top ^

Aimag centers to be linked to capital by road (News.mn)
2012-02-09
At the Government meeting on Wednesday, members received an update on efforts to link aimag centers to the capital by road. Road, Transportation and Urban Development Minister Ts.Dashdorj said construction of roads from the centers of Dornod, Sukhbaatar, Umnugobi, Uvs, Zavkhan, and Khuvsgul aimags to Ulaanbaatar has not yet commenced. Altogether, 598.6 km of roads are to be built at a cost of MNT 311 billion. The minister said construction of roads from the centers of Bayankhongor, Gobi-Altai, Khovd, Bayan-Ulgii, Dundgobi, and Dornogobi aimags is from 14 to 90 percent complete. The minister said 1,100 km of roads and 414.3 meters of bridges were built in the country in 2011, financed by the state, foreign loans and aid, and other sources. A total of 2,919 km of roads and 3,465 meters of bridges are to be built in 2012. The state has allocated MNT 346.9 billion for the projects. Cabinet members asked the minister to begin road construction from some aimag centers to the capital, finance bridge construction, and consider suggestions from other ministers on road construction. The Cabinet also approved a new “Healthy Child” campaign, a program to supply small tractors to farmers and herders, and a horseracing program in countryside regions. ^ 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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